Our team recently had the opportunity to dive into the photo studio with talented young shooter, Reid Jarvi. Along with calling in favors from his friends to serve as talent, Reid also got the blessing from his photo mentor - Roosevelt Mansfield - to use the studio space at Digiemade Photo for the afternoon. And that is where this story begins.
Over the course of the afternoon, I found some moments to meet and thank Roosevelt for the generous use of his space. I liked him from the jump, beginning with his offer to get a soundtrack going for our shoot. After encouraging us to pick any genre, I selfishly suggested some 90s hip-hop, which received an enthusiastic response, "my specialty," he said.
Between talent changes and other breaks in the actions, I'd sidle over to chat up Roosevelt, or to simply study some of his personal photography on the walls of the studio. I became increasingly drawn to a series of portraits, featuring incredibly rich, (what I interpreted as) victorian dress and set pieces. There was a painterly quality to these images and a sense of steely pride in the subjects, all African American.
At one point, I exclaimed to Roosevelt that he should work with Heimie's Haberdashery, the iconic tailor, based in St. Paul, MN. He immediately responded, "These are actually part of the rebrand for Heimie's." Say whaaa.
Now it started feeling like this budding bromance was escaleting a bit. He filled me in on his relationship with Heimie's, while showing me a bit more of his portfolio. This work, by the way, is going to featured in an upcoming show at Strive Bookstore in Minneapolis, and I can't wait to attend.
After sharing a bit more of my own work, including the nature of what we were capturing with ukiyohi, I suggested to him that I craft a custom Heimie's Edition Dugout to present to his friends as a token of appreciation. As I demo'd one of our dugouts to Roosevelt, he conceded he wasn't familiar with such a device, nor had he ever tried the herbal product typically housed inside.
Over on hours and woefully underpaid, Reid wrapped up the shoot that night with a treasure trove of high-rez images for me to review and deploy (look for them on some of our product pages and social content). Thanks again, Reid.
As I climbed into bed that night I recalled how, at one point during hurried wardrobe discussion, Roosevelt chimed in to offer one of his several Members Only jackets, which he happened to have on site. Sensing my excitement at this discovery, he began showing off the different options available in his collection, including the one seen in this outtake from some of our ring-focused images for STOBERI (our sister company).
These were more than just props accumulated in a photo studio. The jackets were important to Roosevelt. He shared with me how, as a youth, the jacket was coveted, but most often out of reach. Now, his ability collect these amazing thrift store finds is about a bigger through-line in life. This connected with some of my earliest childhood memories regarding branded apparel. And I remember my first off-brand version of the jacket, likely purchased at the local JC Penny in Winona, MN.
The next day, I immediately set to work on the custom dugout to share with Roosevelt which, in turn, I hoped he would share with the folks at Heimie's. And while I have limited expectations of a collab coming to fruition, by the time I finished the engraving on both the dugout and pipe, I started to believe such a partnership is destined to happen. I mean, look at this thing. The branding works so perfectly with the rosewood canvas. There's a timelessness to it, punctuated by the small hit of the "H" icon on the pipe.
The dugout was supplied to Roosevelt several days later. Stay tuned for any response from Heimie's. In the meantime, we're going to go ahead and release this under our nascent collection of "Unauthorized Collaborations".
Thanks again, to Reid and Roosevelt. Hire them for your next photo project STAT. And tell them ukiyohi sent you. -D