While most kids his age were socializing on Facebook or playing online games, NN*, a young up-and-coming designer who did not want his real name revealed, was building his clothing brand online, and though it seemed like he was motivated and focused, lately he has been finding it difficult to pursue his passion. One of the biggest differences from then to now is marijuana, according to those who are close to him.
“It makes him lazy,” Said Ike, NN’s cousin. “It’s been like two years since he has done anything creatively.” NN spends six to seven days out of the week with his cousin, Ike and sisters Obe and Chi Chi who all smoke weed together. “ For some people it works and for some people it doesn’t, I just honestly think that weed doesn’t help NN,” said Chi Chi.His family noted that NN always had a proclivity for creative and an ambitious nature, he was inspired by someone his own age.
As a 14-year-old NN looked up to, Daniel “Diggy” Simmons, son of Rev. Run from Run DMC. NN watched Run’s House, a reality series about Rev. Run’s family, regularly.
“I admired his (Diggy’s) style and he put me on to a couple of designers,” said NN.
Diggy ran a blog, digslifeofthejetsetter.blogspot.com, featuring collection previews from major designer and posts promoting his shoe brand Chivalrous Culture and his movement Young Crafter’s, inspiring young people like NN to strive for their dreams. By the 8th grade, NN followed in Diggy’s footsteps and created his own blog.
“That blog opened my mind and allowed me to meet dope & artistic people from everywhere around the world,” said NN.
Though he did not have a famous name behind him Big Dreams, NN’s Blogspot website, managed to gain a steady amount of attention, allowing him to promote and collaborate with other artists within his community.
Back when the blog was active, Jevon one of the blog’s followers commented, “Your blog is dope I’d say it’s one of the top three and up there near Diggy’s (blog). Not many are on that level but you are definitely up there man. keep it up, I think ur doing an amazing job man.”
By his senior year of high school, around the same time he started smoking, NN had successfully launched his clothing line and started selling white sweatshirts with a black and red “BD” emblazoned across the chest. Founding on his own, NN managed to print his designs on 20 sweatshirts, only giving away five for a promotional photo shoot and sold the rest for $30. NN would put in his hours at his job, like calling the screen printer to see where they were with his designs. He did not pay much attention to his teachers in class, and would always be sketching in his notebook.
The Nigerian-American designer attended Saint Benedict’s Preparatory School, an all-boys Catholic high school famous for its student-run system and its method of teaching the morals of manhood. The school requires newcomers to wear a grey uniform, to go through a series of rigorous challenges to gain true acceptance by the members of the community and to earn a black uniform.
“Coming from an all female home I was not 100% comfortable with the student body,” said NN. In the midst of the testosterone and adrenaline the young designer mostly kept to himself. “He’s not hype, he is always nonchalant and chill,” said Stephon McDonald a former classmate.
In spite of the strict dress code, NN managed to add his own personal style with his, Adeen Assman pin, African necklace, and wristbands. “ NN is one of the coolest quiet people in the school,” mentioned a classmate at the time.
Now in his junior year of college, as of late NN is finding it hard to decide how his next collection is going to look. “I want to think about it first before I put something out there, I want everything I make to have meaning behind it,” Said NN.
NN’s last blog post was October 2012 and coinciding with his cousin Ike’s statement, NN’s last design project was left incomplete his freshman year of college. NN picked up a sewing machine and began experimenting with black sweatshirts, infusing them with leather and other textile patterns. Though the finished product lacked polish, NN still managed to catch people’s attention and sold the sweatshirts he experimented on. He had plans to produce more sweatshirts with leather infused beanies but with the expenses piling on, the project was cut short, producing fewer results than he did previously.
Showing no signs of quitting designing or smoking NN is still optimistic about his future,
“When you are paying for school and have bills then it’s harder to pay for the shirts. It just has to do with money management and I’m getting better at it. Summer 16 will be the launch of the 2nd collection,” Said NN.
*A substitute for the artist’s real name. The artist did not want to be associated with drugs.