D'essence Morris of HUSTLR.ESSENCE

CYstarters Spotlight Story: HUSTLR.ESSENCE

This story is part of a series featuring each of the fourteen startups in the CYstarters 2022 summer cohort. Each student has the opportunity to focus on their startup or business idea while receiving $6,500 or up to $13,000 (per team), along with mentorship, accountability, and educational sessions on how to build a business. 

By Samantha Dilocker, ISU Pappajohn Center for Entrepreneurship 

Get to know:  D’essence Morris

Age: 21 

Education: Bachelors in apparel merchandising and design 

Hometown:  Cedar Rapids, IA 


Currently working on: HUSTLR.ESSENCE, which provides creative individuals with unique and expressive high-quality fashion products that they feel comfortable and confident in. 

Have you always seen yourself starting something? 

Yes. I didn’t know exactly what, though. I’ve always been innovative and creative, but I thought I would be a doctor. I didn’t see myself starting my own career path, but I always saw myself starting something


When did you start working on HUSTLR.ESSENSE and who or what inspired you? 

 I started working on HUSTLR.ESSENCE in 2021. That inspiration came from me always creating, mostly for myself but also friends and family. I wanted to turn it into a brand and really embody that brand myself. I love to share my evolution with others.  


What excites you about being an entrepreneur? 

Everything about it. Being able to make your own decisions and make things happen. I’ve always been a go-getter. My motto going through HUSTLR.ESSENCE has really been just to go for what you want and make it happen. Iowa State has really shown me it’s possible to excel in ways sometimes you just need a push to go for.  


What is your biggest goal for your business?  

 I want to make HUSTLR.ESSENCE a known brand. I want people to know who I am and share my creations with the world. I want to make people feel cool and share my aesthetic and vibe.  


How has entrepreneurship at Iowa State impacted you? 

 Greatly, actually. I just started pitching my senior year, but I wish I would’ve started sooner. I became so much more confident in my idea, and one of my professors really motivated me to apply for CYstarters. If I weren’t in that course, I wouldn’t be here right now. I also won awards through pitch competitions that allowed me to keep moving.  


What advice would you give to a smart, driven college student? 

 Definitely prioritize your mental and physical health. Sometimes even I forget to eat. Simple things like that. You can be successful without nearly killing yourself.  


How can we support HUSTLR.ESSENCE? 

Just support and love. That motivates me every day. You don’t have to buy my products to support me, just share the word online and support my business.