[RECESS] is when we get to hear the stories of the good people behind the pop-up. It's our favourite time and we're happy to share the conversations with you.
@thisopenspace: Hey Sam, tell us about Diamonds In The Rough Originals and what you're doing with it.
Sam Mendoza: I design t-shirts and research charities that tie in to what the t-shirt is about. Every quarter, there are four new limited edition tee designs and charity partners. Three dollars from each limited edition t-shirt sold goes to a partnered charity. I love researching and learning about local charitable organizations. So many deserve attention, it doesn’t matter how big they are or how small they are.
How long have you been working on this project?
SM: The concept started when I was 15 or 16. I had this insane love for t-shirts. I loved how people could express their individuality through them. In stores, I would gravitate toward the guys’ designs; they were so much better. It’s all about strong graphics with a clear message.
What kick-started the idea?
The idea of helping people came from working as a psychiatric aid back in Alberta. How much love, compassion goes into helping the community. Every town needs that.
Why the name Diamonds In The Rough Originals?
Years ago, I was working at the Gap and met a wide array of people that I’m still really close with. They’re all so different. Although so different, we all had one thing in common - we all had our own off-duty project and that was the connecting point. We were all diamonds in the rough. To this day we’re still the best of friends and support each other. It’s crazy to see where we came from and where we are now.
You have a background in business and design, could you talk about this foundation and how it lends itself to D.I.T.R.O?
Growing up as a small town kid, you needed to hustle and have that drive to succeed. To begin with, I went to school for marketing. From there I moved to Vancouver to design handbags with a girlfriend. The movement for local was only just starting. It was all DIY; we marketed ourselves through guerilla marketing, word of mouth and mailing out look-books. I had the line for 3 years then decided to change things up and left for Australia. I wanted to be closer to Asia, to get inspired and source materials from that side of the world. I lived in Perth and saved money. Then had the opportunity to travel to the Philippines and Dubai, where my uncle does charitable work. I was so inspired by the way he was helping others and that drive was very much instilled in me. You have to make the time to give a fuck about other people. Everything became clear, I returned to Vancouver with all this fire and returned to school for graphic design.
For this event, you’re working with a ton of different local brands and also a charity. What was it like getting everyone together and organizing the pop-up?
I asked around and got referrals through friends. I did background research on all of them. Plus, I pulled from my network of people and my own friends – if I know these people already, I needed to get them all together. Create interconnections and expand everyone’s network. I really want to see at the end of it - the support and future collaborations between people that would never have met.
We’re all collectively donating to a Better Life Foundation. We have the organization’s backing and their blessing, they’re totally on board. I want to create that new way of entrepreneurs giving back.
What are you looking to get out of this pop-up?
Making giving back look cool. In the most authentic way possible. [end]
Official opening day for #GVEAFUKPOPUP is September 4. Visit our UPCOMING page for full event listings.