Updated: Sep 25
Editor's Note: Since our interview, Afresh Culture ‘s CEO, Dante Brooks has teamed up with Legacy Reentry Foundation for his first free streetwear class, ‘Print Culture’ where he will cover the history of fashion, the business ethics of starting a brand and of how to design unique gear.
North Chicago, IL native Dante Brooks created Afresh Culture back in 2017 with the hopes to birth a dope faith based clothing brand that creates conversation pieces that tells stories. Here is the interview....
LITOMag: The last time we spoke with you was on In the Flow Live Magazine/Radio Show a few years back. At that time we were talking about your music and your T-Shirt line, YOLA (You Only Live Again). For those who may not know of you, introduce yourself and let us know what you do.
Dante Brooks: Well, my name is Dante Brooks. I am currently the owner and creator of Afresh Culture, streetwear dipped in faith.
LITOMag: When or how did you know that it was time to evolve from the original brand into Afresh?
Dante Brooks: I while back maybe 2012-2013’ish, I took the tips that I was making at Starbucks and put it towards a run of shirts that said YOLA, You Only Live Again. It was a play on the YOLO saying that Drake made popular in a song. I did that for about a year or two, then it died down. I never really meant to make a brand out of it, it was something I thought was cool for the time, but it took on a life of its own. But then the YOLO trend died and slowly YOLA did too.
Fast forward some years and a friend asked me why did I stop, and I told him just that, plus life was life’n and I stopped. He was like, man you should kick that back up again. So I thought about it and that same day a friend posted a pic of him in the YOLA shirt, then a FB memory popped up of one as well. So I’m like, Ok, I see you God. I went back to the drawing board, brainstormed and Afresh Culture was born. I just knew that I needed to make it a brand and not a trend.
LITOMag: What or who inspires you on the pieces that you create?
Dante Brooks: Life experiences are one big thing. There are plenty of shirts that I have done that have stories about my life behind them, that resonate with people. Like the Make Lemonade shirt that I did was about me losing my full time job and having to take Afresh Culture and make it do what it do. I have another called Get Outta My Head that is basically about the thoughts that torment us daily. The back of the shirt reads like a movie poster. I even created a playlist on Apple Music and Spotify to go with it, like a movie soundtrack. Just songs that get me going. It’s a good playlist.
I also play off of my love for sneakers here and there as well as hoops. I hand draw a bunch of designs also.
LITOMag: What has been the hardest challenge that you've met in business thus far? And on the flip side, what has been your greatest accomplishment?
Dante Brooks: The greatest accomplishment right now is basically not quitting. I wanted to quit so many times. You go through these spells of not making sales and it sucks and makes you second guess yourself. So I guess the hardest challenge is battling myself. We can sabotage ourselves if we let us. I haven’t hit that ONE THING, that sends me to that NEXT level yet, so I can’t quit yet. I’m a “Hard Knock Life” away from that next level. I say that, because Jay-Z was already dope and big, but when he dropped that song, it bumped his career to another level. But the one other thing I would say as accomplishment is the people. People message me, come up to me and tell me that they love what I do, that they’re inspired by what I do and want to do it as well. That right there is SUPER dope to me.
LITOMag: What do you think makes your brand stand out among the crowd of other urban apparel or streetwear brands?
Dante Brooks: I’m not the first to do what I do and won’t be the last. I know I’m dope and there are brands that are doper. But I think the storytelling aspect of what I do, sets me apart from some. Being fearless when doing some designs. But also being authentically me helps. I love this stuff and I want other people to feel my passion for it as well. So being personable helps Afresh Culture stand out as well.
LITOMag: You've recently had a major life transition through the lens of somewhat of a public eye although you are a very private person, what are some pieces of advice you can give to anyone going through a major life change such as divorce or losing a loved one, while still trying to get up and be ready to face the world for business as usual in the midst of that change?
Dante Brooks: Life goes on. Life changes can send you through depression and such. I had to realize that the world will keep moving and there is something in this world that I’m supposed to impact. Stuff is bigger than me. I have a son to inspire. I have a brand to grow, hell, BILLS TO PAY! Life has to go on. I can’t be the best me, just sitting and feeling sorry for myself. The more I kept busy, the better things were for me mentally.
LITOMag: What's new and on the horizon for you and your brand? What can your consumers be on the lookout for?
Dante Brooks: Right now, me and some guys are opening a design studio in downtown Waukegan called IYKYK (If you know you know). It will be open once a month to the public, but the rest of the time it will basically be our studio and headquarters for our brands. It should b open by October. Other than that, I’m just going to keep cranking out designs, trying to build on this brand.
LITOMag: Is there anything else that you would like our readers to know?
Dante Brooks: Don’t be scurr’d. You have things inside of you, passions you want to pursue. Not saying to quit your day job, but go grab that dream. Life gets shorter and shorter by the day. Maximize your days and do what God put in you to do, but wisely. Time is the most expensive free thing that we have. Take advantage of it but don’t take it for granted.
Follow Afresh Culture:
Website: afreshculture.com Instagram: @afreshculture Facebook: @afreshculture