Hey Everyone - Dez here from Apex Venture Studios. 2020 has been a doozy of a year to say the least. A lot of things have seemingly gone wrong in the world. The challenges we've faced as a society have provided us the opportunity to take a hard look at reality and assess what matters, what we're doing wrong, and what is fundamentally right. Now I'm not going to get too political (#BlackLivesMatter), but I do believe that it is a fundamentally right thing to do to help support Black and underrepresented individuals of any aspect. Whether it is on the basis of sexuality, gender, race, or socioeconomic status we all need some support from time to time. And supporting those groups doesn't necessarily mean giving things away - it means being proactive about hiring these groups, and constructing thoughtful retention plans. It means being aware of who has access to opportunities and who doesn't, and it means lifting the voices, perspectives, and talents of these groups to an even playing field.
We recently had the opportunity to sit with Jordan Abdur-Ra'oof the founder of ArtistsUntold, a streetwear brand focused on highlighting Black and underrepresented artisits, and got some of his perspective on building his business during a time of profound social change. A bit of background on Jordan, he graduated from Cornell in 2018, was a member of the men's varsity basketball team, and is quite possibly the best dancer in the world to the Flume Tennis Court Remix (Never heard of it? It's a banger - go check it out).
APEX: What exactly is ArtistsUntold?
Jordan: It's a platform to support Black and underrepresented artists by providing them with the opportunity to be directly compensated for their work. We work with these talented artists to create a streetwear brand that cuts across different expressions of self.
APEX: Amazing, and why did you feel a need to start ArtistsUntold?
Jordan: Well the core of ArtistsUntold stemmed from a previous project IvyUntold. IvyUntold told the stories of Black and underrepresented student's lives in the Ivy League. Stories can only do so much and they're obviously very valuable tools, but I wanted to think outside of the box and create a platform that’s also centered around economic empowerment. I wanted to put dollars into Black and underrepresented individuals’ hands.
APEX: That's really inspiring, and indicative of the benefits of being a serial entrepreneur. Obviously given the context of the business, how has the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement supported ArtistsUntold?
Jordan: It's truthfully just accelerated adoption of the platform, which has been extremely valuable, and I'm thankful to have built the company when I did. We did more sales in the month of June than we did in all of February through April. We're in an amazing position to contribute to the narrative at the heart of the BLM movement, and to support people financially while doing so.
APEX: And how are you guys thinking about continuing the momentum for the business?
Jordan: By continuing to have dope art that tells a story. At the end of the day the content and the artists are what drive the platform.
APEX: How do you all think about artists outreach for the platform?
Jordan: A lot of business is done through a mix of inbound and outbound. Instagram is a direct channel of acquisition for us. Artists we support have between 5K - 50K followers. The ultimate goal is to have someone with a small following and to help them grow their account base. That's when I'll know we're really making an impact.
TL;DR - Cornell grad starts a streetwear brand focused on empowering Black & Underrepresented artists
You all can check out the ArtistsUntold here, and follow them on LinkedIn here. That’s all for this week. Let us know your thoughts. If you run or know of a startup that would like to be featured in our newsletter, feel free to drop us a note.