With the star power of rapper/actor Common and actor/entrepreneur Malik Yoba, iconic32's launch party demonstrated how simple it is to be a force for social good while also enjoying the privileges of being among the world's leading consumer classes.
Held in New York City's SoHo--a neighborhood known for its great eateries, retail shopping and expansive loft spaces (with even loftier price tags)--iconic32 used the event to punctuate the fundamentals of its brand identity as a "lifestyle company driving cultural movements for social good via pop culture."
On a relatively quiet block, the crowd inside Bucketfeet's downtown New York City, pop-up shop, spilled out onto the street, the sounds from inside trailing behind them. Common's thought provoking lyrics punctuated the city night's soundscape as heads bobbed to his staccato flow.
Joining him onstage was actor and entrepreneur, Malik Yoba, the evening's host and partner in iconic32,who offered his personal philosophy on making the world a better place, impressing upon the audience the importance of "doing well and doing good."
iconic32 is the brainchild of Yoba, and cofounders, Sergio Morales, a successful business consultant, filmmaker and branding strategist and Steve Espaillat a longtime sports brand ambassador and youth educator.
With the tagline, "curators of progress," iconic32 offers both a product development studio which conceptualizes and develops socially-driven consumer products, technology and content, as well as a brand strategy consultancy that focuses on partnering with individuals, community organizations and companies/brands to develop integrated marketing platforms for consumer audiences and informing companies' current and future product pipelines.
Says Morales, "In terms of product development, our inventors, strategists, producers, writers, directors, musicians, coders and all types of crazy intelligent dream builders not only develop new product and revenue ideas, but we also design and bring the product to life in its final form--whether it's a pair of shoes, a technology platform or a pop song."
True to its mission, iconic32's launch was a convergence of art, culture and commerce, with an inspiring dose of social responsibility. Attendees were immersed in a creative, socially conscious, retail experience that included a performance by Common, walls lined with art, including the work of 14-year-old urban artist Skyler Grey, aka "The Fresh Prince of Street Art", (and an official iconic32 Youth Ambassador) and Bucketfeet's artist inspired footwear, presented boutique style around the colorful space.
With a portion of all proceeds to be donated to the Common Ground Foundation, whose aim is to, "use creative arts to expose youth to new opportunities," attendees shopped purposefully--understanding that their purchases represented their participation in creating a greater good in the world.
Interview Segment With Iconic32 partners Malik Yoba and Sergio Morales
What was the impetus for launching iconic32?
Malik: I think it's the way the world is going...people want to contribute and make a difference.
Sergio: After leaving the marketing agency world on the branding side, I felt there was a bigger opportunity to further engage consumer audiences and to discover what consumers were passionate about, not as consumers but as people. It's much deeper than categorizing people as Latinos or soccer moms or millennials...people have passions.
As a mentor, I often notice how seemingly socially conscious the millennials are when compared some other generations. What is your thinking?
Sergio: Within the current landscape I saw an opportunity that was not happening...to communicate with a younger consumer set. Millennials are the future of consumerism, the future leaders of the world...the information we give them impacts the way they think and the way they behave.
They have been handed a different deck than the older generations...they have information at the tip of their fingertips....they are able to talk to someone in Russia or China. This, I think, leads to more questioning and doubting of marketing messages. They are the generation who is going to figure it out. THIS IS WHY THEY ARE GENERATION DIY.
Corporations have an incredible opportunity because of their vast resources to create cool campaigns and cool products and to also drive socially conscious good along the way.
At iconic32 we understand, we must first reach them through their language, which tends to be the language of pop culture; sports, fashion. arts, entertainment and music. You can talk about deeper subjects like, technology, education, health care, and global warming, but you first have to break through on their ground--which is pop culture--to create a genuine relationship with them.
Malik: And to this end, our respect and confidence in the millennial generation is reflected in the strong presence of young people working behind the scenes at iconic32. We are harnessing their passion and creativity in an "each one, teach one" manner--it's an intergenerational learning circle where everyone wins.
In my background as a funds development consultant, I understand that most corporations have a community giving side, yet I would dare say that most people don't necessarily know about these charitable arms, given that they appear to be separate entities. Do you consider what you're doing at iconic32 to be a new model?
Malik: 20 years ago American Express' "Charge Against Hunger" campaign was a model. Charges went up by 10% because people wanted to help with this issue. Yet the social good component was not necessarily part of their brand identity.
At iconic32 we take it to the next level by helping young social entrepreneur companies build the social good component into their infrastructure.
Sergio: We assist corporations to increase impact of dollars they are already giving and help them to do more and get a higher return on their current investments in creating social good.
Who are your partners so far?
Malik: Common's foundation (The Common Ground Foundation), San Francisco 49ers player Anquan Boldin's Q81Anquan Boldin Foundation, and of course the ecommerce platform on our website www.iconic32.com.