Read the review, and still want to learn more about the “Retro Plugs”? Click the “Continue Reading” tab below to read the exclusive interview Between SneakerGodz, Prophet Amen Ra and myself!
1.) No’el: What was the original concept behind the “Retro Plugs”? How has it evolved since launch?
Ra: The original concept behind the Retro plugs is something I’ll let @Sneakergodz elaborate on, however, in terms of how it has evolved since its launch I can expound upon that. I’m in charge of “Strategic Partnerships-Celebrity Talent Relations” for the brand & SneakerGodz prior to this venture was a good friend of mine for almost close to 5 (five years) now. Which means we already had the organic relationship of communicating everyday which made building this brand & having it evolve/elevate that much easier. The growth, elevation, & expansion of the brand is all premeditated, & calculated before the public even sees the most recent branding update from Retro plugs on our social media accounts. We have evolved by the caliber & types of professionals that have now started associating with the brand & product. For example for DJ’s that support the brand we have; DJ Carisma (Real 92.3 LA), DJ Esco (Future’s official DJ), DJ-E Sudd (2 Chainz official DJ), DJ Hoopdreams (Dreezy official DJ) & DJ Money (Wale official dj) just to name a few.
When it comes to actual music artists we have taste makers such as; Desiigner, Sevyn Streeter, Shanell SNL-Young Money, Lil Bibby, The Cool Kids, Toni Romiti, Slim Jimmy-Rae Sremmurd, Bump J, & many others, just to name a few on that end. In regards to media personalities & professional in the radio/broadcast industry, we have professionals like; Toure (BET/MSNBC), HipHopMike (Hot97), DJ Damage & DTS Media (Revolt TV), DJ EFN (Revolt TV-Drink Champs), Michael Medium (Sirius XM-HHDX), Shirju (Editor-HHDX), & LupeLooove (Karen Civil/Live Civil/ RNBass/ Homegrown Radio/ & In Touch Weekly) Than to give a few names of producers attached to the brand we have; Zaytoven, 808ChaseDavis, TripleAMusic, etc just to name a few on that end. The brand has even evolved further by extending into reality television stars with the stars of Lifetime’s “Bringing Up Ballers”, Nikki & Nimari Burnett, & we endorsed our first comedian, Korporate, with the Retroplugs product. Chance The Rapper tweeted to million of his followers how Korporate is the next big comedian out of the city. So the brand has evolved just from the caliber of professionals we’re touching in various different industries & our influence is spreading in that regard. However no matter how much we evolve we are always following and sticking to the culture for that is what the foundation of Retroplugs is built off of.
GodZ: Retro Plugs originated from a combination of watching black and white movies along with a child’s imagination. During a SnkrGODZ photo shoot, where we were introducing the release of our sneaker, I put one of the sneakers up to my ear as if I was on the phone. It was an idea I got from a show that I’ve seen back in the day called, Get Smart. It’s an old black and white show where the main character was a spy, whose shoe was a telephone. While taking pictures, my daughter suggested how cool it would be if the sneaker played music. Evolution from an idea that a child had, to a physical product is epic!
2.) No’el: With Marketing the Retro Plugs, Why build organically and not towards funding?
Ra: All the celebrities you see attached to this brand via social media or our official press kit are genuine supporters of the brand. We have not paid these celebrities to post on their social media and endorse the product. This however does not mean these celebrities aren’t worth payment or don’t have value. We have culture moving professionals attached to this brand, & we are very appreciative & grateful of their support of the Retro plugs. However, nothing in life beats an organic connection.
It’s like in dating, an organic relationship is better than one that is forced, but an organic relationship of any kind can only work when both parties respect each other, & see the value in what the other side is offering to each other. So I believe that this is a very key point as to why we choose organic grass roots building compared to initial start up funding, because we wanted to give back to the culture while gaining the respect, & admiration of our peers by supplying them with an exclusive product you can’t purchase in stores free of charge. We haven’t seen a fashion movement with exclusivity like this since BAPE first approached the market, & we haven’t seen black business owners in fashion impact the culture on this level since FUBU/ RocaWear/ & Sean John. So as organic as SneakerGodz & I came together as brothers and business partners when we first initially met each other. We would like for that to reflect in whatever brand we build together as well. Hence the organic growth of the Retro plugs brand.
GODZ: Marketing Retro Plugs organically opposed to funding, in my opinion has laid the foundation which allows bigger funding to come!
3.) No’el: How did you build a consumer culture around The Retro Plugs & how do you facilitate a positive work environment that catches the attention/attracts and retains talent?
Ra: The coincidental thing about SneakerGodz & I is that we both had a respect on a creative/business level for Pharrell Williams. Before we even started this movement, SneakerGodz & I use to speak about the impact Bape-BBC-Ice Cream had on the culture, & how it was only readily available oversees for a period of time, & we remembered back to how it was the exclusivity that made the brand catapult in the music industry among taste makers. We live in a time where people with money can get their hands on anything they want, so when you make something priceless instead of putting a price tag on it, it’s no way the Retroplugs in its initial roll out can be devalued unless we let it go that route. We are very protective of the brand, & not everyone can have access to it. Therefore the genius design of the Retro plugs due to SneakerGodz & his daughter, plus our manufacturing team is what I say is a big point of how the consumer culture grew, because at the end of the day if the product isn’t hot, people won’t gravitate towards it. SneakerGodz has created a new stylish way to listen to music by putting logos & sneakers on ear plugs. This in my opinion is a barrier breakthrough in stylish accessories, that may take time for people to say history is happening before their eyes in Fashion, but it is.
We also can’t neglect the fact that all of our influencers, celebrities, & taste makers that have attached themselves to the brand have come from personal relationships. Although we are blessed and grateful for the success of the Retro plugs brand, SneakerGodz & I both had success in our own perspective fields before coming together and creating this brand. SneakerGodz was a very successful clothing designer who had his own sneaker & pop-up shops with the likes of celebrities such as King L, Tink, Dreezy, Chimeka (ChinChilla Meek), & various others following his brand. SneakerGodz logo and clothes was featured in Lil Durk’s “L’s Anthem” official video which garnered over 5.2 million views since its release in 2012, & he already relationships with the Boys and Girls Club Franchise from donating his own shoes to the organization. When it comes to me; I’m an artist-songwriter who was developed by Young Money Ent. From 2010-2012 under Cortez Bryant, & I also had the honor of attending Lil Wayne’s Homecoming ceremony from his release from Rikers island. I also was one of the few artists in my city to get backstage last year at Drake’s Summer Sixteen Tour. (I’ve been networking within OVO for the past year and half.) Not to mention I did “Strategic Partnerships” before with a live steaming social media platform called, Hang W/ (www.hangwith.com) & both 50 cent & Timbaland had invested in that venture.
When you have two professionals that already experienced the industry, had contacts, & built a brand image prior to collaborating, & building an entire separate brand between the two of them. The public and masses have to realize that it was a lot of pre-meditation, strategies, & contacts internally between the both of us that we had to pull from to create this movement you see manifested today. SneakerGodz & I spent a year planning this roll-out before we ever released the Retro plugs online. So it’s amazing to see everything manifest & come to life after so much extensive planning & studying of the culture.
GODZ: Again, sounds repetitive but because this process has been so organic; that in itself, creates consumer culture. Of course social media is our biggest platform, allowing us to share our growth. These plugs in themselves have a following with music and fashion consumers alike. Between celebrities pictured rockin’ the plugs to those behind the scenes in fashion and music industry this has allowed us to claim stake in the industry. Providing an alternative idea to match your sneakers, we consider Retro Plugs a fashion accessory. It’s also perfect for the person that just likes to bump their music with a dope look and sound. It’s all about facilitating people that can be trusted, who believes in the vision. But the same people are willing to point out where there are areas to improve.
4.) No’el: Discussing quality & sound, what makes The Retro Plugs different from the other name brand ear plugs such as Apple® & Beats by Dre®?
Ra: This is more SneakerGodz lane. Take it away SneakerGodz!
GODZ: Retro Plugs are a fashion accessory. Regardless how you look at it, the for named plugs, they are just that, plugs. What sets us apart is we purposely added fashion to an everyday product.
5.) No’el: As listeners, what can we look forward to in the near future as far as quality and design when discussing The Retro Plugs?
Ra: I feel like SneakerGodz can elaborate more on this aspect of the brand.
GODZ: Never willing to settle gives an open lane on working toward new designs from Retro Plugs. From sound, style and design we are already working on improving what we want to provide in the near future for consumers.
No’el: Well, Thank you for your time and allowing me to be a part of such a powerful movement. My gratitude will never be enough!