The RUFNEK brand was born out of the mind of a young fifteen year old boy trying to live out his dreams in a small suburb of Los Angeles County, Lancaster, CA. U.S.A. With being born in 1977 I had the opportunity of growing up in the revolutionary eras of the 80's and 90's. My grade school years, I felt the influence of a booming Hip Hop culture taking form. I was also able to watch firsthand so many of the greatest athletes and culture pioneers that still have an influence in popular culture today. The early and unprecedented world of sneakers was my playground witnessing industry giants like Nike/Jordan brand about to take the world by storm. To top it all off, I was able to experience the RAVE (pre-EDM) scene in Los Angeles warehouses and clubs and fell in love with the music now known as Drum and Bass /Jungle . All of these ingredients helped to cultivate what is now know as the Original RUFNEK Souljah brand and are the DNA for everything that comes out of the heart, mind and soul of RUFNEK:21
Although the original vision and brand concept was born circa 1993, it would be many years of blood sweat and tears before I would experience any legitimate success with my brand. I was honing my skills, in graphic design, art direction and printing and manufacturing for almost twenty years before the RUFNEK brand would see a new breath of life. The timing was perfect, social media was about to take the world over and the Sneaker and Streetwear cultures were about to seriously collide. With all of the experience and confidence under my belt, the opportunity was there for the taking. I was going to take my love of sneaker culture and enter the world of sneaker inspired streetwear at a very early and pivotal time. There were a few other brands that had paved some small paths to follow, but none were really able to execute like I knew I was capable of. After a seven year tear in the market, selling hundreds of thousands of graphics tees, the culture was about to see a change with Kanye West leaving NIKE and taking his talents to Adidas, the throne of NIKE/Jordan brand was about to be tested. Fashion drastically evolved to muted and neutral tones, elongated tees, minimal graphics and distressed styles, the graphic t-shirt had seen better days. With the roots of the brand coming from within I could not see myself shifting to this new trend and feel authentic at the same time, so I slowly started to decrease my presence in the market of Urban Streetwear. The brand has always been driven by my passion and love for the cultures that influenced me, it was strange time for my creative self. I knew it was time for a change, given the success I had in the previous 7 years I decided to take some time off and enjoy the fruits of my labor with my family.
After taking a couple of years off as a brand, I was working behind the scenes consulting and helping a few brands and companies with their fulfillment and manufacturing all while still achieving great success behind the scene. I was dabbling in having fun with the enamel pin collectible market, and it was then that I had a conversation with one of the core team members of Designer Con. It was then that I knew my next adventure was going to be creating my first designer vinyl toy. I finally decided that a special character was going to be giving life, his name was AIR BAIR and this begun the process to figure out how to make this come to reality. But then COVID-19 hit...
In the year Twenty: Twenty: One and after a year of dealing with the pandemic known as Covid-19. The time had come to awaken from my slumber and bring my vision of AIR BAIR to the world and see if the designer Toy World was ready. I was able to release AIR BAIR on 3/6/1977 to my friends and family, I was blown away by so many people from all my walks in life that showed up to support my dream. I did it, my first colorway was a Sellout and so well received by my peers in the Designer Toy World.
The year is now 2022 and I am absolutely immersed in this newfound love of the blockchain and the NFT/Web 3 space. I found a new community of family in the CLONE:X project created by RTFKT Studios. I am still exploring the space while learning about this digital revolution taking place. I see it as something that I have always dreamed of and now will be able to bring more of my ideas and visions to life in a new way.
I am excited about what's to come...
"The Future is Now"
With gratitude I still stand here,