PEPPERELL -- When life tested him, Pepperell teenager Dom Ciccone chose not to let it defeat him.
After losing his older brother in a car accident last year, Ciccone, 19, made a choice to honor his brother's life rather than dwelling on his death, founding a clothing line with the purpose of taking obstacles and turning them into positive energy.
When Ciccone's older brother Anthony died, Dom went through what he calls the darkest time in his life. But eventually, he realized that negativity will destroy you if you don't move past it.
Ciccone said the touching remarks that people made at Anthony's funeral inspired him to think about how he would be remembered.
"He was my best friend, my role model. I looked up to him my entire life. His legacy was so great as a person, it really made me reconsider what I was doing," he said. "I want to be remembered as having a positive impact just like my brother."
With the help of his friends John Gardner and Antonio Beaulieu, Ciccone created Divine Minds, a clothing brand dedicated to promoting positive energy among youth.
"We came up with this idea to change people's lives and impact people in a positive way," Ciccone said.
The clothing, designed by a network of artists across the country that Ciccone has brought together, sends positive messages. One popular shirt says "humble" on the back in the spot where sports jerseys feature athletes' names.
The theme of the collection to be released this fall is "Follow your dreams.
"It's small things like that. If it affects one person, and they transfer that to the next person, it can improve the entire community. Seeing it happen in front of me, seeing the positive vibes everywhere, it's amazing," he said.
Divine Minds' primary target audience is high school- and college-aged people, although Ciccone said their fan base is constantly expanding.
"The message is to promote positive energy because that improves everyone's day. We try to especially target high school kids because there's so much negativity in high school -- bullying, confrontation, stuff that everyone goes though," he said.
So far, Divine Minds has sold out of its first order of about 100 shirts. Ciccone said he has received several requests for pre-orders as he waits for his fall collection to come in.
He buys the shirts in bulk online and then has them printed with the artists' designs at CJ's Print Shoppe in Nashua, N.H.
Ciccone uses a network of friends and acquaintances to design, model and market the clothes, and said he lets anyone who wants to get involved with the project help in some way.
With nearly 1,000 likes on its Facebook page, Ciccone said the company has built up a following in both Massachusetts and New Hampshire. They have also received orders from Texas and California.
For now, the focus is on continuing to move forward. Ciccone said he has not taken any profits from the line, but has put all of the money back into paying for new designs, producing new apparel and marketing the group's work.
"I went though the deepest struggle of my life and came out positive," Ciccone said. "I live for this. It keeps me going every day."
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