Q&A With Born Leaders United CEO Andre Wright

This story was originally posted on urban-plains.com.

Words by Lauren Reno

Though Nike seems to have a monopoly on T-shirts that bolster motivational messages, Iowa City-based clothing brand, Born Leaders United is breaking into the business with a strong message about race and poverty. BLU is an inclusive brand working to make the world a better place by encouraging leadership and producing art—whether it’s through cursive letters on a crewneck or by way of BLU’s upcoming movie about a star-crossed, culturally-charged romance, BLU’s founder Andre Wright leads one masterpiece at a time.

Wright believes that everyone has something to offer—and to deliver, all they need is a little push in the right direction.  He says that sometimes that push comes from something as simple as a motivational tee with a powerful message.

We sat down with Wright, BLU’s fashion designer, CEO, founder and executive producer, to talk about the brand, the movie and the message.

Urban Plains: How would you describe Born Leaders United?

Andre Wright: BLU is a men’s and women’s apparel line in the streetwear/leisurewear sector. And our message and our mantra is that everybody was born to do something. … Everyone  is born unique and has their own individuality, and we are helping others discover that by creating a brand that expresses that exact statement. … We just help support people that are passionate about their ideas. And we try to encourage people to be leaders and just have hope about their ideas and what they want to do.

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Wet and Wild

This story was originally posted on urban-plains.com.

Minnesota’s Lake Minnetonka is quiet and pristine during the week — but on summer weekends, it’s hedonism’s headquarters

Words by Lauren Reno

For many, living the “lake life” is relaxing, picturesque and the perfect way to experience nature. For others, it’s more like a scene from Animal House—just with water.

That’s especially the case for those on Lake Minnetonka. One of Minnesota’s largest lakes, Minnetonka—a mere 15 miles from downtown Minneapolis—is the Twin Cities’ watery playground. When the temperatures are hot enough, the lake goes ballistic, especially on weekends. And especially on the Fourth of July.

The biggest attraction? “Big Island.” But it’s less an actual island and more a crowd of hundreds of boats all tied together. Unsurprisingly, craziness ensues. Here are the accounts of three people who survived #BigIsland2016.

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Bodybuilding Personal Experience Essay

Little Girl, Big Lifts

How one girl braved the world of bodybuilding

I woke up on Thursday morning unable to move. I mean literally unable to move. I couldn’t lift my arms. I couldn’t roll to my side. I couldn’t pull myself up. Nothing. After five straight minutes of using my arms to push off the bed and collapsing repeatedly, I called for my boyfriend to come pull me up. “You did this to yourself,” he told me in an “I told you so” kind of tone. K.

Of course he was right. I really did a number on myself, and now I was paying for it. The rest of my day was rough. I swear, the amount of odd looks I got from hobbling around like a wounded animal was unreal. I couldn’t fully extend either my arms or my legs. Every few steps, at least one of my knees would decide not to work and I’d nearly fall to the ground, my muscles, too tired and too slow to catch me. And you know what? I liked it. A lot. Because like I said, my boyfriend was right – I did it to myself. And I enjoyed every minute of it.

The Culture

Bodybuilding really is its own culture. Pro bodybuilder andnational powerlifting champion Ryan Irwin explained what it’s like to be a part of this exciting sport. He says that before social media, you got to know your fellow bodybuilders solely at competitions, but now, you aren’t limited by distance, and you get the advantage of knowing your competitors before even walking into the competition. “It really deepens the relationships,” Ryan says, “because competitive bodybuilders put themselves through so much physically and emotionally, and when they get there [to the competition], they just automatically have this mutual respect for the other competitors because of that.”

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Why I Chose Journalism & English

Magazine Journalism

When I was growing up, I always had a love for reading and writing. I had dreams of being an author and writing fiction novels, or maybe teaching a high school English class. As I got older and thinking about my future career suddenly turned into a serious topic, I clung to the idea of writing. Eventually, Journalism worked its way into my mind, and I thought it might be a great career for me. I love telling stories and learning new things, so it seemed like the perfect fit.

When I started at Drake, I immediately declared a Magazine Journalism major. I thought, how glamorous would it be to move to New York and work for a fancy magazine?! Well, as college went on, I knew a lot of students in my major who did just that. And it was so cool to see! But the more and more I thought about it, the less I could see myself doing it. I didn’t want to move to New York or another big city, and I decided the midwest was where I wanted to stay. As I kept up with my Journalism major, I started seeing my work get better and better. I loved that I could take a complicated or confusing subject and turn it into something the average reader could understand. Regardless, I still wasn’t sure if Journalism was exactly what I wanted.

English

During my sophomore year at Drake, I started missing something that I had always loved. Books! I missed reading, and I missed researching and writing papers about literary allusions, metaphors and symbolism. English had always been my favorite subject in school, and I realized that, while I was doing tons of writing for class, none of it was the kind of writing I wanted to do. So, I headed off to my advisor’s office and declared an English major in addition to my Journalism major.

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