When you create a message through your clothing brand while also giving back to your community, then you know you have something special. That is what Antonio Maxie did with his clothing line Poverty Sucks. Ever since high school, Maxie has had a knack for being creative and says he is an artist first and foremost. He strives to help those less fortunate through Poverty Sucks and continues to grow, creating other other clothing lines such as “Nap or Nothin.” Owning a store, “The Makers,” in the Lafayette Square Mall in Indianapolis, Maxie promotes his clothing and other Indianapolis based brands as well. He is strong believer in making Indianapolis a place that can be recognized by the fashion industry as a destination.
Julie Valentine: Please describe the motive or message behind your brand.
Antonio Maxie: Poverty Sucks started out as F.L.I.P., which is an acronym for “Fuck Living in Poverty.” Basically, it represents where we come from, whether it is my generation or my mother’s generation. It’s motivation gear. It’s a message in my clothes. That is what I am trying to get across. My newest line I have is my Robin Hood line under Poverty Sucks, which is like the Robin Hood story; take from the rich and give to the poor because poverty sucks. My other brand is Nap or Nothing. Nap stands for Indianapolis. We are just reppin where we are from. Putting on for the 317, because no one is coming and putting on for us, so we have to go hard. We have to represent for ourselves.
JV: What prompted you to share this idea through your business?
AM: I am in music. I am an artist first and foremost. So, I started merchandising just to highlight some of the lyrics from my music. I would highlight some of the titles, mixtapes and street albums. Eventually it graduated and evolved into me having a t-shirt line, which is Poverty Sucks and Nap or Nothin.
JV: What are some of the main challenges you face as an entrepreneur?
AM: One of the biggest challenges is probably having the finances to make your future endeavors a reality. Sometimes is takes the right currency to make it happen. I like to dip and dabble in the higher end of fashion, so it takes a little time and patience but eventually I will get there. Also, getting with a graphic designer that can bring my thoughts alive is challenging. And me just stop being lazy and getting back on designing my own clothes. I used to draw a lot in high school growing up. I just find myself not having enough time to do that stuff, so I delegate. Sometimes I find that if I have that time, I will be able to have even better logos and gear.
JV: What is the biggest reward you experience as an entrepreneur?
AM: The support. There is nothing like it when you are out and see someone wearing your shirt. They might not even recognize me but me recognizing that they have on my shirt is the best feeling in the world because they don’t have to shop with me. They could shop with the national brands like Ralph Lauren, Coogi, Robin’s, Levi’s; but they chose to shop with me. It is greatly appreciated.
JV: What do you think Indianapolis can do to support more local brands?
AM: Shop local. Don’t be afraid. Spend it with your people. Give people chances. I know I don’t have all the best brands in Indianapolis (in my store) but I have some of the best brands. The reason I say that is because I am supporting. I have my own brand in here under The Makers but I also have other brands as well. I am reaching out and I wouldn’t mind other dope brands reaching out to the store because, like I said earlier, we have to put on for ourselves. We have to put a platform on for ourselves sometimes. Just shop local; that what it boils down to because at the end of the day there are brands like Slumhaus that have the same quality as the national brands. Give it a chance.
JV: Describe the kind of person who would wear your product.
AM: I want everyone to wear it; from children to women to men. I have a variety now. I graduated from North Central High School and I have many different races that support what I have going on and many ages. I have some pieces that are for grown folks that aren’t kid appropriate, I have pieces that are specifically for the kids and then I have pieces that are for young ladies and men. I hope that I have a quality piece that everyone can support. That is my goal. I want to reach the masses.
JV: Who is one person you’d love to see in your brand?
AM: Drizzy (Drake). Even though he has his own brand with the OVO (October’s Very Own) and everything else that he is doing. I think he would be a great brand ambassador. The key thing for me is who would be a brand ambassador who when people see them, they will be like, “Oh, who is that?” I would say that Kanye would be good too, even though he has his own thing as well, but he has all eyes on him; the fashion world, the music world, just a little bit of everything. So I think if he had on a Nap or Nothin or Poverty Sucks shirt, my prices would go up the next day.
JV: What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
AM: Go hard and have fun with it. It is a journey but at times you find yourself not enjoying it as you’re living it but later down the road you will be like, “Damn man, that was kind of cool.” Even if you don’t have hundreds of followers, if you believe in your brand, then don’t stop because at the end of the day it just takes one person to believe in what you have going on and that person is you. People will eventually feed off of your vibe. Make it meaningful and represent something.
JV: How do you hope your brand will evolve in future years?
AM: I hope it grows world wide. I want to be known not just for clothes, but for what my clothes do for the community as well. I want to be known for feeding the homeless and giving back to the community, as well as having a dope clothing line. Also, I want to get into cut and sew and different fabrics like leather. I want to put out to people across the country; just do it up.
JV: How do you think celebrity endorsed streetwear is influencing modern street style?
AM: That’s funny because someone was just in here with those Rihanna Pumas the other day and just listening to them talk I was like “would you get them if they weren’t Rihanna.” Like I don’t know how many people would grab those Adidas that Kanye West made if they weren’t Kanye’s. People are like, “Those are the Yeezy’s.” Like, the name alone makes it more appealing. Those OVO Jordan’s that were released. Those were the Drake OVOs. It’s huge for what we have going on in our community. It is also encouragement for people growing up. They are thinking, “I could be the next Rihanna or Drake. I could have my own clothing line. I could be the next person endorsed by Puma.” it just gives us more goals to aim for and we are going reach them.