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  • Andre's Way

    A stable nine to five does wonders for the psyche due to the fact that it prevents constant worries about unnecessary hassles, such as accumulated, unpaid bills or lack of money for transportation and shelter. However, for wild-hearted artists, a regular corporate gig may be a hindrance preventing them from living life at maximum potential.  Andre L. Perry is an extremely valiant soul who ditched a lucrative career in the digital advertising field to pursue his passion as a lifestyle photographer.

    I met Andre at BAPE three years ago, and at first sight, I thought he was a stylist or worked in the entertainment industry in some way. I eventually found out that his occupation was quite the contrary to my calculation.  The suave lad with the cooler-than-thou swag and I kept in touch through Instagram, where I rapidly witnessed his lightspeed growth as a photog—pardon me, a connoisseur in visually capturing “vibes”—particularly of the millennial African-American community.

    I recently sat down with the prosperous lensman to converse about his corporate past, drastic career change and life as an entrepreneur. Check out our dialogue below:

    FRENDY:  When we initially met you worked for Complex, right?

    ANDRE:  I think when we first met I was working for Nylon magazine. I was working in Ad Operations which has nothing to do with what I’m currently doing now. Ad Operations deals with ads you see on a publisher’s website.  The ads you usually see on a publisher's page, I was responsible for managing that. I was responsible for making it appear to the right audience, making sure it clicks through the correct website, making sure that the wording was correct, ect.  There’s a lot of analytics involved, tons of reporting.  I was in excel all day, everyday—again nothing creative, nothing to do with what I’m doing now.

    FRENDY:  Oh ok, what were you doing over at Complex?

    ANDRE:  Same thing.  Ad Operations.

    FRENDY:  Why did you decide to move from Complex to Nylon?

    ANDRE:  I got fired. *Laughs*

    FRENDY:  *Laughs* Damn, what happened over there?

    ANDRE:  I knew Ad Operations was not my thing, and at the time, that was the only craft I was good at—I really didn’t care for it though. As a result, I wasn’t going above and beyond, or producing at the same level as when I first got hired at all of these jobs with the same position.  The only reason why I kind of stayed in the field for such a long time was because it paid well.

    FRENDY:  How long did you stay at Complex?

    ANDRE:  Almost a year.

    FRENDY:  That was your first job out of college?

    ANDRE:  No, so my first “real” job out of college was YellowPages.com.   That was when I was living in Atlanta. It was more of a digital sales position—I stayed in the digital world just because I was accustomed to it.

    FRENDY:  What did you actually major in college? 

    ANDRE:  I went to the Art Institute of Philadelphia and my first major was actually photography.  I was pretty much my professor’s muse, but after my second semester I bailed on the subject because I wasn’t shooting what I wanted to shoot. It was moreso technical than creative, so I had to really make a decision about what I was going to study for the rest of my college career.  I just decided to go into marketing since I had somewhat of an interest in it.

    FRENDY:  You’re fully invested in photography right now so it just goes to show how life comes full circle.  When did you realize in Nylon that Ad Operations was no longer something you wanted to do?

    ANDRE:  I actually got fired from there as well.  Working at Nylon reignited my interest in photography. I knew I wasn’t going to stay there for long, so I took advantage of the situation and started to express my passion for photography.  I informed people at the job that I was capable of shooting.

    I had an idea for featuring the raincoat company Stutterheim on Nylon Guys (which was ran by only just one person).  So I reached out to them, got a couple of coats and models to shoot. I told the person that ran NYLON Guys and got the ok for the spread.  At the end of the day, we were trying to push Nylon Guys but Nylon was trying to discontinue the section because it wasn’t making any money.  It was also around the time when Nylon was transitioning to a different webhost.  Nylon Guys was running from a different host from Nylon.com, so it was almost like they were running as two different businesses which didn’t make sense.  When Nylon.com relaunched, Nylon Guys wasn’t a part of it.

     FRENDY:  Crazy.  Let’s take it back for a bit.  Where did you grow up?

    ANDRE:  Philadelphia and South Jersey.  I was born and raised in West Philly, moved to South Jersey around Junior high school, and then spent most of my young adult life back in Philly.

    FRENDY:  How was it like growing up in Philly?

    ANDRE:  Philly at the time was very hood fab.  This was the era of Kim, Biggie, Diddy and Mase--everything was about being flashy, fly and living a music video lifestyle. I didn’t have much friends, I just always knew there was more to life.  I knew if I stayed in Philly I would of been stuck.

    FRENDY:  When did you move to Atlanta?

    ANDRE: After I graduated college in 2006, I moved to Atlanta and lived there for about four years. To be honest, I had no idea what I was going to do there.  Technically, my first job was working for Sprint in ATL right after college because I simply needed money to live.  After that, I worked for other cellphone companies (including Helio) then worked for the Yellow Pages.

    FRENDY:  What was your working title at those cell companies?

    ANDRE:  Just selling phones.  Nothing creative or fab.

    FRENDY:  How did you go from selling mobile phones to YellowPages.com?

    ANDRE:  They simply had an opening in their online advertising department and I needed money.  Back then, there was no company I felt compelled to work for—I just needed to survive. I stayed with them for two years then moved to New York.

    I still didn’t know what I really wanted to do when I moved here, so I started working at Zara. I was doing the visuals for their store windows. I just knew somebody on Facebook who referred me to work there.

    FRENDY:  Did you enjoy working at Zara?

    ANDRE:  I didn’t like the job because it really didn’t leave room for creativity.  The higher ups were very specific in how they wanted their mannequins dressed, and I just realised that I didn’t care so much about the details that goes into dressing them. A piece of clothing could be off by a quarter inch and usually there would be an entire two-hour discussion about it. I stayed there for about eight months and then got fired.   After that situation, I went to selling digital ads for CBS Radio.

    FRENDY:  Wait a minute.  You studied marketing in college, how were you getting all of these advertising gigs?

    ANDRE:  There’s not necessarily a trade that needs to be studied for selling ads because at the end of the day it’s just sales.

    FRENDY:  There are tons of unemployed people out there, you’re telling me they have a good chance of getting work in that particular field?

    ANDRE:  Well, it’s not that easy.  Fortunately, my resume is filled with previous sales jobs. Some of them didn’t necessarily involve selling online ads, but there was a quota I had to meet each month. When I went to these job interviews I sold myself on how I met the quotas and how I overcame certain challenges.

    FRENDY:  When did you decide to pick up the camera again? Was it during your time at Nylon?

    ANDRE:  I actually decided to pick up the camera again while working for Complex in 2014.

    FRENDY:  What inspired you to do so?

    ANDRE:  It’s a funny story. I’ve always been an android user, and when Instagram came to androids I made a conscious decision to not just post selfies. As everyone knows androids take better pictures than Iphones, so I would always take these dope pics on my phone and post them on the app.  Then, my friends who happen to be bloggers reached out and inquired about the camera I shot with, I said I just used my phone.  Since I didn’t own a camera, they said they would provide me with one to shoot them and I agreed. They provided me with a Canon T3I.  The pictures from that shoot came out great and shortly after I picked up my very first camera (Canon T3i).

    FRENDY:  After the shoot were you compelled to take photography seriously?

    ANDRE:   Well, I didn’t know I was going to make a career out of it.   I just knew that I liked it at that time.  It was like a drug in a sense where I instantly felt happy when I started shooting, and I wanted to continue it. 

    The Four Pins blog actually inspired me to start capturing street style, so I would always hang out in SOHO (which is where we met) to capture cool and stylish people.  I was gradually getting deeper into photography during my Nylon days.

    FRENDY:  Where were you posting all of your street style photos?

    ANDRE:  Just on my Tumblr and Instagram.

    FRENDY:  Let’s fast forward a bit.  What were you doing after you got fired from Nylon?

    ANDRE:  I was looking for work. I eventually got hired at BET for Ad Operations and stayed there for just a year.  I actually quit that job and the reason I did so was because I established a good relationship with my boss Nicole Cosby (we were brought on around the same time).  When she announced that she was quitting, I decided to do the same. 

    She played a real important role in aiding me to be where I am today. The reason why we left is because BET didn’t have their sh*t together.  We really were rooting for them, but internally it didn’t make sense to be there and invest so much energy in trying to change things around when the company is stuck in their ways.  As much as my boss tried, nothing happened.

    After BET, I went over to SpinMedia which consists of Spin Magazine, Vibe magazine etc.  Again same job in Ad Operations, but this time around I was also assigned as a media planner. I didn’t have that much experience in that field and it became overwhelming.  A media planner makes up a plan for a brand’s exposure online, then the plan is sent to a salesperson who pitches it to the company. The salesperson and company would negotiate what the plan would actually be and then it comes back to me to execute. Unfortunately, At SpinMedia I was not only in ad operations but also had the responsibility of coming up with the media plan and executing it.

    In SpinMedia’s culture it was normal, but not necessarily normal in other companies.  I wasn’t fully aware of that when I signed up for the job. It was just too much and I left the company after six months.

    FRENDY:   So when did you decide to take on photography fully? Of course, I understand that you had to survive which is why you worked all of these jobs, but what made you consciously turn it up a notch as a shooter?

    ANDRE:  The good thing about all my jobs was that they all paid great. I had about $30,000 saved in my banking account while I was working at SpinMedia.  I was 33 and then, you know, as a human being we all compare ourselves to how others are living.  I thought I wasn’t living my best life, I wasn’t living my purpose. Photography was my only passion that lasted this long.  There were so much things I thought I loved doing, but over a period of time those passions faded away.  One of my goals before moving to New york was to work for Complex and BET because I always thought it would be cool to work at those companies. When those dreams materialized I was totally disappointed.  But with photography, my high expectations were just like  how thought they would be.

    I remember getting out of work on January 14, 2016 and literally crying all the way from the train station to my home because I was fed up with not living my purpose.  Since I had money saved I sent out an email saying, "Effective Immediately: I am quitting this job."

    FRENDY:  Wow! Good for you. What did you after quitting SpinMedia?

    ANDRE:  Within 2 weeks after I sent the email I moved to Brazil for about a month. I went over there to relax a bit and take pictures.

    FRENDY:  Many people who are reading this interview may be thinking, “why is he crying?  This dude has a great job, he has money in the bank. What’s there to be sad about?” What do you have to say in response to that?

    ANDRE:  Well, at the time I wasn’t traveling.  You’re always going to want to accomplish more goals after achieving the ones you already set for yourself.  If you have $100,000 in the bank, you’re going to want $200,000. An artist can have the biggest record of the year, they’re going to want an even bigger record the following year. Every goal I set for myself was fulfilling at that time, but then I always needed more.  And as I said before, my passion for photography is endless, so I had to pursue a craft that actually gave me joy rather than financial security.

    FRENDY:  What did you do after your Brazil Trip?  Did you move back to New York?

    ANDRE:  Before quitting SpinMedia, I reached out to travel a company that documented group trips called, Travel Noire. They wanted me to shoot in Morocco for a long period of time, unfortunately I just started the job at SpinMedia so I couldn’t take the time off.  While I was in Brazil I hit Travel Noire again since I was free and they booked me.  That was my first official photography job during April of 2016.

    FRENDY:  How long were you shooting for Travel Noir?

    ANDRE:  It was all project based,I shot about 3 trips for them. Two in Brazil and one in Italy.  I did my first trip at Travel Noire back in April of 2016, then when I came back to New York I had nothing.  So in between assignments for the company I was still figuring out what I was going to do for consistent pay. That’s when Nicole Cosby (my former boss at BET) came back in the picture.

    When I was over at BET, one of the things I did was share my photography with everyone. I also did that at SpinMedia. Basically, I made sure to let everyone know that I had interest in becoming a photographer at my latest corporate jobs.  Nicole knew that I wanted to become one, so she referred me to RushCard, Russell Simmons’ pre-paid debit card company, since they were looking for photographers. They became my very first major client.  That all happened in June of 2017.

    FRENDY:  Was it unexpected for you to get the gig?

    ANDRE:  There was a lot of things that went into getting the job. It was an easy sell for them, but it wasn’t necessarily easy where I just had a camera and was at the right place at the right time.  The style of photography that I do is very niche—It’s commercial lifestyle advertising. What I capture is real life moments of real people.  I decided to do that early on because there’s not a lot of black photographers who showcase lifestyle images. I made sure whatever photos I decided to take from that point on would reflect the brands I would want to work for.

    When I was shooting for Travel Noir I decided to take on a passion project by creating a coffee table book called, “Happy Black People.” So fast forward to my meeting with RushCard, once Nicole made the connection, I already had a portfolio that represented what the company was looking for. 

    FRENDY: It’s all about taking initiative, and not waiting for any particular lucky situation to get a gig.

    ANDRE:  Yes, exactly!  One thing that has made me successful is the passion that I have for photography. There’s not a lot of people that would want to make a photobook simply for the love of it.  I didn’t do it to make money, I just created it to share my work. I love showing my photos to people.

    FRENDY:  When did your love for photography actually begin? I know you partly studied it in college, but what sparked your interest in shooting?

    ANDRE:  *Laughs* It started with the movie, Love Jones. The movie was all about the renaissance black man and I just fell in love with that idea.  Even though Nia Long played the photographer role, that’s what actually sparked my interest in photography.

    FRENDY:  What was it about the movie that specifically triggered your interest in photography?  I’m sure you were aware of other photographers prior.

    ANDRE:  I didn’t know anything about photography at that time. It was just the idea. This was also during the era that neo-soul was very big, and you know me being in Philly, it was really big there. There was a particular section of neo-soul that sort of had the photography vibe, so it just elevated my love for it.

    Whatever someone’s passion is, you kind of like have to go back to where it all sparked and realize it just came from this small source of inspo. And then it just snowballs into this bigger thing.

    FRENDY: True love always comes back when you set it free.  Obviously, your love for photography was deep inside of you, but you had to go through the “valley of death,” so to speak, to experience the opposite of your passion just to realize your true purpose.

    ANDRE:  Yup!

    FRENDY:  How do you go about getting clients as a photographer?

    ANDRE:  There’s really no one way of getting them. If you’re a freelancer, you’ll have to rely on your personality.  That’s one thing that I discovered. I’m an introvert at heart, I don’t necessarily like reaching out to people for business so I really have to depend on personal relationships.  If you’re passionate about something, people will be aware.  For example, you’re a writer, that’s pretty much what people are going to instinctively know about you because you are consistently providing new reading content. So if photography is a person’s passion, their name should be easily associated with the craft.  That’s where the opportunities lies.

    When it comes to photography most people only think of fashion, celebrity and documentary styles.  But there are a lot more avenues in the field that generate tons of money they aren’t aware of.  There’s architectural photography, sports photography, and many more.  So a person that is interest in shooting pics for a living should study markets that aren’t necessarily popularized.

    It’s also good for an aspiring photographer to study the companies they would want to work for and get familiar with their imagery. For example, Condé Nast has a very specific way of shooting the men who are featured in their publications.

    FRENDY:  Who have you worked with so far?

    ANDRE:  Right now, my main client is RushCard.  Since I signed a contract with them, I’ve been blessed with tons of work.  I shoot for them about 4 to 5 times a month.

    FRENDY:  How do you go about booking the models you work with? Through an agency?

    ANDRE:  Yup, I use an agency called Instagram *Laughs*.  I use a lot of the same models over and over again, but they also refer me to more. I’m at a point where when I reach out to a model, they either have heard of me already or they simply reach out first.  It’s all about word of mouth and social media for me.

     

    FRENDY:  What’s your daily routine in regards to work?

    ANDRE:  Whenever I have an idea, I would share it with my main point of contact at RushCard and they would either say yes or no--most of the time they agree with it.  Prior to presenting the idea, I put together a moodboard so the company could see what I envisioned. Once they agree, I reach out to the models and scout locations for shooting.

    FRENDY:  Are you working on anything else other than RushCard projects?

    ANDRE:  Well, I’m working on re-doing my contract with them for 2018, with a pay increase.  I’m super happy about that. To be honest, I’m working on building a business, build up my portfolio and save a lot of money.  Next year I plan on getting an employee and renting a studio where I can live and work.

    FRENDY:  Did you ever think you would be this successful in your career of choice?

    ANDRE:  Hell no!  I never knew that I could actually work for myself and do what I love. It really wasn’t how I was raised, it was just about making money, that’s it.

    FRENDY:  Do you have any advice for artist who are trying to make it in their desired field of work?

    ANDRE:  If your passion keeps you up at night then there’s no other choice but to make the first step to complete your goal. Don’t ever be too “realistic” because it can deter you from doing what you love.

    Photographs by: Andre L Perry

  • òL New York

    Allen Aderotoye and I initially met in July of 2015 at the Capsule show during the inaugural New York Men’s Fashion week. It was my first time attending the highly respected fashion and lifestyle trade event, so you could imagine my excitement.  Editors and style leaders alike packed platform 2 of Skylight Clarkson Square to witness some of the world’s fastest rising clothing lines and their respective Spring/Summer ‘16 men's collections.

    During the presentation’s closing minutes, I overheard someone yell out, “Mr. BAPE!” and to my surprise it was Allen who greeted me with open arms. The uber-stylish designer’s positive energy was so contagious it felt like we were longtime friends. After he properly introduced himself, we briefly spoke about my time working at the extinguished SoHo hotspot and his very own label, òL New York. I followed Aderotoye on Instagram to keep up with his latest moves and learn more about his fledgling brand.  I later discovered that Allen’s brainchild was just as dope as I thought it would be.

    The 26-year-old creative’s outerwear-centric line is very meticulous in the way it blends unusual fabrics (such as velvet, suede and wool) to provide simple yet extremely suave looks.  Possessing such intricate detailing, one would be surprised to know that the label was conjured up by accident.  Right after graduating from the University of Maryland in May of 2012, the natural born hustler migrated to New York City where he interned at Exposure Creative Agency. “While at my internship, I made a piece for the first time and it garnered huge attention--everyone there liked it. It was shot by HYPEBEAST and I thought ‘ok, I might have something here’,” Aderotoye confesses. “Ever since, I continued to take steps to continue building out what would become òL.”

    Like most notable designers (think Karl Lagerfeld, Cristóbal Balenciaga, Jean Paul Gaultier), Allen did not receive any formal fashion design training. He focused on obtaining a degree in Economics and Business.  Aderotoye--a first generation American from Nigerian decent--blatantly states: “conceptual majors are not accepted.”  Allen’s Nigerian parents are very strict when it comes to education, which meant that his passion for everything style had to be contained (until he actually graduated from college, of course).  “My parents hated the fact that I moved to New York.  My response was, ‘I got you that degree, now I need to figure out how to actually get it in life!’. “

    Allen is certainly “getting it” in the Big Apple as he is three collections deep into his beloved brand.  I recently sat down with the talented craftsman to talk about his upbringing, love for fashion, and the future of òL.  Check out our conversation below:

    FRENDY:  How lit was it growing up in Washington, D.C?

    ALLEN:  It was great!  DC has so much culture--we have our own sense of identity from the style of dress to gogo music, so much influence is started in the area. I was raised between a few areas in Prince George’s County and neighborhood called Trinidad in DC near H st.

    FRENDY:  Your parents are originally from Nigeria, have you ever visited the motherland?

    ALLEN:  Yeah, they are from Nigeria both born and raised there. They came here for the opportunities America had. I’ve been to Nigeria twice. It’s a really inspiring place to be meeting family I’ve never seen before, eating jollof rice from McDonald's like chains for sure an experience. This is where my parents are from: a very warm, vibrant colored, hustle or die mentality Nigeria.

     

    FRENDY:  Were you always into Fashion?

    ALLEN:  I’ve always been into style.  Self expression is very important--especially as a kid, you want to let people know what kind of person you are by your sense of style to a certain degree. It all started with footwear for me, I was really into Jordans because Jordan was a beast and as a kid there was no better sneakers than the bred 11s. That’s what started to teach me the idea of aesthetics.

     

    FRENDY:  I feel you.  Which HS did you attend?

    ALLEN:  I went to Bowie High School.  My time there was very regular I would assume for the average teen in High School. Pretty chill, just plotting on Jordan release dates and skipping lunch to have enough for each pair that was dropping.

    FRENDY:  I can tell that your love for sneakers runs deep. I’m surprised you didn’t formulate your own shoe yet.

    ALLEN:  Yeah man, shoes have been a long time love. There’s some ideas brewing but footwear is a different obstacle, especially with an original design. Shoes really have to be functional while having the looks, on my architectural quest it surely will be conquered. One way or another.

     

    FRENDY:  When did you become passionate about clothes?

    ALLEN:  I am passionate about the style aspect more or so. We all need clothes but no one needs clothes as there is a surplus within this hyper consumption era. However, we all need identity, which is not so easily defined.

    FRENDY:  Why did you choose to move to New York after college instead of another booming city like Los Angeles or Miami?

    ALLEN:  That’s where my opportunity was, I needed to have something that was there for me you, you know. I had interned with the Gild in London a year beforehand so I imagined I could probably get my first job with their team in NYC. Wishful thinking. It was also a realistic commute for me--a four hour bus ride home when needed was more than doable.

    FRENDY:  What inspired you to construct your first garment while interning? What was the piece made?

    ALLEN: I was following Maestro Knows at the time. I saw he was going to be at Reed Space later that evening so after my internship, I walked from SoHo to LES to go see what was going on--I was super inspired by his vlog at the time. So using the map on my phone I found my way to the block. It was Allen st. I think because of the name I decided to pay a little more attention and LES at that time was still a true feeling neighborhood. I walked into a tailor on that street which is now long gone and was like “I have an idea,” a few weeks later I ended up with that velvet polo. This piece would be the foundation of òL.

    FRENDY: How did HYPEBEAST find out about it?

    ALLEN:  I was wearing it during Fashion Night Out. When I was just starting to venture into the city I was getting stopped a lot for street styles so I thought this was just another one of those situations. He took a photo and handed me a card, already jaded by having my photo taken I posed and held the card not even looking at it once. My girl at the time took it and flipped it over, I was already busy focused on something else. She taps me and flips over the card. It says HYPEBEAST. I flipped out and tried to find the photographer, he was long gone in the huge crowd. HYPEBEAST has been a favorite for a while so it was a wow moment for me.

    FRENDY:  What is the meaning behind òL?

    ALLEN: òL means òutside Lines. The idea of different, as humans we’re all unique so I started with that as a basis in developing ideas.

    FRENDY:  Out of the three collections, which one was your favorite to create?

    ALLEN:  They are all individual ideas I had at a period of time in life, so i'm not sure I can have a favorite.  However, ‘Silverspoon’ was a really dope point in my life.  We shot the lookbook in London and had a presentation for NYFWM, called it the Wolf of Men’s Week, it was at Leonardo Dicaprio’s former penthouse. It was a vibe.

     

    FRENDY:  I know how difficult it can be to sustain a clothing line. Do you have a side hustle to fund production cost, marketing, etc. ?

    ALLEN: I am able to do a few projects for some other creatives from time that help to fund the dream and I sell my kicks when times are really low *Laughs*.

    FRENDY:  How well are your friends and family receiving your line back home?

    ALLEN: I think they are receiving it well, my friends have been a big supporting factor since day one. While with my family is a bit of an interesting dynamic. As long as I am able to take care of myself they are fine with that.

    FRENDY:  For the most part, you’re always rocking an òL piece. Are there any other fashion brands out right now that are worth your attention?

    ALLEN: òL was made in purpose of pieces I want to wear more than anything so try to stay òL down. I know that if I can do anything it’s that. There’s so many brands to chose from at this point so I just stick with brands that my friends run. I have been able to meet some really dope designers globally so I try to start there when I look for things outside of òL.

    FRENDY:  If you were able to collaborate with an up and coming brand, which would it be?

    ALLEN: what would you consider an up and coming brand?

    FRENDY:  I think this is the first time ever my interviewee responded back to me with a question. I like that *Laughs*. What I meant by an up and coming brand is one that hasn’t received any notoriety from any major blogs or celebrities. But in the trendy downtown scene, it’s poppin’.

    ALLEN:  For New York, I would have to say the homie Ev or Death To Tennis.

    FRENDY:  How do you want your customers to feel wearing your line?

    ALLEN:  I want them to feel like they’ve just been hit by the HòLy Ghost. Feel good, confident. Vitalized. It feels good when you just got something new that you really like. I want them to feel this way every time they wear anything òL.

     

    FRENDY:  Any plans of moving back to your hometown?

    ALLEN:  Home will always be home but I am not sure how conducive that will be for me as everything is produced in NYC. I do make sure to spend more time out there these days though.

  • Tim's Epik Style

    Buffalo isn’t necessarily known as a breeding ground for fashion icons but Tim Baldon is planning to change that.

    Better known as Tim B, the 27-year-old Buffalonian is making waves in the industry as a Stylist.  What sets him apart is his knack for hunting down threads that accentuate the distinctive personalities of his patrons.  In 2011, Tim established a boutique agency, Epik Style, where he landed Lil’ Kim, one of Hip Hop’s most iconic figures, as his very first client just 3 months after its launch.  Since then, Baldon has continued to work with prominent players in the entertainment arena and even expanded his personal brand by making several TV appearances, including LALA’s Full Court Life and BET ’s classic music video countdown show 106 & Park.

    Tim’s interest in fashion developed when he began watching rap videos at the age of 13. “At that age I started listening to Hip Hop--I was really into music videos and I would take note of what all the artists wore so I could buy those same items,” Baldon states. “The first thing I made my mother buy me was a shiny jean suit like the one Puff used to wear.”

    The modish teenager’s newfound love instantly transformed into a full-blown passion, as he went on to major in Fashion Merchandising at Buffalo State College. During his freshman year, Tim interned for Michelle Ten (former Fashion Editor of The Source Magazine for six years) and fell so in love with the short-lived gig that he quit his college career soon after. Baldon confesses: “I ended up getting an assistant job my junior year so I dropped out, packed my bags and moved to New York City. I felt like hands-on experience was all the education I needed.”  Well, his decision sure proved to be beneficial.

    I recently sat down with the thriving entrepreneur to discuss his life in Buffalo, wild college days, humble beginnings in the fashion industry and future goals. Check out our conversation below:

    FRENDY:  First of all, what color was the shiny jean suit your mom bought you?

    TIM:  It was metallic silver! *Laughs*

    FRENDY:  *Laughs* No doubt! Besides Diddy, which other Hip Hop artists served as a fashion inspiration for you growing up?

    TIM:  Kanye West was one of my biggest inspirations.  I also admired Pharrell and Andre 3000’s style, but hands down Kanye was one of my biggest inspirations.

    FRENDY: Which part of Buffalo are you from? And how was it like growing up there? I honestly thought you were from Brooklyn!

    TIM:  Everybody says that!  I don't know why, I guess I give off that Brooklyn vibe.

    Growing up in Buffalo was cool.  I grew up in a city on the east side, which was a predominantly African-American community. Buffalo is very segregated; so on the east side you have Blacks, on the west side are Spanish and Puerto Ricans, North & South Buffalo is mostly Caucasian, as well as the suburbs. 

    Buffalo definitely had its ups and downs but for the most part it taught me many life lessons and made me who I am today.  When I was younger Buffalo was full of life--it was a great place to live, but as I got older it started to become a ghost town.  But I always made the most of it and I'm glad I grew up there. Best part was College! *Laughs*

    FRENDY:  Wow, I didn’t know it was segregated like that.  Did you experience any sort of racism?

    TIM:  I've definitely experienced racism! I was always the type to venture off and explore, that's always been my thing.  I would encounter racism when I would go shopping in different areas and sometimes at work because I worked in the suburbs. My sister went to school out in the suburbs and we had a situation where she was called a n*gger but me and my father handled that situation.  So yeah I experienced it, but never in my community.

    FRENDY:   Are there a lot of stores in your hometown that provide scorching streetwear and high-end gear?  If so, what are your favorite spots to shop?

    TIM:  Yes, we had a few spots in Buffalo.  We had a store called Krudmart, Street Game, and Elmwood Village District.  They were all in an area similar to Soho, New York but not as many stores. We later got Urban Outfitters; I worked there for about 3 years.

    FRENDY:  What are some of your favorite brands today?

    TIM:  DSQUARED2, Public School, Alexander McQueen, Asos, Maison Margiela, and Hood by Air.

    FRENDY:  How were you able to gain an internship as a freshman in college?

    TIM:  We weren’t supposed to be interning but I just felt like I needed to get a head start on my career.  I didn't really care what the school said, I was always thinking about my career and where I wanted to go in it.

    My first internship was amazing.  I interned with Michelle Ten--that experience gave me so much knowledge of the fashion industry and its inner workings.  It was a lot of work, but after interning with Michelle I knew that styling was exactly what I want to do.

    FRENDY:  So she didn’t care about your undergraduate status?

    TIM:  She did care, but I convinced her to let me intern with her. After my first summer with Michelle she hired me the following summer to be her summer assistant.

    FRENDY:  Damn, your work ethic must of been epic! (no pun intended).

    TIM:  *Laughs* I did everything she told me to do with a smile, even when I was tired to the point I couldn't keep my eyes open. I was so hungry to learn and gain knowledge about the industry.

    FRENDY:  What was your first job when you moved to New York City?

    TIM:  When I first moved to New York I was working with three stylists at one time Michelle Ten, Julie Matos and Crystal Street.  My duties included: emailing and contacting showrooms to pull clothes, picking up and returning clothes, organizing fashion closets, managing budgets, scouting shoot locations, managing interns and sitting in on meetings.

    Basically, my job was to make by boss’ job easier so they can focus on the creative side and not worry about all the other details that goes into being a stylist.

    FRENDY:  When did you meet Lil’ Kim?

    TIM:  I met Kim in 2011 at her rehearsals for a tour she was doing in Africa. We have a mutual friend so she invited me to sit in on the rehearsal.

    FRENDY: What set of events occurred that allowed you to work with her?

    TIM:  We clicked from jump! I think it was because we had a mutual friend so she already had an idea of my personality.  When we initially met, we joked around about a few things and she invited me to come out to a party with her.  We’ve been friends every since.  A few months later she ended up parting ways with her stylist and my friend suggested that we try working together.

    Kim gave me the opportunity to style her and my first gig was to dress her for her mother's wedding--let’s just say it didn't go so well!  But she gave me another opportunity to work with her on her birthday and we have been working together off and on every since.

    FRENDY:  How long have you guys worked together?

    TIM:  It's been five years now.

    FRENDY:  Are you currently working with the Queen Bee?

    TIM:  I do still work with Kim on and off.  Right now I’m doing commercial work for Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s.

    FRENDY:  Speaking of grinding, you did a great job on 106 & Park. How did that opportunity come about?

    TIM:  Thanks man, I was so nervous!  It was my first time doing live television so my nerves were all over the place. A friend of mine named Sonya actually referred me. she was apart of Kim's PR team at the time and the producers at 106 were looking for a stylist to host a style segment on the show. She sent my portfolio to the producers and fortunately they contacted me to do a segment.   After the first segment they brought me back for two other segments. *brushes shoulder off*

    FRENDY:  What does a stylist’s portfolio consist of?

    TIM:  A stylist portfolio is like a tear sheet of all of the work you've done. It's like a resume but with pictures.

    FRENDY:  How did you prepare for your big 106 debut?

    TIM:  I actually had no prep time!  When they scheduled me the first time they canceled a few days later and when they rescheduled it they told me a day before, so I kind of had to wing it, and that made me even more nervous because I was reading off a Teleprompter and cue cards.

    The first segment was a prom fashion show. 106 set up the fashion show and I gave style tips and spoke on what each model was wearing. For the other two segments it was more about celebrity fashion, what's hot/what's not and critiquing trends very similar to fashion police.

    FRENDY:  What does your boutique agency offer?  And where can people reach you?

    TIM:  We offer celebrity, editorial and commercial styling, personal shopping, and closet cleaning. I can be reached at: EpikStyle.com all of my contact info is listed on the site.

    FRENDY: Who is on your wish list of people you would absolutely love to work with?

    TIM:  I would like to work with Bruno Mars, Drake and Odell Beckham Jr.  That's who I'm currently after right now.

    FRENDY:  Your parents must be very proud of what you’ve accomplished thus far. Were they supportive even in the midst of your decision to drop out of school?

    TIM:  They were very supportive because they knew I had a plan.  They told me that I would have to work harder if I don't have a degree, but I already knew that.

    FRENDY:  If fashion wasn’t an option, what would be your career of choice?

    TIM: Fashion is the only option! I love making my clients feel good about themselves and being the best person they can possibly be.

  • Human Made Fall/Winter 2016

    It's getting a bit chilly out and theres no better way to keep warm during the Autumn season than by rocking some fresh, fiery gear.  The homies over at the Billionaire Boys Club/Ice Cream flagship store in Soho has got you covered with their new arrival of Nigo's Human Made Fall/Winter 2016 collection.

    The collection includes tee shirts in white and black colorways, a vast range of accessories such as tote bags, money bags, and backpacks, in addition to classic fleece.  Check out some of my favorite pieces below:

    You can cop the garments now, here.

  • Aimé Leon Dore A/W 16

    New York City menswear label, Aimé Leon Dore, is continuing to provide the melange of sleek and cozy in their recently unleashed A/W 2016 collection.

    Since ALD's latest 37-piece collection was inspired by the richness of culture from their hometown of Queens, they rightfully shot the lookbook at Queensbridge.  All of the pieces are meticulously cut and sewn in Canada and New York.

    Theres way more awesome garments that aren't displayed above so feel free log on to their webshop to see the rest and cop!

  • Stone Island New York Is Now Open

    We're right smack dab in the middle of summer but that didn't stop Stone Island to finally open up its long awaited doors in Soho.

    Carlo Rivetti's highly decorated Italian sportswear brand's new york shop was originally scheduled to debut during the early months of 2016.  As with all things, "complications" occured.  After extended months of fine renovation, the spacious 3,500 square feet is now equipped with the finest winter jackets on the market for your cozy needs.

    If you're a baller like Kanye West that usually shops for the winter in the summer, stop by the store at 41 Green Street.

    Photos from GQ

  • 2015 Master Number Winter Collection

    Huge shout out to the homie Chet Dillon for putting me on to Barcelona-based, luxury menswear label Boris Bidjan Saberi.  Besides the themed out, intricate hand-made garments, what I love about the brand is that it steers away from hype as much as possible!  There is hardly any promotion done, it's all on a "need to know" basis with the clientele that it pleases.

    11 by Boris Bidjan Saberi is the equally superb sub-brand of the 1/2 Persian and 1/2 German designer.  11 is the first of the Master Numbers and it signifies instinct, strength, stabibility and growth.  Furthermore, Boris was born on September 11th so the 11 imprint is extremely significant.  This is why it is payed homage by him conjuring up the "Master Number " collection.

    The label's Fall/winter 2015 collection includes everything from tees to outerwearer, all equipped with the "Master Number" reflective branding on each piece.  Make your way to the shop located on 494 Greenwhich Street in New York to get some gear.  Tell 'em Frendy sent you!

  • Every Fuckin Day

    The gorgeous offspring of Lenny Kravitz and Lisa Bonet has just unveiled the video of her group’s latest single titled “Every Fuckin Day”.  The unconventional tune’s trippy visual features the lil bro Luka Sabbat alongside many of the other cool kids that brush your shoulders in SoHo.

    Look out for LOLAWOLF’s new project which is slated to release later this year.  For now, indulge in the Trouble Andrew directed and edited clip below:

     

  • Project Cobalt At Reed Space

    Much love to my brothers from the All Beuys Club for inviting me to the epic Project Cobalt event last night at Reed Space. For those not in the know, Project Cobalt is the ultimate stepping-stone for gifted artists in all fields of entertainment!  The organization provides imperative resources needed to innovate.

     The get-together held at Jeff Staple’s brainchild commemorated Project Cobalt’s SS15 collection conceived and created by an array of stellar young fashion designers which include Olu Alege And Edgar Garrido of Street Level Culture; Alexandra Kennedy; Samantha Giordano of Dolores Haze; and Drew Villani.  They were mentored by Liza Deyrmenjian, Parke & Ronen and the Pigeon man himself (if you don't know who that is, get out of New York!).

     Check out the flicks from the inspiring evening captured by Christian Caicos below:

  • The White FRNDY LMRN 3M Jacket

    It is with great pleasure to announce that the White FRNDY LMRN 3m Jackets are now for sale!  I want to thank each and everyone of you who's been supporting me ever since I started to embark on this "frendy merch" journey about a year and a half ago.  I truly made the very first black jacket for myself not really knowing that it would receive such amazing reception from people all around the world. (I guess it's a good time to put the infamous Forrest Gump line here but that's too predictable!)

    With the jacket's success, I was confident enough to do a follow up with my logo tee. Now I returned to homebase by releasing an updated version of the piece that started it all. 

    Shout out to my #1 supporter Rafael for being the very first individual to purchase!

  • Mike's New York Adventure

    The Norwegian broski Michael Ray Vera Cruz  visited NYC a couple of weeks ago and documented his trip with the help of The Hundreds.  For those not in the know, the multi-talented Photographer and I got aquainted about 3 years ago through social media.  After writing an article on our mutual friend, Rapper Phil Emilio (resides in Norway), we linked up sharing our ideas on everything entertainment.  Our bond solidified when he eventually flew to the big apple shortly after!

    Check out akam1k3's (Mike's nickname) captures from his latest New York expedition via The Hundreds Blog by clicking HERE.  You might just see me and the little bro Luka Sabbat.