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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Designer Q&A: Josh "Jay O" Ansah

Meet Josh, the designer behind clothing line Jaytees Apparel. His comfortable, eye catching, and conversation sparking t-shirts can be found in the shop. Read on to find out more about his favorite trends, personal style, and what he has next for Jaytees Apparel! 

Introduce yourself 
My name is Joshua Ansah, but I also go by Jay O. It’s a nickname my friend gave me a few years ago and it just stuck.
How did you get started?
Jaytees Apparel started off with me making some shirts for an Ansah classic basketball game I put together. The shirts turned out really cool and became popular. I decided that we could sell these, and it helped me come up with other ideas. I made those shirts and then I made a few other shirts that were kids’ shirts, Sneak’R Prince and Princess. (I love sneakers. I collect them, probably since 7th grade. I love wearing collectable sneakers and vintage Jordans). Those shirts sold really well, and I wanted to see what it would really take to make it into a business. I spoke with a few colleagues in the business world to find out what it took to legally start a business and have a legitimate business with the state, retail, and sales tax. I had the opportunity to speak with Mike Draper of Raygun and found out his story and got advice on what to use and what to avoid and how to help my business prosper. I had never run my own business before, I didn’t have a lot of money before, but I decided that if I was going to do it, I wanted to do it right. There are so many creative avenues to explore when making graphic t-shirts. You can create designs that mean something. It takes a little while for me to come up with designs and lines for my clothing and apparel designs within those lines. I never want to just come up with something that I wouldn’t want to wear myself! I want every single design that I come out with to be relevant and make sense.  It’s hard to come up with something that is relevant, understandable and people want to wear. 

What are you up to now?
I’ll be having the Lethal Love party Feb 15th. It’s going to be a beautiful event. It’s a really official and legit launch. It’s going to be incredible. I’ll also be doing the 4th Ansah classic, it’ll be the first year I am actually playing in the Ansah classic this year, and I’m working on a fashion show for this fall. I’ll also be working on a pancake breakfast to raise money for the students at Harden Middle School, and will donate portions of the basketball game to the school as well. I try to pick a different organization to donate to each year. 

What statement is a person making when wearing your clothes?
The statement that someone is making when wearing my shirts is that they care. They care about the quality of material they wear, the quality of fit, and cut of the material. I feel that is what makes you want to buy a shirt. I wanted to make sure I focused on having a tailored fit. I have a design that represents anyone that is fighting for anything they believe in. I have a design called RUN DSM, it represents our city, it has ties with RUN DMC, and it’s a fun, cool shirt and design. I have another design called “Yes, there are black people in Iowa” so they aren’t just designs, they are stories. So people that wear my shirts realize that, they get that. The shirt not only feels good to wear, but feels good to wear. 

How do you define style/What is your personal fashion/style philosophy?
My personal style philosophy is “less is more”. I like to just dress down. Casual, but with a touch of hipster and urban. It draws back to how I grew up. When I was growing up, I didn’t have a lot. Hip hop was a huge influence on my style. In middle school I became friends with more wealthy kids due to the area I went to school, so my style started to mesh with the two worlds. I would wear fitted corduroys with Air Jordans, or an Abercrombie shirt with timberland boots. I like to piece my things together, go to Goodwill or Salvation Army and grab a vintage piece that probably isn’t even in production anymore! You don’t have to spend a lot of money to look good. 

Your top style essentials are…?
My sneakers! Definitely my sneakers. And shoes in general. That is my TOP style essential. I spend the most money on shoes. 

What’s in and what’s out?
IN: Tailored look and slim fit jeans. Different textures and fabrics are also in! Mossimo is also making a big comeback.
OUT: Baggy. Anything baggy, especially for guys is out. It’s cool for girls to wear baggy though, like a super flow-y dress or oversized sweatshirts. 

Where do you see your line in 5 years?
I will have my own boutique! I am actually scouting out locations for a boutique. I would like it to be a few different types of boutiques and services to make it appealing to a wider range of supporters and customers. I want to make my boutique the type of place that people don’t just want to shop, but where they want to be. I want that feeling for my employees as well. I want them to feel that their grievances are heard, that they are actually moving parts to the success of the brand. I want them to feel important and have an imprint. Their productivity is the fuel that keeps the business running smoothly. I am slowly but surely getting to that point. 

Favorite Current Trend?
I like leopard print. I am a huge fan of leopard print and gold. Those are the two things I think are really cool right now. 

Trend that you are sick of/could do without/overexposed?

Your collection/brand in 3 words?
Lifestyle. Relevant. Timeless. 

Vitae is…
Necessary. I feel that Vitae is what our city needs: A collective of local designers being able to showcase their designs, talents, and creativity. It’s almost like an art gallery. It’s an incredible atmosphere run by incredible people. It shows the relationship they have with their vendors. Vitae is the first store that took a chance on Jaytees. I will always be grateful to them and appreciative of their generosity! They’re awesome. If I could wrap them up in one word it would be awesomeness. 

Des Moines is…

What’s next for you?
The line launch for Lethal Love. It takes a lot of time and requires a lot of help. I come up with an idea, but it definitely takes a lot of hands to make it come alive. Everything I do is a collective effort. It takes a while to orchestrate. 

How can readers contact you?

1 comment:

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