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BRNDD: Conversations with Creatives
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BRNDD: Conversations with Creatives

Author: Donte Cotton & Ronald James

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Branded by dictionary definition in the commerce world means carrying the brand or trademark of a manufacture. In today’s world, the definition of a brand has opened up to much more. Brand’s can be the label names we wear, the companies we support, down to our own individual selves. This podcast will focus particularly on Brands in the streetwear world.
As a part of Debonair Material, BRNDD will interview not just people behind the brands but also some of the influencers on these brands. Musicians, artists, athletes and store owners have created their own brand and we want to examine how these worlds collide. So tune in as host, Donte’ Cotton, Owner of Debonair Material takes you inside the streetwear culture.
34 Episodes
Donte and Ronald are joined by Cheresse Thornhill-Goldson (Design Director of Adidas S.E.E.D. and No Shoes Creative) and Liz Connelly (Co-founder and program manager of Adidas S.E.E.D.). The BRNDD duo get to chop it up with Liz and Cheresse about their history in design, forming the S.E.E.D. program and more!   Highlights: 5:50 - Introductions 17:29 - What is Adidas S.E.E.D.? 20:15 - Taking a Leap of Faith 25:58 - Creating a Comfortable Space 31:39 - The moment of Clarity 33:56 - Getting into Adidas S.E.E.D. 38:00 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number 42:34 - Working at the Brooklyn Farm 50:05 - The Favorites 55:33 - The BRNDD 10 Check out Cheresse and Liz's BRNDD 10 Playlist on Spotify: Cheresse:   Liz: Visit to subscribe to the podcast, listen to past episodes, and find out about future projects! Follow us:
Episode 32: Dexton Deboree

Episode 32: Dexton Deboree


Dexton Deboree is a filmmaker and branded content creator who has worked with the likes of Nike and Jordan Brand. He's also the founder of Falkon, a creative production agency. Ronald and Donte sit down with Dexton to talk about his journey into becoming a director, working with Will Smith, his Unbanned: The Legend of the AJ1 documentary and more. Time Stamps: 6:21 - Finding Sports 12:03 - Moving from Athlete to Artist 17:41 - From Cigar Talk to Commercial Work for Jordan Brand 32:20 - Unbanned: The Legend of the AJ1 38:24 - The Importance of Minority Storytelling 48:45 - Will Smith's "Best Shape of My Life" 58:19 - Favorites 1:01:43 - The BRNDD 10   Check out Dexton's BRNDD 10 Playlist on Spotify: Visit to subscribe to the podcast, listen to past episodes, and find out about future projects! Follow us:
Episode 31: Numa Perrier

Episode 31: Numa Perrier


Numa Perrier is a creative whose artistry extends to curation, acting, producing, directing and beyond. Her devotion to authenticity and quality has insured that she is a staple in the entertainment industry. Her movie Jezebel , distributed by Ava Duvernay's Array, is now streaming on Netflix. Highlights: 0:00 Intro / Catch Up 22:06 Numa Perrier Introduction 28:15 BLACK + SEXY TV 41:42 Smilf and Frankie Shaw 48:09 When did you first start creating? 52:30 Jezebel, Sex Work, and its relevance 1:17:48 Queen Sugar 1:18:52 Black People are Light 1:24:17 Jordan Peele A.K.A. "Boyfriend Jordan" 1:28:03 The Perfect Find, Blood Mother and Toxic 1:35:19 Which artists are on Numa's radar? 1:41:53 House of Numa 1:43:03 The Favorites 1:47:15 BRNDD 10 Playlist 1:50:22 Closing / Parting Words To Creatives Check out Numa's Toxic Edition BRNDD 10 Playlist on Spotify: Visit to subscribe to the podcast, listen to past episodes, and find out about future projects! Follow us:
Jazerai is a Sneaker Strategist, Designer and writer from California living in New York. She's worked with the likes of Reebok to put out her own shoe and is featured on Lena Waithe's Sneaker docu-series "You Ain't Got These" now streaming on Quibi.    Highlights:  4:07: Blue Chucks 7:19: The Birth of Sneaker Internet 9:30: The Challenges of being a woman in to Sneakers 13:50: The Club C x Jazerai 25:59: Sneaker Mom 28:30: "You Ain't Got These" 32:45: Lena Waithe 34:58: Working with Reebok 44:03: the importance of Women Empowerment 47:40: Kicks on Fire 55:28: Life after KOF 1:04:21: Being "That Bitch" 1:08:00: The Wall of Fame 1:21:06: The Favorites 1:37:00: The BRNDD 10
Episode 29: Tommie Battle

Episode 29: Tommie Battle


Tommie Battle is a professional photographer who got his start shooting sneakers for fun and Baltimore Night life in college. Over the years he's progressed to shooting for the MLS in New York, podcasts and more. Highlights: 3:50: Life in Quarantine 6:25: sneakers and Kodak cameras 13:06: radio is dead 21:17: The Smoking Section and Early Blog Days 24:54: Going off Instinct vs. Technique 27:42: Taking a break from photography 34:54: Nike Talk to Twitter 45:03: picking the Camera back up 57:07: The Favorites 1:10:30: The BRNDD 10
Jacques Slade is one of the biggest personalities in Youtube Sneaker media. His video of his tour of Michael Jordan's famous Illinois Mansion recently hit 16 million views. Donte and Ronald talk to Jacques on how he went from a music teacher to where he is today.  Highlights:  3:11: Who is Jaques Slade 6:10: Kicks on Fire Days 14:32: Jacques first video 18:24: Quality vs. Content 20:29: Can't smell your own roses 27:24: The Brands are Watching 31:35: The Future of Sneaker Media 34:09: Working Outside of Youtube 39:50: The Last Dance 41:48: Technology in sneakers 44:28The Favorites 47:00: The BRNDD 10
Episode 26: Patrick Horvat

Episode 26: Patrick Horvat


Another episode from the BRNDD vault, Ronald brings on his good friend Patrick Horvat. Born in Upstate and working around the world, Patrick has worked with brands from the NHL to the NBA.  Highlights:  5:56: The B-More Flea 8:10: Upstate, NY and Graffiti 10:20: I fooled them... 12:05: Syquest and Photoshop 18:03: Post-College Tetris Disorder 21:34: I Fooled them again... 26:41: the NHL Days 30:28: Creating a design language and identity 37:09: the challenge of being creative 43:11: The Nike Years, Hong Kong 50:12: Australian Shark Attacks 55:20: International Sneaker Releases 59:53: The Under Armour years 1:05:10: signing UA athletes(possibly)- 1:10:00: Favorites
Episode 25: Arvay Adams

Episode 25: Arvay Adams


From the unreleased archives; The Co-hosts of the BRNDD podcast caught up with Arvay Adams, Designer and creative behind This Sporting Life. They talk about his days at Phat Farm to having beef with HBO and everything in between!   Highlights 2:00 - Ronald and Donte' recap what they've been up to 8:26 - Introduction of Arvay 12:14 - from Woodlawn to New York 14:02 - Skateboards & tees in L.A. 18:34 - the Phat Farm Days 21:25 - The birth of This Sporting Life 23:26 - L.A. Living 26:12 - the Secret Behind Design 31:13 - Bethlehem Steel and the importance of Story telling 35:00 - Coming Back East 38:00 - The Change in Baltimore Streetwear Scene 46:00 - The Business of Being Fresh 52:36 - Working with Russell Simmons 53:54 - Black Ice 59:00 - Chain Stitching 1:01:05 - God is in the Details 1:03:06 - The Favorites 1:12:30 - The BRNDD 10
Donte' and Ronald catch up with an old friend, Michael Haskins Jr. Better known as Currency Michaels. Michael is the owner and founder of Currency Studios, a staple brand in Baltimore, established back in the late 2000's. They got a chance to talk about the history of Baltimore Streetwear, break down old industry beefs and more!   Highlights:  4:15: The Legend of Garth 12:12: "The Cool" 16:57: Baltimore to Ball Harbor 22:33: Building a Legacy Brand 29:27: Respect Your Wealth 37:15: PedX and Gentai 48:06: The importance of a team 55:23: Helping by not helping 59:57: Ronald vs. the Baltimore Sun 1:03:19: Reconciliation and understanding 1:09:24: Seeding and Celebrities 1:14:36: The stages of being a Creative 1:20:57: Creating Spaces and the future 1:23:51: The Favorites 1:25:57: The BRNDD 10
Ronald and Donte' reflect on the podcast up until the last released episode and what happened in life in between.    Highlights 2:50: The Pensole/Portland Experience 9:20: What's next for BRNDD? 12:03: Kaepernick vs. Trump 13:49: Because the Internet 13:35: Goals for BRNDD 19:20: Behind the process 24:54: Keys to Building for the Future 36:00: room for improvement 40:56: the Social Media Matrix 44:51: Cops and Drops 54:26: Favorite Podcast moments 56:45: Future Guest wishlist 59:53: The Favorites
D'Wayne Edwards is the founder of Pensole Footwear Design Academy, located in Portland, OR. He's spent over 30 years in the industry, from working with Tupac and Biggie at Karl Kani to working with the GOAT, Michael Jordan. After spending 10 years working at Jordan, D'Wayne decided to start a school for footwear designers to help the next generation and has established one of the top schools in the world for Footwear Design. Donte' not only got to learn under him but interview him for the podcast. Listen as Donte' and D'Wayne talk about the journey that led D'Wayne to Portland.    Highlights:  0:30: The Beginnings 3:58: Baseball Cards to Sneakers 5:10: the Reebok Design Competition 7:30: Fast food to Footwear 12:05: Footwear meets Hip-Hop 15:33: The Advent of Sity and Skechers 16:58: The Transition to Nike/Jordan 20:41: Meeting Jordan 23:33: The Nu Retro II 24:21: Melo and the .5 Series 29:33: Designing Signature Jordans 31:29: Innovation and “The Experience” 37:11: Founding Pensole 45:28: How to Attend Pensole 47:30: The Future of Pensole 51:53: Bringing Industry Technology to Pensole 54:07: The Favorites   Pensole's  Website: Instagram: pensole_academy Twitter: @pensole_academy Facebook:    BRNDD Podcast: Website: E-Mail: Facebook Group: Twitter: @BRNDDPodcast Instagram: @brnddpodcast facebook:   Ronald James' Twitter and Instagram: @whoisronjames
Episode 21: Blake Thomas

Episode 21: Blake Thomas


Blake Thomas is one of the best freelance photographers on the wrestling circuit. He has worked with the likes of; Mia Yim, Veda Scott, NXT's Nikki Cross and Baltimore Legend, Ruckus. Over the years, he's also gotten into management and production for different leagues across the nation. Ronald and Donte' catch up with Blake to talk about his story and ultimately striving to work for the WWE.  Highlights:  9:21: Power of Friends Motivating Friends  10:33: Humble Beginnings  14:20: The Evolution of Love for Wrestling 21:45: What Makes a Good Wrestling Match 31:40: Watching the Growth of Your Friends 35:42: The Importance of Supporting Friends 44:52: Burnout  47:15: Who's Next in the Game 51:50: Attending Youtube University 55:29: The Favorites  1:03:02: The BRNDD 10   Contact Blake:  Twitter/Instagram: @itsbliz   BRNDD Podcast: Website: E-Mail: Facebook Group: Twitter: @brnddpodcast Instagram: @brnddpodcast       Ronald James Twitter and Instagram: @whoisronjames
Baltimore County Public Libraries invited our hosts Donte' Cotton and Ronald James to host one of their Inspire Nights to talk about BRNDD, how they started the podcast, what's it like being a creative and what challenges they faced, and what makes them successful.    Highlights:  2:22 - What is Podcasting? 5:06 - Inspiration 7:00 - Trials and Tribulations 10:12 - Success Stories 14:20 - What is Debonair Material? 18:47 - What Inspired the Podcast? 24:22 - Streetwear: Mastered 27:01 - Production Challenges 32:01 - Scheduling Issues 34:18 - The Art of Following Up 35:25 - How to Create and Maintain a Strong Circle 37:13 - Fight through the Challenges 43:24 - Use Your Resources 47:04 - Baltimore Comedy Festival 50:40 - Pensole Academy 53:31 - Q & A Segment   BRNDD 10 Playlist:     BRNDD Podcast: Website: E-Mail: Facebook Fan Page: Twitter/Instagram: @BRNDDPodcast facebook:     Ronald James Twitter and Instagram: @whoisronjames  
Pierre and Jamyla Bennu are the owners of Oyin Handmade and Exit the Apple. This New York couple migrated to Baltimore over a decade ago and have been a thriving part of the scene ever since. Jamyla being the brains behind Oyin's natural products and Pierre being an all-around artist, the two have an amazing story. They were fortunate enough to celebrate their 18th anniversary sharing their story with us.    Highlights:  9:35 18 years, 18 years! 12:52 I make stuff; I do art 15:09 discovering of Fullness of self 21:44 The Creative Process 25:32 What is Oyin Handmade 31:00 Shea Butter Twitter represents 37:03 Ethics and Integrity 42:26 The Dream Hammer 46:30 The Original Netflix 48:28 From New York to Baltimore 53:21 Exit[ing] the Apple 1:02:20 The Culture Ambassador 1:05:14 The birth of Bennu 1:08:23 the Growth of Oyin and Exit the Apple 1:17:25 Hip-Hop is like Buddhism 1:21:46 The BRNDD 10 & Favorites BRNDD 10 Playlist:    Exit the Apple's:  Instagram: exittheappleartspace Twitter: @exittheapple Facebook: Website:   Oyin Handmade Website: Instagram/Twitter: @oyinhandmade Facebook: Jamyla's  Twitter/Instagram: @heyJamyla    BRNDD Podcast: Website: E-Mail: Facebook Group: Twitter: @DebMaterial Instagram: @debonairmaterial facebook: RSVP for BRNDD Live: July 13th:   Ronald James Twitter and Instagram: @whoisronjames    
Episode 18: Ivan Martin

Episode 18: Ivan Martin


Ivan Martin is a Duval, FL transported to Maryland via the Navy. He's a working comic, teacher and Festival founder. He's done shows up and down the sea board and has had some great experiences with other rising comics such as Quincy Jones and Jordan Rock. Ronald and Donte' talk to Ivan about his journey as well as his upcoming Baltimore Comedy Festival!   Highlights: - 4:10: I'm happy...and broke  - 5:56: What was your 1st hit joke?  - 10:39: Stepping into new comedy territory - 16:50: the Hypocrisy of Black Comedy - 21:01: the importance of a good crowd - 27:06: The love of the art - 29:56: Morality in Success - 34:42: Young Gifted Niggas - 38:49: Technology and live comedy - 44:38: Hecklers - 47:37: Enjoying contemporaries - 48:46 Baltimore Comedy Festival - 55:22: How media covers Baltimore Comedy - 58:10: Meeting Comedian Quincy Jones - 1:02:59: The BRNDD 10   Ivan's  Website: Baltimore Comedy Fest:    BRNDD Podcast: Website: E-Mail: Facebook Group: Twitter: @DebMaterial Instagram: @debonairmaterial facebook: RSVP for BRNDD Live: July 13th:   Ronald James Twitter and Instagram: @whoisronjames
Dino Hatfield has become a pioneer in the age of sneaker news. He has broken numerous stories, from the Yeezy 650 first ever leaks to the Jordan 8 releasing and informing the world a whole year before it's release. He has taken his social platform and set himself apart from any  other outlet available. With the help of his team, 7 years ago, he also established Baltimore's Premier sneaker event, the Baltimore Sneaker Show. A show with so much buzz, that Under Armour has given the event its own shoe collab. Donte' and Ronald sit down with Dino and break down all this and more.  Highlights:  3:45: How'd it Start 8:00: The importance of Safety and Insurance 13:54: First show that almost didn't happen 20:50: The Culture of Collecting 27:42 The Rise of Sneaker Twitter 31:38: The Evolution of Sneaker Copping 34:57: The Art of Storytelling & the Rise and Fall of Nike SBs 39:22: Galaxy Foams and the Peak of Sneaker Hype 40:38: Baltimore Sneaker Show x Under Armour 48:26: Confidence x Research = Success 52:04: The end of the Under Armour beef 55:23: 7 for 7 59:00: The Power of Nike: Fusions vs. Countdowns 1:05:12: Kanye's influence on Sneaker Design  1:10:42: Supreme and the Era of Collabs 1:19:19: Being First vs Being Right 1:21:30: Dino vs. Adidas 1:38:26: Dino "the Scammer" Saga 1:39:36: Dino Vs. Nike 1:42:55: The Sneaker News to Trump all Sneaker News  Dino's  Twitter & Instagram: @BaltsneakerShow    BRNDD Podcast: Website: E-Mail: Facebook Group: Twitter: @DebMaterial Instagram: @debonairmaterial facebook: RSVP for BRNDD Live: July 13th: Ronald James Twitter and Instagram: @whoisronjames  
Ericka Blount Danois is an award winning author who has worked as a staff writer, editor, freelancer, and stringer for a number of publications including: Spin, The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, ESPN The Magazine, Sports Illustrated, Vibe, and The Source. She also has written a non-fiction book on the history of Soul Train, entitled, Love, Peace and Soooooouul! The BRNDD hosts caught up with her to talk about her career over the past couple decades; from interviewing Pac to meeting former Cuban President Fidel Castro.  Highlights:  15:01: Behind the Scenes of All Eyez On Me and Rooming with Benny Boom 23:40 Journalistic fairness and the story behind Little Melvin 29:45 Working for Vibe and Covering Nas before illMatic 38:32 Writing for the Legendary Source 41:38 The world of Freelance Writers 44:29 Writing Love, Peace and Soooooouul! 51:25 the Transition from Traditional Print to Digital and Blogs 54:26 Black Comedy 1:02:15 Unsung Stories and Charlie Murphy 1:08:28 Sports Figures and 30 for 30 1:11:52 Interviewing Fidel Castro 1:17:18 Fake News 1:23:00 Where Were you When Prince Died? 1:30:41 The Impact of Love Peace & Soul 1:32:28 Advice to Upcoming Writers; is it still fun for you?  Ericka's  Website: Love, Peace & Soul Fanpage: Purchase Love, Peace & Soul:  BRNDD Podcast: Website: E-Mail: Facebook Group: Twitter: @DebMaterial Instagram: @debonairmaterial facebook: RSVP for BRNDD Live: July 13th: Ronald James Twitter and Instagram: @whoisronjames  
Sam is is a business owner, mother, wife and creative director, all of which she is successful with. She She owns New Vintage by Sam, an apparel and accessories company, Sam Styled you, a personal styling company as well as her mommy blog, Dressed in Motherhood. Coming from a corporate background, she decided she needed more to feel fulfilled in life. Join Ronald and Donte' as they talk with Sam about being an Entrepreneurial mommy and how to handle it all.    Highlights:  5:40 - The Psychology of Self Image 8:32 - The Transition into being a business owner and its Difficulties 11:42 - The balance of Motherhood and Business 16:36 - Movies that inspire Fashion  18:44 - Indie is the Wave of the Future  21:02 - Music and How is Spurs Daily Inspiration 26:30 - What is Dressed in Motherhood & advice for Entrepreneurial Mommies  34:30 - The Importance of breaking Societal Norms & Black Love 41:30 - The Favorites 45:11 - Get Out, The Commercialism of Black Culture, & White Mediocrity   Sam's Dressed in Motherhood Blog: Instagram: @newvintagebysam/SamStyledYou Website:  Facebook:  BRNDD 10: Playlist:    BRNDD Podcast: Website: E-Mail: Facebook Group: Twitter: @DebMaterial Instagram: @debonairmaterial facebook: Ronald James Twitter and Instagram: @whoisronjames  
Kalilah Wright is the founder of mess in a bottle. A company that makes inspirational shirts and packages them in a special bottle. The brand has been going strong a little over a year now and has even been recognized by the likes of Mark Cuban. Ronald and Donte' kick off the episode talking briefly about Kalief Browder's story, and his music with his cousin, under the crew name Catch the fade. Then Ron gets into how he met Kalilah at Under Armour and she speaks on her architecture background. She also speaks on how she came up with Mess in a Bottle over a year ago, and how she started with designing baby furniture and apparel(7:31). The BRNDD hosts also get her to talk about her New York roots and attending Art and Design High School, and why she chose the architecture route initially over apparel and how she got back into it(11:31).  Ronald transitions the conversation into how social media helps her business and how she developed her social currency(14:30). Then the three speak on her experience meeting Mark Cuban on The Harry Show and sharing her dream of being interviewed by Oprah(15:41). She also shares her difficulty of running a business by herself and bringing in a staff(19:48). Ron also gets her to speak on how she balances herself and her positive energy with the help of her Therapist friend(24:40). Kailiah gets personal and talks about the importance of her family and how they inspire her as well(33:37). Winding down, Kalilah talks about becoming an author and what others can do to chase her dreams(38:55).    Kalilah's A Mother's Dream Book Page: Instagram: @messinabottle Website: Facebook:  BRNDD 10: Playlist:    BRNDD Podcast: E-Mail: Facebook Group: Twitter: @DebMaterial Instagram: @debonairmaterial facebook: Ronald James Twitter and Instagram: @whoisronjames    
     Ronald and Donte' are back for Season 2 with a 2-hour premiere! Creative Culture lifestyle is a brand started by Brian in 2016 that focuses on black males' beards with a line of natural care products. They've been featured on news channels from Baltimore to Philly, sold in several beauty supply stores across the state of Maryland and their online presence is ever-growing. This year, Brian be launching his non-profit H.U.S.T.L.E.R. and all that and more is discussed in this episode.     Before the episode starts, Ron announces he's going to London for a week, the two talk about traveling and announce more information about their first live event(3:30)! The conversation starts off when Brian talking about growing his beard in corporate America and being concerned about it until he saw his white counterparts be able to do so(8:24). Then the conversation leads into Brian explaining why African Americans need his product and why the products cater to them.      Brian also talks about his school days, from selling Lil' Mike Mixtapes in High School(13:15), to selling t-shirts at Morgan St. University. He also talks about how he was always driven to be in sales but never illegally and how "risk-reward" played into it.     Brian also discusses the importance of reputation for not only yourself, but your business as well(26:08). The conversation leads into Brian explaining the issues of selling a natural product and how he built a support system through his women audience and friends such as Baltimore Political figures Nick and Marylin Mosby(34:50).    Brian's Instagram: @creativeculturelifestyle Website: Facebook: Twitter:  @CCLBeardButter  BRNDD 10: Playlist BRNDD Podcast: E-Mail: Facebook Group: Twitter: @DebMaterial Instagram: @debonairmaterial facebook: Ronald James Twitter and Instagram: @whoisronjames    
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