Interview with Fashion designer, Ackeim McCalla,of “ Up before the Opps” clothing thing brand with Nyxx Mist
1. When did the brand start? Who are the pioneers behind it and what inspired the brand?
The concept of the Brand “No work No Bag” came about in January 2018. I began to read a variety of different genres such as economic literature along with books about ownership and self-help books as well. I also began working for Uber and was adjusting to the liberty of creating my own schedule. My cousin and I originally started the “NWNB” brand. We ended up having a different vision and parted ways. This explains why there are two different business pages on social media. The difference between visions and negative energy put me in a dark space for months. I began to alter my schedule and started working out with my friend Rich (who is an inspiring soccer player) every morning at 5 am. After two weeks of working out and listening to motivational speeches by people like Eric Thomas, I was able to pull myself out of that space and began to use that energy in a creative way. While working out with Rich, discussing this situation with my cousin I kept referring to him as the Opp (opposition, opposer, opponent) and told him that I needed to now outwork my competition. I guess you can say my cousin was the inspiration behind the “Up Before the Opps” brand. I knew now I needed to work twice as hard that meant starting my days earlier than anyone else. In the words of the Late Great Young king Pop Smoke “turn your pain into Champagne” and that’s what I did.
2. What motivated the brand’s name?
At the time I was challenging myself and did a 30-day smoothie fast. I was drinking ONLY smoothies and lost 30 pounds in 30 days. I was also trying to build a fitness brand at the time. I used “No work No bag” as a mantra for myself when I felt physically and mentally drained while working out. I began to say it to others while training them so they can push through their workout as well. I thought “instead of saying it all the time I should just put it on a shirt so others can see”
3. How has the pandemic affect business?
The pandemic has actually had a positive effect on my business. Since more people are home they have more time to shop online. It also pushed me to provide more of a selection to my customers. I was watching a podcast recently and the host asked a question, he asked: “Did you think you would have made it out alive of this pandemic when it first started?” Strangely I am one of those people who thrive in chaos. I begin to think of solutions instead of giving my energy to the problem. This pandemic ultimately inspired me to take more risks.
4. What is your take on some fashion pioneers like Virgil Abloh(chief executive officer of the label Off-White) contribution to the BLM and in what ways black-owned businesses can do more for the black community?
Virgil Abloh is one of the people that has inspired me. He took streetwear to levels that it’s never been before. Though his contribution to the BLM movement was small at first, he corrected it in the end and it was still something. Rather than nothing. There are also a lot of things behind the scenes that we don’t know about or see. We don’t know how he contributes to our communities on his own time, in other ways. Black-owned companies can better serve our community by reinvesting in ourselves and hire more of our kind. I personally took the profits I made from the “ NWNB X I Can’t breathe” products and donated it to the Brooklyn Bail Fund. This biggest investment I think Black-owned companies should make is within our school systems starting with elementary schools. Representation is important. It’s important to show our youth that we can own companies and build a variety of brands. We should also make it a habit to support and promote black business the same way we do non-black businesses.
5. What are your plans for the empire you’re now growing and how do wish it to affect your melaninated community?
My goal is to inspire others to work hard on their dreams “No work No bag”. In order to achieve this, you have put the work in and to always stay “Up Before the Opps”. Although I do believe that everyone’s dreams are tailor-made for self people need to understand that Self can be an “Opp” too. That voice in your head that tells you “it can wait until tomorrow” or “I’ll start next week” STOP listening to it and get started right now! I want this empire to be bigger than just a clothing brand. One of my main focuses is health in our community. We tend to not take care of our bodies. We eat whatever we want, whenever we want. Our ancestors made sure to take care of their bodies by eating the right foods. I would like to open a gym that caters to the elderly. In my experience working out in a gym with a younger crowd can be intimidating for some. This causes them to either not socialize or they just don’t go to the gym at all. I want to create a space where they feel comfortable and are able to stay fit. America is the only place that warehouses our elderly (in nursing homes) and tend to not learn from their past mistakes. On a global scale, I believe that the world we once knew is gone. So we have to find new ways to live. So I’m currently trying to revamp those plans. NWNB X Up Before the Opps!