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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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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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Almost There…

We’re rapidly approaching a launch date for our humble website. As I stated in the post prior, the original site had more prominent aesthetic elements but the new site is functional. Function is more important to us than surface appeal at this point. I know that that seems odd given that we have an apparel company but there is a deeper message in it. We should look neat but be organized to a degree that challenge doesn’t appear so. We should be prepared to learn what we know not, to do what we previously could not. We should be 1 with our actions and not just in accord with our appearance.

We were actually breaking the brand by rushing into that first site. All of our designs are born of deep thought. They’re not for simple minded fashionistas. The original site, while visually appealing, didn’t live up to our mantra of self-determination and served as a catalog but not a store. The new site will be a store and beyond.

It has already given me an opportunity to get a grip on a beast I’ve avoided since I attended school for Visual Communications. That beast is HTML or CSS to be more specific. With the help of W3Schools I was able to go in and style the Stoutfitters site just enough to make it suitable for public consumption. I am not only excited to be able to say that but I am also charged at the fact that I now have a better understanding of markup, code and using Firebug to identify web elements. This will surely help me get deeper into studying Web Development/Design, tweaking the sites I have up and rebuilding this site after it gets old to my eyes.

In the meantime, the store is still on demo until we plug in the inventory values but you can definitely peruse the shop to see our offerings. Launch coming soon!

-Don

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Hello world! (from the founders of Stolen Outfitters)

I actually enjoy seeing the Hello World post that represents the launch of yet another WordPress blog. Though they don’t always rise to power, they are all born with that ode to optimism “Hello World”. This is ours.

We built this site once before. It was a little edgier and way less functional. As the company grew, the desire for the public to purchase from us in an automated fashion also became more profound. We thought our brand of organic marketing made the company more personal. Everyone that ordered a shirt up to this point had to speak to the founders of Stolen to complete the transaction. The novelty didn’t always translate as hip. Also, you lose the 24/7/365 potential of online shops when your hustle revolves around emails and phone calls. They still have their place but evolution beckons.

As you can see, we’re still very much under construction but we felt compelled to re-establish our brand’s organic marketing platform by adding a blog where there wasn’t one prior. It’s only right. We’re doing a lot more now than when we started. bringing the printing responsibilities in-house has given us flexibility, joy, stress and a lot of reasons to take pictures and write posts to keep Stolen Alumni updated.

So here we are. Still building. Still printing. Still styling. Still refusing to stay still. Hello World!

– Don