Go Columbia

5 minutes with artist Ment Nelson

Creator Ment Nelson has made a splash highlighting the joys of living in the rural South.
Creator Ment Nelson has made a splash highlighting the joys of living in the rural South. Submitted

Ment Nelson is one of South Carolina’s greatest gems. In a time where musicians and artists opt for larger cities, Nelson, a creator from the Lowcountry, has made an amazing splash by highlighting the joys of living in rural black life South Carolina. He sees the beauty in what is here and that’s only the beginning.

Q. There are many artists from South Carolina who don’t champion their hometown. Why is it important to you to highlight South Carolina?

A. As a kid, I remember watching TV and listening to the radio and rarely seeing or hearing the state represented. Many young people have fled to major cities in search of resources or experiences that don’t exist here. I’ve always been a problem solver, so the idea of staying here and creating those resources and experiences has always been more fascinating to me than leaving. In staying, I began to discover a lot of facts about the state and started sharing them on social media. My hope is that I inspire more people to take pride in South Carolina.

Q. You come from a creative family. Tell us about your brother and his ventures.

A. My brother is a graduate of the University of South Carolina and owner of Ode Clothing, a brand he founded in his bedroom in 2010 while still in high school. What started as shirt pendants and tees has evolved into seasonal collections of clothing in almost every category and has been worn by names like rapper J. Cole and fellow UofSC alumni and 2018 No. 1 WNBA draft pick A’ja Wilson, just to name a couple.

My brother has also accomplished many great things while living in South Carolina. Monthly, young creatives gather at local clothing boutiques throughout the state at events known as Ode Pop-Up Shops, which include exclusive pieces and live performances. These are great opportunities for people to network and support a locally-owned business. Everyone leaves feeling a little more confident that things can work here.

Q. What’s the biggest misconception that people have growing up in the rural South?

A. That it isn’t possible to share your talent with the world from here. That might have been true 15 years ago, but not with social media. Don’t take it for granted. Use it. I’m living proof of what’s possible when you do. The rural South is also filled with natural resources. We have access to the land and water, and many of us can grow and hunt our own food. This dispels the myth that there are no benefits to living here.

Preach Jacobs, special to GoColumbia