Style Watch: Raleigh designer is a ‘Rising Star’

Donnell ‘Artist’ Woods is the founder of the hip-hop- and sports-inspired skateboarding T-shirt line Board Nation USA.
Donnell ‘Artist’ Woods is the founder of the hip-hop- and sports-inspired skateboarding T-shirt line Board Nation USA. Courtesy of MOSAYK, L.L.C.

For Board Nation USA designer and co-founder Donnell “Artist” Woods, a career in the fashion industry seems almost like a birthright.

The Raleigh native grew up hanging out and working in his father’s screen printing company, learning the ins-and-outs of the apparel business. As he printed shirts for local designers, he began to feel the itch to create his own collection.

“My father’s screen printing factory gave me access to resources to create my very first designs for Board Nation USA,” he says. “I worked in his print shop full-time printing on the silk screen machinery, and I would meet great local apparel designers like my co-founder, Michael Stewart-Isaacs, who knew the fashion business.”

That hands-on experience stayed with Woods as he began working toward turning his own hip-hop- and sports-inspired art into a skateboarding T-shirt line, Board Nation USA. Woods, still in Raleigh, draws inspiration from his peers for the ultra-hip line of apparel that has shown up on the likes of pro-skateboarder Tony Hawk.

“The tremendous range of self-expression within the millennial generation at skate parks and on social media is phenomenal,” Woods says.

Celebrity buzz aside, Woods recently got a nod from the clothing industry, being named one of Apparel Magazine’s 30 Under 30 Rising Stars. The annual list compiled by the clothing trade publication included up-and-comers from such well-known brands as True Religion, Elie Tahari and Macy’s.

“It gives our brand a sense of credibility and validation that makes our fans very proud,” Woods says. “And we are grateful for the celebrities who love the quality of our products and connect with the authenticity of the brand.”

Woods has big dreams for the future of Board Nation USA. The company has plans for a promotional tour this year, along with a membership platform on its website,, to provide fashion and entertainment content focused on the board sport community. Woods and his team also are in talks with several retailers for licensing ventures.

In the meantime, he hopes his line allows its wearers to express themselves and have a little fun with their clothing.

“I envision a world where unisex apparel will continue to be a remarkable force on our social dress codes and norms,” he says. “I see a revolution of wearable technology, brilliant colors and freedom from the status quo in the way we choose our garments.”

Trunk show

Alexia’s Bridal Boutique in Raleigh will have new gowns from Sachin & Babi in store for a trunk show Jan. 13-14. A representative from the company will be on hand to offer styling and fit advice, and customers purchasing during the event will receive incentives. To schedule an appointment, call 919-829-5900.

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