Meet Tamar, creator of NOTABRAND, or NAB - a clothing (not) brand. He had always been into fashion, doing his own thing, being different. It was an “unfollow the masses” sort of mentality. He wanted a clothing line, but never really knew a way to start. Tamar is from Nigeria, and more so than in Texas ((Palacose)), or even my little city of Madison, Wisconsin, Nigeria’s streetwear scene is… well, it’s not really. But still, he had an idea,
“What if we infuse our ideas with some of the western ideologies, and produce something unique for everyone?”
He brought the idea up to some friends, but it didn’t get anywhere, and so it was lost - at least for a couple of years.
When Tamar moved from Nigeria to Coventry, England to study business he made a few new friends that shared his same desire to do more than the status quo. “Something other than just going to uni, something different.”
The idea was back, only this time it stuck. A bunch of them gathered together to form a sort of collective of creatives with a similar goal. Now, NAB is made up of Tamar and his partners Kay, Ebube, and Jason.
They were giving their friends clothing, but it wasn’t really catching on for anyone else. After a few months of frustration, they decided to take a break.
NOTABRAND is all about being different - being different from the popular culture. So many people now, he explains, get Supreme, get BAPE, get other popular brands, not because it’s who they are, but because everyone else is doing it.
Why not do something that we originally would’ve done by thinking differently, by stepping outside the box. And what if we collaborated with artists who thought the same way. That’s the essence behind NAB.
While NAB is a business, money isn’t their bottom line. They don’t charge artists for selling on their store. If an artist is featured on their store, it’s because they appreciate what they do.
In a scene that has quickly become all about the hype and all about the money, NAB is seeking to be about something more.
In article on thehundreds.com, Bobby Hundreds speaks to this. About the hype:
“People used to wear streetwear because nobody else wore it. Today, they wear it because everyone wears it.”
About the money:
“Exclusivity was about limited edition (production) and rarity (distribution). Now, it’s about price.”
“Streetwear has prioritized commerce over community.”
I asked Tamar about the clothing currently on NAB’s store. Their first collection was somewhat of a test to see if people would relate to their message. Their next collection, coming soon, will feature a collaboration with South African artist Kaelik (@tastykakeskaelik) who Tamar actually met over their mutual enjoyment of Fela Kuti, a Nigerian musician.
In studying business, Tamar is constantly exposed to the “importance” of competition. With NAB, what he’s striving for is not competition, but collaboration with likeminded brands and individuals so that “everyone wins.” Many of his peers think it’s a little crazy, but Tamar recognizes that different isn’t always a bad thing - that change is inevitable.
They plan on reaching out to more and more artists as they grow as a (not) brand, but first their really focussed on building a solid foundation, so that when they do approach new artists - they have something to stand on.
Be prepared to face difficulties - ups and downs. That’s Tamar’s first piece of advice. Secondly, he echos what Chris from Stolen Item mentioned in episode 2: you have to know what you want to tell people, your message, your philosophy.
His final piece of advice is simply patience.
Some people you’d like to work with might not be interested. Some ideas you explore may not have an end. There will be failure, but it’s important that you learn on every step - “just keep on learning.” You can never really (or shouldn’t) stop learning. You can never be so wise not to learn something new, so learn from every mistake that you make and get better.
Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20