Since the outbreak of the corona, you have been volunteering and distributing food and clothing to the residents of your city. In Kabbalah they say giving to others is a gift to ourselves, how much do you connect to this sentence as a believer?
I strongly believe that the purpose of this world is to show love to your family, your friends, your neighbors, and your creator. Without extending the love from above onto others, then we end up with just more materialistic things that we don’t need. Share and help where you can and I guarantee if you do it from your heart, then more blessings will come to you. If you do it because you think more blessings will come to you, then you are just trying to hack the system.
Take me to your childhood, what it was like growing up in New York as a creative kid looking for inspiration, and the education system of those days failed to provide it. Did you feel frustrated by this? And how did you manage to find a way to fulfill yourself?
I grew up in The Bronx, New York and later in Miami. Both cities were complete opposites. Growing up in NY in the late 80’s was a different place than what you see today; the sky was very gray and cold, but the subways and the city buildings were full of color and art and graffiti everywhere! Living in Miami was full of nature with big blue open skies and the ocean! So merging those two was definitely one of the best inspirations for me to use in my future designs, especially during art school in New York.
Tell us something that your fans do not know about you?
One thing a lot of people don’t know is that I have celiac disease, so I need to eat gluten-free foods. Another cool fun fact about me is that when I travel – no matter where in the world I am – I take one rock back with me and I write with a marker where it came from. I collect them to one day make a large art installation piece out of them.
As a successful and big business owner, you have to be innovative and think outside the box and it’s quite difficult especially since you have to run a business in such a special period. How do you find the time and peace to create, plan, and invent new things?
Fortunately in November of 2086 I cloned myself so I am able to work on many things at the same time but we are never together in the same room because we all disagree with each other (laughs). To me, creativity should be like the first days of creation… it needs to be crazy! I have a home filled with kids & pets, so all of that energy keeps me inspired and excited.
Everyone was affected by the corona plague, we learned to be creative and look at life differently, in many cases the family gets priority first. Where did the plague find you, what did you learn about yourself and how do you look at life today?
I learnt how easily things can end. I have been traveling for 10 years around the world building this brand, so it was a blessing to be locked up with my family and to take care of them at a slower and steady pace.
What is the best advice you can give to talented and creative young people who are in the education system, which is not supportive and accommodating and all their dreams are to design, create and inspire?
One piece of advice I’d like to share with others is to try to inspire your parents so they support what you do; there’s nothing like the love and support of a parent. As an artist and a creative weirdo, one out of two of my parents understands what I do. The other parent wanted me to be in a different industry, and always had that resistance between each other, but at least I tried to explain. Next, be patient. We all want empires, but empires take time to build. You can build it quick but it will fall down even quicker. Build it with a strong foundation so when the opportunities come, you will be ready!
You graduate and you realize pretty quickly that the bags that were created in that time were pretty boring, and then you decide to design something new, young, bold, and interesting. Were there people who raised an eyebrow why did you choose to design bags instead of clothes?
Yes. Number one question. The usual path in fashion is fashion accessories. And it was bold and difficult to break into the bag market because it was heavily dominated by three big other brands that created plain bags. I was confident that I was designing something new and fresh because no one was making anything like we do.
From all the collections you have produced at Sprayground, what is your favorite collection and why?
I love the Money Bear Teddy Bear backpack! I think people are so brave and fun rockin’ that bear on their backs.
Saying that culture is something created because we do things, how important is it to you to invent the next culture with the help of your unique style?
To be a part of a culture, it needs to be accepted organically. You can not strive to change a culture, it has to change on its own; and it will only change if it’s authentic.
How and from what do you get inspired for a new product, could it be from a child’s painting or a graffiti painting you saw while wandering the streets?
I love walking around cities that have graffiti on buildings. But I really get inspiration from going to a major city like Manhattan or Tokyo and just sitting on a bench and watching all the cool people walk by.
What does your typical day look like?
Prayer is the first thing to kick off the day! A good meditation will set up your entire day with blessings. We all work mobile now so I check in with all my artists first thing and art direct them with the specific bag designs that I want to accomplish. Head over to the beach for lunch and then design the rest of the day before kids get home from school.
You often use three-dimensional techniques and new and interesting materials, but it is equally important to you that they can also be recycled. How important is it to you as a person and as a clothing company?
The amount of consumption is out of control but the real problem is the amount of things the world throws out. The brand has always been innovative and on the cusp of finding new innovative ways to elevate the brand’s ethos into reusable resources to help sustain a better and cleaner planet. First example would be turning all of our polyester fabric into polyester woven from bottles collected from the ocean. It takes about 12 bottles to make 1 backpack.
Tell us what you’re working on these days? What should we expect in 2022?
Footwear is on the list of things to launch. I have been putting a lot of energy into that category. And a jetpack! Shhhhh!
You often make collaborations with singers, artists, and influencers around the world. How important is it to you that they also wear your products on a daily basis?
I love walking down the street and seeing humans wearing the bags. There is no better feeling than seeing one’s creations on the backs of fans, but seeing celebrities wearing the brand is helpful; they can be on TV or a movie and get the brand seen by millions of more people. So yes, I think it is important and great that celebrities are out there seeking out the bags, buying them from the high end boutiques and rocking them on their travels!