San Diego Start Up Collaborates with Homeless Artists to Make Clothing

Art Without a Roof was created by three San Diego State University students.

One San Diego start up wants to change the way you look at your clothing.

Art Without a Roof, co-founded by Matthew Wayne and two other San Diego State University Students, works with disadvantaged artists through different organizations to create sustainable clothing through their art.

“Art can help people express themselves, it’s almost like therapy,” Wayne said. 

It all started when Wayne was eight years old. The San Diego native went to an art gallery showcasing work by youth affected by homelessness.

One piece by a kid named Matthew caught his eye.

“It really connected with me because his name was Matthew and I realized, ‘Wow, he’s homeless,’ and it opened my eyes because there were homeless kids, [kids as old as] me,” Wayne said.

Fast forward 15 years, and Wayne is working on Art Without a Roof, where he hopes “threads for change” will improve the lives of disadvantaged youths and inspiring people to support local artists and local causes. Their primary cause at the moment is homelessness, but Wayne said the company plans to expand.

Wayne and his team have worked with local San Diego disadvantaged youths and activist Innocente, from the award-winning film.

The company begins with partnering with a disadvantaged artist. Then, a graphic designer on the team will tweak the artist’s work to turn it into a piece of art that then goes onto a piece of apparel, made locally. Anyone can buy the item on the company’s website and parts of the profit go toward the cause behind the shirt.

Ten percent of each item sold benefits partner organizations like the Monarch School, which provide youths that are homeless with an education.

The business plans to fully launch the site in June and open up the website for artists to submit their own designs. When they submit their work, they will be able to pick a cause that their final products will benefit. Wayne wants the website and business to become a platform for artists and nonprofits. 

In June, the company plans to launch a line of shirts that will benefit causes that support veterans issues.

Since their Kickstarter, which raised more than $25,000, the business has sold more than 3,500 shirts and has featured 11 different designs. Those numbers will grow once the site launches in the summer. 

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