It started as nothing more than a simple way to promote his younger brother's aspiring music career.

Now it is a full-fledged line of apparel and accessories.

Marcus Washington and his brother Demondre, both of Dubuque, run Young & Filthy, a line of clothing specifically designed for young, urban people. The venture has grown exponentially from its humble beginnings.

It all began when Marcus designed some T-shirts to promote Demondre's music at a house party. When Marcus sold all three boxes of the T-shirts that night, he thought he was on to something.

"We made a lot of money that night and we had a lot of fun," Marcus said.

Just a few years later, Marcus ships Young & Filthy clothes and accessories across the country.

"It's just crazy. I didn't think it would take off as a brand," Marcus said.

The Young & Filthy brand has a specific demographic target -- urban youth. And it's produced by the same: Marcus is 22 years old and Demondre is 18.

The brand is clearly influenced by music and popular culture. When you browse the Young & Filthy website, hip hop music plays.

"It's our culture. It's how we dress, how we talk," Marcus said of his brand.

Marcus said he never imagined a career in the apparel business. He wasn't terribly interested by art or graphic design. He didn't even dress the part.

"I used to dress like a bum," he joked. "That's why it's so different for me."

Whatever his history, that fateful night changed everything.

Marcus immediately realized the opportunity. He started making more designs, printing more shirts. He continued to sell. His business continued to grow.

"I don't think either one of us knew what was going to happen after that first order that he placed, but it's definitely taken off, that's for sure," said Cody Krug, whose Dubuque custom printing business, All About the Shirt, has worked with Marcus Washington since the beginning. "Once we got that out there it kind of skyrocketed."

Young & Filthy's next big break came when a female hip-hop artist modeled some of the clothes. Marcus, who had a mutual friend with the Chicago-based artist, said when Tink posted on her Instagram account pictures of herself wearing Young & Filthy clothes, the label received a significant boost.

Suddenly he was shipping orders to places like the U.K., South Africa and Canada.

"She got me like 2,000 followers on Instagram," Marcus said. "Every week, we try to do something different, keep the brand alive, expand our network."

Young & Filthy has grown not only its sales but also the diversity of its products. It's far from just T-shirts.

Now Marcus sells baseball jerseys, sweatshirts and leather pants. There are clothes for women, including blue jeans and cheetah-print dresses, shorts and pants.

They also sell accessories like hats, backpacks, sunglasses, pillow cases and mobile phone cases.

"He's tested my ability of what we can test on and what we can print on, that's for sure," Krug said with a laugh. "It's pretty much every time he comes up with something, he's like, 'Can we do this?' And I'm like, 'Well, I guess we won't know until we try.'

"It's an experiment every time he comes up with something new."

Young & Filthy grew enough that last year Marcus opened a shop downtown. But Marcus said the rent became too expensive and he was selling enough online that it wasn't worth keeping the store.

So for now he's selling online only while storing product in his family's home. That might be just a temporary situation. Marcus said he could open another store, but not likely in Dubuque.

"He needs a store," said Marcus' mother, Velinda, in that half-joking, half-serious tone mothers can deliver so well. "This is not a store. I want my dining room."

Meantime, Marcus continues to push his brand. He travels to concerts and trade shows, selling and promoting Young & Filthy products.

All because of one fateful night.

"It's something I never would have done," Marcus said. "But I like it because I can work for myself."

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