On a random Saturday this past October, I was walking aimlessly through Nolita, taking in various forms of inspiration for Bandit. I do this type of wandering from time to time, admittedly not as much as I should or would like to, but with the idea that I'm shaping my subconscious, which hopefully becomes useful when the team and I are brainstorming new creative ideas.
I made a left on Rivington and a few shops down, there was deep (and I mean deep) cut hip-hop flowing out of a shallow, all-white walled room with a few curated racks in it, a gallery wall of framed photos, and a makeshift cash-wrap that reminds me now of how Bandit's pop-ups look. I gravitated inside and I was, and I'm not exaggerating here, overcome with a sense of authenticity. Everything from the people, to the product, to the music, to the photos—it all felt so real, true, and grassroots.
It was a pop-up for a Far Rockaway streetwear brand called, The Crate. I tried a couple pieces on and bought a nylon jacket that reminded me (personally) of something a 90's soccer coach in the Italian Serie A would wear, but had the timelessness that allowed it to be relevant today and long into the future.
I wore it out and as I exited the store, a guy wearing the same jacket on the sidewalk hollered at me, "I don't know who looks better: me or you."
I joked, "Oh definitely me".
We both laughed and got to talking.
Terrill Kirk is the Founder of The Crate, in his own words, "an apparel brand known for its grittily luxurious aesthetic and raw brand ethos. The brand is more than just a clothing destination, it’s a lifestyle, one significant to essential living. The Crate aims to use its platform to not just sell clothing, but to tell unspoken stories and connect the community through them holistically, from design to brand representation." The Crate has been worn by celebrities including, J.Cole, Carmelo Anthony, Issa Rae, Fivio, Wiz Khalifa, and more.
Terrill, Rell for short, was telling me how he recently caught the running bug and was really getting into the sport. He loved the way conquering new distances and paces he didn't know he had in him, made him feel powerful beyond measure. His friend and Nike Trainer, Percell Dugger, inspired him to start running and before long, Rell was crushing the 12-14 mile routes from Manhattan to the Rockaways.
Fast forward to just a few weeks ago, Rell started "The Crate Run Club" and has now inspired dozens of his friends and local residents of Far Rockaway to take up running with him. Earlier this past Sunday, I texted Rell asking if we could catch up for a story about the club for this week's B-Mail and he said, of course - but that he was about to hop on a long flight and he would call me once he was settled back in.
My phone rang at 10:07pm that night. My first thought was, "Oh he meant tonight?... Sunday night. At 10:00pm"
"Yo West. I just got off the plane from Portugal. I had to go, man. I had to go. I had to meet with the factories, uncover the possibilities, find the opportunities, foster the relationships." There was a tone in his voice that made me think, this guy is fucking next-level hustling.
I had an interview prepared, but Rell has a newfound energy and stream of consciousness that cannot, will not, and should not be narrowed in by the guardrails of particular questions. He attributes the spark all to running.
"My energy is UP. Every day I gotta get it. Running has helped me achieve a new level of persistence and consistency that has made me better in every area."
"When I need to think, I go run. I go touch the pavement. I'm listening to music, but I am thinking. I'm asking myself questions, coming up with ideas, mapping my shit out. Who do I need to call? Who should I be building with? Why hasn't x/y/z happened yet and what steps do I take to put it in motion? Running unlocks the answers."
In a day and age where competition is at an all-time high, whether that be between companies or individuals, Rell stays strictly unsubscribed from the construct.
"You don't have to give people the answers to the test, but help them study. Build with people. Help them get better. Where I grew up, people don't help people out. That can't continue to be the case. That's why I started the run club."
"The Crate Run Club is supposed to be like, no matter what else is going on, we're gonna stay in shape, have some fun, and lift each other up. It’s such a great way to connect. West, we met through the conversation of running and now we're writing this story. This is what it does!"
I couldn't agree more.
I've been in a running rut since the NYC Marathon; with everything going on at Bandit, it's been difficult to get out the door. But after speaking to Rell and watching the creative genius that he's been producing for The Crate, I'm reminded that running doesn't always have to be about hitting a sub-3 marathon, or some other arbitrary time-based goal. It can be a mechanism for simply thinking, or better yet, to lift someone else up. I almost forgot.
My shoes are tied and I'm closing my laptop now. It's time for a run.
Rell, I continue to be inspired by your authenticity, values, and everything you do. I look forward to continuing to build together.
If you're in Far Rockaway, pull up to a Saturday run and follow @thecraterunclub.
"You certainly cannot stop me, because I cannot even stop me." - Terrill Kirk