As a teenager in Birmingham, AL, Krysta Winston had no clue that she would become a successful entrepreneur. But Krysta’s passion for the arts led her to Bethune-Cookman University, where she cultivated her design skills and eventually started her own business. From her childhood in the deep south to her thriving T-shirt company, Krysta has used her experiences to bring cultural awareness to HBCU students.
Growing Up In Birmingham
Krysta was born and raised in Birmingham, where her passion for the arts and experiences as a young black woman prepared her for her future career.
“Being raised in the south, I definitely got that portion of like a southern tradition, slash being raised around a bit of racism…I don’t really let that bother me, per se, but that kind of influenced what I do now.”
As her hometown transitioned from its difficult past, Krysta attended high school and became an active member of her graduating class. Whether she was playing tuba in her school’s marching band or serving as student council president, Krysta was committed to making a difference in her community.
Attending Bethune-Cookman University
Krysta knew that she wanted to go to a HBCU, and after she saw the Bethune-Cookman University marching band perform at the Honda Battle of the Bands she knew that she wanted to move to Daytona.
“Then when I went to the [battle of the bands] and I saw Bethune-Cookman, I said, ‘Whoa!’ I said, ‘What is this thing that I’ve never heard of? What is this school?’… [so] I went down to Bethune-Cookman [and] did my band scholarship audition…”
Krysta was accepted to B-CU and took an active role in campus life. She performed with the marching band, sang in the inspirational gospel choir, worked for the school’s radio station, and eventually pledged to Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated. Her experience as a HBCU student helped shape her identity as an artist and entrepreneur.
“I loved my HBCU experience. I loved everything about it from learning about Mary [McLeod] Bethune, and how she was able to make that school back then. Seeing what it’s transformed into today, it’s amazing. Hats off to her.”
Starting Hyp Kreationz
In high school, Krysta designed logos and email signatures for her friends. When she realized how popular her designs were, she started working with local businesses to create one-of-a-kind flyers. Krysta took on more clients at B-CU, and worked towards a career as a graphic designer.
“When I got to college, I realized, ‘Hey, you’re getting decent enough to start charging for these services.’… [so] I did stuff for Tom’s Early Morning Show, Ricky Smiley, all kind of stuff that transferred over into school.”
Krysta graduated from B-CU with a degree in music recording technology, but without formal training in graphic design she had a hard time landing a full time job. After looking at graduate schools and weighing the costs, Krysta decided to start her own business as a graphic designer.
“That was when if first clicked in my head, ‘Why are you so focused on going to school to get a job and make money for other people, when you could do something for yourself?”
After years of creating custom designs for other businesses, Krysta started Hyp Kreationz to work on her own projects. She joined forces with one of her sorority sister to design custom T-shirts for Obama’s second inauguration. Krista’s designs were a huge success, and her positive experience as a street vendor motivated her to keep working. Instead of creating T-shirts for commercial vendors, Krysta used her designs to bring cultural awareness and pride to the black community.
“I feel like I have to commemorate certain things, and not forget about my past, but don’t dwell on it, but also just teach history, in a way. I feel like that’s what I like to do in my clothing. Teach a bit of history, but also have it be fashionable.”
Starting a new business can be a difficult process, and Krysta has had her share of trouble. But despite the challenges, Hyp Kreationz has become a successful clothing line with one-of-a-kind T-shirt designs. With a strong customer base and more than 20,000 Instagram followers, Krysta is thankful that her business has finally taken off.
“Everything about Hyp Kreationz from the beginning has been a learning process, and if I didn’t go through it, I wouldn’t appreciate where I am right now.”
Connect with Krysta Online
Krysta Winston lives in Birmingham, AL where she runs Hyp Kreationz as a full-time business owner. Follow @hypkreationz on Instagram to see some of Krysta’s designs, and visit www.hypkreationz.com to purchase your own HBCU T-shirt!