Environmental Design students may know Travis Weis as a classmate in their studio and lecture courses, others may interact with him regularly in the Digital Media Center, where he takes on the role of lead tech assistant. In addition to being both a full-time student and student leader, he manages an apparel business. Weis, a third-year architecture major from Denver, created Release The Mind to help spread positivity through clothing that aims to simultaneously support the community and environment.
Learn more about Weis’s fashion concept and how he hopes to spark inspiration with his audience.
Tell us more about Release The Mind.
"Release The Mind" refers to letting go. Often during periods of stress or hardship in life, my feelings and thoughts made whatever I was dealing with worse. Leading my actions to change from how I would normally face problems. I realized that feelings and thoughts can be manipulated by the world around us, but it also helped me understand they don't have to be.
My mind consciously or unconsciously holds on to expectations I have for myself and the world, but life became a whole lot easier to manage when I began to let go of these expectations. Releasing the mind comes down to individuals learning about how and why they think and using that to become less attached to the things that they see around them. It's learning to not get caught up in the words on a page because it is easy to forget it's only paper.
Not to learn to stop feeling. But to have enough control in mind to be able to take a step back and observe feelings, perceive what it affects. Never trying to outwit or fight what can't be controlled, it's the understanding that everything I perceived has influenced me to become the person I am today. So instead of being haunted by the pain and struggle of this world, it's knowing the hardships I face and overcome that truly define my character.
The understanding that feelings of want and sadness give more significance to feelings like selflessness and love. I couldn't keep looking for happiness in the things I saw around me because I would never truly find it. I needed to find happiness in the one place I didn't look. In myself. That’s what inspires the clothing. The idea of letting go resonated with me so much I wanted to use symbolism and imagery to get people aware of what I think releasing the mind means. The best part, just the words “Release The Mind" can inspire something different for everyone. I hope to spread a message in order to help out anyone who is struggling like me. If I can manage to do that, all of the work I put into this brand becomes worth it.
Truthfully, I don't like industry, especially a super wasteful and unethical one like fashion. My vision is for my friends and me to be some of the pioneers in a new type of thinking. Developing people, community, and environment as the new role for industries. The power of business comes from the people, so why shouldn't businesses give back to people too. That's why all of the shirts we sell are guaranteed to be ethically sourced and use materials that reduce their impact on the environment. Extensive research goes into who makes our clothing and how they are treated because we want to be proud of where it comes from. But that is only the beginning, since I am still in school, I am constantly researching how I can help the community and environment through this concept of Release The Mind. Hopefully, with the help of others, it will grow into something that can create real change, but for now, I'll just keep giving out stickers.
What went into making it a reality?
Making this company took months of hard work and constant failure. Through days, sometimes weeks of creative burnout, countless bus rides to and back from Denver, and even using my skateboard to deliver orders it took months to just create this idea in the first place. Sometimes I had to take three steps back before I could take another step forward. I had to start from scratch so many times that I got used to it. On top of that, the fashion industry is oversaturated with cheap, poorly made and unsustainable shirts. More sustainable shirts made from plastic water bottles, organic cotton, Tencel modal, or recycled polyester are starting to come into the market, but often have shortages and are more expensive. Yet with my background in ENVD, I realized how important it was to use more sustainable options so, in addition to using sustainable shirts, our newest [product] drop was hand pressed in my dad's garage.
How do you balance managing Release The Mind, working in the DMC, and coursework?
Balancing my ENVD coursework, clothing brand and student lead position at the Digital Media Center was a challenge getting used to, but eventually, I realized work doing each of these things often inspires work for another. For example, if I learn a tool on Adobe illustrator while I am making shirts I can use that same tool to help students at the DMC or in my own studio projects.
What’s something unique about Release The Mind you want everyone to know?
Release the mind wasn't started to make money, it was never and will never be the purpose for the work we do. Release The Mind is just my dream to give back, spread a message through fashion, and design to change the world.