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Interview: Crude Cartel

Meet Co. Owners, Kemp and JT, of Crude Cartel. A clothing line based out of Durham, NC. Where the priority is not just money, but family and teamwork. Their line began like most, but its growth and opportunity at a platform in the community has been used for much more than just their business. Luckily, they were generous enough to make some time for me. Allowing me to snag an interview and share some insight on what Crude Cartel stands for. You can follow them on IG at @crude_cartel or personally at @kempmoney and @jt_xclusive and shop at Crude in a natural or raw state; not yet processed or refined. Cartel an association of manufacturers or suppliers with the purpose of maintaining prices at a high level and restricting competition.

What prompted you guys to establish Crude Cartel? JT: We started around 2007… 2008. So it’s been a long time, but it’s been off and on. We really just wanted more fly stuff to wear with the clothes and shoes we already had. We didn’t want to go out and buy other people’s stuff. Especially things we didn’t really like but other people were wearing. So we started our own clothing line with our own type of style. Kemp: It really is like a family for real. We sell it to a lot of people we know and around the city. It’s basically a trend right now that’s growing bigger and bigger. It’s something we’d ultimately like to expand throughout the world. With you having started as long ago as you did, where did you really notice the pick up in your brand? How have you continued to maintain consistency in sales and growth? JT: When we’ve stopped, people would be like, “Yo! When am I gonna get…?” or “Why’d you guys stop?!” So we’ve been learning to keep that consistency. We only made it for ourselves and our friends in the beginning. Then more and more people began requesting it. That’s when we started saying like, “We could really do something and make some money with it!” So that’s when we really started putting time and investing in it. We’re still doing the same thing now. When did you guys originally meet and what was your first interaction like? JT: I first met him when I moved here from California. He went to the middle school I was in, we met when he was selling candy. He tried to jip me on mad candy that day! This niggas a hustler. *laughs* Then from there, we just got cool. We didn’t stay to far from each other so we basically went from bikes to cars, you know? 

When you guys were younger, what did you want to be when you grew up? Kemp: I wanted to go to the NBA until I was about 11 or 12. Then I started realizing like, naw. I’m kinda short. So that’s not gonna work. That’s about the only dream I’ve had, other than starting my own business. After that I was wanting to work for myself. I had had one job and my first boss pissed me off. Then after that, well, there weren’t more jobs after that. *laughed* JT: I never really had a specific job that I wanted to do. I always just wanted to be something in the music industry. I just didn’t know what. I used to look up to moguls and managers. Really anybody in the music industry that was doing anything and traveling around with artists. Obviously, your brand promotes guns on its clothing. With the recent events in Las Vegas and Texas plus the controversy surrounding gun control overall. How do you feel this affects your brand and how it is received? Kemp: We get this question a lot because a lot of people see guns as “all violence” and the negative associated with them. But man, we have guns to protect people just like the Police and Army have guns to protect people. We want to protect our families because there is a whole lot of innocent people getting killed. We can show that guns aren’t all bad. Like, you can have a gun and be a good person. We need to have the world see that a lot more. JT: I have to agree with that. Where we’re from, the city that we grew up in, it’s a crazy place. A lot of stuff happens here. So when we first started getting our own guns and stuff. It was exactly what he said, it was for protection. We wanted to put that into the brand. Everything that we surround ourselves with. Like he said, Cartel is like a family. Cartel protects itself, we don’t want any of our soldiers to get hurt. We use that as our brand but we don’t want the mass shootings and negative stuff to reflect poorly on our clothing line. Just because one person made a dumb decision.

When you achieve the ultimate success you’re striving for, what will be the first causes you support and put back into? Kemp: We like to do that a lot already! We already have a lot of fundraisers and charities that we do. We work with underprivileged children who are in bad homes and who aren’t getting gifts for Christmas. We raise money and make sure that they get gifts and just do a lot to try and give back to the community. So if we get really big in the clothing industry, we’re definitely gonna give back. Make sure a lot of kids get clothes and stuff like that. We’ll try to make some people happy with the money we’ve made. JT: I’d say the same thing. We do a lot of community events now so when we get a lot larger that’s definitely something I’d like to do. Give away a lot of clothes especially cause I remember when I was younger I had to hustle for all my clothes. I could have spent all my time doing something else but I was grinding, working, trying to get just clothes to go to school and look fly. So I definitely want to give out to the people who don’t have it. What are some events we can expect from Cartel in the future? Either community or networking? JT: Well, definitely more Street Ball Sunday’s! That’s an event where we bring out everybody from different communities to come together for a day of peace while everyone balls out. You’ll also see more pop up shops and travelling to different city like Los Angeles and New York to just shop our brand out to the world.  

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