Mr. Wes Woodson ’16 knows how it feels to stick out.
At 12 years old, doctors diagnosed him with a rare skin condition called vitiligo, which covered his hands with bright white spots.
Kids at his public middle school poked fun at him, he said. So, after months of ridicule, he decided to enroll at Catholic Memorial.
The move changed his life.
“It was at CM where I really understood a sense of belonging and an idea of brotherhood,” said Mr. Woodson, a Sharon native.
“At CM, I became comfortable with my spots.”
Now a senior at Babson College, Mr. Woodson says his experience on Baker Street inspired him to celebrate each person’s “spots” and not just his own when he created a lifestyle brand called Thehidden
The idea began his sophomore year at Babson when he designed a hooded sweatshirt that read, “Be not afraid to stand alone.” Within a year, Mr. Woodson had sold over 1,000 units of merchandise.
“I want The Hidden to be a clothing label that inspires other people in a positive way,” said Mr. Woodson, who graduated in May with a BA in business and a concentration in entrepreneurship.
“Whether it’s writing a book or selling clothes, the brand stems from my desire to make a positive change in someone else’s life.”
Mr. Woodson traces that desire back to his days on Baker Street. He remembers arriving at CM determined to blaze his own trail after his tough middle school experience. His teachers took immediate notice.
“If he didn’t do well on a paper, he would keep coming back until he got it right,” said Ms. Leslye Porter, who saw untapped potential in Mr. Woodson’s creativity.
“He wasn’t just revising papers; he was revising his life. He was constantly trying to improve.”
Mr. Woodson says he found a source of identity on Ms. Porter’s trips to the Arnold Arboretum during Writing Club. The trips inspired him to create stories from the nature surrounding him and his classmates.
“To walk around that space and see how people interacted and existed in their own world while it’s so quiet and calm really spoke to me in a way that’s hard to explain,” said Mr. Woodson.
Perhaps above all else, the trips taught him to think big. By the end of his junior year, Mr. Woodson had won a Speech and Debate state championship for Multiple Reading. He had also started his own non-profit after returning from a BERSI trip to Peru. Called Feet-to-Feet, the organization distributed donated shoes to children in need of footwear throughout Greater Boston.
“He was and still is a kind, kind soul with a huge heart,” said Ms. Porter.
By the time he graduated from CM, Mr. Woodson finally had that sense of belonging that long eluded him before.
“If anyone reads my story and says, ‘Wow, he made it, so that means I can make it,’ then I know I’ve been successful,” he says.
“I want kids to think they can achieve anything they want to.”