Rewriting the narrative

Mizzou student’s brand promotes positivity and gives back to her community.

Raven Smith talks with a MUPD officer
A portion of Raven Smith’s sales proceeds goes to support victims of gun violence and families of fallen first responders. Sam O’Keefe/University of Missouri

By Jesse Berlin

In a sea of black and gold apparel, there’s a new shirt in town. With three red stars, a hand drawn heart and the words “Go Como,” it’s taking a stand.

“It’s not just a brand. It’s not just a T-shirt,” said MU senior Raven Smith. When you put it on, she said, you’re promoting positive change in your community.

“We can go and fight cancer. We can go and be positive. We can go and stop violence,” said Smith . “That’s why it’s Go Como: Let’s do this, Columbia.”

Smith, a textile and apparel management major, unveiled the new T-shirt in The Mizzou Store on Sept. 16, bringing her Chicago brand, Straight From The Go, to the place she considers her second home.

The Chicago native created Straight From The Go in high school after noticing a lot of violence in the local news.

“I’m thinking, ‘That’s not the only thing that we have going on in Chicago. We have great people from Chicago. We have great things going on,’” she said. “Why are we focusing on the negative?”

Driving to school one day, Smith noticed the Chicago flag, and a slogan popped into her head: Straight From The Go, the “Go” meaning Chicago. “It just sounded positive,” said Smith.

“She called home to say, ‘We need to change the narrative of our city,’” said Smith’s mother, Eraina Nicholson.

Straight From The Go is mostly a clothing brand but also sells tote bags, refrigerator magnets and other merchandise. A portion of proceeds goes to support victims of gun violence and families of fallen first responders.

“I’ve always been really big into community service and giving back,” said Smith. “It’s just something that’s a part of my personality.”

Smith will donate a portion of the sales of Go Como T-shirts to Molly’s Miles, which supports families of fallen law enforcement officers. The non-profit is named after Columbia police officer Molly Bowden, who was killed in the line of duty.

By spreading her brand to more places, Smith hopes to continue making an impact and give back to her community.

“When you have a young person who is saying, ‘Hey, let’s stop this violence’ or ‘Hey, let’s go get better,’ I feel like people really listen,” said Smith. “This is our world now. We’re the grown adults. It gives people a moment to step back and realize, ‘Hey, you’re actually right. We need to go and fix this.’”

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