Welcome The Rad Black Kids to FNL
New Brand Alert: The Rad Black Kids
The Rad Black Kids goal is to always inform a community of customers that every narrative, every story is quintessentially unique and necessary. The Rad Black Kids tells different, individual human stories that can be universally appealing. We chatted with the brand’s founder Thulani Ngazimibi to hear his story, what led to his creation of The Rad Black Kids, and what the inspiration was behind the new and exclusive “The Inkwell” collection at Finish Line.
Who is Thulani Ngazimbi?
Thulani: I was the first black student to be selected as graduate speaker (Valedictorian) of my university class in 2013. After receiving my masters in Energy Management, I moved to California and could not find a job. After applying for approximately 500 jobs, and meeting with various recruiters/coaches I began to suspect that something may be…wrong. Research shows that people with non-American sounding names are less likely to be called for interviews. Not only was this demoralizing, and frankly wrong, but this began to eat away at me. My sister came to visit me, and in a conversation that would forever change the direction of my life, I talked openly and honestly with her about my struggles to find a job. She suggested to me I start a company. I responded: a company that could ensure that this never happens to anyone again! And on that day The Rad Black Kids was born. I decided that since I had obtained all this academic success in fields that I thought I needed to do, I could create a company for what I had always dreamt to do. Build longboards. A few months after building these longboards I dug a little deeper and realized I didn’t have to ask for permission to begin designing clothes. Since the age of 14, I had carried a sketchbook with quite basic clothing designs. I decided to finally embark on that mission, in the fall of 2015.
History of The Rad Black Kids:
Thulani: The Rad Black Kids tell anti-monolithic stories through high quality products, manufactured ethically and sustainably, that hope to shape a more inclusive society.
We produce in factories where we routinely check to make sure employees are paid a fair wage, and have adequate working facilities. Sustainability and reduction of carbon emissions are paramount to The Rad Black Kids. We have been planting a tree for every product we sell since our inception in 2014.
When I first came to America, my family moved to Idaho. 6 months after arriving in the USA I was offered a chance at my church to go snowboarding. That experience was the most liberating of my life. Fitting in in America, coming from Zimbabwe, was tough. Making friends was also difficult. The first people to really make me feel at home were the snowboarders we met on the mountain. It was as though this activity brought about a sense of inclusion. When summer came about after the 5th winter snowboarding, there was nothing to do. A friend serendipitously suggested I go longboarding with them. I went. It was addictive. I couldn’t afford a longboard, so I rebuilt a longboard with a vintage board from the 90’s. A few months after rebuilding a board, a friend asked me to build them a board, which I did. As time went on, I built more boards. I then moved to New York for university, and stopped building boards, but didn’t stop thinking about it. When the chance came to begin The Rad Black Kids, years later, longboards came naturally. Clothing design had always been my dream, since the age of 14. A friend of mine suggested I make a t-shirt because they didn’t skate. This lit a lightbulb and I realized I didn’t need permission to design a full collection, so I did just that.
Inspiration for the exclusive “The Inkwell” collection:
Thulani: A few months ago, I began to read about some casualties of the Brown vs Board of Education Supreme Court Decision that ended segregation. What I found is of course there were benefits to ending segregation. But, some of the aspects of this decision began to withdraw black access to some key aspects of American life. Of note, the beaches were previously black beaches. “The Inkwell” Beach was originally located at the western end of Pico Boulevard and extended two city blocks south to Bicknell Street. The most amazing part of the Inkwell, was the fact that it was a beach for black people to enjoy for years, resulting from the NAACP’s actions in the California Courts that upheld beach use from 1893 to 1923. As these barriers, both racial and legal, finally crumbled in 1968, this allowed these previously restrictive real estate laws to end, which allowed these areas to stop being an access point for black people. This project was selected because black Californians mostly do not know about our history with the beach, or with surfing. Even though there is a monolithic view that black people do not surf/swim, this is not just false, but this monolithic view has been fed through access being stripped.
Get it at Finish Line
Thank you to Thulani Ngazimibi for sharing with us his story and the mission of his brand, and educating us on the story behind his new collection. The exclusive “The Inkwell” collection is now available at Finish Line
Community Voices x The Rad Black Kids
On this week’s 88th episode of Community Voices, we’re thrilled to welcome Thulani Ngazimbi, Founder of @TheRadBlackKids. Thulani comes through to chat with us about his journey in the US as the son of immigrant parents, how snowboarding and surfing came into his life, and how he developed his clothing brand, The Rad Black Kids. He also talks about @black_surfing_rockaway, and the work they’re doing locally in New York to empower youth by providing free surfing and skating lessons. Peep the full episode below, and learn more here about other Black-owned brands that are inspiring communities through fearless self-expression and subversive thinking.