Kait Davie/Courier - Fashion designer Greg Mishka of the clothing brand "Mishka" lectures a group of PCC students in room V106 on Wednesday, Nov. 16.
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In a world where people can often struggle with branding themselves and standing out in unconventional ways, the owners of intuitive clothing company “Mishka,” strive to do exactly this: by telling their own stories through fashion.

Their business is focused on making T-shirts that stand out among the many others. Inspired by street style, hip-hop, and New York graffiti, the brand became very popular among youth from varying backgrounds and cultures.

On Wednesday, Nov. 16 Greg Rivera, the co-founder of “Mishka,” presented his art at PCC for all the students who wanted to learn about his brand. In just about 15 minutes, the room was full of attentive students.

Rivera and his partner Mikhail Bortnik both had been interested in graphics, arts and street style since their childhood. Their first meeting sparked a creative partnership; since Bortnik and Rivera were ready to experiment and venture out into the real world, the idea of opening a business seemed to be an opportunity for them to try themselves in something new.

One of the challenges the co-founders faced with their business is the brand name that they picked. “Mishka” is a Russian word that means “bear.” Since Rivera and Bortnik were at the beginning of their success, they didn’t pay that much attention to the name, which later caused them some inconvenience.

“First it was really difficult because not having an English brand and name was sort of difficult,” Rivera said. “Fortunately, after a while people understood it, but it was definitely difficult and I think, looking back now I probably would’ve pushed for something a little bit more maybe recognizable.”

Unusual, strange and different – all of that describes Mishka’s style. The owners of the brand saw the prints as pieces of art that conveyed important messages about society, and as a result the products became way more than just the graphic T-shirts. They depicted images of homosexuality, blatant sexuality or vulgar language. The extraordinary way of thinking and their rejection of social norms work just perfectly for the young generation.

“It’s not just about putting a cool design on a T-shirt, it’s about the story you’re trying to tell,” Rivera said.

Rivera left some time for people to ask him questions at the end, and it became a friendly conversation with the artist where he gave advice and shared his personal feelings. Even after Rivera was done answering all questions addressed to him, people were waiting in line to talk to him personally. Some of them were even showing him their own art pieces to hear his opinion and feedback.

“The speech in general and the presentation were really good and it was really informational. It was just cool having him here,” Julio Navarro said, one of the participants of the event.  

It seemed like the artist was not just interacting with the public, but also inspiring them to be themselves and not be afraid to create something new. Rivera got a chance to introduce his business, share his experience and motivate others to keep following their passion.

“I think it was awesome. I definitely enjoy speaking to students and sort of people that are trying to start their own thing,” Rivera said. “I try to be as honest as I can with what my experience was, so hopefully it helps people that are doing their own thing. Hopefully it helped them in their journey.”

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