Rooted in Roses and Resilience

My story begins in Chelsea-Elliott houses, Manhattan, where I grew up under the watchful eyes of my parents.   My African-American mother and first-generation Ecuadorian father instilled in me a deep appreciation for family and heritage. Vivid memories of my childhood include the aroma of my grandmother's cooking wafting through the house as she spoke to Ecuador via long-distance calls, while soccer matches flickered on the TV in the background. A beautiful bed of roses often graced the kitchen table, a testament to the love and care that filled our home.

Years later, our family moved to Queens, where my entrepreneurial spirit blossomed. Inspired by the "Don't Believe the Hype" anthem by hip hop legends Public Enemy, a motto that always resonated with me, I dreamt of creating something meaningful.

The turning point came in 2008, during a visit to Los Angeles. On Fairfax Avenue, a streetwear Mecca, I stumbled upon a hat that seemed like a sign. A collaboration between The Hundreds and Play4Keeps, it boldly declared "Hype Kills" across the crown. The elephant print on the brim perfectly complemented the colors of my favorite Jordans - the Black Cement Threes. I knew then that this was my path.

Back in New York City, juggling high school in Manhattan and mastering the subway system fueled my desire to share my vision. Sharing treasures like this hat with my friends cemented my resolve – when I graduated, I would launch my brand while pursuing college.

HypeKills was more than just a streetwear brand; it was a voice. It was a platform to celebrate the vibrant culture, the energy of the sneaker game, and the art that speaks volumes without a word. In September 2015, HypeKills was born at 43-09 47th Avenue in Queens. It was a tribute to past and present streetwear pioneers, a space to cultivate creativity, and a reminder to "never feed into the hype."

The memory of walking to the train station after buying those roses for my grandmother and mother still warms my heart. My love for these flowers deepened upon learning that Ecuador is the world's rose capital, exporting beauty across the globe.

Unfortunately, my building at 43-09 wasn't so fortunate. Just before Christmas, a fire ripped through, displacing everyone, including my loved ones. It was a devastating blow, but even in the darkness, creativity found a spark. With HypeKills, I could express gratitude for my roots and shower the people I love with a digital bouquet – the "Love Yours" collection.

Nine years later, HypeKills continues to thrive. Though the building no longer stands, the spirit of resilience, family, and rose-tinted memories live on in our clothing.