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Meet Brette Sims of STUK DESIGNS Nonprofit Organization in West LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Brette Sims.

Brette, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a feminist artist. I was born in Berkeley, Raised in Oakland and moved to LA for college at 18. I own a non-profit called STUK DESIGNS. STUK DESIGNS, (pronounced “stuck”) stands for Strong, Talented, United, & Knowledgeable. STUK DESIGNS began as my senior thesis project at Loyola Marymount University. At LMU, I became conscious of what a powerful antidote art and self-love are to anxiety and depression, I made it my mission to spread this truth, and thus STUK DESIGNS was born. STUK DESIGNS Studio is currently right by LMU’s campus on the Westside. STUK is a 501c3 tax deductible Nonprofit Art Organization and Feminist Brand for creative career women who provide art & self-love education for girls in underserved communities globally. STUK is a team of 5 women: Ryane Hurd: Merchandise Manager, Jasmine Dixon: Non-Profit Strategist, Stephanie Sparks: Program Director and, Alana Talbert: Business Manager. As founder and creative director I create the artwork, but STUK could not function without our powerful team and collective of creative career women who support us.

I now advocate for self-love art education, an initiative that STUK DESIGNS is pioneering, as there is almost no research, studies or educational programs that offer it. I teach this truth globally to girls as young as possible, and before too many negative influences from: friends, family members, or society, build up barriers of fear, doubt, depression, anxiety or and low self-esteem within their minds. I believe Self-Love Art Education helps protect children from unhealthy relationships, toxic environments, and harmful social networking influences of the modern world. My vision is that through self-love and positive thinking anyone can create the life and career of their dreams! My education allows me to powerfully art direct STUK and our team of community leaders and college graduates from top schools, to keep all creative & business talents in house! My life philosophy is: do what you love while loving yourself first.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The word stuck literally means captivated by, immovable, embedded in and attached to. It means remaining persistent, firm, and holding faithfully. Thus, we chose the name STUK because it describes who we are, where we have been, and who we continue to become everyday. We aim to “stick” girls/women on a positive path and to higher purpose vs. seeing them “stuck” in a toxic job or relationship.

My college best friend and I named STUK because we couldn’t think of a name. We were literally stuck on the name. And then she said … “ugh we are so stuck… thats it! STUK!” And we turned it into an acronym. At the time, we also felt stuck in life. We were both stuck in toxic relationships and simultaneously stuck in depression. But our friendship and our family of friends lifted us out of that. So the concept of STUK began as an idea to help women support women in this way.

Lol, and hell no, it has absolutely not been a smooth road. Founding, evolving, branding and re-branding STUK Designs as a fully functioning Nonprofit organization was not “smooth”. Change and evolution require extreme discomfort sometimes. I have had failures. STUK has had failures. Before I found a solid team, a board, an amazing intern (who lives in Mumbai, India: Tazeen Shaikh), a blogging team, and brand ambassadors, I felt like I was always doing all the work on my own. It burned me out. I needed a change, so I had to step away from it for awhile, did some soul searching, traveled a lot, and remembered WHY I started. When I turned within and refocused on developing STUK after time – a team of women who were 100% invested and infinitely passionate gravitated towards STUK. I elevated my vibration; clarified my vision and purpose and then women who were in deeper alignment with STUKS path appeared. I do not think success is linear. I have always had in my head the full picture of what STUK DESIGNS would become, but I didn’t think it would happen so soon.

STUK began as an art firm and female brand collective and the final piece was to flip it into a 501c3. It took years to create all the illustrations that we sell on t-shirts and merch, to acquire a strong following so that it could be a viable platform for creative career women beyond Los Angeles. In November a STUK educational partner offered to fly me to Ghana to represent STUK DESIGNS and solidify our partnership. That trip made me fully confident in connecting the final dots of our company. When I was in Kumasi, Ghana teaching and working at our partner school called: Diamond State Academy (@diamondstateacademy) I realized what a deep need there was for self-love art education on a global level. I had always dreamed of working with girls in Africa through STUK so this trip was a manifested dream come true. They arranged my flight, visa and stay, and became STUK’s portal into global work.

I did a STUK DESIGNS mural for our partner school in Kumasi the last three days of my trip and all the kids were mesmerized. It was the best mural audience a girl could ask for. Most of the kids I worked with had never even held a crayon. I brought all of the kids #STUKGIRL coloring books, crayons and STUK DESIGNS pencils, pins and stickers. They went crazy for the goodies because most kids had never even had their own pencil. I had to teach them how to color because they didn’t understand what that was initially. And then they fell in complete love. Their pure joy brought me joy. They filled their #STUKGIRL Coloring Books up in a day. Most of these kids have no money. Many days they skip school because they can’t afford lunch or shoes. Teachers lack basic resources. One parent of the sweetest three years old girl (Adowa) even asked me to take her daughter with me back to the US because she couldn’t afford her. That broke my heart. I HAD to help them. 501c3 status became a must after the trip. And even that wasn’t a smooth road. It was a long and tedious process, but we made it. As cardi B says “Knock me down nine times but I get up ten”.

We just launched our first self-love education art campaign called: Little Heartists to teach self-love through art to kids in underserved communities globally. We hope to go to Ghana once a year with our nonprofit, teach, and leave them with lasting supplies and curriculum. During summer in the US we will teach art to kids in underserved communities from Watts, LA to Oakland and beyond. We are currently seeking funding, grants and donations. If you dig our mission please join our collective and donate to our Little Heartist Campaign: https://donorbox.org/littleheartists!

We’d love to hear more about your organization.
STUK is a 501c3 Non-Profit Art Organization and Feminist Brand collective for creative career women who provide Art & Self-Love Education for girls in underserved communities globally. We are a brand that gives women the opportunity to give back to their global community everytime they shop.

STUK DESIGNS specializes in community building for girls and women through art. Can you imagine if you started learning about self-love when you were 5 – 13 years old? How would that have changed your life? This is the reality we are trying to create for girls! We have many partners. We currently teach our Self-Love First Art Class for Girls in middle school girls quarterly in Watts, LA at The Resolute Academy (Charter School), we work with Diamond State Academy raising money for our Little Heartist Art Program which will allow us to teach kids ages 5-11 in Kumasi, Ghana annually, we host annual events: art shows, a brunch, etc. – we run an online platform to uplift and empower girls/women and a self love blog, and finally, we have a full streetwear clothing and merch collection,

What sets our Nonprofit brand apart from others? Women who invest in STUK DESIGNS are stuck or grounded in inner love, peace, and strength, utilizing art to cultivate a deep romance with life. #STUKGIRLS are independent, focused, bold and fulfilled body, mind, and soul. We search to fulfill no deep-seated voids in trivial pleasures but know that we are enough and that true joy lies within. STUK has a deeply romantic core. NOT a romance with a romantic partner, fame, or “bling, bling”, but a deep romance with life. Through art we wish to inspire self-sufficient girls to live without fear and with inner love. STUK clothing pieces are wearable art, challenging women, to find a focus and climb towards a greater purpose. The goal of STUK is to bring about consciousness to women and help push them to reach for their dreams. #STUKGIRLS want to grow, learn, and then, empower others. Many women are trapped in a trivial cycle of what happened on the latest reality show or celebrity gossip, hence, the irony of STUK. We aim to elevate the minds of women above and stick them to new truths. STUK uplifts and shows women transformation is always possible. STUK is a positive movement, a lifestyle brand, and a Nonprofit organization. STUK has a philanthropic backbone of empowering girls in underserved communities globally.

We are most proud of how #STUKGIRL Art brings girls and women together and builds community. We love seeing STUK IRL when we host our annual brunch and gallery events.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Founder & Creative Director: BRETTE SIMS

Our team is based in LA, CA. Our Nonprofit board is located in Oakland, CA.

STUK TEAM:

STEPHANIE SPARKS (@STEPHSPARXX): Blogger & Program Director: Steph is a moving and shaking entrepreneur. She attended Hofstra University. She has a passion for inspiring others through visual and written work. She is a powerful teacher and an impactful educator. Steph hopes to inspire the next generation to create from a place of love for who they truly are.

RYANE HURD (@king_ryane_): Merchandise Manager: Ryane has a BA in Mass Communications from Arizona State University. She brings out the best out of everyone who surrounds her! She is extremely diligent and supremely organized!

ALANA TALBERT (@ARTCREATIVEWERK): Business Manager: Alana graduated from USC. She is a business coach for creatives. She has a way of uplifting and inspiring everyone around her to reach their highest potential. With a simple empowering word Alana can make YOU believe in YOU.

JASMINE DIXON (@JASMEANAAA): Non-Profit Strategist: Jasmine is a University of Southern California Masters in Social Work graduate. She provides us grant research. She helps us program build and grows as an organization! She believes in the value and undeniable importance in uplifting and providing resources for girls in underserved communities globally.

Intern: Blog manager. Lives in Mumbai India: (https://www.instagram.com/tazeen__shaikh/)

Board Members (Community influencers who lead with love): AARIEL HOLMES, ANTHONY WILSON, JENNIFER VASSEL, TREVOR PARHAM, ASHLEY AARON

Brand Ambassadors: STACY TRUJEQUE – @EXALT_HER, TIONA BLAND – @TIONABFREE, MELODY ROBINSON -@JUSTMELODY

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Image Credit:

Photo of STUK founder Brette Sims in a #STUKGIRL PENNY Logo Tee

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