[ Trend Setter Tuesday ] Don’t Be A Bama
What exactly IS a Bama? What would be a good example of a Bama & why should we NOT want to be one?
The term “Bama” (pronounced Bamm-a) is used to describe someone who is conducting themselves in a negative way. If your actions are less than desirable, you are being a “Bama.” Should you decide to be overly loud, rude, tacky or disrespectful, you could be considered a “Bama.” A “Bama” could also be someone who is a hater, or who has no sense of style or swag. Anything negative, just don’t be that. People who were unaware of the meaning have asked if we’re taking shots at the people of Alabama or President Obama…not at all. But the cool thing about our brand, is that once people understand what a “Bama” is, they can identify one that they know right away. So people usually laugh and then want to know how they can get involved with the movement.
What area is Don’t Be a Bama based out of? How did it begin? What sparked the interest in designing?
The Don’t Be A Bama brand is based in the DMV area. The word originated from the DC urban culture back in the day to refer to anyone who lacked style. Now the word has evolved to pretty much meaning doing or being something negative. The word has been around the DC area for so many years. Grandmothers and grandfathers all the way to middle schoolers all use the word to this day, but no one had ever put the word on a t-shirt. So once we released them, they just took off!! Our goal was to create a brand centered on the word “Bama” to capture the pulse of the city. We wanted the design to not only be fresh but also to instantly highlight the culture of the DMV.
Is Don’t Be A Bama for everyone? What products do you carry?
Our brand is for the people, all people. Everyone knows a Bama in some way, shape, or form. So after learning what it means, people buy it. What started off as just a t-shirt, has transformed into a complete movement. We carry tees for men and women, long sleeve tees, sweatshirts and hoodies.
Any plans for expanding the current product line? If so any idea on what new products will be added?
Yes, we’ve been getting a lot of requests to start carrying items for kids and babies. Particularly onesies. People want their kids to be able to rock Don’t Be A Bama too. We’re also about to release some other fresh items, like cell phone cases, pajama pants, etc. Our current design is hot but we want to continue to push the limits.
What separates your clothing from the other companies? How are you unique?
Our company is unique because it is not just a clothing line, it’s a movement. We have captured the heart of our city and created a movement that is now populating in different cities around the country. Don’t Be A Bama is synonymous with being unique, being empowered, being an individual and not being a Bama! People love the interactive element of our brand. The shirt itself is a conversation piece. It inspires people to talk about different issues in a fun way.
We’ve noticed more companies are switching to organic cotton or even hemp, what fabrics are being used in most of your clothing? What do you think about making clothing that is more helpful to the environment?
Our tees are made from 100% cotton. The quality and softness is clearly seen when you compare our tees to others on the market. We always wanted to offer our customers a quality product. We’ve been researching products out there that are environmentally safe to see if that’s something that we can start including in our brand based on the styles that we currently carry.
With the recent economic change people seem to be spending less on newer brands & basically “Going for what they know” in what ways are you attracting semi-nervous & somewhat frugal new buyers?
We are a company that is constantly diversifying. We are always trying to find innovative ways to reach consumers. For instance, we have a number of community support efforts we are launching which will attract consumers who like brands backed by a cause. Everyone likes to be empowered, and our brand really drives that message. In November, we are doing our first “Don’t Be A Bama” pep rally at Langdon middle school in Washington DC. We will have local celebrities come into the school and empower the students to be positive, be unique, don’t bully, be an individual etc.
Price is very important to the consumer especially when they are buying something for the first time. How is a new customer getting their money’s worth when purchasing from you?
We always want to be mindful of our consumer. We aim to keep our products modestly priced so that our consumer will feel good about their purchase. Because we offer 100% cotton, our consumer is getting a tee that’s instantly soft to the touch. We’ve had people say they would pay over $100 for a t-shirt, just because it feels so soft and the design is so fresh. Plus, the shirt is a bold statement, so when you walk in the room with the tee, eyes instantly turn to you.
A formula many newer lines use is to give out clothing to celebs in hopes of that celeb actually wearing their brand & it catching on. What do you think of this marketing tactic? Is this something your company does? If so how successful has it been?
Celebrity outreach has been a large part of our marketing campaign. This marketing tactic is a great way to create a trend with your product. We have received tons of celebrity participation since we launched the brand. (RGIII, Big Tigger, Kenny Burns, Kevin Durant, Marcus Canty, Jeff Green from the Boston Celtics, Roger Mason Jr., and Mike Beasley from the Miami Heat and more.) We just launched in May, but gaining the support of those individuals with a celebrity platform has caused our brand to expand nationally in a short period of time. We appreciate all the love that different celebrities as well as local tastemakers in the DMV have shown us.
Do you think technology has had an effect on the fashion industry? If so what?
Technology has completely transformed the fashion industry. For instance, if the right person wears your brand on Instagram or mentions you on social media, your brand can blow up overnight. Social media is absolutely paramount to keep a new brand relevant. The world seems smaller now that social media is such a vital part of everyone’s life. We’re all connected in a way that we’ve never been. This works to the complete advantage of anyone in the fashion industry.
Beyond the obvious goal of gaining financially, what is the biggest goal for your line this year? What about long-term?
Our goal is to establish a presence both nationally and internationally that is synonymous with the empowerment of all people. We’re really excited to continue to see people rockin’ the line in different parts of the country and around the world. What started as just a DMV thing, has been gaining steady momentum and the growth has been phenomenal.
Every line has a signature piece Ralph Lauren & Nautica’s bread and butter has been their 2 button short sleeve oxford (polo) shirt. What do you believe yours will be? Is there any new piece of that you’re excited for the world to see?
Our signature piece will always be our Dont Be A Bama tee, featuring the stars and bars of the DC flag. Of course we will have fresh new designs constantly being released, but we will always have the original design that started it all. We’re excited for the world to see the other lifestyle elements that we’re going to be adding soon. The name of our brand, itself, is such a statement so we’ve been getting requests to put it on lots of different items that people use day to day. We’ve got some big things in the works.
Did you ever watch the HBO series “How to Make It in America”? If so has it been beneficial to you at all? What are your thoughts overall on the show?
We are familiar with the show and have seen bits and pieces of it. But we can completely relate to concept. You have to constantly evolve and be thinking of the next big idea when it comes to the fashion industry. Every person with a line thinks that theirs is it! And that’s exactly how we all should think. You can be a day, an idea, or a person away from your line really blowing up and changing your life forever. The possibility and reality of that is what an entrepreneur feeds off of. Diddy, Jay-Z, Russell Simmons, they all started the same way that we did. They worked hard, and got their big break. It’s always possible for everybody. You just gotta grind, shake the right hands, and continue to cultivate the genius that you are.
More than anything else how do you want the line to be remembered?
We would like our line to be remembered as movement that inspired people of all ages to be the 100% themselves and to be the best at it. To not hate, but to spread love and to focus on promoting positivity.
Purchase your “Don’t Be A Bama” gear today from their offical website www.DontBeABama.com
Be sure to follow them on twitter & Instagram @DontBeABama