The Backside team and I had just gotten back to our Chinatown apartment after day one of Agenda NY ’14. It was my first time at the Agenda Show and my third time in New York so you can only imagine how overwhelmed I was (in the best way possible). It had been a long day and everyone was exhausted. The team decided to spend the rest of the night indoors with some Adventure Time and New York pizza. It was late and the loudness of the city had faded into a muffled static so I decided to step outside onto the balcony and reflect on my own adventure thus far.
My entire life I heard the phrase, “Your job is not who you are, it’s what you do.” What a 1950’s thing to say. Of course your job is part of who you are, it’s what you do for 40+ hours a week (more if you freelance). The reason people complain about Mondays and refrain from identifying with their careers is because they know they’re in the wrong place; whether it’s in the wrong career or the wrong company. The more relevant phrase is, “Mondays don’t suck, your job sucks.”
Throughout my college years as a full-time student, I’d worked in multiple jobs (sometimes at once) from corporate retail to office 9-5s, but I had never been happier with my career path since I began working at Backside. The first thing, Backside co-owner, Eric told me was, “I’m open to any ideas you have; everyone brings something different to the table – we’re a family.” That has resonated in me since. Being at Agenda with Backside made me realize how truly massive yet tight-knit the streetwear community is.
Our entire culture is heavily influenced by elements of our daily lives. Elements like hip-hop, alternative rock, skate, basketball, street art, graffiti and most importantly, the people we experience them with, our friends. We’ve created this culture together, so incorporating it into our jobs only feels natural. That’s why everyone is so proud of their work: their new product launches, their growing numbers in sales, their copywriting, their photo/video editing, their engaged client-base. That’s why everyone is so proud of their coworkers; their peers who work so hard to build the brands into what they have grown to represent. Backside is a prime example of what the power of a strong team with a wholehearted hustle can do. It's who we are.
I had been following Shepard Fairey’s work along with the OBEY brand for years. What intrigued me most was the message behind the fashions. I loved that the brand used reverse-psychology and sarcasm to speak on the commercial and political conditions of society. I found them effective because they brought together diverse subcultures of graffiti artists, musicians and skaters to relay a united message of self-empowerment. The more you question things, the more knowledgable you will be about the world around you – hence more powerful. “The Medium is the Message.” Genius.
Now, you could imagine how thrilled I was when my first professional opportunity in the fashion industry was a marketing/public relations internship at the OBEY, Loser Machine & Dark Seas headquarters. Those four months of commuting from LA to the OC while working another job and going to school full-time took a lot of drive (ha’). The consistent hustle got my creative juices flowing and completely flipped my perception of the future. After working with the OBEY posse my mind was set, this is the industry for me.
A business does well when it understands and engages with its target audience. A business excels beyond the norm when the working team consists of people who are apart of the target audience themselves. “Love what you do and you’ll never have to work a day in your life.” Believe in what you are working towards, channel your passion into everything you produce. It’s not just about clothes or accessories, it’s the lifestyle. That’s what OBEY taught me and two years later, here I am; I couldn’t be more thankful.