Bearcat Creatives: Baruch student Ansel on his self-taught fashion entrepreneurship

Lauren Lee

If you’ve been on the Clivner=Field Plaza recently and wondered who was skating to and from Lexington Avenue in a graphic, brightly-colored DIY-ensemble, there is a good chance it was Ansel.

Ansel, known online and by friends as “Swazzy,” is a second-year entrepreneurship student at Baruch College. At 19 years old, he has proven himself to be the perfect candidate for his major. For three years, he has consistently taken on creative projects for local brands and even created his own in 2020.

Ansel’s brand, Flo Fashion, specializes in bold one-of-one creations which he markets with his own creative direction. He was inspired to pursue fashion entrepreneurship after an interaction he had with an artist working at an “A$AP Illz” pop-up store in the Lower East Side.

“I remember leaving the shop and seeing the artist,” Ansel recalled. “I remember seeing his pants, I was like, ‘Those pants are cool!’ And he was like, ‘Yeah, I made these!’ And I was like, ‘You made them?’ That’s when I started experimenting with painting on my clothes, distressing them. That’s what got me into one-of-ones and creating.”

Ansel developed a range of skills while building his brand. “I’ve learned the process of running a business from a perspective [other] than that of an institution like Baruch,” he said.

“You’re actually on the scene seeing how people interact with your clothes, how to sell stuff, how to talk about your brand, how to captivate people.”

In addition to first-hand small business experience, he taught himself fashion-specific skills like sewing, color coordination and fabric usage.

Most recently, Ansel applied his diverse skills as the creative director of a campaign for local lifestyle brand Jiggy Thunder.

“I really wanted to experiment with creating my own idea,” Ansel said. “I told [the founder of Jiggy Thunder]: ‘you have hats coming out, why don’t I shoot a skate campaign for the hats?’”

Ansel reached out to skaters he knew to participate in the campaign, tapping into a community he’s deeply connected with as a skate himself. The result was a true representation of skate culture, crafted from the perspectives of local skaters. Ansel managed every aspect of the project, including location coordination, photography, talent scouting and editing. “It was really fun, really surreal, seeing your idea come to fruition,” he said.

Ansel’s entrepreneurial independence is at the core of his projects.

“My dad is a self-taught interior designer/builder and my mom specializes in arts and crafts,” he said. “I learned from them to be independent. It’s better to learn how to do it yourself…You save money and you have another skill to bring to the table.”

For aspiring creatives, Ansel emphasized the importance of accumulating a body of work. “You have to put yourself out there,” he said. “Nobody would know if you’re talented if you don’t have work to back it up.”

Ansel recommends sharing your work throughout its improvement and continually persevering. “It’s not even [about] not caring what people think, but knowing what you’re doing is creative and it’s good,” Ansel said. “Knowing that you’re genuine to yourself — that’s really a big part of it.”

Ansel’s upcoming creative projects can be found through his personal Instagram account or Flo Fashion’s Instagram page.