Chicago Foot Locker Features Clothing Line from BVU Graduate

(story by Tim Gallagher)

A Buena Vista University biology major who traces his first clothing line, Nerdy, to the Estelle Siebens Science Center, recently had clothes he designed featured at a Foot Locker in Chicago, a store he visited frequently as a child.

“My dad took us (he and his sister) to this Foot Locker when got good grades in school,” says Desmond Owusu, a 2010 BVU graduate.

Owusu, a native of Chicago, returned home following his BVU graduation. He attended graduate school for a year and studied psychology, until that passion to design clothing reeled him in. He’s been designer and retailer of clothing lines ever since.

Last fall, a Chicago Foot Locker asked Owusu to host a pop-up featuring his collaboration with the national brand. Owusu called the pop-up, “Remember the Good Times.”

“What I do with clothes and t-shirts involves storytelling,” says Owusu, who returned to campus last October to celebrate with one of his best friends, fellow 2010 BVU graduate Andre Wagner, as the New York photographer opened “Andre D. Wagner: Reflections in Storm Lake” to culminate his monthlong stay as a BVU Artist in Residence. “Foot Locker wanted to do a partnership. I wanted to make it a moment. A pop-up event allowed some of my customers to celebrate.”

Owusu’s father died in January 2020. Being in the store, in some ways, allowed him to connect.

“They let me take over the whole store,” Owusu says. “I try to keep my dad’s memory alive.”

Owusu founded Chicago Girls Do It Better and We All We Got, a brand that connects people. He’s now in his eighth year with his clothing store, Fat Tiger Workshop, a streetwear boutique in Chicago. The shop features Owusu and three other brand owners.

“We try to create a retail experience as more and more people become hip to ecommerce,” he says. “We give people stuff to experience and participate in. We don’t want to be boring.”

Owusu laughs about that term, “boring.” He’s anything but. After all, he’s a designer who came from a signature building on a campus in the middle of rural Northwest Iowa. He was back in that building, the Estelle Siebens Science Center, to celebrate a photo exhibit with his friend.

“My first brand, Nerdy, was birthed in the Science Center,” he says with a laugh. “As a biology major, I had to study a lot! I spent so many nights working in the Science Center. With design and marketing as a career, I’m fortunate BVU gave me that studious background.”

A background that has Desmond Owusu building brands in a field—and a place—he’s so passionate about.