This week we interview Omar Thomas, Andre Allen & Prince Graham, the owners of the Caribbean Street wear brand RepJa. They started the company 3 years ago and the brand has risen to one of the most recognizable in the Jamaican/Caribbean community. It is endorsed and worn proudly by many famous Jamaican personalities at home and abroad. Based in Atlanta, we recently sat down with Omar, Prince and Andre to discuss Repja.
1. Where in Jamaica are you guys from?
Omar – Andre and I are cousins and we are from Anchovy, St.James or you can just say Mobay. Prince is from St.Anns Bay. We were all born in JA.
2. How did you come up with the concept of RepJa? Are you a designer?
Omar – the name RepJA actually came to me in a Dream about 8 months before I had any idea what it was for, at that point I just put it to the side not paying it much attention. RepJA wasn’t planned it just came about while I was cooling out with my brother (Colin Thomas) and mi bredrin MovieStar. The song willy bounce was playing and we just started joking that it would tuff if somebody was doing the willy bounce dance and had on the willy bounce shirt, at that point I remembered the name RepJA and we ran with it from there. I am a web /Graphic Designer, Prince is a graphic Designer so our design background made it easier for us to create because we are originally designers.
3. How did you get so many Jamaican celebrities to endorse your designs?
Prince – we got a lot of artist in the brand because of constant networking and trying to make links anyway we possibly can. Our greatest help to accomplish this came from Latonya Style from Jamaica. She believed in the brand and what it stood for. Latonya is very established in the dancehall arena with all the artist & dancers so she had the direct connection we needed.
4. Which endorsement would you say played a major role to get the word out there?
Andre – All endorsement has helped to increase our brand awareness. Celebs wearing the brand, customers posting their pictures on FB and tagging their friends, a lot of giveaways, doing events, fashion shows, online marketing, doing cd collaborations with DJ’s and giving away those cds, getting booth space at specific annual events, banner placement on websites, word of mouth, video shoots, photoshoots, etc… As you can see it takes more than one avenue to build brand awareness and we still need to increase our awareness.
5. Would you classify your brand as a dancehall clothing line?
Omar – We are a Caribbean/American street wear brand. We are not locking ourselves in the Dancehall category only, our goal is to introduce the world to our lifestyle beyond the red,gold,green.
6. I love the vibrant colors and bold letters used in most of the designs. What message are you trying to convey?
Prince – we are conveying the message that we are a street wear culture, this is how we dress, how we look, how we function on a daily basis. We are more creative than a rasta tshirt and our color choices are more than 3 colors.
7. What inspires you guys when you are design something new?
Omar – Our inspiration is very random and not the normal process. We aim to create a shock factor when people see the concepts we convey, which means it’s nothing they would expect to see from a Caribbean line. We let things come to us, and the main thing is we have fun creating so we don’t make it into a job. When it becomes a job it puts too much strain on our team, we usually just let things flow and they normally do.
8. How to you keep up with the “lingua” of the Caribbean to put them on your designs?
Prince – We stay connected with everything going on via the music (dancehall & culture), download sites, videos, parties, trips to JA, blogs, FB etc. so we know everything that is always going on with JA and it’s lingua and what’s next to buss. At that point we decide what is more universal for us to brand and push as a RepJA concept.
9. I have seen t-shirts brand come and go within month. You guys have been going for 3 years now. What do you attribute to your longevity?
Andre – First we have to Thank God for the vision. Our longevity is due to many factors which include our team that is always pushing the envelope and giving people a unique product that they can relate to and will need in their wardrobe. We owe everything to our customers who have shown us nothing but love and support, that’s really what keeps us going!!. A lot of people have come along and aligned themselves with us offering their services, their time, their links and their support.
10. When is the new line coming out and do you have any new an interesting projects coming out.
Omar – We are releasing our new fall collection this October. We also just released the RepJA song entitled “WE REP J.A.” which will be the next anthem for JAMAICA. We already have a international Artist that will be on the Remix (can’t reveal the name yet). However we hope everyone loves the song as much as we do. The artist on the RepJA Track is Dre-Money an upcoming artist currently based in ATL. We are currently working on a International contest to find a dance crew that will be sponsored by RepJA. So we have a few things in the works!!
Thanks for the interview any final thoughts.
We want to thank you for the opportunity allowing us to reach more people by introducing them to RepJA! You can reach us online at www.repja.com .