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January 2, 2024 46 mins

Ep. 147 Randall Yarborough is a multidisciplinary designer with professional experience in sporting equipment, apparel, and footwear. He was Senior Footwear Designer at YEEZY, working under Ye (Kanye West), and recently launched his own company, Joyshed, an athletic shorts brand. 

On this episode, Randall speaks with AfroTech's Will Lucas about the technical aspects of design and how to balance moving fashion design forward artistically while still driving market demand.

Follow Will Lucas on Instagram: @willlucas

Follow Black Tech Green Money: @blacktechgreenmoney, @btgmpodcast

Learn more at AfroTech.com

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Episode Transcript

Available transcripts are automatically generated. Complete accuracy is not guaranteed.
Speaker 1 (00:01):
I'm Will Lucas and this is black Tech, Green Money.
Randal Yarbro is a multidisciplinary designer with professional experience in
the fields of sporting equipment, apparel, and full weear. He
was seeing your footwear designer at Easy and It's not
leading his own label joy Shit, where he serves as
creative director. Knowing what he knows about reaching some of
the highest levels in creative direction, what would he say

(00:24):
is the most important non design related thing to know
about achieving success. That's a great question. I think one
of the things that aren't design related is kind of
just being honest with yourself and with others. That's probably
the biggest thing that I can think of right at
the top of my head when it comes down to it, Like,

(00:44):
you can be a great designer, and you can do
amazing things, you make beautiful pictures, but at the end
of the day, being very honest and truthful about what
you're doing makes it much easier to do those things right,
to portray what you're trying to portray or convey what
you're trying to convey that message or that design, because

(01:05):
at the end of the day, like you know, you
can't fall back on something that you make up. I
think you know what I mean. So, yeah, just being
honest and truthful about what you're doing at the end
of the day will kind of get you and guide
you into the right place. So I was having this
conversation with another designer a few episodes ago, and we
were talking about, you know, the need for the ability

(01:29):
of storytelling and the need for designers to be able
to tell stories, because that could potentially be just as
important as having the asset. Can you talk a little
bit about that from your perspective, Yeah, just the storytelling part,
like being able to have the ability to storytell, Yeah,
communicating your idea, because it's one thing to have a
dope shoot, I imagine it's another thing to be able

(01:51):
to translate that dope shoot to make people other people
know that it's dope. Yeah, No, it's true. I mean
it's kind of like, uh, like stand up comedy. Right.
I'm not saying that trump make people left, but just
being able to kind of like transfer everything that you
just put into that work, whether it's a building, whether

(02:12):
it's a chair, whether it's a shoot, and kind of
being able to share that journey. And that's also where
that truthfulness. That honestness comes back where you're like, I
worked so hard throughout the entire process. Once I get
to that point where I'm either in front of a
bunch of people, in front of the CEO, in front
of the team, sharing the journey or sharing what I

(02:32):
just created or put in front of them, you know,
I don't have to fall back on made up stories
or made up things like the entire journey, the entire process.
You know, I was honest, I was truthful, and then
that story is just so easy to tell. It's like,
you know, not everybody's able to talk about themselves, but
you know, once you do have that little rhythm, that cadence,

(02:54):
you're able to kind of just go back and just
grab a few things, and that storytelling becomes extremely easy.
It's not something that you have to like you have
to make it up, you know what I mean. It
makes it much easier at the end of the day
when it comes to storytelling it. But it's definitely important though.
I think lucky thing for me is I study architecture

(03:16):
in undergrad and just being able to sit there in
front of like fit the other classmates in six six architects,
you know, training trained architects, practicing architects and your professor
and being able to take what you just did for
over the past you know, a month or so and
put it in you know, being very like vulnerable and

(03:38):
sharing that story and that journey with people in front
of you is a it is a hard thing to do,
but it makes everything that you did before it's super exciting.
It's like it's a feel good moment. Yeah, you've said
a couple of things that picked my interest there. And
I'm from the middlest also from Toledo, which is like,
you know, half an hour forty five minutes from where

(04:00):
you're from Detroit, and I remember, I remember growing up
and designing clothes and you know, tearing apart some genes
I had with some corduroys that I had also and
putting them together and making something new out of them.
And then like the places that we grew up, so
you know, it's a lot like Detroit and like that

(04:20):
that isn't necessarily something that's you know, amplified, Like there's
not a lot of people trying to do that type
of work where we're from. And so I'm wondering, like,
what was the fuel in the tank? Or the encouragement
you had or the self determination you had to fight
for those ideas so that it was like me. I
stopped doing it after I was probably like twelve or

(04:42):
thirteen because I'm like, Okay, nobody around me does this,
Like this is not what we do right here, right,
So I wonder like, what was it about your coming
of age that helped you fight for that idea? Yeah,
I'm the number one thing. And I always said, it's
just like Gruffy Troit. I was there until I was nine.
But that entire time I learned so much Like I've

(05:05):
seen I saw. I saw a lot of stuff, so
you're just like, you know, you grow up faster there.
But the entire time I was like, man, how do
I how I get my mom out of this? Like
you know, typically we think, you know, playing basketball, playing football,
you might do a support activity something to get that
money because it only makes sense, or you can go,

(05:27):
you know, a totally different route. But the entire time
I can think if I was like, I want to
build her a house. If I build our house, we
can get out of where we're at right now. So
in my head, that's that's what I had installed, like
building her house. I didn't know what it was or
how to do it exactly, but I knew I loved
the idea of it. You know, I love music, I

(05:48):
love the buildings that are around me. I love shoes
and all these things that that were Detroit. And then
when I finally went left Detroit and got to South Carolina,
that's when I I kind of learned about architecture and
I was like, Oh, that was my That's what I
want to do. That's where I want to be. Become
an architect. And so that was kind of like the

(06:08):
guideline of seeing the things around me and then finally
understanding what that goal was or what I was looking
to become to then achieve the things that I saw
or the things that I was thinking about. So it
started off as a kid and just wanted to, you know,
literally just build my mama house. And then the love

(06:28):
of like music, architecture, footwear, sports somehow got me to
that point of like, oh, I want to do architecture. Yeah.
So what's interesting to me is that you there's a
lot of us that grow up, you know, I want
to build my MoMA house or I want to buy,
you know, my grandma car I want to you know,
do I want to do something for somebody that I love?

(06:49):
And part of the disconnect we have, like even in tech,
it's like so many of us are consumers of the
applications and software that we use, and not enough of
us think about there's somebody on the other side of
building this thing, right, and so, because you're so passionate
about mentorship and teaching and you know, leading along the
next generation of black designers, what's important to you or

(07:10):
how is it important to you to tackling the idea
or the concept of representation and awareness to know that
there's us out here doing this work so that more
people do desire to be this. I mean I was
I was raised. I wanted Jordan's my whole life, you know,
but I never thought of I could be a Jordan designer,
you know what I mean? Yeah, yeah, no, I mean

(07:31):
it's definitely true. I guess like at a certain point
I got I got pretty lucky, and you know, just
less because even living in Detroit, there were CCS, you know,
ten fifteen minutes from my house, and you know at
CCS that they study you know, architecture design, footwear design,

(07:52):
they industrial design, they do everything there. But I was
only fifteen minutes a way and I knew I knew
nothing about it. You would think that I was across
the country, but I was just down the street. And
so I didn't have that you know, same as you like,
I didn't have that representation. I didn't have that understanding
that I could literally not walk down the street, but
I could go down the street and I could be

(08:12):
at a place where, you know, all those needs that
I was looking for could be like fulfilled. It was.
It wasn't until my last year, my fourth year of
architecture school, and I entered into full like this T
shirt competition called Future Soul with Nike and Jordan Brand,
and I was just doing t shirts, just graphics, but

(08:34):
it was my first time doing graphics, and I was
like trialing it out. And that's where like I kind
of got that start in that representation. They flew us
out to Nike, so the contestants there was apparel and footwear.
They flew us out to Nike, got the tour the
campus and I got to meet a lot of black designers.
The main person Dwayne Doctor, Dwayne Edwards who now runs

(08:58):
Lewis Pencil College. You know, he was the reason why
people of color were in that space at that time,
just for the future soul. And that's that representation and
that like, that's that that little drop that I needed
at the time to push me and continue like push
me into the right direction. Because with his guidance, you know,

(09:22):
East got Jason Maiden, like those those guys Wilson Smith,
being able to finally see that representation of black people
not just in fullward design, but just in in the
corporate setting doing creative things was it was just like
it was eye opening, you know, architecture. The entire time
there was like maybe three or four of us, uh

(09:44):
that that were black, and then just seeing that there
were so many more in the professional space, it was like, oh, well,
now I got that drop of guidance. And then their
words and their you know, their feedback was telling me, Hey,
you get to this point, you got to do same
thing we did. You know, we built this bridge, you
got to continue to build it. You got to continue

(10:04):
to give rides, you got to you know, you got
to do these things to help pull other people up,
just like you know, Hope, we were pulling you up.
And that's where that that's the representation came from and
that's the reason why I try to do it as
much as possible when I can. Yeah. So I was
talking with a friend of mine, Darryl Brown, who you

(10:24):
might know was me midlest Kids and Darryl Brown Clothing
company was at one point Kanye's he was one of
the stylists for Kanye. And we were talking about his
aesthetic and if you know Darryl or even his line,
it's very work where it's work where effectively crossed the
board because he used to work on the train, you know,
the railroad, and we're both from Toledo, and we were

(10:47):
talking about this is because I'm interested in your design
aesthetic and how much of your upbringing in the Midwest
and Detroit may speak to it. Like some other designers
might have something in their childhood that speaks to how
they design. So is there anything about your upbringing in
in the Midwest and Detroit that speaks to what you
put to pen and paper? Yeah, I mean, I definitely

(11:10):
think so. Again, going back to being a kid, just
like that, architecture, music, the design, like you think about
so many different things that that kind of pop out.
Even right now I'm wearing like Carhart my T shirt
and not even on purpose, it's just a it's a

(11:34):
good feeling. So yeah, I would definitely say so at
least from my my visual aesthetics, you know. But then
when it comes to like from a design perspective, I
would say, so it might not always be in what
I physically create, so you know, consciously, it might be subconsciously,

(11:56):
but even in the way that I like appreciate certain
how It's like if you if you think about like
the tall brick do places that that we have in
the Midwest. You know, the way that we dress is
a little bit different, the way that we speak is different.
So there's there's a lot of different things that that
pop up. And it might not be as I'm not
I might not be like very cautious of like yeah,

(12:18):
me doing it. It might just be like you know,
muscle memory not even noticing it. H I was reading
an interview where you talked about before you got too Easy,
and you said this in the in the interview said
when I went into the interview, I was talking to

(12:39):
them and I was like, Hey, I'll do this technical
designer role for now, but just so you understand, after
a year, I want to be a footwear designer. I
already had the tools and the knowledge. So after a
year being a technical designer, I was a footwear designer
that easy and so or Adidas maybe even before ye say,
I'm not sure which was it Adidas or Easy. Specifically
it was easy in Adidas, so it was like it

(13:01):
was a Dida's easy, gotcha, gotcha? And so I wonder
what gave you the confidence to speak up in that way,
like so many of us just want the opportunity to
get into something that could be special. But you were
effectively putting it like yo, I want, this is what
I want, and that could even put you at risk
of not getting it, but you were you had the confidence.

(13:21):
And what I wonder what gave you that? Uh? Man?
Just I just had to do it. To be honest,
I think it's just kind of my personality. It's like
at the end of the day, like you have nothing
to lose. Grandpa told me the same thing, like, you know,
you asked for what you want, all they can say

(13:42):
is no, and it doesn't know it really hurts you,
and I you know, I didn't. I didn't see anything
wrong with what I was saying. Also, I just came
from Skills, which was in Carlsbad, and I was a
product designer there. So for me, I was taking a
step back. I was about to be a senior designer
doing sports performance training equipment and stuff like that, but
it was gonna be a step down. So I wanted

(14:05):
them to understand like where my goals were, so then
I wouldn't I couldn't like say that it was ever
lost or it wasn't heard. It was like you have
to kind of you have to speak up for yourself,
represent yourself. Otherwise you know, they'll just say, oh, well,
you didn't tell me that you wanted to do that.
I didn't know, and that's a great response for them to,
you know, kind of cover up your progress pretty much.

(14:28):
So it was pretty That was probably the reason why.
And then also you know, understanding that I was going
to be one of the only black people again in
the space, especially for easy. I did the same thing
at Skills, like for about two years I was the
only black person at Skills. So for me, I was like,

(14:48):
you know, I was gonna stick out anyway, so I
might as well, you know, make it understood and know,
you know, before I even started in the brand. Yeah,
just so I'm clear when we talked about you know,
it was Adidas slash Yeasy. I'm curious on how that
relationship between Adidas and Easy was because I know, sometimes
it's okay Easy and the team can go do whatever

(15:11):
they want and they just showed they show up at
the end of the day and show Adidas what they did.
But is it more integrated that relationship between that Adidas
team and that Easy team. Yeah. Yeah, especially footwear. Apparel
was was separate at the beginning. Apparel was like a
part of Adidas as well Adidas Easy. But for footwear

(15:32):
it was pretty integrated. Like you know, working with people
like Steven Smith and and the team over over at Easy,
it was we were all one. So it was a
it was a group that we were working together every
single day. So yeah, it was It wasn't like I
was working in the Adida's office. I was working in
the in the Calabasas Easy office with the team. So

(15:54):
actually it felt like I wasn't even Adidas. I would
go I would go to Portland to visit the campus
and stuff like that, and you felt like you were
still just Easy. You didn't really feel like you were
a Beata. So it was it was interesting. Nobody made
it that way. It was just kind of how it
was set up, you know. And so further on the

(16:15):
question about your transitioning to a role that I'll say
this was beneath you in in your career trajectory, How
did it make sense for you? What was the thesis,
what was the thought process you went through to say,
you know what, taking this step back in my career
makes sense. Yeah. I mean the biggest thing I wanted

(16:37):
to get in full wear. My my friend Sarah, Sarah Sabino,
she she was a full wed designer on the team,
and she called me and she just said, hey, you
still want to get in full wear? And I was.
I was four years into my time at Skills, and
I was just like it was like a decent trajectory.
I had products out and I had patents already already out,

(17:00):
and on paper it looked like a step back, but
in reality it was like, I want to get into
full wear, so I'll take this, this chance and this
opportunity to also kind of come in as like a
childlike mindset where I can just learn and learn without
trying to sit there and be like, oh, already you know,

(17:21):
you know, big up my chest and be like already
know what I'm doing, Like I'm good. I was about
to be a senior blah blah blah. I didn't have
to do that. I could just come in there and
be very open to accepting knowledge and understanding without kind
of having the fault of being like thrown in as
a fullward designer and then someone telling me like, hey,
this guy's not working out. So it was it was

(17:42):
kind of a blessing. Even on paper that it might
look step backwards, it felt like a major like hop
leap forward for the people who don't myself included, understand
the whole difference between you know, a technical designer versus
a junior designer versus as a design director or a
senior director senior designer. Can you explain the differences between

(18:05):
those particular roles in a in the house. Yeah, it
all depends on the profession and the product that's being made.
But typically, like you can see it, you know, very
similar technical designer. Like you know, you come in there,
you're kind of doing blueprints and working on certain certain things.

(18:25):
And when I say blueprints is just you know, kind
of doing like the very technical drawings to then get
it communicated with the factory in China or with the
team in general. So whether that's a tooling or an
upper shell tech pattern, you're kind of doing that baseline.
So you're doing a little bit less of designing conceptual
you know, conceptualizing, and you're taking receiving those concepts and

(18:48):
trying to make them, you know, turn them into reality.
When it comes to the junior designer, you're you know,
you can kind of be doing both. You can be
doing the technical work and you can also be doing
a little you know, concepting. They might have you on laces,
they might be outshold design. Just's a few different things
like that. And then when you jump up to like
a forward designer, then you take on more projects and

(19:12):
you should be walking in from the content phase, so
like the sketch phase all the way through production. So
they bounced around a little bit. Yeah, oh yeah. And
so when you think about there's so many easy issues
particularly that have pushed the boundary of what we think about.

(19:33):
When you're thinking about boots or sneakers, they don't look
like any other sneakers in the market, or they didn't
before everybody else started to copy the style, I should say.
When you think about that, and you also think about
driving market demand, how do you balance creating something that
doesn't look like anything else and think about, Okay, this

(19:54):
thing has to sell also to be successful. Yes, that's
a super importan and that's a super important part of
the whole journey. And you know, honestly, yeay is the
reason why he's pushed so hard. So you know, him
being able to take that and then turn it into
a marketable product. You know, product is a little bit

(20:15):
different than you know, you putting it behind someone else.
And we can kind of see that when it comes
to you know, other people that are part of like
Adidas or other like you know, celebrities, how different their
life trajectory were was. You know, ya could put on
a sock or you could put on a shoe with

(20:35):
a bunch of layers and people would be like, oh,
that's that's quality versus you know someone else who might
not actually have that that reach and that convincing like manner.
So it was a little bit easier on our behalf.
But when it came to like pushing the boundaries of design,
it was very like holistic between himself and the design team,

(20:59):
like him really being specific of what he wants in
very detailed and then us making sure that we could
like be very like intricate in how we created and
made something to the liking of what he was looking for.
I want you to speak a little bit more on
that because I've heard stories about like, you know, he
actually does draw also, and he actually, you know, had

(21:19):
comes to the office with concepts. And I'm sure you've
worked with people who just say I want this thing,
go design it also and then't have a concept. So
talk to me about the different relationship and different working
types there is when you have somebody who actually has
some skill and they come to the office with jawings
versus just being given a task. Yeah, at the end

(21:43):
of the day, like a lot of people do just
take what's given to them when it comes from a
design perspective, or they might be a little bit nicer,
you know. I've heard stories about Pharrell where he's a
little bit you know, as we can all see that
he has like a very like caring soul. So when
it comes to sharing you know, footwear and designs with him,

(22:05):
it can be much different than when it comes to
the a where he's like, you know, you come in
and you show him something and he's liking it, but
he has a specific eye what he wants, so he
might take it and sharp, be it updated, or you know.
I think his mind works a lot different than a
lot of people's, where he has like this rolodex of

(22:27):
designs and footwear and names in his head and he
can like kind of call out to a specific shoe
or a specific area of with shoe and just be like, hey,
can we go get this and then translate it into
like how we would actually put it through our lens.
So it is much different working with you know, certain
people like you might best why athlete. You might take

(22:50):
the shoe and hand it directly to him, like I
did that at Skills where we worked on a product
and you know, it's it's less you know, apparel footwear focused.
It was more like, you know, something that they were
using to make themselves play better, whether it's football or basketball,
and so a lot of times they didn't have the
the burbage to be like giving great detailed feedback. They

(23:14):
might be like, yeah, that's cool and that's it, where
they might just accept the product as this and have
no feedback. But I think with Yay, it's more so
the sense where he's very just very detailed, very like
that detail orient mindset that he has is super specific
and it really does push the groundary. So you can
like put up one hundred different designs and only two

(23:38):
might be the one that we go forward with, and
you know, concept out, prototype out, sample out, and it's
just a different way of working. And that that goes
through all across his products, whether it's footwear, apparel, architecture,
you know, you name it. So talk to me, so

(23:59):
I want to understand differences in these working relationships. I
was interviewing Jeff Staple for this podcast also, and he
was talking about at his level or his the way
his business is designed. There's a bunch of designers there, obviously,
but there's designs that he had nothing to do with
one and some he's and some he said he probably

(24:20):
wouldn't have even put up. He like he wouldn't even
wear that, but he understands where he's at, like this
is what you know, I guess the market is the
many I'm I'm I'm pair of phasing that part, But
talk to me about like the different ways these fashion
houses work and these labels works where you can have
somebody like a Jeff Staple who's got you know, these

(24:41):
things out in the marketplace that he has ain't nothing
to do with and be you know, probably wouldn't wear
it himself because it doesn't sound like easy. Would ever
work that way? Yeah, yeah, yeah, it's tough. Like outside
of work with I think the only thing that that

(25:03):
I could think of that would be similar to it
just goes back to you know, I guess what Jeff said,
where you have this idea of what you want and
then if he goes into you know, Adidas or Nike whatever,
and he's putting up his idea of what he's looking for,
just meet ten filters. You know, that means ten designers

(25:25):
creating something for him and depending on you know, the brand,
the business unit, they might the marketing people might see
a direction for the design. The way we worked was
a little bit different because typically the marketing people they
give you like a brief, like here's the direction of

(25:45):
what we want for us. It was different, like he
would give us the brief, not not a paper, but
just like a brief like, hey, I want to waterproof food.
That could you know that could help me fly. So
you started figuring out, like, this is the idea of
what he wants. Now let's put it through the filter
of how are many designers we have, and then, you know,

(26:08):
make sure we have an outcome of what he's looking for.
I guess for Jeff's you know, the way that Jeff
was putting it, it is a little bit different. It's
just a different filter, right, Like that's the that's the
biggest difference when it comes to Easy versus any other
business unit or brand. You just have a different filter
or different people that are creating the filter and then

(26:30):
out putting the products. I want to talk about Joys
Shed a little bit first. If you can introduce us
to what you're working on with Joys, I'm gonna give
it to you to just introduce it first. Then I
have some questions. Yeah, So joycech had started off with
me just wanting to have something of my own. I
think it's important, Like we spend so much time giving

(26:51):
our life, designed mind and our creations to a brand
and you know, to different people, and we have nothing
to like have for ourselves, right, we have nothing that
we built ourselves and can say that it's like one
hundred percent ours. So you know, I was thinking, like
what could I create that would be you know, ultimately myself,
what would be me? And so I thought it was

(27:13):
like basketball shorts. I love basketball. I play it as
much as possible. I played growing up as a kid,
and you know, growing up, I would just buy if
I have money, I would just buy every single short.
I go go in Ebany and get the authentic or
the replicas of u NC or Detroit Pistons, whatever whatever
I could find, just something to be you know, tangible
and just see it. And I probably, I mean, I'm

(27:35):
not gonna lie. I probably have like a or I've
had over like two hundred pairs of different basketball shorts,
different brands, and so I was like, what can I
do that's gonna be real to myself? And that's where
it came with just the idea of having basketball shorts.
The naming was super hard, right because you know, I
was born in Detroit and left there when I was nine,

(27:56):
got to South Carolina. You know, it was there for
nine years, you know, until I grab your high school
eighteen and you know, going from Detroit to South Carolina,
everybody'd be like, yo, where are you from? And I'd
be like, oh, Detroit. So every single time for about
you know, five years, somewhere actually where I'm from, and
I would say Detroit because I've only been in South
Carolina for you know, short of my time. But then

(28:17):
when I went to college, that's where I started seeing people.
I started getting confused myself. Where am I from? Oh
I Detroit, but I just came from South Carolina. I
don't know what to really tell you. So anytime I
would say that, you know, the South Carolina people be like, yoh,
ain't gonna leave us out. So I had to try

(28:39):
to find a way to put the two together. And
what I did was I wanted to just represent both
at the same time. And so I grew up on
Joy Jeord Road in Mansfield, west side of Detroit, and
when I got to South Carolina, our first house was
on Holly Shit Road. So I was like, how do

(28:59):
I how do I make this right? So I took
joy Joy Road to Holly Shd to the first part
of that joy Shed put them together and it just
sounded right. It clicked for a little bit and I
was like, Okay, I can make this work. And that's
how it was born. Just from just from the idea,
at least the naming part of it. It's like, where's

(29:22):
my d NA? You know, where the two places that
influenced me the most? And how can I represent that
through a product or you know, through a look? And yeah,
that's that's where it all came from. How do you
go about repping where you're from in a way that
can translate successfully to people who have no affinity towards

(29:45):
you know, joy Road and how shed like, how do
you how do you do that? What does it matter
that they know what it means? I think? What what
what has worked or what I feel that work is
people being again being honest and truthful, truthful with themselves
and then that hopefully you know, comes across the right

(30:09):
way to the other people. Right, so if you can
like show your your honest self and be truthful to yourself,
like you know, the people who Detroy, the people from Almo,
South Carolina, you know obviously right off rip, they'll love
it just because of the naming, just because of like,
you know, who I am. But when it comes to

(30:29):
other people, that's when the design pustion comes in. I
think people will love the honest truth about you know,
why you create the brand and what you're trying to
do with it, and then also the products will then
speak for yourself, so you know, that's why it took
so long to get to where it's at right now.
And and as simple and simplistic and clean as it looks. Again,

(30:50):
I think that's where that detroited I've comes from that
that very simplistic look and not being like too loud,
but also being very you know, very like you're you
know yourself that Midwest like you're not We're not very
I don't feel that we're very loud, but we do
like we do know ourselves, and you kind of like, uh,

(31:13):
there's like a preparation of respect in the way you
carry yourself as well. So that's kind of how I
see the brand. You're very passionate as we discussed about
mentoring the next generation of black designers. What piques your
interest in who? In selecting who you're going to work with?
I mean, I can imagine you get a lot of emails,

(31:34):
a lot of d ms or you know whatever is
people reach out. You know, I want to be I
would work for free, I would do whatever just to
be around. Like, how do you what gets you excited
about somebody. I think the consistency right a lot of people,
and you're right, like definitely get a lot of d

(31:54):
ms or a lot of emails and I try. I
try my best to respond to them all, and it's
not easy, Like and I'm not I'm not even I
don't think I'm a big time at all. I'm just
like a small whatever person. I'm just chilling. And it's
tough still, so I can't imagine being you know, even
more you know, face forward to the public. But I

(32:18):
think the biggest thing is someone being very consistent. And
one thing I've learned from having mentors myself is once
I do get that person having a conversation, whether it's
the first or second, once that person shows that they
can kind of like be very like strategic and very
on top of the things that I do share with them,

(32:39):
that really helps. Like with one of my mentors, Jason Maiden,
like anytime that we have a conversation and anytime that
he shares his knowledge with me and then almost gives
me like a task, even if he doesn't say as
a task, I take it as a task, right, just
from playing sports. I try my best to make sure
that I come back to them with results, just so

(33:02):
I can say, like, hey, I didn't take what you
just said and the time you gave me for granted,
I made sure that I like went through, I built
what you said and I brought it back to you
so I can show it to you. So that consistency
and that person being under understanding of like the timing
and the knowledge share and then appreciating it and then
you know, finding a way to either share it back

(33:24):
with me or you know, give it to the next person.
That's what really really shows me that that person cares,
and it's you know, it feels good once you see
them doing that too. So it's the best part about
it when I think about the industries that are being
democratized in so many ways. If I want to drive

(33:44):
for a living, I don't have to go work for
a limo company or a bus company. I can legit,
just jump on uper and do it myself. I want
to be a musician, I don't have to get on
death Row or deaf Jam or whatever you know, or
good music. I can put out my music by myself.
From a fashion perspective, where's the opportunity for designers to

(34:05):
find success without you know, getting hired by a house.
You know, honestly, a lot of people have been doing
amazing jobs on Instagram and social media, which is it's
a lot different, right, Like they've been able to people
have been able to have their almost resume from creating

(34:25):
things online. Now that doesn't always turn into a product
or it turns into the opportunities, but I have seen
it work for a lot of people where you know,
some you might see somebody on Instagram and be like, hey,
like let's go get them and have a conversation. See
what else they can do. Then see you know how
they work and how their mind. You know how their
mind works. So I don't think that they know anyone

(34:49):
needs to jump, you know to a Nike or an Adidas.
I think it's a great opportunity for people that want
to do that, but you know, nowadays we haven't and
I don't want to see easier route, but you know,
multiple routes. It's not just like you know, Nike or
Adidas or a rebod. You don't have to go down
those paths. There's other ways around it, like you know,

(35:10):
creating your own brand not. You know, it's tough, it's tough,
but it's an opportunity that you kind of create for
yourself and then once you get to that point, people
hopefully will see it. Uh. And then also what's amazing
now is people are able to do like three D printing.
You know, I would speak to AI, but I'd rather

(35:31):
jump to the three three D printing because we've seen
it become you know, something major like Zellerfeld, you know,
creating three D and giving designers the opportunity to put
their brand or you know, put their ideas out there
into a physical form, because it's not always easy to

(35:52):
create a product or even especially not a shoot. A
shoe takes mold costs, it takes upper costs, you know,
and doing three D printing it also costs, but the
upfront it's not as much as like creating you know,
a person's own shoes. So again, I think you're right.
You don't have to go through like a house or
through a brand. You can always find other ways, and

(36:14):
I think those ways are definitely being opened up, like
three D printing, even you know AI conceptualizing and sharing
it on Instagram or TikTok. There's just so many new
ways of finding finding your voice and kind of being
able to share with other people. Two more things I
wanted to get to before I let you go. One.
I just thought this was super interesting. I was thinking

(36:35):
about this that hip hop has had an undeniable impact
on fashion. I think we would all agree with that.
And now you have afrobeats, which is, you know, top
of the charts, you know, a lot of music. I
was reading this tweet by a little duval the other day.
You talk about you don't have the afrobeats take over
because you know, you go to the club now all
they playing is afrobeats, And I wonder what you think

(36:59):
that impact may have on fashion just just afrobeats in general,
the culture of African the African culture number one, but
afrobeats more specifically. Yeah, I mean again, we've had we've
had an impact on America, on the world, ourselves, just
being black people in general. Like you know, they put

(37:21):
us on marketing campaigns. You know, they don't We're not
always behind the scenes creating the product or creating the
guidelines of the marketing plan, et cetera. But you know,
we are the reason why you know, fashion apparel. But
where all these things are in the space that it's
in today, now add on afrobeats or you know, the

(37:44):
kind of Africa it's just gonna make the takeover is
gonna be very interesting just because you know a lot
of us, even you know, being African black, you know,
black Americans, we have the ability to sit you know,
see our history here not always right. We don't see
it in our books, we don't always get to see

(38:05):
it in our on TV unless it's in a negative light.
But to be able to kind of have that connection
back to Africa and just being able to open up
the doors, it's going to be very exciting. And I
and I don't and I think that it's going to
be a lot different than people might think. Whether it's

(38:30):
like us going being able to go back to Africa
and have an experience in that experience really challenging what
we do and how we see things today and also
how people see Africa. You know, the way that it's
displayed in America isn't you know, it isn't always in
the best light. But you know, they can't put us,
they can't hold us in the dark anymore when it

(38:50):
comes to you know, how we travel there, how we
communicate with our with our own people. Uh, there so
I think that it's going to make a big difference,
and just in apparel, like not just in a bit
like a visual sense, Like visually we'll be able to
see it in the way that people wear their clothing
or their garments, the footwear that might come from it.

(39:12):
But also I think mentally that's where the big change
will be, not just for you know, Black Americans, but
for America, Europe, et cetera. Like how influential Africa is
not just in fashion but in everything else that you know, resources,
real resources, not like paper that has been turned into currency.

(39:36):
So I know that was long winded, but just my
mind started racing when she said that. I didn't know
how to answer that question. It was good, though, it
was really good. Lastly, I was listening to a previous interview.
Were you talking about, you know, not effectively creating in
a vacuum, And you talked about you know, design inspiration

(39:58):
and where you find inspiration and you said the best
place to find it from your perspective was in nature
and like literally go outside and be inspired by what
you see, the trees, the air, the whatever. And I
was I immediately thought about Michael Jordan because I grew
up as a big, humongous Michael Jordan fan. I remember

(40:18):
almost every sneaker in his line was designed after some
sort of vehicle like Corvette. And I want you to
talk about two things in closing, and what elements in
the shapes of your work. If you look at your resume,
what elements in nature do you most frequently find inspiration from?

(40:41):
Because if I think about it easy, I'm thinking it
probably like leaves probably if I'm thinking about nature. So
I'm gonna let you answer that, and then I want
I also want you to talk about the idea or
concept of both problems being all around you therefore opportunities
being all around you. Yeah. Yeah, you know, so when

(41:05):
it comes to the inspiration that that I take and
try to like implement in my design process or just
in design general. Uh, you know, I think that the
closest thing to us as humans are you know, other animals, right,
So just being able to see like how they live
their lives and how they work. Now, I'm not saying
I'm going out and like messing around with rattlesnakes or

(41:28):
anything like that, but you know, even watching it on
TV is very interesting just seeing how you know, a
panther might run, you know, same thing, like you know,
how a tinker us like a black cat to to
represent and create some footwear for for my just seeing
how you know, they live their lives and how fascinating

(41:49):
they move compared to the human body. But how also
you know, these animals are also more connected to the ground.
They're more connected to the earth versus versus how we
are where we have now removed ourselves from the areas
a lot more so that you know, just in the
design phase in general, it's trying to look at like how,

(42:10):
you know, how do we use bironmenticry? You know, typically
environmentry can be you know, almost anything that has to
do with nature. But how can we focus on like
animals and seeing how they live their lives and almost
either whether it's stripped back or in addition to create
things for ourselves appareil foot where you know, prosthetics. You know,

(42:34):
there's a lot of things like that that come off
of looking and creating off animals. And I think that's
that's probably where I gather most of my my information.
But I definitely you know, in nature in general, but
when it comes to animals that keep it on the
TV as much as possible. And and then for the
second question, Uh, can you repeat that? Yes, the second

(42:57):
part was in the idea of the both problems are
all around you and therefore the solution, the opportunity is
all around you, and just if you open your eyes
you can see opportunities all around you. Yeah, okay, So
for the second question, just like the problems and opportunities,
I think that's how a lot of you know, design
is created. That's you know, you might think that way,

(43:19):
but a lot of times it's you know, sometimes it's not.
But for me personally, it's like having an equation, right,
and it goes back to the idea of process and
progress through that process. So just understanding and seeing like
there are opportunities everywhere, how do you really take that

(43:42):
internally and then filter through your own lens because a
lot of people are I wouldn't call it like an opportunist,
but instead of really finding a problem, more people just
kind of like that what they're creating is not solution based.
You know, they didn't they're not solving a problem. They're

(44:03):
just creating extra two what's already out in the world.
And I can even say that about you know, there's
a lot of things out there that I like that.
But again, I think when it comes back to what
I said before, that honesty portion, even if you're not
necessarily solving a problem, you're creating this idea of like, hey,

(44:26):
there is a market for what I'm creating. There are
people that I'm looking for this specific thing, and it
might not be a specific problem, but you might just
be saying like, Okay, here's a group of people here,
these are the things that I want to represent. How
do I be honest with myself and then tell a
true story? So then that that opportunity then gains you know,

(44:49):
real life customers or consumers, but then also people that
feel a part of something that wasn't there before. So
you know, not to be like opportunists, but you're trying
to create like a safe space for other people. You're
trying to create a product that represents a certain group
of people that might feel not represented, if that makes sense.

(45:36):
Black Tech Green Money is a production of Blavity Afro
Tech on the Black Effect podcast network and iHeart Media.
It's produced by Morgan Debonne and me Well Lucas, with
the additional production support by Sarah Ergan and Rose McLucas.
Special thank you to Michael Davis, Vanessa Serrano, and Mayamoju.
Learn more about my guests and other tech thisss and
innovators at afrotech dot com. Enjoy your black tech, green money.

(46:00):
Share this to somebody, Go get your money. He's some love.
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