From the Field to the Frame

Words by: Nykee Chabris (@nykeechabris) 

ZeKing (22) - Videographer


King is a young, black emerging videographer out of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Present day, King has created a name for himself in the videography/photography field but just a few short years prior his dreams were centered on the field, literally - that’s right, King was a student athlete who viewed football as his way out. I sat down with King to talk more about his transition from the field to the frame and how he plans to stay fresh, relevant and prevalent. 

NIKKI: Hey King—that is the name you prefer right?  

KING: Hey Nykee, and yes that’s the name I prefer. It’s actually my last name. People started calling me that when I moved to Arlington, Texas. I guess my first name was too much of a mouthful. 

NIKKI: So where did the name ZeKing originate? I know it’s a play on your last name, but where did the “Ze” come from? 

KING: It was just me trying to be creative with my name, and since everyone already called me King, I decided to put a spin on it and came up with ZeKing, which is is like an accent-ed version (French) of The King - ZeKing. 


NIKKI: Ok, ZeKing (french accent). Well, I’m a football fan, and I know you played football, so I have to ask about the position you played. But, wait, let me guess…defense? 

 KING: (Laughs) Good accent, and great guess, but I actually played wide receiver in high school. When I first started though I did play defense. 

NIKKI: So I was half-way right. I’ll take that. Why did you stop playing football?  

KING: (Long pause) Because the burning desire for the passion wasn’t there anymore, and I started to realize that football wasn’t the only way to live the kind of life I want to live. In my mind, football was the only way to make it to college, live in a nice house, have a nice car and everything I wanted, but while in college, I realized that it wasn’t the only way. It is A way but not the ONLY way. 

NIKKI: That was a great distinction you made, but where did your passion for videography come from? Is there a connection between videography and football for you? 

KING: It came from my dad being really into technology. He would always have new little gadgets laying around, and one of the things I gravitated toward was making videos. So as I got older, I started making dance videos…just recording them because I knew how to do it. I started editing them and putting them together because I thought it was cool. Then, in high school I took a photography class because it was a free period (laughs) but honestly, I found the class very enjoyable to go to and my teacher really took a hands on approach to helping us learn and understand the basics. But at the time I was still playing football, so I didn't take it serious. It was those different little experiences, and always coming back to that same feeling of excitement and looking forward to recording something new that brought me to videography. I guess it was always there it just took me a long time to really realize it. 

And as far as football being connected to videography, yes, actually it is. The concept of putting in maximum effort, practicing, focus, determination, stuff like that. Also, putting in the work everyday even though tomorrow, next week, next month you may not see the fruits of your labor. It’s a compound effect because when you look up two, three, five years from now you’ll see what all of those little things amounted too. I feel that is the biggest correlation.

NIKKI: That said, how do you feel this sets you apart from other videographers? 

KING: Just my understanding of what it takes to develop my craft and take it to another level—my diligence and ability to handle adversity. 


NIKKI: Well said. Now, on to some of the not so great aspects of your craft. Do you feel that your background in sports has created any barriers for you in the industry? More specifically, do you feel that your age is somewhat of a barrier for you? 

KING: No, because even though I started later, nobody is me and nobody sees the world as I do. I’m not in competition with anyone, I just want to develop my talent and my work to get where I want to get. Like in football, there’s someone better than you, as good as you, worse than you - but at the end of the day, you can only worry about yourself and how you develop. So I don’t see my experience as a barrier because I’m going to still put in the work. In my opinion, the time I spent as an athlete wasn’t wasted because if not for that experience I wouldn’t be where I am now. As far as my age, certain jobs (corporations) look for someone that is older or seems more experienced so I don’t get a lot of those jobs, unfortunately. Sometimes I do get a lucky break, though, and I’m able to show what I’m capable of. 

NIKKI: I definitely understand how age can sometimes be a setback. How do you overcome that specific barrier? 

KING: I overcome that barrier by always remaining professional, providing a good experience and delivering the best work I possibly can. Hard-work is respected across generational gaps.

NIKKI: So did your age play a factor in you deciding to do freelance work and start your own business?

KING: Yes, it did. I feel like because I’m young I have time. I have a couple of years to try to really build something. 

NIKKI: You are definitely starting to build your legacy at the right time. But, tell me a little more about your work. I looked through your Instagram and noticed that you have a great deal of variety with your projects. Do you have a preference of what type of videos you enjoy shooting most? 

KING: I like projects that allow creative freedom. For example, there’s some projects where you just show up and do what they say verbatim. I like the projects where I can try stuff out on my own, so like music videos, commercials, fashion, artsy videos. I prefer stuff like that.  

NIKKI: I can tell music videos are your strong suit. With shooting for various different upcoming artists roughly within the same area, do you find yourself caught up in any rap beefs or controversies? 

KING: The fact of the matter is my job is to create the best visual for the fitted song, so it’s hard for me to be in the rap beef because I don’t have any personal feelings toward anybody, I just do my job. If someone asks me to do a video— I just do the video, period. 

NIKKI: That’s a great perspective that you have regarding rap drama. Keep business professional and leave the personal out of it. Have you got to meet or work with anyone interesting in your profession? Any celebrities? 

KING: Yes, I would say the most interesting would have to be Megan Thee Stallion, definitely. The reason I say that is because it’s really easy to judge a book by its cover, but when you really get know her and hear what she’s about it’s refreshing. You would think everybody would be like that, but in the rap game meeting a person with substance is really refreshing, it's different. I’ve also worked with Young Dolph, Moneybagg Yo, Money Man, Zaytoven, BlocBoy JB, Kash Doll and Bill Bellamy, to name a few.

NIKKI: That’s amazing! You’ve really been putting in work. With so many different videos in your catalog now, I’m interested to know which one of your works you’re most proud of thus far and why. 

KING: Believe it or not, I would have to say the video I did with Shoose McGee called Breathe. It all started from a conversation I had with Shoose. That video also has a lot of very memorable things in it, like the street that my grandma lives on, the long hours of shooting in the rain and mud and how long it took to edit it and get everything to be as great as possible. That video also challenged me creatively. 

Link to video: (

NIKKI: I saw that video and I have to admit that it’s one of my favorites as well. It’s a given that you’d work with a lot of artists in your area, but how did you start working with people in Kansas City, MO and have you worked with people in other areas as well? 

KING: I got connected through an artist that I started working with here in Dallas, Texas, Lil Lyric. He was actually born and raised in Kansas City so he plugged me in with a few local artists. And yes, I’ve worked with artists in Houston, Shreveport and Atlanta. 

NIKKI: So you’re already branching out of your area. That’s dope! Tell me about how you find some of the locations for these videos. You have some amazing visuals. 

KING: Appreciate it, and honestly just being observant. I also use google maps and take recommendations from the people I work with, especially if I’m in a new city—just network. 

NIKKI: Have you ever had to shoot a video in a sketchy area to get the look you were going for?  

KING: Yes, definitely (laughs) in the trap, and in an abandoned school. I was in a location one time and someone threatened to stab us if we didn’t leave. I’ve had to trespass before on private property, and you know 12 be everywhere. But it’s worth it because in the end you’ll be glad you did it and if you don’t you’ll ask yourself why you didn’t do it (laughs) so the moral of the story is, sometimes you just gotta say fuck it and get the job done.

NIKKI: Some of your music videos have pretty concrete storylines. Do you also double as a director for your videos? 

KING: Yes, I do. I often sit down with the artist and just pick their brains about the vibe and feelings they’re trying to evoke from the song and try to come up with something that paints the picture we envision. 

NIKKI: That’s smart, you as the director and the artist should always be aligned. Well, King, what can we expect from you in the next few years? Do you see directing, on a larger scale, in your future? 

KING: Definitely, I definitely see directing as something I’ll do in the future. In the next few years though, I plan to build my company to where I have employees and be half-way into revolutionizing the game (laughs) don’t put that. Nah but honestly, I want to do short films, more commercials with top brands…..a lot of partnerships. 

NIKKI: So how do you plan to continue to grow and stay innovative? I’m sure there are a ton of people who do what you do - how do you plan to set yourself apart with your editing and ideas? 

KING: Do like the greats do. Stay up to date with what’s cutting edge and never be afraid to try new things and switch it up. Oh, and also stay objective and have an objective outlook on the work I put out. Like, if my work sucks, I need to be able to say this shit is ass — I never want to get comfortable or be satisfied with where I am. 

NIKKI: As we come to a close, do you have advice for anyone wanting to do what you do? 

KING: Stop caring about what people think or say, just do it. If I can do it,  you can do it too. 

ZeKing can be contacted via the following social media platforms: 

Instagram: @craftedbyzeking 
Youtube: ZeKing (
Website: (



Summer has always been the most anticipated season of the year! Filled with bouts of hot summer fun, events, festivals and not to mention tons of food! Well, Streetwavve was able to combine all of that into one dynamic podcast and in the format of a summer show! Something audible, something visual, something unforgettable, and something that will grab your attention and hold you there! 


I was able to cover Streetwavve’s Kick off 2nd Annual Summer Podcast Show Series hosted at Kobi-Q near downtown Kansas City. This particular show featured @_foodpapi and @samoanrastaa also known as Mark and Mark! This dynamic duo is cruising the streets in search of all the local restaurants and wonderful food here in our very own city while sharing their story. The show also had a DJ (Duncan Barnett) and a featured artist, No $kope. But before I get into the show, I was able to chat a little with the creator of this beautiful series and he goes by Nate. Nate began his Streetwavve Podcast about 2 years ago and has not stopped since! Let me delve a little deeper into some of the things we chatted about…


Tell me more about the origin of these live shows?


They all began last year in June and what’s crazy is that we have Duncan Barnett DJ’ing this set, and he was our first DJ at last years as well. I had the opportunity to do it last summer after 3 podcasts and I was like let’s just do it! Sessions 4-7 were recorded live which was really cool. It really broke the ice and put me out there and at that time I didn’t know what I was doing but now Dom and I have grown into such a duo and hopefully, you’ll get to see that tonight!


How do you feel now that this concept has come to life?


Well, I can go back to when the concept hit me which was about a year and a few months ago. And it was just a blog that I wanted to do called Streetwavve. But I felt like I wasn’t doing enough so I wanted to do a podcast. For three months I dug in and really learned how to create a vibe, not just a conversation but the vibe and that is what I really focused on. So, for me to be working on that weekly I’ve been able to master the craft and continuing to master it because I feel like there’s no hill at the end!



So how do you see this evolving and where do you see it going?


I see it joining with another strong force here in the city and being the example of not just the culture, but of leadership and of intentions. You can see it, you can feel it, and you want to be a part of it. I think people are really missing that here. So, in the future, I really hope to have obtained all of that! I really hope to get to that point where the room is packed, and you can’t find room anywhere… that kind of thing. But until then that is definitely a goal of ours.


What is your ultimate goal with this podcast show?


For those people out there, that are wanting to do something but never had the courage to do it, those that have been contemplating on doing something full time, but they can’t do it. It’s a sacrifice it’s that step. I am really hoping to be an example of that, the guy that risked everything, that guys that did put everything on the table, that guy that left everything on the stage and continued it. Because consistency is key and once you get it it’s addicting and it’s a great feeling. And all that will never stop!


Man, what a pleasure it was chatting with Nate. Not only that but the show definitely blew all my expectations! Getting to see the connections and the vibes made within the live setting alone was a sight to see. Real laughs were had, real stories were told! It was so raw, so undefined and it had so much culture. Something the city was definitely missing and something you shouldn’t want to miss out on this summer!

Interview by Jay Collins

Checkout Streetwavve Podcast on all listening platforms!

The Spect Cypher Series

The Spect promotes advancement in all urban communities. The newly debutedThe Spect Cypher Series shook up Kansas City’s emerging hip hop scene to the core, allowing newer and more established acts to showcase their lyrical prowess. This was only the first of many to come, so stay tuned.

Link to the Video

Photography by Muenfua Lewis and Skylar Stephens

By Design Magazine
Creators Create
Creators Create.png

Creatives are dynamic storytellers who give culture life. By Design celebrates the creatives, we are the magazine for creatives by creatives. Issue 003 features the Kids, all talented people in different lanes.
Creatives, just create. The goal is for By Design to be a source of inspiration with each copy. May the narratives and images guide you on your creative journey. Enjoy the special Audio Mood Board curated by By Design Contributor, Chance Chamberlain.


Apple Music

Issue 003 available in the following locations:

Made Mobb

1110 Grand Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64106
306 W 47th St, Kansas City, MO 64112
221 Southwest Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64108


4056 Broadway Blvd, Kansas City, MO 64111


507 Walnut St, Kansas City, MO 64106

Blip Roasters

1101 Mulberry St, Kansas City, MO 64101
1106 E 30th St, Kansas City, MO 64109

Moving Ghosts, An Ongoing Project

Jacob Buchanan, a photographer from Kansas City also known as Melting Giraffe, is currently working on his new project Moving Ghosts. Check out what Jacob has to say and some images from below:

I ask people to wear their favorite outfit because clothes show who a person is at that period in life, how they feel & have been feeling. They express who they want to be, it gives people confidence.  I am interested in sharing who people are and the connection that comes with that.

Important locations come from the idea of boudoir. Boudoir comes from the french word bouder meaning: to sulk. Historically, sulking was seen as something one would do privately, and the term bouder came to encapsulate a room where one would go to withdraw and be quietly alone. A bouder was a place of intimacy and privacy, where one could express their true selves without fear of judgment or punishment.

Music does both of these as well. It encampments the mood of the artist while feeding into the feelings of society. What people are listening to shows just how times are changing in the same way clothes does. So I have been started reaching out to local bands to participate.

I want this project to let people in on a little bit more personal level that is intended to share and capture who we are without having to think about it or preform

This is an ongoing project.

West 18th Fashion Show Recap

A single black thread intertwines with fabric, creating a stitch that binds material and loosens conformity. From conception to construction, the vision of a fashion designer is a reflection of their experiences and individuality. There’s history, strength and rebellion concealed in the intricacies of a garment.

On June 8th, 2019, at dusk, designers bore their souls to a receptive audience through wearable art at West 18th Street’s Summer Adorned fashion show. Here’s what the curators had to say about fashion, inclusivity and authenticity:


Kayla: How do you balance trends while maintaining authenticity in your creative process?

Christopher Bender, Designer: I love trends. Like that western revamp that’s going on, I’m all about it. The mix of hip and country. Other than that I look at a lot of like, club culture. New York club kids, like the not famous ones, I think are some of the most stylish people out there. They’re so consumed in mass city production that they wear what’s out there and make it a little more authentic. I’m not trying to be trendy, I’m trying to show that I have knowledge of what is happening with fashion now. Being aware is the only way that you can be relevant.

Kayla: How do you ensure that your brand is inclusive?

Missy Isamoore of Sew UnRelaxed: Start by representing. What are places in fashion that I feel need representation. I feel like plus size is definitely a need. I also feel like models of color are also a need. So I like to make sure that my line is representative - if nothing else - in those two ways. I also look for different size models. I’m not looking for a standard height or weight.

Kayla: What do you think qualifies you to be a designer? In creative positions I feel like qualifications are much less restrictive.

Nataliya Meyer of Oblivion Clothing Design: To be honest, it’s only passion. I meet all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds and it has nothing to do with anyone else. Of course there are personal standards to everything. What identifies me as a designer is extensive work and some sort of taste, but I feel like in general I meet all kinds of people that are great but they just don’t work. You have to constantly produce.

Passion is a precursor to creation. Before models can flaunt meticulously tailored garb, an idea must be conceived and brought to fruition. Whether inspired by lack of representation or the latest trend, these creatives thrive on their individual motivations to create.

Fashion is deeper than the compilation of prints and silhouettes. It’s in the way we repurpose items, blur the lines between masculinity and femininity, and outwardly embrace the quirks that make us unique.

Words by Kayla Jones-White

Photos by Deian Brooks

By Design Magazine
Reflection with Rashida Rogers

Being a woman in street wear is at an all time high right now, and as time progresses it will only get better. Women are involving themselves more and more into a primarily male dominant field, and quite frankly to me, it’s all fascinating to watch. Women have always been placed on this high pedestal that they must dress a certain way, of how society feels a woman should dress. Rather than be in high heels, the miniskirts, the tight dresses, or the evening gowns. And don’t get me wrong I’m all for feeling and looking sexy but on any given day I love to be comfortable, and women love the feeling of comfort.


We get so tired of having to explain ourselves on a day to day basis, us women as a whole are breaking stereotypes and tapping into our creative nature.

Social media such as Instagram has become the biggest platform to truly express who we are as individuals, which goes for both men and women. It’s a way to connect with others who share the same common interest, and can even open doors if used the right way. I don’t feel that women and men are in competition in this day & age; both genders are becoming equally yoked within the street wear culture.

Ever since I could remember as a young girl, I’ve always had a love for sneakers and then it grew into not just sneakers but clothes. I remember way back in middle school going into high school, up until my junior year, I would spend majority of my time watching sneaker un boxing videos/ and clothing hauls. During a time when only a handful of women were engaging into the street wear community. I had a strong love for one brand in particular and that was Nike SB’S (even though I couldn’t skate board) It was then I knew I was a tomboy, but a girly tomboy if that makes sense. Because I was still all for the makeup, pretty nails, and laid hair. Overtime I developed a style that was my own, a style that I could really tap in tune with, all while not being afraid to wear what I want, how I want, and when I wanted. I knew I was going to be judged regardless of whatever I did, so being afraid to be myself, was the least of my concern. Piecing together outfits with a nice pair of sneakers on my feet always gave me a rush of pure excitement, it gave me peace, it gave me happiness, and everything just felt right.


Life has been this big crazy beautiful mess, I’ve seen & felt a way about certain things within my lifetime that I wish I never had to ever experience. But I know that it was just a contribution to the divine alignment of the young woman that I am today & still becoming. Just like everyone at some point in their life, I have suffered through the stages of depression. Believe it or not, mines started earlier than others at the age of 10. From family issues, from being bullied, from heartbreak, from doubting myself, from feeling discouraged about what my true purpose is in life, to feeling as if I’m just surviving, and not really living & utilizing my God given talents. The list can go on and on, but just know that I’ve been there. I’ve sat up in my room and cried and screamed into my pillow at the top of my lungs to the point where I couldn’t breathe. I’ve used sleep as a coping mechanism to escape from this harsh reality. I’ve seen my weak side, and I promised myself that I wouldn’t allow myself to fumble back there. But I’d be lying, if I told you that I was truly happy in this present moment. I lost my brother last year to suicide and my whole perspective on life changed.


A few goals I have in mind are to get back to my first true love poetry, performing on stage more, and staying consistent with it.  I’m also working on a clothing brand that will incorporate poetry & art. I think about clothes all day every day, and would love to start styling other people more.


This issue “kids” hits home for not just me but for a lot of us. I honestly use to think that life was going to be this perfect fairy tale. How I would grow up to be married by 25, living in a mansion, and producing a 6 figure salary. I thought I had life all figured out, not realizing that I have a lifetime to go. Now at the age of 26, I’m still learning something new about myself every day, but who isn’t. That’s the beauty of things; it’s doing your best to turn a negative into a positive, and taking time to embrace the unknown. I’ve come to terms that these are my selfish years, which I should be taking the highest risk possible, all while enjoying the moment, and trusting the process of getting to where I need to be at. Wanting to make my parents proud, being financially stable, and praying that the universe answers back accordingly. We’re all still “kids”, just older, a bit wiser, still making hiccups, and very hopeful that we’ll still get the opportunity to live out our dreams one day.

Creative Talk: Chris From Palisade Goods

What’s up By Design Family. I had a cool conversation with the talented Chris Stringer, the owner and operator of Palisade Goods. Check out our conversation.


My name is Chris Stringer Palisade Goods. It's like a streetwear brand that start out as like a skateboard concept. That's what I was doing before, I was skating a bunch. I used to work at a local skate shop back in Topeka called Midwest Skate, and then I ran a Zumiez there. I got to go to all these corporate events and meet the people that own the brands that I was wearing. So I just one day I decided that I’m going to do my own thing. I sat around, brainstormed and came up with Palisade Goods and just ran with it.


Working in those environments, what was the main factor that made you create your own streetwear brand?


Being my own boss, I guess. I kind of just like the freedom to do whatever I want after talking to Boo Johnson, who started up his own and a bunch of other dudes that started their own companies.

They enjoyed it, the creativity, the freedom that you can do whatever you want and it was all within the skateboarding realm at the time. So that's what I was really into starting out.


What was the inspiration behind creating Palisade Goods?


A palisade is like a fence, a form of defensive barrier and it's kind of geared towards skateboarding. So you're wearing it, it protects you. That's where it started and then it's just kind of became its own thing.


Has there been tremendous growth? Do you get a lot of love from people?


Yeah! A lot of it is that I’m really picky about what I put out to the public, so if I'm comfortable with it, I usually get good feedback. Every now and again, you know, I'll get someone that wants to critique me but that's totally fine. Criticism is always welcomed. You got to know what people want.


You seem to care a lot about quality, why is that? What caused you to be particular and care about quality?


Liking all this stuff, buying it, ordering stuff online and it being sent to me just for the shirts to be printed on Gildan. I feel like if you put your little touch on it, it's more personal. People feel like you have something from a company that’s really cool.

When I started I was working at Zumiez, I wasn't making a lot of money, got bills to pay. I was doing it all on my own. I don't have a team of people that I can get together with and figure this out. I wanted to do quality right off the bat while not really knowing all the outlets I have to actually get It produced and made cheaper or quicker without sacrificing the quality of it. So it's just been a process of funding it, but here soon I should have a lot of stuff out.


What do you think you learned about yourself during the process of creating Palisade Goods and getting that out there and sharing with the public?


That creating stuff is very difficult! You hit roadblocks all the time. There was like a month and a half or so, I just could not create. I would sit there and stare at my computer, just listen to music and not be able to do anything. So just really pushing yourself to continue to try no matter what. Sometimes you got to step back from it all, then clear your head, and then go back in to see what you come up with.


What serves as inspiration when you do create?


Honestly, I think it's just music. I'll just throw on some playlist and just go. Just to see where it takes me. I also get inspiration from other clothing companies and other graphic designers like this dude Crimewave. I followed him for like 3 years now, he's all over the place now and he's super dope. This company is up in Pennsylvania called Everything Is Offensive. I like going through their stuff and seeing how they're putting things all together and kind of the feel of it.


What can we expect next? I know you said you're going to drop a lot of new items. What can we expect next from Palisade Goods?


More items coming soon. I have a collaboration coming with PlugYourHoles that should be dropping soon. I'm pretty excited about that. Talked to Dom Chronicles about doing a collaboration. So we just need to get together and start going over, but we have an idea what we want to do.

Turtlenecks are coming soon. Something a little different, but right now just trying to keep it moving.


To those young creators out here in Kansas City and beyond trying to get started, they don't know where to start, what’s your advice or maybe a lesson that you learned that you’d like to share?


Branch out, talk to people. Communicate. Be open to other people talking to you. You don't want to be close-minded, shut off from helping someone else. Even if they're doing the same thing you are, we got to work together.


Collaboration over competition!

By Design Magazine
The Kritiq SS 19

He kept telling me how this year was going to be different. His exact words,  this next show I was to go to that next level. Mark is a man with a lot of vision, what makes him unique is that he’ll see that vision through. With the help of event coordinator extraordinaire L’Chelle Green and the rest of the Kritiq team they put on a show in which the energy was unlike any show prior. This type of energy and creativity Kansas City needs and loves. The Kritiq Fashion Show has truly carved a lane for itself within the fashion scene in Kansas City. 

“I never looked at it as if something was missing, Mark stated. I just looked at it as “what can I contribute?”. I wanted to contribute culture. I wanted to contribute our history and our story. Fashion is about art, art is beauty defined by eye of the beholder. Every industry has a gatekeeper, they tend to never go outside the box. I don’t like gatekeepers, they take their job too serious. I want to have fun, I want the designers to be them, I want the energy to bring audience to their feet. That’s The Kritiq. The culture”.

You couldn’t help but to feel just how different things were as you pulled up to the venue. I started thinking to myself, what do they have up their sleeve’s. We got checked in and I looked up to a space curated from top to bottom. Few words would do the visual justice. 

The show began with Wesley Hamilton as the host and he quickly got straight into the first designers. Goodwill of Western Missouri and Eastern Kansas was up first and showed us pieces put together and modeled by children. The Kritiq and Goodwill partnership has been amazing so far. They provided the Kritiq designers with the funds to put unique pieces together for the children. These kids took the runway and the crowd loved it, this got the show off right. Throughout the night this theme would continue, some of these kids were walked as if they had 10+ years experience. They did their best to steal the show. This year had an amazing lineup of designers and models, from all styles, something I really enjoyed. 

“What’s different in this Showcase, is that there are more streetwear brands that are involved. There’s more energy! All previous years there were usually 2-3 streetwear brands max and the other 5 would be high fashion. We balanced it out well this Showcase. The venue was sick too, it added an additional “wow” to the experience. Everyone, including photographers who shot other fashion shows said it’s their favorite thus far, that it’s not your typical show nor venue,” Mark explained.

There is nothing typical about the Kritiq. This was the show the culture would be proud of. ENERGY, ENERGY, ENERGY. That was all the second half of the show was about the moment House of Rena collection walked through that back curtain and Mark had grabbed the mic the entire vibe in the room went up a notch. House of Rena killed it in their yellow pieces. The way they came down the runway demanded everyone in the rooms attention. A true highlight of the night.

The party started when Made Mobb came out the back. Draped in their next season’s collection they made sure nobody in the building was seated. As each model came down more and more people rose from their seats. The center of the show quickly went from runway to house party. The energy was unmatched, if you were there Sunday I’m sure the feeling in your spirit is rising up just thinking about what took place as the Made Mobb team took the stage. 

This was a great show. Something I saw go from ideas to reality and I can say it exceeded my imagination. 

I asked Mark what his biggest takeaways from the experience were and also his favorite moments. “Just seeing the vision come to life. I mean it’s an airport hangar, he laughed. When we first went in my first thoughts were “this gon cost a lot of money” but I wanted to push the envelope and really give people an experience. I wanted to show people you can dream big and go big. My team really deserves the credit though if we are being honest. That’s my biggest thing, just seeing them own their lanes and mastering them. We’re still fairly new even though it’s been 5 years, he said laughingly. There’s so much to learn”.

Congrats on another dope show. The city is ready for the next. 

Words by Justin I.

Photography by Muenfua Lewis

By Design Magazine
Interview with HustleKC

Words By Nikita Satapathy

Photography By Juan Alva

Chances are you’ve seen HustleKC. It has cropped up on everyone’s Instagram feeds, whether they are modeling the clothing or proudly showing off their most recent purchases. Thomas “Tommy” Grass has been at the forefront of HustleKC since its inception and has transformed a simple idea into a lifestyle that epitomizes the hustle and rawness of KC. We sat down with him in January to get more insight into its beginnings and where Grass hopes it can go in the future.


How did the brand get started?

TG: I actually started HustleKC as a social media consultant. I was going to help people build their brands on social media, but then I wanted to start my own clothing brand. Stefan Huggings also wanted to start a clothing brand and he saw that I was growing on Instagram and we combined and said “Let’s go”.

When was the brand launched?

TG: We launched February 2018. We started discussion right around November of 2017.

Do you have any business background?

TG: I do not. I am completely self-taught in this whole game and have been learning a whole bunch. I have been talking with people on my Instagram through DMs; I get information from them and a little insight. I’ve been studying the brands around here like as Made Mobb, of course, and Landlocked KC.

How do you get people excited for the launches?

TG: We like to hype up on Instagram. We like to load up our stories of what we have coming. We like to get the locals involved through modeling and photography. We go from there, really. The hype spreads from there. Everyone gets excited. They’re always getting ready for the next thing to release.

Did you expect [the brand] to take off so quickly?

TG: No. It’s literally been a year. I started on Instagram with 365 followers and when I switched over to the brand, I had maybe 800+ followers and it has been blowing up since then.

What do you see your brand becoming like in the near future? Are you going to branch out or are you going to stay niche?

TG: I would like to stay native to Kansas City but I would not turn down any type of opportunity  to expand into any other clothing line. I do have talks to start a fitness apparel brand under HustleKC. I do plan on going that route a little bit.

Is Unruly a sector under HustleKC or is it a brand you distribute? How does that work?

TG: It was a sector under HustleKC. So HustleKC was the umbrella. Of course I have Tsucci as a sub-brand and Rosemary as a sub-brand. Unruly was a sub-brand as well until yesterday; they launched their own store.

So when you design the clothing, is it just you or is there a team that helps out?

TG: I design everything for HustleKC and the sub brands under me currently. Stefan designed everything for Unruly. We kept that solely for him. We do all the designs and everything. We don’t have any graphic designers under us or anything; it’s just us.


What made you want to do streetwear?

TG: I just love [streetwear]. There is really no way to explain it, other than I love the city. That really inspired me. I feel that Kansas City is underrated. I mean, yes, we do have Made Urban apparel, but I feel like they do their own type of streetwear and I wanted to bring my ideas into the streetwear scene of Kansas City.

Where do you get your inspiration from? I see on Instagram you post a lot of random things.

TG: Inspiration comes from different areas. So, the Tsucci brand definitely comes from Gucci. I love Gucci apparel and everything but they also went very luxurious. I wanted to bring the street feel back into it. Rosemary is for a rose bud and weed, obviously. Especially with the legalization of weed in Missouri, I wanted to appeal to everybody who utilizes cannabis. For HustleKC, I’m a hustler for one. I am very entrepreneurial; I studied entrepreneurs for three years before deciding to pull the trigger myself. Other than that, I would base anything off my [Instagram] stories. I post whatever I like. I want people and the stories to connect to me personally and what the brand is about. I post everything  from like Anime to street style to motivational quotes. It’s to have people come back, really.

Do you guys sell in any stores yet?

TG: We do not. I do not want to put any of my items in store yet mainly because  I like the exclusiveness of being online and being the sole place where people can get their clothing items.

How long have you lived in Kansas City?

TG: I moved here in 2nd grade, so a long time. I’m 28 years old now.

What do you love about this city?

TG: Everything. The culture. I especially love like Westport, where everybody is so free. There is no judgement. Everybody is out there, wilin’ out; it’s raw and uncut. Kansas City has a beauty of its own. I did travel; I was in the military as well; 8 years and two tours in Afghanistan. I traveled there of course and got out. I got a job and traveled for that. Kansas City is now just home.

How do your friends feel about you starting this brand? Have they rocked your wear? Have they tried to promote you too?

TG: My biggest fans are my viewers on Instagram. For my friends, I don’t think it has hit them yet that I am not playing around. I have one really good friend that supports me through and through and through. For everyone else, I don’t think reality has hit them yet.

When producing your products, do you own all the equipment?

TG: We do not. Actually, we do print on demand. We have a third party that handles all that. It’s just easier for us so we don’t lose money on products on hand that we are not selling. We’ve been building our network this entire year. So as we continue expanding, we would like to start doing all of that ourselves.

Have you shown your apparel at fashion shows?

TG: We have not. We are looking to maybe start submitting some items to some fashion shows and maybe make a presence at First Fridays when the weather warms up, of course.

Your sister models for you. Does she help out with anything?

TG: She is my number one model and my number one influencer. I lean on her a lot with her 22,000 followers on Instagram. I really liked the fact that she helped embed my brand into the schools in Olathe, KS and it gets the younger generation hyped and ready for the new wave of clothing.

Do you do your own photography too?

I did buy my own camera to start doing it, mainly because at our last shoot, I had two photographers drop out of the shoot on Saturday. So that’s why I whipped out my own camera.

Do you like shooting the models? I noticed that sometimes photographers like to give a lot of direction and you wanted the models to be themselves and focus on the streetwear feel.

TG: I don’t mind it. It’s kind of fun. I definitely like shooting the models but I’m more so enjoying interacting with them. I want them to feel comfortable when I’m shooting them. I honestly don’t know anything about photography; I just wing it. I know how to edit photos. I want to give the authentic feel to the brand and not want it to be stiff. Don’t get me wrong; every model has their poses that they go to and I dig that. But for the models at the shoot, I wanted them to be comfortable and to be themselves.

What do you notice about brands in KC, in general? Have you noticed if the locals embrace it? Does it attract tourists?

TG: [The locals] definitely embrace it. Most of my buyers are locals that love the brand. They see what we’re doing and love what we’re doing. Not very many tourists. We do have a couple of out of state customers that enjoy what we’re doing. My hope is to bring more tourists here. We gotta bring more spotlight here; there is a lot talent.

When you’re creating, is there any particular type of music you like to listen to?

TG: I love hip hop through and through. I listen to a lot of indie type of hip hop artists, ones that aren’t really well known. They are about the struggle and everything real. That’s what brought me up.

Is there is any other avenues you hope to explore with your brand?

TG: I would definitely like to get more into social media marketing. I know I kind of strayed away from that in the beginning. But as we grow, I would love to build a team to really want to focus on that. If anything, I want to get clients and continue helping other brands grow and whatnot. I would really love it if everyone who wanted to start a brand came to me for advice; I’d be happy to give them advice on where to start, what to do.

Have you been featured in any other publications or partnered with anyone else?

TG: KC photo network just shared a photo from our most recent shoot. Other than that, I sponsored a local rap artist named J. Gray; I sponsored his tour that came through Kansas City. A lot of people reach out, but it’s hard to tell who’s real and who’s not.

If there was one word to describe HustleKC, what would it be?

TG: Grit. We started with nothing. Like I said, we started 365 followers and almost 13K in a year. That makes me feel really good.

Growing up, did you pay attention to a lot of fashion?

TG: Growing up, yes and no. I didn’t really have say of my own until middle school. Then, I really liked dressing nice and looking nice. When I moved to the city, I really liked how it was more dressed down but kinda classy streetwear. I tailored my style to that and absorbed it and made it my own. So I followed certain trends and then took other trends and then mashed it up. Recently, yes I have to study it.

What is the symbolism in some of your designs? Like, the rose and the snakes – what do those mean to you?

TG: I had a lot of friends growing up. Then I deployed and found out who my real friends were; not a lot of them stuck around. The snake really is them and the rose is just me; no matter what, I’m going to outshine them. I can’t stand to be mediocre.

How did being deployed and coming back shape your worldview?

TG: It opened my eyes to a lot and I grew up really fast. I realized that when I got out that I no longer had to take orders. The world was my oyster and no matter what I wanted to do, I could go do it.

What would your dream brand be to collaborate with in the future?

TG: I would say Thrasher and Supreme. I skateboarded and rollerbladed back in the day, so my influence really did come from them.

What do you hope to see more of in 2019?

TG: Tsucci everywhere.

By Design Magazine