May is typically a very busy time for college seniors. Finishing classes, graduating and finding a full-time job can be stressful. Alyssa Johnson accomplished all that in addition to running her own business and planning her wedding.
Alyssa graduated this month with her Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic design from Wichita State University. Her love of design started at Sterling High School in 2011 where she was the editor in chief of her school's yearbook.
“We were such a small staff that the editors did most of the design,” says Alyssa. “I also did a lot of photography, and I always carried my camera with me.”
Alyssa began her college career as a journalism major, but soon realized her passion lies with the arts. She enrolled in a watercolor painting class before officially declaring graphic design as her major.
In 2016, Alyssa enrolled in an Introduction to Print Making class. She had the opportunity to try screen printing during the last two weeks of class, and she loved it.
"As I grow my voice in the Wichita community, I want to grow other up-and-coming designer voices as well."
After a bout of boredom and a push from her fiancé, Jared, Alyssa began her journey as a business owner. Wichita with Love (WWL) came to life in May 2017.
Alyssa's shop sells screen printed graphic tees, buttons, pins, tote bags and her signature accessory, a knotted headband.
“I always knew I wanted to run my own business, but I didn't know exactly what I wanted to do with it,” says Alyssa.
She bought her domain name, secured her social media handles and began piecing together all the equipment needed to run WWL. The website matches her personality, bright and bubbly. It also shows how much pride she has for the city of Wichita and all the great things the largest city in Kansas has to offer.
“When I started WWL it was all about forming my identity, forming my brand and getting my name out there,” says Alyssa.
She balanced classes, her student designer job at WSU's Office of Strategic Communications and her personal life with her business for nine months.
“It was hard to balance work and school, because I would spend most of my evenings and weekends on WWL,” says Alyssa. “One benefit of me doing all this during school was the community and campus support. My co-workers and classmates were behind me the whole time.”
Alyssa took time off from her internship to create her website. After a few hiccups and some technical help from her fiancé, she officially launched her shop in February 2018.
The day after launching her site, Hallmark contacted Alyssa and asked to order her “Wichita with Love” shirts in black and yellow to sell during the NCAA March Madness basketball tournament. Her designs were sold in all three Wichita-area Hallmark locations.
Alyssa has also partnered with fellow designer and former classmate, Jasmine Cox. Cox created her design, and Alyssa produced, distributed and marketed a T-shirt with Cox's design. She hopes to work with more local designers in the future.
“As I grow my voice in the Wichita community, I want to grow other up-and-coming designer voices as well.”
During her final semester at WSU, Alyssa was offered a full-time position in the Office of Strategic Communications as a multimedia specialist. With her degree, her full-time job and her own business, the only thing left on her to-do list is to get married at the end of May.
See more of Alyssa's work at https://wichitawithlove.com/ or on Instagram at @WichitawithLove.