Rap star 2 Chainz has spent the past several years turning his success in the music business into a presence in the apparel world with his CEO Millionaires clothing line. Now the Atlanta rapper is teaming with social media/marketing entrepreneur Julz “YesJulz” Goddard that combines his business with her #NeverNotWorking motto for a clothing collaboration.
The line, which debuts on Small Business Saturday, November 26th, can be purchased here. I called up 2 Chainz, YesJulz, and 2 Chainz’s manager Charlie Jabaley of Street Execs to get the inside scoop on how this surprising collaboration came to life.
Shawn Setaro: You talked about your clothing collaboration at Complexcon earlier this month. How did that go?
2 Chainz: It was received very well. It’s two people that are like-minded individuals who have got a great work ethic. It’s all for a good cause.
YesJulz: We got great feedback. Everybody seems excited about the collab. We’re looking forward to the clothes dropping this Saturday. We are starting pre-sales today [Wednesday, Nov. 23rd].
Setaro: How did you two meet?
2 Chainz: She had an Art Basel party about two years ago. That was my first time meeting her. She had a great spirit, a great attitude. We just kept bumping heads over the years, and our sense of work increased and it seemed to make sense.
My CEO Millionaires clothing line has not even been established a year yet, and we’ve been getting great feedback. So I wanted to team up with somebody that was not exactly an artist, but is still very in tune with what we have going on, has great work ethic, and is just a great person, period.
Setaro: You both had your personal brands. How did you bring them together for this collaboration?
2 Chainz: CEO is an acronym for “Creating Every Opportunity,” and “Never Not Working” runs side-by-side with that. Not only was it cool teaming up, it seemed to make sense.
Setaro: Why is entrepreneurship such an important part of your message?
YesJulz: I grew up in a household where my parents went to work for companies they weren’t really proud to be working for, and weren’t excited about getting up and going to the office. I never understood how you could get up and do something you didn’t want to do every single day. I promised myself that I would never be in that position.
So when I got older, I worked really hard and started my own company, and ended up doing well. I felt like if I could do what I put my mind to, then everybody else could too. I wanted to use the platform that I had gained from throwing parties and having friends in the entertainment industry. I felt like I was given a platform, and I wanted to use that platform to spread that message. In 2016 there’s endless possibilities and tools available to us, especially my generation that’s very tech-savvy and social and can be connected to anyone in any part of the world in a matter of two seconds.
I thought, how can I make it cool to talk about working hard? “Never Not Working” is a fun hashtag, and we started doing that. It really took off, and all kinds of people have started using it. It resonated with people who are synonymous with working hard, and I thought it would be a great idea to take that and put it on some clothes. I’m glad that they gave me the opportunity to collaborate with CEO Millionaires, because I’m never not working [laughs], so I probably wouldn’t have made the clothes anytime soon. I’m glad that we did it, because now there’s going to be a constant reminder out there on what people are wearing of how you can be successful if you put your mind to something, and work smart and hard on it.
Setaro: Chainz, what role does promoting entrepreneurship play in what you’re trying to do with the clothing line?
2 Chainz: I just see a trend with people trying to boss up, trying to have ownership. I see a trend with females wanting to have their own—not just be independent, but have their own businesses. I have two daughters, so I’m interested in creating female millionaires. I’m interested in sparking the next entrepreneur who has a good idea and don’t know the next step to take. That’s what we’re here for.
This thing is just getting started. It’s a seed that’s just getting planted. I’m very confident in the trajectory behind both me with CEO Millionaires and Never Not Working.
Setaro: How involved are you two in the process of designing the clothes?
YesJulz: We’re pretty involved. We went back and forth trying to figure out how we can make this the perfect union between the two brands. It took a bit of playing around. Charlie is the master that makes this all happen. He’ll play around with the designs and send them to me and Chainz, and we’ll go back and forth. It was definitely a collaborative effort on the design.
Then we pass them off to Charlie, and this guy makes anything happen in 24 hours. He got it ready just in time for us to feel it and try it on when we were both in the same place, which is kind of rare, at Complexcon. I look forward forward to doing more with them.
Setaro: How are the clothes made? Who’s actually making them?
Charlie Jabaley: 2 Chainz has an entire facility. What Chainz has done in the clothing business over the past year and a half has grown tremendously. We have warehouses, we have manufacturers, we have fulfillment. Chainz probably employs close to 30 people year-round just on the fulfillment side of things, so it’s a big operation.
The manufacturing is all done in Los Angeles. Everything is done here in America. We don’t use China. It’s American-made, American employees. Chainz’s business has just grown so much that he owns his own. Everything is done in-house.
Setaro: Chainz, the last time I talked to you was last year right around this time for Christmas sweater season. How is your Christmas sweater season this year?
2 Chainz: Everything is a blessing, man. The sweaters are doing well. Everything is doing well. I don’t have any down sides—or any down time—right now. As far as the sweaters, we created a couple more for the new season, and it’s been received very well. I imagine by Christmas, we’ll have profited a couple M’s, and I’m looking forward to putting it back into the community.
Setaro: You had such great charitable initiatives last year. Can you talk about what you’re doing this year?
Jabaley: So this year, we have set up on the website a North Pole submission form. People can submit their stories of themselves, their friends, or their family who are in a tough situation. Last year, Chainz gave away houses, paid peoples’ rent out for a year, gave away cars. The stories were unique, and these were real people who were in real trouble. It wasn’t people that wanted something—these were people that truly needed it.
This year, we’re back at it. We’re vetting stories, looking for the right families, the right situations. Chainz has something really big planned this Christmas with the profits from the sweaters, so we’re really excited about that. We’re taking these Christmas sweaters and turning them into a tradition. Every year, you have to have the sweater not just because it’s cool, but because it’s going to really change lives. It’s got so much meaning to it beyond fashion or a trend.
Setaro: Julz, can you see yourself continuing in clothing beyond this line?
YesJulz: Definitely. I’ve been working on a capsule collection with Puma. I’m a perfectionist, so that’s been taking a while. I just wanted it to be perfect. They’re doing some great stuff, and I wanted to continue to push the envelope for that brand.
I want to do more with Never Not Working, and I also want to do even more with this collaboration with CEO Millionaires. I really enjoy the community aspect of this collaboration, and that’s why I’m really excited to be involved. There’s no limit to where we could take this.
We’re having a dinner celebrating local entrepreneurs and CEOs in Atlanta to kick off the collaboration. I would like to see us go to different cities where the culture’s bubbling and there’s young creative youth out there starting their own brands and movements. Hopefully we’ll continue evolving these designs and dropping more.
I want to just make clothes for the everyday cozy girl. 2 Chainz said something once that really resonated with me: “I want to show everyone that you can be a CEO and be dressed like this.” I really get that, because I used to feel like I had to be super dressed up, wearing uncomfortable heels all the time. Now I’m finally in a place where I’m 26 and I know who I am and I know that I have a successful business. I might not look like everybody else sitting in first class, but I’m there too, and I’m comfortable while I’m doing it. So I just like to make clothes that will make people feel empowered and comfortable while they’re doing whatever it is that they love to do.
Setaro: What other promotions do you have planned to let people know about the clothing line?
YesJulz: We did a social media campaign and a campaign on the website, and we’ve had people submitting their stories every single day. My girls are working on a fun shoot of them Never Not Working in their CEO Millionaires gear, and we have a couple things up our sleeves to promote the line.
Setaro: Where can people find the clothes?
Jabaley: Everything will be on CEOMillionaires.com. The official release is Small Business Saturday. We didn’t want to release on Black Friday, which is a corporate day. We wanted to bring awareness to Small Business Saturday, and rally the troops around supporting small businesses.