“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts” ~ Arnold Bennett.
The quote above epitomizes what Royal Dynamite has endured over the past year. Since our last State of the Union address, Royal Dynamite has been reshaped and re-defined both as a company and as a brand. To a larger extent, both Ralph and I’s outlook as co-founders has also gone through somewhat of a change; we have become a relentless duo that understands and appreciates the value of hard-work, determination, and faith.
Our journey since the last SOTU has been nothing short of exciting and sometimes terrifying. We rebranded the company and embraced a new initiative called RDCares, which supports our desire for furthering educational awareness in developing nations, starting with Sierra Leone. RDCares is a One-for-One initiative, which donates an educational package (school supplies) to a child in need for every RD t-shirt sold. Since the launch of our new website, we have accumulated over 600 packages and are working along with our partners to make sure we are in Sierra Leone within the next few months to distribute them.
We continue to form great partnerships with amazing organizations that are doing phenomenal work in impoverished regions in sub-Saharan Africa. Let me take a moment to recognize the following organizations that have teamed up with RDCares:
Yehri Wi Cry seeks to empower women of Sierra Leone by offering life-saving maternal/birthing kits to pregnant women. Many thanks to co-founders Nadia Sasso, Marie Mansaray, Nadeen Lewally and Zainab Fadlu-Deen for making this partnership possible.
E.Y.E.S - Excelling Youth Educational Scholarship Program focuses on providing long-term academic scholarships and mentorships to school children showing academic promise and drive.
The Visão Foundation is a non-profit that provides quality basic education for impoverished youth in Sierra Leone by offering exciting and unique learning opportunities through which children can explore and grow. Founder Liesel Renner has been amazing in her quest to improve the country’s basic education and empower youth.
RDCares is grateful and humbled by the opportunity to give back to all these great organizations. Both EYES and Visão combined, support the academic journey of over 100 kids. Our goal is to help them fulfill their mission while helping the future generations of Sierra Leoneans realize their full potential
EVENTS and COLLABORATIONS
Art For Life - The past year was also filled with some great events. Our first, entitled Art For Life (A.ltruism R.eflected T.angibly) was hosted in Los Angeles in collaboration effort with Yehri Wi Cry. The event campaign was to help create an atmosphere of giving back through the hands of the “art lover”. The goal was to raise awareness on the serious issue of maternal and infant mortality in Sierra Leone. We plan on making this a yearly event - next stop, the nation’s capital Washington D.C. We were also extremely honored to be able to showcase the Royal Dynamite line at the first African Fashion Week in Los Angeles. The feedback and interest we got was phenomenal and are working towards being in more fashion week events, throughout the country.
Speaking Engagements - Ralph and I also had some very unique and special speaking engagements at places that helped shape and direct the people we are today. Ralph was a guest speaker at King Drew Magnet High School (his alma mater) for Career Day. He emphasized the importance of staying in school and following one’s passion to become a better contributor to society. I had the opportunity to speak to a class at Cerritos College and shared my experience of being an international student, being asked to take an ESL class by virtue of that fact alone, and how hard work and good grades proved otherwise. I also had a defining moment when I was invited to speak on social media and e-commerce to student members of the American Marketing Association at my alma mater, California State University Long Beach. This opportunity opened up doors for our current internship program and this past December, we welcomed four phenomenal interns to the join the RD team – more on that in a little bit.
Crown Me Awkward - In 2012 we launched two successful campaigns and for the 2nd year in a row, we partnered with Issa Rae and her hit show, The Mis-Adventures of Awkward Black Girl for a t-shirt design contest titled “Crown Me Awkward”! We received well over 70 designs submissions, hundreds of votes, and were able to put on a spectacular collaborative photo-shoot. This campaign is to-date one of our most successful ones.
#WAR - This was one of our most thought out and exciting collaborations, born out of the desire to showcase the work of Arnold Randall as AR - The Artist. We realized that we could utilize Arnold’s artistic talents, while incorporating musical beats into the collaboration to bring to life the true essence of our belief in “Collaborative Style For Awareness”. #WAR which means “We Are Royal” stands to change the way war is viewed and not only signify the uniqueness of the Royal Dynamite brand but also exemplify the strength and resilience of the nations and people affected by war. #WAR was a collaboration between not only Royal Dynamite and AR the Artist, but also AG One Entertainment and emerging producer Brutis Perux, who produced original music for the dynamic project. Every t-shirt sold is accompanied by a 6 track LP.
Over the last year, we made some great additions to the team that have helped us grow and
most recently, started an internship program with four bright and talented interns. Ralph and I wholeheartedly appreciate everyone who continues to believe in our mission. There is a lot more we are capable of accomplishing together and I am excited to be a part of such a creative and talented bunch.
FEATURES & LOOKING FORWARD
A big things that happened for Royal Dynamite this past year is that our t-shirts are now been sold on two major online retail website. The first being Roozt which is an e-retailer for socially conscious fashion fashion-forward companies making a positive impact in their communities. Shortly after our t-shirts were picked up by Roozt we had unprecedented opportunity to be sold on KarmaLoop/Kazbah a multi-platform web retailer specializing in global urban fashion and streetwear and one of the most recognized in the industry.
As we move forward in 2013 and beyond, we are excited about what the future holds and are ready for the challenges. We look forward to growing our RDCares program, strengthening our ties with our current partners, as well as welcoming new ones. We want to be able to make an impact on the education and healthcare sectors in Sierra Leone, and other third-world nations within sub-Saharan Africa. We will travel to Sierra Leone to donate the packages we have collected, and will report back to our customers with accountability of our efforts.
We have some exciting and amazing upcoming collaborations and moving forward, we will embrace the ideas of curating and storytelling. We appreciate your continued support and look forward to trailblazing the Royal Dynamite brand into new territories.