2004 Client Roster: Urban Dwellers Fashion

Urban Dwellers (Miami)
Published in The Pulse of The Twin Cities
by Kandis Knight

Fort Lauderdale natives Haj Sanchez, 31, and John Ska One, 28, founded Urban Dwellers in 1990 while Juniors in High School. As kids they were immersed in Hip-Hop culture for fun, they didn’t know that it would become their life’s work. Fourteen years later their merchandise, mainly T-shirts, mix CDs and swanky hats, can be found in stores across the Midwest, as well as on both coasts and all major cities in between.

This month the company shipped its first order overseas to a tiny Hip-Hop store in the Balkans. “We represent the underground world wide. Urban Dwellers is like a group of political artists who promote public awareness by putting out subliminal messages through our work that grab people’s attention and gets them to think about the world we live in,” said Ska One in a recent Pulse interview.

“Everything we do is ingrained in Hip-Hop culture, from our clothing, to our artists, to the social programs we support, it is all about the elements,” said Sanchez. The inherent difficulties of having such a huge vision tied to only a shoestring budget necessitate both partners keep day jobs at a publishing company.

“We work day jobs at Urban Dwellers Publishing Co. where we furnish the clubs down here in Florida with their fliers and brochures,” said Sanchez.These young Hip-Hop entrepreneurs definitely know how to diversify more than just their livelihood. Urban Dwellers is more than just a clothing company. Like many Hip-Hop clothing labels, it’s a way of life for both the producer and the consumer rooted in a Hip-Hop lifestyle that now even transcends musical genres.

If you look at who’s wearing Urban Dwellers clothing you will quickly realize that it appeals to all people who willingly embrace Hip-Hop culture, including punk rockers, skateboarders and cyclists. In this type of diversity, Urban Dwellers has found strength.“We are not trying to satisfy the masses, we are just focusing on those who can see the same vision we see. The brand represents a level of consciousness shared amongst people who listen to hard core (rock) or skate, or surf, or break or listen to Hip-Hop.

Urban Dwellers separate the people who think (like us) and the people who don’t,” said Ska One.“We also represent people breaking boundaries, people can’t look at someone with a Urban Dwellers hat on and stereotype. You can’t say ‘She listens to punk because she has that Urban Dwellers hat on’ because many different people wear our stuff,” said Sanchez. As for all of the logos full of armed men with assault weapons, don’t be afraid until you know what they represent. “Arm yourself with knowledge,” said Sanchez.

The pair admits sometimes deciphering the codified messages can be tricky but promise there is always a deeper message and sometimes you will only learn that by speaking directly with the artist who created it.Respecting their artists’ work as well as their business peers is also important to the two. While striving to constantly put their best foot forward, sometimes they are called to go beyond the call of duty. When Sanchez recently visited the Twin Cities to survey the market, I volunteered to be a guide and I was able to see firsthand the Urban Dwellers business ethic at work.

Upon learning that a local Hip-Hop store was recently robbed, Sanchez made a personal visit to extend his apologies to the owner but also to replenish his shelf free of charge. In today’s cut-throat business world it’s nice to see that some companies, especially a Hip-Hop based businesses, still have old-school values. Urban Dwellers is currently striving toward having more of a presence in the local Twin Cities market and are interested in sponsoring local artists for shows and tours.

Their music branch is also busy creating mix CDs and they are always open to receiving musical submissions. You can purchase Urban Dweller’s merchandise locally at Balance and Mindstate Distribution and you can also purchase merchandise and contact the owners directly at UrbanDwellers.org .


Urban Dwellers said...

Nice job

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