Elijah Maxey, Jr., who goes by the name Jobba, is a social media fashion trendsetter. His style is an extension of his swag and expression of his confidence. Jobba launched BRND, a clothing line that is unique, different, and ask the question, “How do you want to be seen?”
TG: What inspired you to start your clothing line, BRND?
J: I have always been into fashion ever since I’ve been playing basketball. I have a large following in Chicago when it comes to supporting black-owned businesses. I would always wear somebody’s clothing line. With a positive platform to help engage the masses, I would post a picture of me wearing a designer brand on social media. I would always use #brandjobba on my post. My friends said to me, “Jobba, you are a walking brand. You need to create your own clothing line.” I thought about it but couldn’t come up with a name. My brother, Jeff, suggested that I use my name. I told him nobody wants to wear a shirt with my name on it. I kept thinking, and I thought about the name BRND. The acronym for BRND means “Be Real aNd Different.” BRND is who I am.
TG: How would you define your style?
J: Very eclectic. You may see me at a sneaker ball with a tuxedo made out of thigh-high shorts. I always want to push the envelope when it comes to fashion. I always wanted to be the one people would say, “I wouldn’t wear it, but that’s dope.”
TG: Who do you look to for style inspiration?
J: My cousin, Marlon Maxey. He was a former NBA player and European pro. I get my inspiration from him. His style is crazy to me. In the style game, you got to have an open mind. I look at everyone. I don’t see what someone wears is wrong. I see the positive things in what everyone wears and try to take that and put that in my own mindset for my inspiration regarding style, simplicity, and detail. Carl Harris, known as “GQ,” who is like my brother, has also been an inspiration to me when it comes to fashion.
TG: Why are black-owned clothing lines crucial?
J: It’s very important. You look at Dapper Dan, Virgil Abloh, Kanye West, and others who impacted the clothing industry. If you look at where we come from and then own a clothing line and build a brand, that’s huge. There need to be more black men in the fashion world. The fashion industry is a white-dominated arena. There are a lot of black men who are talented when it comes to fashion and design. It’s essential to keep that fire burning because we are a brand. We are the ones that support brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and others. We must have our own brand and support each other.
TG: There aren’t enough black clothing lines. Why do you think that is?
J: There are many black clothing lines such as Fashion Geek by Zo, Robotic Minds by Kendall Hearns, and Phli by Dave Jeff, to name a few. These guys are from Chicago. But a lot of black clothing lines are not mainstream level like the high-end brands. Social media is starting to push black clothing lines to the forefront.
TG: How important is it that young black boys see black men own a business?
J: It’s important because it gives these young men some hope that anything is possible and they can achieve their goals if they put their minds to it. Seeing a black man own a business will inspire them that they too, with hard work and determination, can become entrepreneurs. The narrative in the black community is if you are tall, you have to play basketball, or if you are big and strong, you have to play football. We don’t push the narrative that our young people can be engineers, educators, and own a clothing line.
TG: What is the next step for BRND, and what is your ultimate goal?
J: The next step for BRND is to keep pushing the buttons. I like to keep a positive vibe when it comes to the clothing line. One thing about me is, I’m not a selfish person. I support by wearing other black clothing lines to show we are not in competition. I will be featuring “BRND of the Week” to support other businesses in fashion on my website. My ultimate goal is to stay steadfast in the fashion game, keep creating and building relationships.
TG: What advice would you give to someone that wants to start a clothing line?
J: Stay true to it. It’s not about the money, especially if it’s your passion. The money will come. Just be patient. It took me a little over a year to come up with BRND. It was not easy because if it were, everyone would be doing it. BRND was a lot of hard work and networking. Giving up was not an option.
For more information on BRND visit www.brndjab.com.
Tammy Gibson is a black history traveler and author. Find her at Facebook, Instagram @SankofaTravelher, and Twitter @SankofaTravelHr