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  • Ken Jen

    Two names that abruptly come to mind when discussing top-notch celebrity jewelers are Johnny Dang, also known as “TV Johnny,” and Koreatown’s very own Ben Baller. Not only do they share an affinity for providing high-grade gems in extremely rare forms, both bling connoisseurs are of Asian descent.  LA-based jewelry designer Ken Jen is meticulously molding and polishing his own diamonds to shine bright in the industry, just like his OGs from the Far East.

    The 24-year-old entrepreneur’s come up is nothing short of spectacular. Born in Taiwan, Ken moved with his family to Shanghai at the age of seven.  After receiving a green card eight years later, Jen and his brother (sans parents) flew to the states---Austin, Texas to be exact.  “I was not a big fan of living in Texas,” Ken admits. “The culture is way different from China, but it wasn’t what I expected.  I was pretty young at the time so no complaints.  I was really there for school and to learn english.”

    Although he disliked the new setting, Jen managed to graduate High School with honors. As a matter of fact, his studious ways helped him gain a full scholarship to the University of Texas. During his freshman year, Ken was presented with the opportunity to work in the retail/wholesale industry by an Instagram buddy, which prompted him to immediately drop out of school and move to the West Coast in 2013.

    The city of Angels served as fertile ground that enabled Ken’s wildest dreams to bloom.  He became the COO of his comrade’s retail company in just two years. In 2015, Jen’s interest in the jewelry industry blossomed and Ben Baller himself eventually gave him a shot to work under his wings. Fast forward to now, the former apprentice is flying high all by himself as owner of his three months old custom jewelry company Adamant & Co.

    I recently sat down with the young CEO to further discuss his rise in the jewelry industry, celebrity clients, favorite pieces and fashion industry past. Check out our conversation below:

    FRENDY:   Where did you and your older brother crash when y’all moved to Austin?

    KEN JEN:  We moved there in 2008 and stayed with my dad’s friends, who were our guardians at the time.

    FRENDY:  What was so off putting about living in Texas?

    KEN JEN:  I didn’t know what the fuck I was doing. I moved to Texas mainly to learn English. I wasn’t sure what I would be doing after.

    FRENDY:  I came to the United States when I was seven years old from Haiti so I know all about the culture shock that you felt.  What HS did you attend in Austin?  Were you able to make a lot of new friends?

    KEN JEN:  I went to Crockett High School in Austin. I didn’t make many friends my first year and a half because of the language barrier. Eventually, I made some.

    FRENDY:  How long did you know the person from Instagram that blessed you with the opportunity of working in wholesale?

    KEN JEN:  Instagram is great for our generation to link with people. We were friends for about 6 months before he offered me the job.

    FRENDY:  There are tons of catfishes online, what made you trust in him so much?

    KEN JEN: The Internet is a dope place --- it brings a lot of dope people together. You just have to trust it.  We just had similar interests in certain things like fashion, music etc, and he was in the business I wanted to be in.  It was a win-win situation for both of us to work together.

    FRENDY:  Is it safe to say that you weren’t enjoying your stay at the University of Austin since you decided to dip from there at the drop of a dime?

    KEN JEN: All day!  It was one of the biggest decisions of my life. It’s all about trusting the process...taking risks.  Everyone thought I was crazy when I dropped out *Laughs*. I didn’t have a major in college nor did I know what I wanted to do in life.  I got into college on full scholarship, but I kinda went for my parents, you know.

    FRENDY:  Were your parents informed about the big move prior or after moving to LA?

    KEN JEN: No.  I booked a one way ticket to Los Angeles, logged into the wifi on the plane, facetimed my mom and told her the news. Of course my traditional Asian parents weren’t happy with my decision, but they didn’t say much because I was already on the plane.

    I knew I would make it in LA, if not, at least I tried. I mean, I was 20, I had nothing to lose *Laughs*.

    FRENDY:  *Laughs* Talk about taking initiative. What was the first order of business when you moved to California?  And was it difficult for you to flow with LA’s pace?

    KEN JEN: First order of business? Make money! It all came pretty easy for me because my mentors put me on.

     

    FRENDY:  What were your initial job duties in LA?

    KEN JEN: At the time, my friend and I were attending trade shows like Agenda, buying from other brands and then resale.

    FRENDY:  Where did you guys do the resale?

    KEN JEN: Online and physical shops in Asia.

    FRENDY:  What sparked your interest in the jewelry Industry? And how exactly did you get acquainted with the legendary Ben Baller?

    KEN JEN: I was always a fan of jewelry, but never thought I’d become a jeweler. When I was working with the guy from Instagram, we had a grand opening in China. We flew Ben out for the opening as a guest.

    FRENDY:  What made you depart from the business partnership with your Instagram friend?

    KEN JEN: Failed business because the resale industry wasn’t doing so well. Ultimately, I had to do what was best for me.

    FRENDY:  You said you didn’t get involved with the designing aspect of jewelry while working with Ben, as you only focused on the marketing/sales aspects of things. I see you’re with celebs now, molding their teeth for grills etc.  Are you currently involved with customizing pieces?

    KEN JEN:  Yes. Now I own my own company, where I'm hands on with all aspects of the business.

    FRENDY: Who do you run Adamant & Co. with?

    KEN JEN: I have two partners who are like family.

    FRENDY:  How do you obtain clientele? Word of mouth?

    KEN JEN: Absolutely!  Word of mouth is the best way to promote in the jewelry business. But at the end of the day, as long as I have good product and keep doing the right thing then we’re winning.

    FRENDY:  Do you remember the first person you helped make a piece for?

    KEN JEN: Yeah, it’s been about 2 years and I actually spoke to him just the other day.

    FRENDY:  What’s the process of making a custom piece?

    KEN JEN: To start we need a clear design, and then we will cut the wax of the design. After it is casted into gold. After the gold is done, we discuss diamonds. Last step is polishing/finishing.

    FRENDY:  What are some of your favorite jewelry designs?

    KEN JEN:  Machine Gun Kelly’s championship ring, Kendall Jenner’s grill, Lily Rose’s Chanel logo grill and my personal Bathing Ape piece. I like them because I was with the company I was working for, where I got to see them before the public.

    FRENDY:  In your opinion, what’s the biggest trend in the Hip Hop jewelry world right now?

    KEN JEN: Custom jewelry is changing the game. Jesus pieces, cuban links, iced out Rolex, tennis chains and custom grills are always trending.  The biggest one in my opinion are custom grills.

    FRENDY:  Most people reading this are aware of Nigo’s immense impact in the streetwear industry and jewelry culture. If he ever contacted you to provide him with a custom piece of your own creation, what would it be?

    KEN JEN: *Laughs* I would probably make him an iced out Chinese To-Go box.

    FRENDY:  Are your parents aware of your increasing success?

    KEN JEN: Yes. I’ve been taking care of them since I was 21.

  • Shemoi's Big Move

    In order to accomplish a great feat, sacrifice is needed. Whether it’s dedicating an ample amount of time to perfect a craft or cutting certain individuals off from your inner circle, a subtraction of some sort is necessary to enhance the chances of accomplishing a mission.  Shemoi Gidden did just that.

    The 22-year-old Lensman departed from his comfort zone of NYC to soar with the stars in Los Angeles.  Shemoi’s move may sound a bit cliché, but his rapid success is truly something to behold.  In less than a year of living on the west coast, the Portland, Jamaica native has already photographed more celebs than all of the Paparazzis’ in SoHo combined! From snapping Instagram’s hottest sensations to multi-talented celebrities like Keke Palmer, Shemoi is well on his way to possibly become La-La Land’s very own version of Mario Testino.

    I recently sat down with the thriving shutterbug to talk about his life in NYC, love for photography, the motivation behind his major relocation and find out exactly how he befriended all of these celebs.

    FRENDY: Man, I am extremely proud of you. Your success thus far is not a big surprise to me because I saw something special in you ever since we first met at BAPE. How are you taking all of this in?

    SHEMOI: Well, I’m taking it in pretty well. I’m basically speaking things into existence and then living them shortly after. If I tell myself that I’m going to be the greatest at what I do, believe it and have the drive for it, then it’s going to fall into place and eventually happen.

    FRENDY: I totally agree with you. When we initially got acquainted 4 years ago, you clearly expressed your passion for taking photos. When did your love for photography actually begin?

    SHEMOI: I fell in love with photography when I came across a famous photographer named 13th Witness on Instagram around 2012. I fell in love with his work because he had an uncanny method of capturing a photo in a way that it draws your attention to every detail.  He inspired me so creatively and I realized that shooting photos isn't just about capturing an image, it’s about giving that image a certain character and lifestyle to it .

    FRENDY: What was the first camera you started shooting with?

    SHEMOI: I started off with a Canon t2i. After making some good money I ended up getting a Canon 7D.  I hated that one so I saved up to buy a Canon 5d mark III.  Now I shoot with a Canon 5d mark III, mark II, Sony a7s for video and the big boy himself a Canon 1dx mark II.

    FRENDY: Are there any specific features you look for when purchasing a camera?

    SHEMOI: Basically full frame and fps for video. You need both for everything.

    FRENDY: You’re originally from Jamaica and I know how skeptical Caribbean parents can be when their child has an urge to go down the “risky” creative path.  Did you receive any sort of criticism from your parents about your dream to become a professional photographer?

    SHEMOI: Oh, my mom didn’t take me serious one bit!  I tried my best to show her that my career choice can take me places, but she wouldn't budge. It only took for me to pack up my things, leave the house and move to state where I was completely alone for her to see that I mean business.

    FRENDY: Much respect for taking that bold step. When did you move out West?

    SHEMOI: I moved out on January 1st, 2017. I literally did a “new year, new me“ at the time and I only told 3 people I was leaving.  My mom was included in the 3.

    FRENDY: Yeah, I had no clue you left for California until I saw you consistently take new pics in a sunny, palm tree-filled setting *Laughs*.  Did you have any connections in LA prior to moving there?

    SHEMOI: Yeah, I felt like I went to the wrong state all my life . LA is where I should of been years ago because I wasn’t happy at all in New York to be honest.  I wasn’t around people that were willing to take risk or ambitious like how I am. It was the biggest turnoff to me about NYC.

    I met people in the year of 2015 that kept on telling me to move to LA until i was just like, fuck it, it won't hurt.

    FRENDY: Those people were New Yorkers or Californians?

    SHEMOI: Californians.

    FRENDY: So since moving to New York at the tender age of 6, you felt like you didn’t belong there?

    SHEMOI: Well, at the time growing up I didn’t know my worth until my high school days.

    I never knew I was going to move to LA but people just said that I belonged in LA all this time because of how happy I’ve been since I moved here.

    FRENDY:  I’m guessing you didn’t leave any real friends behind in New York?

    SHEMOI: It's not about having real friends. I had to figure myself out not just as a person, but also a businessman.  I needed to make sure that I’m on the right path and if someone was my friend they would understand why I moved and look it as motivation. This world is tough and I’m all about helping people, but I can’t help people when I need to help my self. All I want in life is to be killing it and look over to the side and see my brothers killing it. And as harsh as this may sound I have to go by my word that I can't be around you if you’re not driven by anything, because that can bring me down. The last thing I want in my life is to impede my development.

    FRENDY: What do you love about LA (besides the babes, of course)?

    SHEMOI: Man what is there not to love about LA , opportunities is just in arms reach , it only took me a month to meet people that were already on, like really on. All it takes here is for you to just meet one person that believes in you, and wants to help you with your aspirations and dreams.

    FRENDY: What sets of events occurred that allowed you to work with so many Instagram stars and celebs?

    SHEMOI: I was introduced to a man named Eric Galen, who is the one guy that believed in me to start it all. He's very well connected, and a lot of his clients are the biggest influencers and celebrities I wouldn't even dream of meeting but he makes it all happen.

    FRENDY: Do you remember your very first shoot in LA?

    SHEMOI: Yeah man, I could never forget that! Before moving to LA I was prepping myself to shoot for Zanerobe, and I thought it was a good idea to change the scenery and go out to the desert . We brought out jeeps, drones, real katanas, etcs we did a lot that day.

    FRENDY: Who is your favorite subject to shoot thus far?

    SHEMOI: I don't have a favorite subject to shoot -- I think it's better to say I like to capture the lifestyle of a subject. I feel like my photos tell you a lot about the person I shoot just on the way how I center the person in the image to focus the viewer's eyes, giving the intimacy of the subject and the viewer.

    FRENDY: I saw that you just came back from the first weekend of Coachella 2017.  Did you go for work or leisure?

    SHEMOI: Ah man! Coachella, Coachella, Coachella I look forward to that weekend for so many reasons.   It's mainly for the connection aspect of it and you also get to meet some of this biggest artist that kills the game on a more personal level.  Plus you get to make money depending on your profession.

    FRENDY: How long are you planning on living in the City of Angels?

    SHEMOI: LA is my home now, I can't see myself living in New York anymore.  If you fly first class on a regular basis, would you go back to flying coach? I definitely won't!

    FRENDY: Without photography, where do you think you would be in life?

    SHEMOI: I'll prolly be lost!  Still in school, hating life and going by the same routine for a long period.

    FRENDY: What can we expect from you in the near future?

    SHEMOI:  It's for me to know and you to find out brother. *Laughs*

  • Beauty Behind the Garments

    A few months back, I deleted my old Tumblr account and decided to start things fresh with my newly found “Frendy Vibes ” flow.  While skimming through various pages on the popular social networking site, I would regularly stumble upon numerous photographs of a uniquely striking female.  Ok, most of you are probably thinking, “Duh! its Tumblr, tons of hot girls are scattered on there,” but this particular fashionista was extremely consistent with her stylish aesthetic. 

    Remaining true to my investigative nature, I tracked down the beauty to find out who she really is behind the meticulous garments.  Check out my exclusive sit-down with her below:

    Frendy:  Pardon my ignorance, but I honestly thought “Maki Rolls ” was your real name at first.  What is the meaning behind your Instagram handle?

    Alice:  *Laughs* Alot of people call me Maki and the worst part is I respond to it! My name is Alice. Everything was taken so I had to come up with something different. I remember sitting on my bed last September thinking I love sushi, and I guess “Maki Rolls” just came to my mind. A lot of people don't know what a Maki Roll is (which surprises me every time,) but it's actually just the round sushi pieces that are wrapped in seaweed.

    Frendy: Where are you originally from? And how was life growing up there?

    Alice:  I was born in Yancheng, China. It's a city two hours south of Shanghai. I moved to Toronto, Canada when I was 6 and then New Hampshire, USA a year later.  I barely remember anything from life in China and Canada, so I just say that I grew up in Nashua. I lived there from the age of 7-15, and then moved to Europe (Oslo, Norway) from 15-present. 

    Life in Nashua was pretty normal (at least to the onlooker.) Living the whole American dream with a house, dog and a fence in a nice neighborhood. I was the biggest nerd and had perfect grades in school. My personal and private life was a whole different story though.

    Frendy: Did your love of fashion come about at an early age?

    Alice:  I've always really liked clothes since I can remember. I didn't start being "stylish" until I moved to Oslo and I definitely never thought of taking a career path in fashion until earlier this year actually.  I was taking courses for my Masters in Finance thinking I was going to be an investment banker.  One day, I just realized that I'm actually a creative person and wanted to work with clothes, so I immediately quit Masters school.

    Frendy:  What did your parents think when you stopped going to school for your Masters degree?

    Alice: They were pretty shocked at first, but at the same time both my mom and stepdad have been a bit of adventurers themselves when they were young. They've gone out and explored the world before they settled anywhere. And that's what I'm doing. So they get it. 

    Frendy: For those who are not aware, what is your occupation?

    Alice:  Right now, I'm working as a consultant for a brand based in LA, in both brand management and creative direction. I also do freelance styling. Most would also say I'm a blogger, but since I don't have a blog, I guess I'm an Instagram influencer.

    Frendy: Can you recall your first big break in the fashion world?

    Alice: What I'm doing now is my first big opportunity I would say. Building a brand together with someone, having a load of responsibilities. It gives me real experience in all aspects of the field.

    Frendy: Have you faced any sort of discrimination as a female in such booming industry?

    Alice:  No, I actually feel that being a female in the streetwear scene dominated by dudes makes you stand out more. I've never worked with streetwear, I just wear it a lot and have a lot of friends in the scene.

    Frendy: You recently moved to LA. Was it work-related or simply because you desired a change of scenery?

    Alice:  I’m here for a few months first and see what’s up. It was both work-related and because I needed a change. I fell in love with LA during my first visit in October and had to come back!

    Frendy: Public transportation is certainly not effective in Los Angeles as it is here in New York, are you able to maneuver in your new home without great hassle?

    Alice:  Oh yeah, definitely. People don't use public transportation here-ubers are super cheap, and usually for work meetings I get picked up in the morning so that's not a hassle at all. I live in West Hollywood so it's a five minute drive to everything.

    Frendy: You have an incredible, natural sense of style.  Do you undergo an intricate process to choose the perfect outfit?

    Alice:  Not at all…I just put on whatever I feel goes together. People probably think I spend hours picking out my outfits but I really spend 10 minutes max.

    Frendy: Your knowledge of the fashion industry is equally impressive as your striking look.  How important is it for someone to know the backstory of a particular label or fashion house?

    Alice:  To be honest, I know very little about any particular label or designer. I feel that lot of people who have been in fashion for a while (especially high fashion,) and have gone to fashion school know every single detail and history about designers. They take it very seriously.  I just haven't been in the industry long enough to really "care" yet.

    Frendy: What are some of your favorite brands right now?   And what exactly makes you so fond of them?

    Alice:  My favorite is Gosha Rubchinskiy, simply because the brand provides quality garments that are worth every penny.  Also, everything about the line is dope af, from the aesthetics to the models.

    Y Project, Alyx Studios, G.V.G.V, Enfants Riches Deprimés are up there too. For me to like a brand, I need to be captivated by the way it is presented. It's not even about the design of each piece but the whole brand universe.

    Frendy: Music and fashion go hand in hand. What sounds inspire you the most?

    Alice:  I wouldn't say I'm inspired by music like that...but either Travis Scott's new album and The Weeknd's new album Starboy, is literally on repeat all day.

    Frendy: I’m asking this question on behalf of all the fellas out there: do you have a particular type? Is it necessary for him to be a ‘fashion head’ in order to gain your undivided attention?

    Alice:  No, I don't have a particular type, but I do like someone who can intellectually stimulate, challenge and inspire me. I would want someone that "gets it," and I feel very few do.

    Yes, he would need to have good style to have my attention *laughs* I would prefer someone who wasn't fully submerged in the fashion scene just because it's already such a small world, and I want to learn different aspects of life from someone.

    Frendy: What would you like to say to all the girls who are trying to work in the fashion field, but have absolutely no clue of how to get their feet wet?

    Alice:  I get this question almost every day in my email and dm. People think there is only that one "correct" way, but there are countless options. There are so many degrees and backgrounds you can take: Marketing/PR, architecture, graphic design, business, art, design. 90% of people in fashion never even went to fashion school.

    Also, put yourself out there! Instagram is a GREAT tool for showcasing your work or just sense of style/mood boards. Like they say, “Instagram is the new CV.”

    Frendy: One last question, which do you prefer: Skittles or Starburst?

    Alice:  SKITTLESSSSS.

    Follow Alice on instagram here.

  • GOLF WANG 2016 Fashion Show

    Following the footsteps of Kanye West, Tyler The Creator extended his creative genius to manifest an extravagant fashion show for his own respective clothing label, GOLF WANG.

    The star-studded event took place at visionary house, MADE LA, and included everything you would expect from the exuberant FLOG GNAW general.

    Check out the radicalness for yourself below:

  • Pharrell's Pink Beach Party

    Last night in Los Angeles, Pharrell Williams hosted the launch party of his Pink Beach collection with longtime collaborator Adidas Originals.

    The colorful kickback was held within a bright pink studio space with white clouds, pink sand, pink umbrellas and even pink palm trees!  Furthermore, a few of P's musical buddies were in attendance which include A$AP Rocky, Big Sean, Tyler The Creator, DOPE star Shameik Moore and many more.

    Pharrell's latest line with Adidas debuted on May 5 and is available at Adidas Originals, Billionaire Boys Club flagship stores, and online.

  • Supreme x Stone Island SS '016 Preview

    Stone Island and Supreme are back at it again with an epic collaboration!

    The Italian luxury sportswear company and US cult skateboarding brand are so pleased with their partnernship they decided to conjure up some more awesome clothes for the Spring/Summer '016 season.  

    This time around the stylish yet techniqual garments are made up of a Trench Coat in Heat Reactive (Stone Island’s research heat-sensitive fabric), Tracksuit in garment dyed and camouflage printed Nylon Metal, Crewneck sweater in 100% pima cotton with reflective Stone Island / Supreme print, Striped cotton T-shirt (pigment printed), Crusher hat and 6 panels cap in Heat Reactive fabric and an ultra strong air and water tight Drybag® duffle bag by Ortlieb.

    Lookout for these exclusive items as they are released on March 17th on the Stone Island app & Los Angeles Store.

  • Stone Island's LA Store Opening

    It's official! Italian luxury sportwear brand Stone Island has opened it's first U.S store location in LA.

    I'm sure tons of you have been google'n all over the net, trying to find out if Carlo Rivetti's beloved line has an actual store in the States, so this news is definitely a relief.  The La Brea located shop is about 3,000 square feet long and is equipped with Stone Island's 2016 Spring/Summer collection.  

    Furthermore, the brand is displaying it's Reflective Research ’992–’015 exhibition (just like it did in New York and Milan) to commemorate the store's inauguration. The special showcase will end on March 13th, so make sure you check that out before it ends.

    Next stop for SI is New York.  Hopefully that location's shop will open it's doors sometime next month.

  • Jhené Channels Tupac

    Today marks the birth of Tupac Shakur, a legend not only for the Hip-Hop community but an entire generation.  The Thug Life prophet’s passion for his craft and worldly change has impacted many of today’s brightest stars including Jhené Aiko.

    In commemoration of Pac’s arrival on this plane, the Los Angeles songstress teamed up with photographer Danny Williams and MTV to recreate three of his iconic photos. 

    Check the rest out below:

    R.I.P Pac.  I'll continue to make the bald headed brothas prosper!

  • Pharrell's Lavish Pad

    When you’re talented and humble as Pharrell Williams, it’s perfectly fine to own a home that’s over the top!  According to Curbed LA, the 2015 CFDA Fashion Icon award recipient just bought a whopping 7.14 million dollar crib located in the Laurel Canyon section of Los Angeles.

    The 1.55-acre hillside estate, designed by Belzberg Architects, contains 6 bedrooms and utilizes walls of glass and sliding doors from the living room to the bedroom to emphasize the location’s amazing view! Furthermore, the home features a two story guesthouse, a motor court, and infinite pool and a deck on top of the garage that serves as an outdoor screening room designed to watch films projected onto the side of the guesthouse.  Talk about living your wildest fantasy right?!

    Hard work truly pays off and as P infamously stated, “My nigga, you can do it too!”.  Peep the flicks of the ballerific pad below:

  • 2 Bad

    “Dom Kennedy season approaching, f*ck whatever y’all hearing!”  At least that’s what his loyal listeners are shouting.  The Leimert Park legend is scheduled to unleash a brand spanking new album rightfully titled By Dom Kennedy in the nick of summer where he shines the most!

    Earlier today Dom released a scorching tune from the highly anticipated project titled “2 Bad” featuring Tish Hyman filled with ever so sweet melodies that’ll have you rapping at every fine dime passing by in a sundress.

    Sing along below: