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Pop Nation: The Run Down

Let me give you the rundown on what Pop Nation is:    (to me, at least)

I’ve been getting my hair cut at Ageez barbershop since I started high school.  A few of the barbers there – including my own – have been the dudes I talk to each week about what’s going on in Michael’s world… whether its good, bad, or ugly… and they’re always quick to tease or give advice.  They’ve seen me each week since the day I started tattooing, and send people my way any chance they get.  The day that I had opened up my second shop, Inkraft Studios, my boy Donnie had referred Zy Owens to come get tattooed by me.  I remember Donnie telling me that Zy was a good dude that I could learn a lot from… and I was like, “ok, whatevv… let’s get some ink started.”

The shop was a diamond in the rough and Zy was my first client at the new venue. We collaborated ideas and he trusted me to do my own thing on a full back piece that took months to finish… along with a full rib piece as well.  For big, extensive tattoos to go so well, the vibe’s gotta be right…. and it was.

About a month before I had been sentenced to do my 5 months, Zy had come to me and said he wanted me to help him start a clothing line with a theme. He told me that he had a vision of opening a store that appeared as a popcorn shoppe, but actually functioned to sell a clothing brand.  (He used Johnny Cupcakes clothing brand as an example.)

Immediately, my mind started flooding with ideas to fulfill the concept.  I started spit-balling names: POP Shop, Popcorn Clothing company, PropCorn Clothing, Pop City, PopTown, etc. etc…… and eventually we agreed upon POPNATION.

So… Great!!! we got a name…WhooHoo!!! now what?…. A logo! …. I drew up and we tossed around numerous ideas for a logo and trashed them all. We gotta give credit to Aaron Nickels for supplying the logo artwork.

A logo and a name… that’s all we had. Not enough.   I knew that having a lifestyle brand had to consist of much much more than just tee shirts with a popcorn logo on them… It needed a lifestyle… and at the root of a lifestyle, is an idea.

At the start of my sentence, I had a goal, and a strong sense of urgency.  I had 5 months of jail and work furlough to go through… a shop to run… bills to pay……. and a business venture to start.   My mind was more focused than ever and all energy outside of tattooing had been focused on fulfilling the idea of PopNation.  Documenting everything I could along the way.

I had plenty of time to read books in jail… the most relevant books were: The Book of Psalms in the Bible, Crush It! by Gary Vaynerchuck, The 4-hour Workweek by Timothy Ferriss, and The Shack by W.M. Paul Young. (all books that I strongly recommend!)

P.K. was my driver at the time, and I found myself speaking to him much like how my barber would speak to me; and it helped me realize how important the spread of education is, and how important healthy relationships are.

****My attitude was changing for the better: All accountability and no complaining… All work ethic and no laziness… All love and no negativity… All growth and no bullshit.****

The truth is… We don’t really know exactly what Pop Nation actually is yet. There is a vision, of course.. but visions must be flexible.. Sure it is a business, and a company with a TIN #, sure its a trademarked brand to sell clothes… but I believe there is much more to it. I think of it as a sculpture that is unfinished.

Ultimately, PopNation is an influence.  And this influence will play out over time.  My team and I are showing up to put forth all that we can… and have some fun.

P.O.P = Position Of Promise

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