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We’re Moving!

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In 2009 Stolen Outfitters was born in Baltimore, MD. In 2010 it was given a body in the form of a shop built in the basement of our home in Pikesville, MD.  After 6 years of producing Stolen Outfitters apparel as well as completing jobs for various clients including Vegan Soul Fest, Free Dumb Apparel and the Black Running Organization, we are preparing to enter our next chapter of being in Lawrenceville, GA.

Among the many things we will be leaving behind, certain aspects of the shop will not only be missed but will have to be replaced. This is why going through GoFundMe to reach out to our overly awesome following to help us transition into this next chapter without a hiccough.

The $3500 we are seeking will be used to purchase the following:

Screen Drying Cabinet-
Our old house had a dark room. The new house has a 2 car garage. To compensate for the loss of a dedicated light-safe room, I have to invest in a light safe cabinet for screens in the curing process. Beyond being a quality control solution it is also a significant upgrade to the shop as a whole because it decreases the time required for screens to cure and the likelihood that they will be contaminated during the process.
http://www.screenprinting.com/screen-room-drying-cabinet-10-screen-capacity#.VuGwJZwrKUl

Washout Booth-
The second addition needed is a washout booth. I used a plastic bin, back muscles and an utility sink to do washouts for 6 years. It worked but our new situation doesn’t include a utility sink. The washout booth will save my back, decrease the amount of time it takes to reclaim screens and backlighting the washout booth will allow for more accurate washouts when developing screens.
http://www.screenprinting.com/Ryonet-KB-32-Washout-Booth#.VuG–ZwrKUl

Screen Racks-
We are at the 50 screen mark and it is passed time for screen racks. For the sake of order and to extend the life of the screens we depend on, these are a must.
http://www.screenprinting.com/aluminum-screen-frame-rack-with-20-slots#.VuG–ZwrKUl

The balance would be used for various supplies such as screens, tape, eco-friendly cleaning chemicals and -of course- ink.

Our move is scheduled for 3-26-16. We have already started to make provisions. This campaign is to ensure that house needs are kept separate from shop ambitions. All new equipment would be shipped to the new address so while the funds are needed immediately any funds received would not be used until we move.

The growth of this brand is important to my entire household and I would extend that to my community at large. We focus on positive imagery where it is a common practice to promote trendy concepts that lack substance. We have maintained this niche for several years in obscurity and would like to make full use of Georgia as a new direct market but also continue to further our online presence and following. It is of the utmost importance that my children see not only this home-based business grow and their Parents control it but they also need to see that the people power everything so that they might recognize their role in the future. If I can show them where we asked, what we offered in exchange and what we received FROM THE PEOPLE, they will understand that nothing is free and balance is everything.

My thanks for contributions will come in various forms of Stolen Outfitters discounts and goods.

gofundme.com/nft86ss4

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Tubular…kinda

I am not a fan of hollow promises.

“I’ll work on that….”

“I’ll get back to you….”

“We’ve got 40 acres and a mule for your sacrifices….”

You know?

I released the B piece not long after B did her thing at the Super Bowl and pissed part of the world off. I presented shirts and foil prints. Not the debut of my foil prints but this particular post drew enough attention to make me take a step back and truly consider this product I treat as a novelty.

I told the people I would figure out how to make these prints something more than a point of purchase offering. <—Enter opportunity for hollow promise.

I did a little research and found out I was looking in the wrong place for mailing tubes every time I searched prior. I not only found great tutorials on how to safely ship prints but also several sources for inexpensive mailing tube options. One option won me over immediately.

I chose to rock w/ the triangle mailing tubes because they ship flat to me. From the gate, that saves me money on the shipping side. Cyclinders would have taken up more space, amounting in a bigger shipping box and a higher rate. The next upside is receiving them flat gives me the opportunity to print on them. Important for branding. On a cylinder I would only be able to add a sticker. On a triangle, I can print my preexisting branding elements but I also get the option to add triangle stickers to the caps to style on the oglers a bit. Also, they’re triangles. I love triangles.

On the shipping side, they cost 65% less than what I was coming across at first and they don’t rollover on conveyors which makes it easier for the workers actually handling them during shipping.

First order will go out tomorrow. Anyone interested in foil prints delivered should thank Alexandria Eddings ( who is no pushover w/ this graphic design thing ) for not just talking about it but being about it and placing her order. It forced my hand (both of them actually) and here we are. <— Exit opportunity for hollow promise. Enjoy the sensation of follow through and achievement.

Print listings coming soon (like right after I pick my Daughter up from Day Care). #UHURU

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Client Science #3: Scoota Habib

If you know a little something about me, you know I’m an MC. If you don’t know much about Hip Hop, you may think that’s a Rapper. That would be the equivalent of comparing a Power Walker to an Olympic Runner. No disrespect to the power walkers. If you know me know me, you know I come from a group called Ahbseen Kwestions (which happens to be my IG username and Twitter handle, although I don’t deal with that bird directly anymore). My rap partner/comrade is Scoota Habibeaux aka Trife Selassie of Newark Fame.

Whereas I scaled back my musical productions to get deeper into the design/print field, Habibeaux went into a higher gear. Linking his Physical Brother, Elespee’s, New Orleans based Music Group, Guerilla Publishing with NY based Record Label, Bartleby Records, has produced a new brand in the form of GPNYC.

As not only an artist on the roster but also as an Executive within the company, Habibeaux has continued to carry the AK flag on into the future while upholding our standard of excellence and our propensity for conceptualization and creativity. On songs like On Entry (Ode To Dres) he effortlessly but methodically tears through his ode to Black Sheep MC, Dres, over the original guitar loop to their classic, Black With NV.

I am actually featured on Habibeaux’s recent release, Aftanoons, on a song aptly titled, Illustrator Music. Peep the verses. No flexing. We’re both true and living designers and Illustrators. It’s part of our culture.

After doing some design work for GPNYC, I was offered a slot to complete a full length music project through them. It will most likely be something for Stolen Outfitters. Stay tuned for that.

Habibeaux placed an order with me for a She-thiopian Warri-her, red on black. I sent him a JK and a Log Off on the strength. I know they will be well represented.

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Client Science #2: Brother Vital

As a parent, you may find yourself spending a lot of time around moon bounces and inflatable castles filled with children working the sugar out of their systems flipping about and testing their healing factors by landing on each other. On a pleasant Saturday, I found myself in a 45% vacant mall (The Plaza on Reisterstown Rd) at their bouncing situation. We were 3 families deep. 6 kids and 6 adults. While manning my Daughter’s carriage and tracking my Sun through the chaos, I got into an interesting build with a good Brother and close friend of our family, Cleeford Vital. We spoke about Child Support, custody and how the courts ultimately separate families and create situations where the role of Fathers are severely limited. A couple of the other Brothers within earshot added on. After that conversation eased up, Brother Vital commented about my shirt. He recognized the Olmec head. I explained that it was from a line I was developing for Stolen called Old Headz and the particular design I was wearing was called a Soulmec. Months later, he ordered a hoody and a t-shirt with the Soulmec on both.

I am featuring Brother Vital not only for being a good Father, Friend and reference for stability and level headedness but also because he is one of the few clients who used Stolen’s Instagram feed to order an unreleased product. To date, he is the only person with a charcoal Soulmec Hoody. I don’t even have one.

Thank you for your support Brother Vital!

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Client Science #1: The Best Family

Since our humble stumble on to the scene we have garnered interest from people of all types. We can’t honestly say we expected any particular demographic to embrace our works more than another but we did forge the business with filling a void in mind. We wanted to design and print garments that family could be comfortable wearing around family. We wanted to produce wears that seam generations together instead of sequestering them. The Proud Unit Series was originally going to be outsourced but it ultimately led up to us purchasing the screen printing equipment and bringing the business completely in-house. That’s where the family is right?

Since the first shirts were printed from the shop one family has shown continuous support and extended supreme understanding in regards to our growing pains as a young business. A young Black Business. That family is The Bests.

They single handedly inspired the North Port color way for The Proud Mom Degree and encouraged the production of The Proud Grad Degree shirt (will be uploaded soon). The Husband and Wife give Stolen as gifts. They reach out to me regularly to see what’s new and – unbeknownst to them– that always happens at a time when I can use that encouragement.

There was an issue with a shirt they ordered and I agreed to replace it. I admittedly took way too long to rectify that situation. They didn’t hire an assassin to come take me out. They kept it mature and classy. For that I love them and was proud to send out their package yesterday. Needless to say, there were extra goodies in the box acting as my million apologies.

This post is a salute to them and the support they give us. You are appreciated.

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TRIATHASTRONG

We at Stolen Outfitters deal in transformation by trade. We take personal philosophy and creativity then use ink to create our products by way of a printing press and some elbow grease.  Stolen was always intended to be a multidimensional vehicle.   As such, our interest in transformation naturally branched far outside the realm of fashion and extends to all aspects of our lives.

One of our first ventures beyond apparel was the creation of ReGYMental Fitness,  a free community health and fitness program  in Virginia, focused on what we like to call organic fitness;  calisthenics, a primarily vegan/raw diet, 

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yoga and self-defense.  Our aim was to provide the people a means to learn about health and fitness and increase their physical activity without having to pay for a gym membership; all while building unity within the community. By setting up camp at the neighborhood park we increased participation which helped our members stay motivated.  We faced setbacks and achieved successes but, most importantly, we positively impacted the people we interacted with and improved in the process.

The pregnancy of my fiancé, and subsequent birth of our son, took me to a new state and phase in my life.   As a family man, I found I had less time to dedicate to my training so expanding ReGYMental had to take a backseat; to be rebooted at a later date.  In mid-December we were honored to become the parents of beautiful baby boy and as soon as my lady was cleared for physical activity, she made good on her pregnancy promises of working to return to her previous level of fitness and beyond.   As an avid boxer, and vegan lifestyle enthusiast, her determination inspired me to recommit to myself.  We quickly realized everything we do is an example to our ever-vigilant son, which placed our efforts in a new lens of perspective and level of importance.  We became workout partners a few months after she gave birth and, being competitive people, we began pushing our boundaries.   After a few months training, we ran our first 5k together.  The proverbial “runner’s high” had set in so we made plans for our first triathlon for early fall and first marathon for next year.

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And so the grind continues…Being a parent, a business owner, and an athlete, is a grand triathlon in and of itself; a multifaceted race towards self and our collective improvement so to speak.   In the late stages of preparing for a triathlon you must work on transitions and cross-training. Transitions are the part of the race between the swim, biking, and running phases.  Its primary focus is logistics. Cross-training is the portion of the training when you move away from training for an individual sport and begin training in combinations (swimming then biking or biking then running, etc.)   As I get deeper into my cross-training I see the lines between the three separate sports beginning to blur and the commonalities are creeping up on the differences.  The same is happening in my “grand triathlon” as the lines between parent, business owner, and athlete are becoming more permeable.   Although always short on time, being a father and an example has made me a more dedicated athlete.  Being an athlete has made me a more energetic father.   So where does Stolen fit in? Stolen fits right in the middle of everything.  Stolen is not only a vehicle to express our creativity but a business that can help us in providing for our families.  The responsibility of fatherhood keeps us dedicated to its growth. The link between our business and our families is prominently on display in “The Proud Unit” series. The intersection of Stolen and athletics can be seen in ReGYMental and our new “Triathastrong” design.

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It is our full intention to progress in each area and reinforce the connective tissue between them. Being a father is a lifelong mission. Stolen, while full of fresh, has plenty of room for growth.   My fitness goal is to complete (in 3 years) the 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile bike, and 26.2 mile run of the Ironman Triathlon.  We’re built Stolen-tough over here…even Tony Stark couldn’t front on that.

Khairi

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Black August

“Black August is a time to embrace the principles of unity, self-sacrifice, political education, physical training and resistance.”

August is a month rich in history of highs and lows in the struggle for Black Self-Determination. From the births of Marcus Garvey and Fred Hampton, Reginald Lewis’ buyout of Beatrice Foods, and the 1st black nursing school to open at Spelman College to the arrival of the first enslaved Afrikans to the 13 colonies, the establishment of The Underground Railroad and the U.N.I.A and the revolts led by Nat Turner, Toussaint L’Ouverture and Gabriel Prosser, this month carries historical roots that cannot be matched by the one legislated for us to celebrate the same people each year. This is Black August. A month for us.

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The practice of Black August observation originated in the prison camps of California. Its purpose is to honor fallen fighters in the struggle for Black Liberation. Originally enacted by the San Quentin Six, the founding brothers abstained from radio, television, drugs, alcohol and loud, boastful behavior, as well as participated in a sunrise to sunset fast, strict physical training and a revolutionary study regimen. In the late 1970’s, Black August spread from California’s prison yards to communities throughout the country and expanded observation from the sacrifices of those struggling in California’s prison camps to include all our ancestors who struggled against colonialism, imperialism and for cultural empowerment. Today, many local, national and international organizations recognize Black August and engage the community throughout the month by way of study groups, festivals, concerts and community meetings.

This is my fifth year personally participating in Black August and the third year that we at Stolen Outfitters as a company have observed the month and tailored designs for those who embrace it, a practice that we plan to continue on an annual basis. Over the few years of observation, we have produced shirts to honor the lives and works of Gil Scott Heron, Marcus Garvey, Assata Shakur and Mumia Abu- Jamal. A portion of the proceeds from the Mumia shirts have gone to aid in his defense. We give thankhs to The MOVE Organization and Ramona Africa, in particular, for providing an avenue to help our brother. On a personal note, Sister Ramona has been an important figure in my own development, since I had the opportunity to spend time with her and Pam Africa over the course of a few days during Black August 2010. Her example inspired me towards a more proactive approach in regards to my passions, which include but are not limited to Stolen Outfitters.

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This year, we have more designs in queue(to be released weekly) and more plans for outreach in our communities. We hope our products can open lines of communication about people and topics that are important and inspire you to get familiar with those who have sacrificed, reflect on your own role in the community and increase your efforts in BEING the change we need.

“August is a month of meaning, of repression and radical resistance, of injustice and divine justice; of repression and righteous rebellion; of individual and collective efforts to free the slaves and break the chains that bind us.” – Mumia Abu-Jamal

Right on…

-Khairi

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Steppin’ Out…

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At Stolen Outfitters we try damn hard to distance ourselves from foolishness and time traps, in general. We try BUT are not always successful. Sometimes we get caught up and -in the process of doing so- we fall behind. We can acknowledge that. We can hone up to that. We make shirts not excuses.

This site was….challenging to build. Switching from my old method to this new platform came complete with growing pains and much assembly required. It was all worth it. The site functions as it should. It upholds the brand as we see fit. We transact sales confidently. Our marketing sucks though. I can acknowledge that. I can hone up to that. I design solutions not justifications for shortcomings.

Why does our marketing suck? Honestly, I would break it down as several parts inexperience, several parts being too cool for our own good and -primarily- fear of being received as spam.

I view SPAM as -literally- Some Poor Ass Marketing and would hate for anything I am involved in to be exiled to one of those folders for quarantine and execution.

I thought we were on to something with our Labworks Series. They were picture based. People will come here to see the pictures right? Instagram shut all that down by giving our pictures access to more people immediately. Add to that my new found love for the camera on iphones and that time invested elsewhere is explained. Should we have stopped the series? Probably not. THIS is our virtual brick and mortar situation and where the work should be archived but the popularity of IG and the need for exposure superseded my concept of “pitching from the porch”. 487 posts and 530 followers later, I do not regret the decision.

If you know a little something, you know Facebook owns Instagram. All of our IG posts ultimately travel through FB. I cross post to both FB and Twitter using IG. The thing is, FB content is constrained to our friend lists respectively. We had been urged by several people ( S/O to Melissa Irby in particular) to put a fan page together. After Boot Camping this site into being I was not exactly enthusiastic about translating this brand into someone else’s framework. The suggestion lay on ice. Then I joined the African American Graphic Designers Group on FB. I started to notice how many fan pages were out there. I was asked to be a part of a fan page which -in turn- gave me access to the admin screen. That’s when I got a glimpse at the mathematics. Stats. Glorious stats. Not long after that, I found myself Liking a page and noticed the Create Page button in the upper right corner.

It couldn’t be this easy could it?

I clicked it. 4 hours, 4 custom covers pictures and 2 custom avatars later we had a FB Fan page. We had so much media posted on IG it was easy to shift some of the most relevant work to the fan page. 12 hours after we invited people we had 127 likes. 24 hours after that I hooked up our Mailchimp account, built subscription forms for this site (you can find them on the Home page and in the sidebar to your right) as well as the FB Fan page and then wrote this piece.

I am not sure if you can tell but I am excited about what possibilities and potentials this brings within our grasp. Speaking from a clearly marketing standpoint, I am interested to see what works and what doesn’t so that we can start implementing effective marketing strategies for -not only our brand- but other ventures that require the same exposure. More than that, it just feels good to be back in the back office and being active. Ink under my nails and all that.

Yes. The numbers I quoted are meager in comparison to more popular accounts but they are more than we had yesterday and for that we give thankhs.

For those wondering, design-wise, I carried the brand over to FB by using the subtle FB blue gradient and the Stolen Outfitters fence pattern as a cover image. The avatar is styled after the FB reversed out “f”. When you toggle between this site and that page, you are supposed to feel a connection and get the vibe that someone thought that out. Even if you don’t, do us a favor and Like it anyway. Every click counts. Thanks!

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Lab Work #6

I took a little time away from Stolen Outfitters to finish up www.hollagraphics.com. It was long overdue and continuously took a backseat in favor of the development of Stolen Outfitters but now we’re back up and better than ever before. Now that that’s out the way, back to Stolen….

I recently sat down with the author of the comic Jaycen Wise (who has his own name, Uraeus, but still responds to Jaycen Wise) and discussed using some of his art on t-shirts. Thankfully for us, he agreed and I set out upon the mission of producing a print fitting of the incredible artwork provided by John Jennings. Using a 280 mesh screen and a halftone process on the image, I was able to produce what I consider to be 1 of our most detailed 1 color pieces. You can help support the advancement of the Jaycen Wise Project here.

This shirt is now available in Moss (shown), Steel, Heather Grey and White. $35

 

 

The second piece is purely a product of my subconscious. I designed the center elements -consisting of 2 automatic weapons wrapped in bandages that form an ‘S’ and the first eye as the nucleus of an oval time portal- months ago. Last night -at about 3am- the line work that adorns the perimeter of the oval, basically fell out of my mind into the piece. After studying the forms, I started to see a bird in each corner of the line work. Completely unintentional but cosmically calculated. Can you see the bird or make out what species it is? What do you see in this piece? Does it give you a feeling or resonate in any particular way with you?

The shirt will be released as Fully Auto-Mummy. Colors have not been decided as of yet. Suggestions?

 

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Lab Work #5

We constantly search for garments to print on. Constantly. Sometimes we find pieces that we love but we know we can’t mass produce. This is one of them.

I have a thing for Converse Chuck Taylors and Varsity Jackets. I believe I was born in the wrong era. I should’ve been in Coolie High. This is the Pos Eye Varsity jacket. It doesn’t have the traditional leather sleeves varsity jackets are known for but at a ratio of 60/40 ( 60% cotton/ 40% polyester ) it was ideal for silk screening. Unfortunately, I can’t track the manufacturer down and my source only has a handful left. Problematic since I uploaded the pictures to Facebook and got leaned on for a couple of orders. Looks like we may have to outsource if the demand is great enough. That’s a good problem though.

If anyone is interested in this jacket, it’s going for $75 though the price may change dramatically if production is outsourced. Use the email on the Contact Us page for specifics.

-Don