SNKRHEAD NYC

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INTERVIEW: TERRELL “REALIFE” BLACK

VALIDATED: DO YOU REMEMBER WHEN YOU FIRST BECAME AWARE OF FASHION?

PETER: AS A YOUNG KID I WAS ALWAYS INTO SNEAKERS. THAT WAS AND STILL IS MY FAVORITE PART ABOUT FASHION, FOOTWEAR.

MIC: I REMEMBER LIVING IN SAN DIEGO CALIFORNIA IN THE 80'S AND MY MOM WAS IN SCHOOL FOR FASHION AND I WOULD GO WITH HER TO CLASS AND FUNCTIONS. MY MOM WAS ALWAYS DESIGNING AND SEWING AND SKETCHING.

VALIDATED: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START YOUR OWN BRAND?

PETER: SIMPLE, I SAW WHAT MARC ECKO DID TO THE STREETWEAR CULTURE. HE’S MY BIGGEST INSPIRATION ON STARTING MY OWN BRAND. THERE’S MANY BRANDS I LOVE BUT NOTHING LIKE WHAT HE DID. ME BEING A GRAFFITI ARTIST, HE SHOWED ME THAT YOU CAN DRAW THINGS AND PUT THEM ON A T-SHIRT. THAT RIGHT THERE BLEW MY MIND. HIP HOP, GRAFFITI AND BASKETBALL ARE 3 THINGS I LOVED GROWING UP IN BROOKLYN, NYC! SO, I PUT IT ALL TOGETHER INTO A BRAND.

MIC: IN ALL HONESTY SIMPLY TO SEE IF I COULD. I HAD BEEN DESIGNING FOR SO MANY URBAN COMPANIES BY THE TIME I TRIED THAT I JUST FELT LIKE MY BOSSES WEREN'T DOING ANYTHING THAT I COULDN'T DO, AND IN FACT I COULD ACTUALLY DESIGN AND THEY ALL COULDN'T. SO, WHY NOT? SO THE FIRST BRAND THAT I PARTNERED WITH WAS DVIZIONZ AND THEN WENT ON TO CREATE INTELLECT PREMIUM DENIM WHICH WAS A HIGH MARGIN URBAN CONTEMPORARY BRAND THAT LASTED TILL OBAMA GOT IN OFFICE AND WE GOT LOST IN THE PREVIOUS FINANCIAL CRISIS IN THE MARKETS THAT LEAD UP TO THE CHANGE OF THE PRESIDENCY.

VALIDATED: HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START?

PETER: SO I WANTED TO START A BRAND AROUND 2004, FASHION WAS BEGINNING TO CHANGE WITH PRINTING A SIMPLE T-SHIRT AND SEE HOW IT WENT. YEARS AFTER OF STRESSING SAYING ”I NEED TO DO THIS! I NEED TO DO THIS!” I FINALLY SAID “THAT'S IT! LET’S START A BRAND." I’VE ALWAYS SOLD SNEAKERS SINCE 1997-1998! YEAH YOU CAN SAY MAYBE I’M ONE OF THE FIRST RESELLERS OUT THERE. I ACTUALLY TRADED A PAIR OF THE FIRST JUMPMAN PROS FOR A “VIRTUAL BOY” FROM NINTENDO. AND SOLD A PAIR OF 1999 FIRE RED VS FOR $25. TODAY $25 FOR A PAIR OF 1999 FIRE RED VS IN ANY CONDITION WOULD BE THE BIGGEST “STEAL” OF THE CENTURY. SO I STARTED WITH A FEW HATS AND T-SHIRT’S AND BOOM I’M HERE TODAY WITH A BRAND THAT SOLD IN OTHER COUNTRIES. NEVER THOUGHT THAT WAS EVEN POSSIBLE.

MIC: I ACTUALLY STARTED PERUSING FASHION IN THE 9TH GRADE FORMALLY WHEN I STARTED ATTENDING FASHION INDUSTRIES HIGH SCHOOL IN NYC. AFTER THAT PROGRAMS AT F.I.T. AND THE VARIOUS ART INSTITUTES AND THEN APPRENTICING UNDER MY MENTOR SABRE MOCHACHINO AS A MENSWEAR DESIGNER FOR HIS SMG LABEL.

VALIDATED: WHAT DOES FASHION MEAN TO YOU?

PETER: FASHION TO ME? IT’S SOMETHING YOU CAN EXPRESS YOURSELF WITHOUT SAYING ONE WORD.

MIC: FASHION IS IDENTITY, IT IS EXPRESSION, FASHION IS PLATFORM AND REFUGE, FASHION IS EMOTION AND IDEAL... FASHION IS AIR.


VALIDATED: DESCRIBE YOUR CREATIVE PROCESS.

PETER: MY CREATIVE PROCESS IS BORN OF INSPIRATION AND COLLABORATION. I ABSORB WHAT'S MOTIVATING THE CULTURE AROUND ME AND IT INSPIRES MY IDEAS THAT I CONVEY TO MY PARTNER AND WE FORGE THE VISIONS FROM THERE.

MIC: MY CREATIVE PROCESS VARIES. IT TENDS TO HAPPEN UNDER PRESSURE OF DEADLINES, OR MOBILE WHILE FLYING OR RIDING WITH MY LAPTOP, OR WHILE SHOPPING, AND IT TENDS TO START WITH A PHRASE OR LOGO FOR THE COLLECTION IN PLAY, THE REST JUST KIND OF HAPPENS... ALCHEMY.

 

VALIDATED: WHAT MOTIVATES YOU AS A FASHION DESIGNER?

PETER: I LIKE TO CALL MYSELF A FASHION CREATOR. I DON’T ONLY DO DESIGNS BUT I ALSO PAINT AND DISTRESS CLOTHING. I JUST WANT TO CREATE MAGIC.

MIC: BEING CONSISTENT MOTIVATES ME. I HAVE BEEN KNOWN TO CREATE SINCE MY LATE TEENS AND EARLY ADULTHOOD. I FEEL I'M EXPECTED TO CREATE AND SO I DO.

VALIDATED: WHAT IS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE, AND HOW DO YOU RELATE TO IT?

PETER: OUR TARGET AUDIENCE? HMMM, PEOPLE ASK US FROM TIME TO TIME AND I QUESTION IT MYSELF. ALL I CAN COME UP WITH IS ANYONE THAT HAS A TRUE PASSION FOR SNEAKERS. I ALSO WANT TO TARGET ENTREPRENEURS, ARTIST, ATHLETES AND DESIGNERS.

MIC: I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN A HIRED GUN, SO MY TARGET AUDIENCE HAS ALWAYS BEEN THAT OF THE CLIENTS SPECIFICATION, BUT AS A LABEL AND BRAND OWNER WE TARGET THE TRENDY, SNEAKER SAVVY 15-45 YEAR OLD. I RELATE BY WAY OF MY PARTNER AND MY SONS WHO ARE VERY FORWARD THINKING AND PROGRESSIVE AS WELL AS MY DAUGHTER WHOS ALWAYS BEEN AHEAD OF HER CURVE WHEN IT COMES TO FASHION.

VALIDATED: ARE YOU SELF TAUGHT OR DID YOU STUDY FASHION DESIGN?

PETER: I AM SELF TAUGHT BUT THERE’S A LOT THAT INSPIRES ME. I LEARNED A LOT OF THINGS FROM PEOPLE BUT WAS NEVER THE SCHOOL GUY. A LOT OF MY FRIENDS WENT TO F.I.T (FASHION INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY) BUT ME NO. I LIKE TO LEARN THINGS HANDS ON, GET RIGHT INTO IT. YOU CAN SAY I LIKE TO REALLY LEARN HOW TO DO THINGS THE HARD WAY. I FEEL LIKE YOU REALLY UNDERSTAND THINGS BETTER THAT WAY. YOU GET TO LEARN IT 100% OF THE WAY. THE LITTLE THINGS, THOSE ARE THE THINGS THAT SEPARATE YOU FROM OTHERS.

MIC: BOTH, I SCHOOLED BUT I WAS DOING IT WHEN I GOT THERE AND THAT'S WHY I WENT.

VALIDATED: HOW HAS YOUR WORK EVOLVED SINCE YOU BEGAN YOUR OWN LABEL?

PETER: TELL YOU ONE THING, MY WORK HAS EVOLVED SO MUCH BECAUSE I REALIZED I CAN DO WHATEVER I WANT. THERE’S ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES THAT YOU CAN DO. IT’S ALSO HELPING MY EVERYDAY LIFE AS WELL. I’VE BECOME MORE PERSISTENT AT EVERYTHING.

MIC: IT HASN'T REALLY,  I'M JUST FALLING BACK INTO MY PRIME, I AM HOWEVER WAAYYY MORE PRODUCTION MINDED. LOL

VALIDATED: DEFINE THE TERM "SNEAKERHEAD".

PETER / MIC: A SNEAKERHEAD IS SOMEONE WHO EATS, BREATHES AND SLEEPS SNEAKERS! THEY DO WHATEVER THEY NEED TO GET THAT ULTIMATE PAIR!

VALIDATED: WHAT'S YOUR EARLIEST MEMORY INVOLVING SNEAKERS?

PETER: EARLIEST WAS AROUND 1990ISH WHEN MY BIG BROTHER BROUGHT HOME A PAIR OF JORDAN’S.

MIC: MY BIG BRO MIKE GIVING ME MY FIRST PAIR OF NIKE FLIGHTS AND MATCHING JORDAN FLIGHT SUIT, MANNNNNN LISTEN! I WAS IN THE LEAGUE! LOL

VALIDATED: WHAT WERE THE FIRST PAIR OF KICKS YOU PURCHASED WITH YOUR OWN MONEY? EXPLAIN WHAT YOU FELT AT THAT MOMENT.

PETER: AS A YOUNG KID I WAS ALWAYS HUSTLING TO BUY SNEAKERS. NOTHING EVER NEGATIVE. WHEN I WAS AROUND 10 YEARS OLD I WAS SELLING MARVEL AND DC CARDS IN THE PARK BY MY HOUSE. I SAVED UP MONEY AND BOUGHT A LOT OF JERSEYS AND SNEAKERS. I KEPT FLIPPING THEM TO GET OTHERS BUT I KEPT MY FAVS, THE JORDAN 3'S!

MIC: FIRST PAIR OF SNEAKERS I BOUGHT WERE NIKE HUARACHES (GREEN AND PURPLE).

VALIDATED: WHAT IS THE BIGGEST LESSON THAT YOU HAVE LEARNED SINCE YOU STARTED YOUR COMPANY?

PETER: THE BIGGEST LESSON LEARNED IS YOU NEVER KNOW HOW FAR THIS CAN TAKE YOU. IT’S TAKEN ME AND MY CREW PLACES WE NEVER EXPECTED.

MIC: TRUST MY PARTNER.

VALIDATED: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO YOUNG DESIGNERS?

PETER: PAY HOMAGE TO THE PIONEERS. THE OLD SCHOOL ALWAYS WINS. I SEE A LOT OF CRAFT COMING BACK INTO SO MANY THINGS. MUSIC IS DEFINITELY ONE OF THEM.  

MIC: STAY FOCUSED AND STAY CREATIVE, AND HAVE FUN. UNDERSTAND THAT EVERYTHING IS A GO... TRY IT!

VALIDATED: WHAT'S YOUR MOTTO/RULES TO LIVE BY?

PETER: WORK HARD THE RIGHT WAY! THEY SAY “WORK SMART, NOT HARD!” AND I SAY, WHY NOT DO BOTH? IMAGE HOW MUCH MORE STUFF YOU CAN DO. HARD WORK ALWAYS PAYS OFF. BUT SMARTER HARDER WORK PAYS OFF MORE.

MIC: BE YOUR OWN BIGGEST FAN, SELF MOTIVATE AND ALWAYS, ALWAYS, MAKE AT LEAST 1 PROGRESSIVE MOVE A DAY. BE IT A PHONE CALL, A MEETING, A DESIGN, PAPERWORK... SOMETHING! JUST 1 THING.


VALIDATED: WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST DIFFICULT ASPECT OF GETTING YOUR BRAND OFF THE GROUND AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THAT?

PETER: THE MOST DIFFICULT ASPECT WAS THE AMOUNT OF HOURS I PUT INTO THE CRAFT OF IT ALL. ALSO THE FIRST COUPLE OF TRIES IT TOOK TO GET THE RIGHT FIT OF ALL OUR PRODUCTS. THERE'S ALWAYS GOING TO BE NEW THINGS AND NEW FITS WITH FASHION. YOU HAVE TO BE ON POINT AT ALL TIMES. AS WELL AS MATERIALS, YOU GUYS HAVE NO IDEA HOW MANY MATERIALS I HAVE FELT IN MY LIFETIME.

MIC: FINANCING AND (SOURCING) FACILITATING, MANUFACTURING... JUST TRIPS TO MAGIC IN LAS VEGAS AND NETWORKING.

VALIDATED: WHAT ARE TWO ASPECTS OF BUSINESS IN WHICH YOU BELIEVE A NEW BRAND SHOULD INVEST RESOURCES?

PETER: QUALITY AND DELIVERY! NOTHING STANDS OUT LIKE QUALITY, YOU WANT YOUR CLIENTS TO LOVE AND WEAR YOUR WORK. NOT PURCHASE IT AND KEEP IT IN THEIR CLOSET. DELIVERY, I'M NOT SAYING HOW YOU PACKAGE AND SHIP IT, I’M TALKING ABOUT HOW YOU EXECUTED YOUR PRODUCT. I’VE SEEN SO MANY PEOPLE RUSH A GREAT PRODUCT AND NOT SELL AS MUCH OR AS MANY AS THEY SHOULD OF. IT’S WORTH EVEN THAT EXTRA DAY OR SO TO GET IT RIGHT.

MIC: MANUFACTURING AND MARKETING, THE MOST IMPORTANT ASPECTS OF ANY BUSINESS. NO MATTER HOW INCREDIBLE YOUR BRAND IT DOESN'T MATTER IF NO ONE KNOWS IT'S THERE.

VALIDATED: CAN YOU DESCRIBE YOUR BRAND IN THREE WORDS?

PETER: THREE WORDS!? GREAT, THAT’S MY FAVORITE NUMBER. INSPIRATIONAL, QUALITY, STREETWEAR BUT I WOULD GIVE THE BRAND ANOTHER 10 WORDS, IF NOT MORE. LOL

MIC: INNOVATIVE, FORWARD, NOSTALGIC.

VALIDATED: IF YOU COULD CHOOSE ANYONE TO WEAR YOUR BRAND, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?

PETER: WELL, B.I.G ISN’T AROUND ANYMORE SO I HAVE TO SAY IT WOULD BE EMINEM. AS FOR AN ATHLETE, I HAVE TO SAY MICHAEL JORDAN. THEY INSPIRED ME AND HELP ME CREATE A GREAT BRAND.

MIC: IT'S DOPE, WE HAVE HAD SOME INCREDIBLE PEOPLE WEAR THE BRAND BUT I'M STILL WIDE OPEN TO INCREDIBLE OPPORTUNITIES.


VALIDATED: IS THERE A PARTICULAR DESIGNER WHO INSPIRES YOU?  

PETER / MIC: MARC ECKO, RALPH LAUREN, DOLCE AND GABBANA, DKNY, A LOT OF 90'S DESIGNERS AS WELL. YOU CAN FEEL THE NOSTALGIA IN SNKRHEAD.

VALIDATED: WHICH CELEBRITIES IF ANY HAVE BEEN SPOTTED IN YOUR CLOTHING?

PETER / MIC: WE HAVE FROM ACTORS, INSTAGRAM INFLUENCERS TO HIP HOP LEGENDS, SUCH AS METHOD MAN AND REDMAN (MAYBE THE BEST DUO IN HIP HOP HISTORY), BUN B, JADAKISS, MIC HANDZ, CAESAR FROM BLACK INK, BIGGIES FIRST BORN TYANNA WALLACE, TR3YWAY, STORMI MAYA, JESSICAKES33, PRINCESS THAIS, FLOWERBOMB,TAISHA MARIE, PAYTON SCOTT, AMY ELIZABETH JACKSON, KENDRA LUST AND MANY MORE. SORRY WE CAN’T LIST EVERYONE.

VALIDATED: WHERE CAN OUR READERS FOLLOW YOUR BRAND ON SOCIAL MEDIA AND PURCHASE YOUR CLOTHING ON THE WEB?

PETER / MIC:

@SNKRHEADMIC : INSTAGRAM

@SNKRHEADNYC : INSTAGRAM

@SNKRHEADNYC : FACEBOOK

@SNKRHEADNYC : TWITTER

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