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Freshman builds company while studying business


When business major Brandon Valdes ’18 of New York City, N.Y., arrived on campus this fall, he already had started the company he hopes to make his life’s career. His consulting business, Devant, which he started two years ago in high school with five others, caters to artists.

“Basically, if you’re a rapper or a singer, and you need artwork for your album cover, we will do that for you. Or, if you need production, we can help. I also do music, along with fashion,” Valdes said. “Ultimately, I want to compete with high-end, luxury brands and be a household name that everybody gets to know. That is my dream.”

Devant is a collaborative effort between Valdes, his brother, and four close friends – all of whom are from the Bronx.

Brandon Valdes“It was a collaborative effort. We started it basically because we wanted to create and have an artistic medium,” Valdes explained. “I’m from a neighborhood that doesn’t really offer things like that. Just being able to do what we feel and create anything that comes to our minds is powerful because we don’t have that ability where we come from. It’s something different. I wanted something new and to be able to stand out from everyone else and do what’s good for me, as a person.”

Valdes, who also is concentrating in marketing at MCLA, is gaining the skills he needs to take his company to the next level.

“I came to MCLA because I wanted to learn the business aspect in order to further my company, and everyone else in my company,” Valdes explained.

While one of his partners attends a college in Staten Island, he and his older brother are the only other two to go on to higher education.

“My parents are really big on allowing us to expand ourselves as human beings. We needed to go to college to do this, to find out more about ourselves. My mom and my dad feel it’s another opportunity for me to learn and become a better person,” Valdes said.

Although he explored a few other college options closer to home, Valdes said his college decision boiled down to two choices; either stay where he is from in a place he is well familiar with, or go to MCLA to start out fresh in a very different environment.

“That was the whole idea – to have a fresh start. I’m from the inner city and all I know is Manhattan. All I know is the Bronx. So, to come out to North Adams, which is a very small town, I felt like it would be something very new for me,” he explained.

So far, Devant has its own website (, which showcases the company’s graphic designs. Valdes is in the process of creating a hat in-between classes and his coursework to help brand the business, and to help others become familiar with the company through its fashion.

Two months into his first semester, “I’m taking classes I was never able to take in high school. I was very limited in what I could do. Here at MCLA, there’s openness where I can learn like I couldn’t before,” Valdes said.

Valdes particularly enjoys his business classes. “I love all of them. They’re very interesting. I enjoy being able to really invest that knowledge into my company.”

However, perhaps the best part of his experience, Valdes said, are the close relationships he enjoys with his professors.

“We can have a conversation, and they remember my name. It’s really good that I feel like I’ve known my professors for a very long time,” Valdes said. “I love MCLA.”