Renauld Shelton ’10 has always loved men’s fashion.
He credits his mom for “spoiling him with clothes and shoes” at a young age. He even admits he might have been late to a few of his college classes because he didn’t mind getting ready in his dorm room.
“I always liked to dress,” he said with a laugh. “Even though I was going to class on campus, I definitely took my time in front of my little closet over in Kresge (Hall).”
If you combine Shelton’s passion for style with his studies in graphic design, it follows that he’d start a fashion label in his hometown of Kansas City, Missouri. With the help of his younger brother, Maurice Thomas III, they started Material Opulence – an online clothing retail store that features Shelton’s designs on t-shirts, hats, vests and hoodies.
“When you see those items selling out, restocking and selling out again,” he said, “I can’t really explain the feeling, but it never gets old.”
Shelton considers Material Opulence less of an urban streetwear brand and more of one that’s about lifestyle. He says it’s about selling confidence.
“With our products,” Shelton said, “you look good, you feel good and you do good.”
When Shelton isn’t busy designing new products, running the website, or filling orders, he’s working at his other job as a public health specialist. Most recently, he’s been responsible for contact tracing COVID-19 infections in and around the Kansas City area.
For many entrepreneurs, juggling a separate, full-time job while building their business is the only viable way to start and grow. There is no 9-to-5 workday. They’re maximizing every free moment. Shelton said the reality is “I’m using my day job to support my dream.”
Shelton and Thomas came up with the idea for the clothing label back in 2013. Shelton admits there have been “highs and lows” during the past eight years, but things have been going strong for the past year.
Recently, Shelton said two Kansas City retailers started carrying Material Opulence in their stores, opening up the possibility for further expansion into the wholesale market. Ultimately, he envisions building a flagship store where customers can come in, try on and experience the brand firsthand.
Story first appeared in the spring 2021 issue of The Simpson Magazine