Zappy fashion company creators

Word on the street is that local fashion brand Zappy, LLC is launching its first-ever fashion show.

The clothing company was started by Virginia Tech students and cousins Eric Mbualungu, a senior finance and management major, and Bryan Kamenga, a junior BIT major. A quick glance at the Instagram page reveals its signature style: bright, trendy T-shirts and hoodies, all branded with the striking Zappy logo. The cousins have been making these products since last year, and their business has already grown — the Instagram has over 3,000 followers, and their next big step is a fashion show right here at Virginia Tech.

The show, which will take place on Wednesday, April 17, at 7 p.m., is aptly named “Word on the Street” for its focus on streetwear. “Word on the Street will feature both custom and handmade pieces from local brands and designers from Blacksburg and the Roanoke area,” Kamenga said. What really sets it apart, though, is that the show will be entirely run by college-age, young adults.

“Not only is this show being organized by (Tech students’) peers, but it also features growing local brands that support our community in some way,” Kamenga said.

Kamenga and Mbualungu have always made charitable causes a priority for their company, and their focus for this show is mental health. “We partnered up with Active Minds at Virginia Tech … to organize what we called Mental Wellness Week from April 8th to April 11th,” Kamenga said. Through various tabling events and a Tropical Smoothie percentage night last week, the cousins have already been able to drum up a significant amount of support and awareness for the cause. Not only will the show support Active Minds, but Zappy, LLC is also hosting a percentage night on Thursday, April 18 at Zeppoli’s.

All of this is the result of big dreams and hard work. “For a while we've been wanting to have our clothes featured in a fashion show,” Kamenga said. “After months of searching for an opportunity to make it happen, we decided to create the opportunity ourselves.”

Creating the show themselves took  weeks of late-night planning and communication with sponsors, other brands and models — ensuring  everyone involved was on the same page — but Kamenga wants other students to know that pulling off such a big event is entirely possible. “One of our ongoing goals while we're here is to leave a lasting impact and set the example for our peers that we all have the power to create opportunities for ourselves.”

Neither Kamenga nor Mbualungu ever let themselves get overly confident  throughout the planning process. “This is the first time we've ever done an event of this caliber and ... it truly amazes me that we've come this far,” Kamenga said. “There have been many times ... where I couldn't help but doubt that we'd actually pull off doing something as big as this show.”

Now that it’s all finally coming together, the cousins are excited to see what is next in store for Zappy, LLC.

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