RESPECT. Interview: The Pink Box

Photo Credit: The Pink Box

The Pink Box is located on W Broad Street in Richmond, Virginia. Upon its opening, The Pink Box features high end streetwear brands, but specializes in featuring local and up and coming brands. Highlighting independent designers, The Pink Box strives for a creative and open space for others to have a platform to showcase their work. Earl Mack and Shareef Mosby gave us a bit of an inside scoop of the humble beginnings of The Pink Box, as well as their own personal entities– Earl Mack and Victim 15.

RESPECT.: What is The Pink Box?

Shareef: The Pink Box is many things, it’s not really one thing. It’s just a mixture of crazy ideas and creatives– just like an archive of beautiful minds.

Earl: It’s all of that and us focusing in on men’s streetwear, a lot of independent designers; as well as, hyped resell garments. We also are into vintage, old school pieces– It’s just a creative spot for stuff that we’re into that has a pink aesthetic, which is uncanny to a lot of other places. We got the inspiration from a pop up that we did between Shareef and I– his brand, Victim 15 and my brand, Earl Mack. Then that blossomed from a pop up in February to a legitimate store front in April.

Shareef: We didn’t really think that we would end up having a store to run on a daily basis, it pretty much built up on its own. The hype was surrounded by a lot of local people and a lot people have also traveled just to check it out. Instagram was really our only means of marketing via our personal accounts and the stores account.

Earl: Also, being on Broad St. in a store that’s already solidified– Souleil was already a store before we came in here and we kind of just are adding on to what our friend Hannah already established with Souleil– which is women’s contemporary vintage, and independent designers as well. But, she didn’t carry a lot of men’s clothing and Shareef and I had our clothes in Souleil originally but it didn’t really fit the aesthetic. So when we did the pop up, the pop up kind of opened up the conversation for having more menswear in the store.

Shareef: Our personal closets became empty after a while– bringing stuff in for the store, trying to build it up to something and it’s really been doing good to us. I mean… it’s a lot of hard work put behind it and we really appreciate everybody who comes and tries to be a part and help out on this journey with The Pink Box.

Earl: We have a lot of ideas that we want to put into effect– it’s just coming up. Wait on it, I guess.

RESPECT.: What brought you all to start the store?

Earl: It was really the collab. Shareef really pushed me to do a collab in January of 2017, and we made it come to fruition in February. Then in April, we had already built a spot and pushed Hannah about doing it– she was down. And we just kind of made it happen.

Shareef: Grinding, long nights–

Earl: –very long nights.

Shareef: We had an event that we had to host, we did exhibits, art shows, custom clothes– everything had to be perfect. And it came out right. And it’s really grown… When we first started it was literally a box, this is like the third model.

Earl: And that’s where the name came from– it was very organic, it was a pink room and we didn’t really have a name for it off jump. But, people started saying “Oh man, I’m about to go to the pink room, the pink box” the name caught on and we just kind of went with it.

RESPECT.: Tells us about yourselves and all that you all do.

Shareef: My brand is called Victim 15 — very straightforward. The brand itself has a very deep meaning to it. I feel like everybody has become a victim of something and I want everyone to feel comfortable in my clothes, man and woman. Most of it is cut and sew. I also build a lot of pop ups and every time I drop my clothes I have to design around it with like the Pink box… When I came to Earl about wanting to make clothes but it being in a space to match the aesthetic. I’ve been designing clothes since middle school; My parents couldn’t afford clothes for me so I used to make it on my own and after a while people started liking it.

Earl: My background is art. I’ve always been into streetwear so that kind of just carried over into my art. A lot of the stuff that I design is stuff from original artwork that has just kind of been either watered down a little for t shirts or has just been directly designed for a tshirt. I’m still in the process of creating my art aesthetic– I still paint murals, I still paint canvases, I’m still in the process of building sculptures. I’ve been doing collabs with a lot of other creatives. Again my background is art, but fashion has kind of paved the way for me a little bit. I started selling my paintings for $300-$500, but I wasn’t getting a lot of buyers then I started making t shirts for the homies and customers that wanted to support but couldn’t buy the $500 piece and then from there I started doing more. I have another clothing line called Chilalay, which I started back in college with the homies and we still do it to this day– so that’s another avenue I have , as well as Souleil, and The Pink Box and the countless other brands I’ve freelance designed for.

RESPECT.: About how long have you all been into streetwear?

Shareef: It’s been a while. I remember when I first made a Tumblr in 2009.

Earl: I’ve always kind of been into skateboarding/skate culture. I feel like it’s always kind of been streetwear in a sense– I mean not to say I was always rocking Supreme, even to this day I don’t rock it a lot– I have some but… But I was really into Vans, Etnies, DCs, stuff like that and that was my aesthetic kind of like going from middle school to high school. I didn’t get my first pair of j’s until like my senior year of high school. I was always into skateboarding culture. I started a clothing line when I got to college. I love other people’s clothes and stuff like that but I was always like “Man I f*ck with my own thing. I feel like I can do this as well; I have these designs, I have these ideas and I need to get them out there” So, I started a line, it did alright. I actually got some clothes on Kendrick Lamar, but the brand kind of took a tumble. Business didn’t work out right, but you know that’s business– You live and you learn. You make some decisions that go well, and some decisions that don’t.

RESPECT.: I noticed that you all resell a lot of high end streetwear brands. What differentiates you all from your neighbor, Round Two?

Earl: Well we also really specialize in a lot of local designers. I feel like the local designer is the up and coming artist who is trying to get their work in front of the masses so we’re trying to reach out more that way. We’re both independent designers. The higher end streetwear brands, we’re also into that so we try to get that in there. We are right next door to Round Two and those are the homies, I even worked there for a little bit and it’s nothing but love. At the end of the day, we’re all trying to get that foot in the door, make that move. We’re trying to transition into more independent brands in 2018. In 2017, we were doing a lot of buy sell trade stuff and we will continue to do a little bit of that in 2018. But folks need more of the independent designer, you know? The next Shareef Mosby, the next Earl Mack, the next Utmost, the next Chilalay. There are a lot of talented designers on the east coast that we want to get in here and help get exposure. And still be able to offer people a place where people can come and maybe trade some of their stuff. It’s a good feeling to come into a place and want something and not have to give money but still have a currency that’s worth something. Clothes are actually valuable in a certain sense. You can find a t shirt somewhere and the right person could want to pay you way more than what you paid for it or way more than you could even imagine you could’ve got for it. So, keeping that door still open for our customers while looking for the independent designer, the person that’s hungry to get their brand out there. It also has to be tight, something I would want to wear– I don’t put anything in here that I couldn’t see myself wearing(even when it comes down to our second hand pieces). If I couldn’t one day see myself wearing that, I wouldn’t put it in here.

RESPECT.: Where do you all see The Pink Box in the next five years?

Earl: In addition to wanting to have more independent designers we’re thinking about expanding our store. Whether we stay in the basement of Souleil or we expand and get our own space. Or if we revamp the image of the whole brand. 2018 is going to be a really big year for us… A lot of this was unplanned in the beginning.

Shareef: We want to focus more on how we started in 2018. The design process, the gallery, and the creativity behind it. Buy sell trade, and second hand streetwear is a big thing in the market now but that’s not really what we want to push forward to do– that’s just something that’s helped us progress along the way. We kind of needed that to build up the hype of the store, but at the same time we didn’t want to overstep the process.

Earl: It’s tight to come into a store and discover a brand that you like. You’ve never heard of it and you’re seeing it for the first time like wow this is kind of tight but then it’s right next to the Supreme shirt, then you’re kind of stuck making this decision — Do I go with what I know or what I don’t know(but I still like what I don’t know)? But we still want to have Supreme in here though. Because I feel like every once in a while Supreme does some stuff that I really like. And I really like a lot of the older pieces, so if I could get some of that in here or I’d like it for myself or some lucky person that stumbles upon the pink box.

RESPECT.: If The Pink Box was given a $10,000 donation, how would you all invest it?

Shareef: It’s definitely a lot of stuff that we would want to do

Earl: If we were to just stay where we are now, we would clean up some of the small imperfections in the Pink Box so that it looks super pristine all of the time. Like I said earlier, we are looking for our own space– If we could get our own location and make that pop… then use that money to fund our own clothing lines to progress what we have that’s going into the store. Do more events, more pop ups, pop ups around the US– not just in Richmond or VA or not just the US. The Pink Box can go international like we’re selling a lot of stuff that a lot of people want and I feel like our own brands and designs are tight and can hold merit with other brands.

Be sure to stay connected with The Pink Box via Instagram: @_thepinkbox and Twitter: @ThePinkBoxRVA!

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