Interview: Soul Purpose Designs
So today I have some really cool folks to show you! They are the owners of Soul Purpose Designs and they focus on creating incredible clothing, some of which are inspired by geeky themes while all of them have a heavy influence of hip hop. Admittedly, I had no idea who they were until they reached out to me but I am so glad they did because they have some pretty dope products!
The moment he showed me his inventory, specifically his shoes, I knew I needed to show you guys! Check out their Kickstarter that features their sneakers! They put their heart and soul into their brand and it is nothing short of inspiring to see them chase their dreams AND also donate a portion of their profits to art programs to help young artist thrive!
I hope you enjoy our interview with Soul Purpose Designs.
The Geek Lyfe: Would you be able to take a moment and introduce yourself for those that may not be familiar?
Soul Purpose Designs: I am Louis Blaut the co-founder and creative director of Soul Purpose Designs alongside my wife and partner, Rabia Ishmail. I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and Rabia was born in Guyana and raised in Queens, NY. We both grew up loving Hip-Hop culture and art.
TGL: What is Soul Purpose Designs and what is its origin story?
SPD: I started the company because I saw something missing from the marketplace, something I wished existed. My whole life I had loved sneaker culture, Hip-Hop culture, sports, cars, comic books, cartoons, and art. I know how much other people love these things and I wanted to bring people together. So often in our lives we have a conversation with someone because of a piece of their clothing, and many of us have formed life-long friendships this way.
I wanted to create a brand that would bridge the gap of all these things we love through fashion, in an artistic way. I knew this would be a conversation starter and a statement piece of apparel that would inform people of your love of the character or object. I hoped this would bring people together. I also wanted to support arts education because without all the art teachers and mentors I had growing up I would not have been able to do what I do now. Arts education is currently at risk in terms of funding and we want to do our part to support a cause that means so much to us and to the future of many children. Finally, we wanted to offer all these things while making our products under the safest most environmental-friendly way possible.
Soul Purpose started as a hobby and became a passion project. I had been collecting sneakers for over 10 years while working in the advertising industry for brands like Forbes, Reebok, Marvel, Spotify, and Google. In 2013, after a decade of collecting, I was introduced to Dan Gamache, known to most as @mache275 owner of Mache Customs, commonly regarded as the best in his field. Maches’ sneaker art inspired me to try my hand at customizing. After several projects for myself, friends, and family for over 2 years, and though I was getting requests to do paid work, I decided that customizing was too constraining. I then began designing shoes, a process that would go on for a full year before a business was born. One shoe a day for 365 days to complete the current catalog.
Alongside that project I began designing corresponding apparel to accompany the sneakers. Having been inspired by many art teachers and professors throughout my life, I decided that it was important for the brand to give back to arts education. At that time, I launched Soul Purpose LLC and began the long path of building the company. I reached out to network contacts to find freelance support to help create rough samples of my shoes and clothing line. The team of freelancers and myself have also created media assets for the brand including photographs and videos, social media marketing support, website development, and all of the other necessary steps in my carefully laid out business plan. Two years, many challenges, and exciting victories later we have suppliers, distribution, marketing, accounting and all the other necessary parts of a business. We are ready to start producing our products for our fans. All we need is our initial capital and we will be following our Soul Purpose.
TGL: I know that you currently have a kickstarter running for a new product(s). Could you tell us a bit more about this?
SPD: The Kickstarter is to fund the production of our first run of sneakers. The money raised will go toward mold making, tooling, material sourcing, and wear testing for production samples of the sneakers. It will also cover the costs of the products ordered. 15% of the profits will be donated to support arts education through the Materials for the Arts, Urban Arts Partnership and Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning.
TGL: I’ve actually had the chance to check out some of the shoe designs you have done and are going to sell soon enough and can not help but notice the geeky elements. What inspired you to go down such a route of including themes from Disney, Masters of the Universe etc. in your designs?
SPD: I grew up loving cartoons and comic books. They were where I met my first friends and became the thing my first real life friends and I bonded over. I was so inspired by the connections I had forged over a love of those characters that when I saw the lack of representation of them in the world of sneakers (another culture I have loved for over a decade) I knew I wanted to create something new.
TGL: Out of all the products you sell which one would you say is your absolute favorite and why?
SPD: I personally love the sneakers and if I had to pick one from our current line-up of 4 (The Ax, The Prince, The Mischief and The Etheria) I would say The Etheria. I think it works for both men and women, has great flare and most importantly is incredibly comfortable and durable. This comfort and quality is due to the use of the vachetta tanned leather that was used in its construction which is designed to wear beautifully overtime.
TGL: Hitting walls creatively is an unfortunate part of being an artist of any capacity, when you personally hit these walls, what do you do to break through them?
SPD: As an artist, I look out into the world for inspiration when I hit a wall. I’ve also found it helps to clear your mind (some people meditate) to allow room for new ideas.
TGL: If you had absolute funding for any project you could ever dream of doing, what would that project be and why? Is this something you strive to make a reality with Soul Purpose Designs?
SPD: If offered the opportunity of unlimited funding, I would create a brand that does what we do now but supports causes on a global scale. I would also hire a large workforce paid truly fair living wages (everyone in the company from the janitors to the CEO).
TGL: If you could take a single moment to explain what separates your brand from your competitors, what would you say?
SPD: It’s simple – we make limited edition (truly limited to only 1,000 pairs of each shoe ever for adults) under fair trade guidelines and give back to an amazing cause in arts education. Not to mention our fresh Hip-Hop inspired positive message focused apparel. We are the only brand blending Hip-Hop culture and comic book (cartoon, “nerd”) culture.
TGL: What geeky influences(Movies, tv shows, comics, anime, novels etc.) did you have growing up that helped build your character while growing up?
SPD: There are so many influences but some examples would be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers, GI Joe, WWF (before it was WWE), Kurt Vonnegut, Conan O’Brien, The Simpsons and Seinfeld.
TGL: If we want to find out even more information on you and your brand, where can we find you online?
Alrighty guys, I was so happy to get to interview Louis on his brand, Soul Purpose Designs. They have such a passion for what they do that it is hard not to cheer them on, especially because they do their very best to go above and beyond to help support the arts! If you would like to check them out and support them, be sure to check out their Kickstarter! I know I’ll be dropping money to see their dream come true!
I hope you enjoyed and have a great day!