Mind over body
His passion for and appreciation of art outlasted a pro-football career that ended in injury, so in 2005, DeSean Williams took up a pencil and started sketching.
He portrayed proud lions, penned inspirational messages and drew up a business plan for a clothing line, Self Invested Fashions.
"After I retired, I realized that I was one of those guys who didn't finish their degree, didn't have anything to fall back on," Williams said. "It was almost an epiphany, it just hit me: If you don't invest in yourself, take time to improve yourself - education, family life, all that - you can have everything in this world, and it won't matter."
He started with T-shirts and has expanded to include hoodies, jeans, skirts and hats for men, women and children.
His designs take clothing to another level. And they can take his customers to another level, too, because each comes with an inspirational explanation on the tag.
"If you read the message, I'm just hoping that they'll look at it and go, 'Whoa, that actually means something,'" he said.
Many of Williams' pieces feature animal or warrior themes, with tigers, shields and swords. Others are patriotic, and some simply showcase the label's logo. Hand-painted jeans feature designs like bright, colorful lines around the seams, while phrases are emblazoned across ball caps.
It depends on what Williams and his partner in the venture, Jason Middleton, dream up on a given day. The printed, painted and embroidered designs are done locally, by Gahanna-based Hollywood Imprints.
A selection of Self Invested Fashions pieces is on sale at Christian Armory in Eastland Mall. Williams is selling plenty of items to buyers all over the country through his website, and urban magazines like The Source and Foundation have been asking for interviews.
Williams is thrilled his work is appealing to all sorts of audiences.
"The message is the same across the board - just positivity," he said.
Self Invested Fashions
Available at Christian Armory
2706 Eastland Mall, East Side