“…It’s possible and very rewarding to find your passion, and align it with your values. If you’re a musician, painter, designer, engineer-whatever it is, why not do something you love, and do it for a reason or cause you believe in? You don’t need to give up what you believe in or what you stand for to do something you’re passionate about,” said Adam Khafif, the founder of Lisn Up Clothing.
Adam founded Lisn Up Clothing at just the young age of fifteen. You may wonder, ‘how can someone at the age of fifteen start a business?’ Well, Adam had key mentors who influenced him; these included his parents, Johnny Cupcakes and Lupe Fiasco. His parents co-own a business, Toni’s Own, where they taught him hard work ethic, integrity and faith. Being around the business also taught him all the different parts of running a business and how much dedication and hard work it takes to be successful. Johnny Cupcakes is a clothing line that’s theme is a bakery and once you step in his store you can see the amount of detail put into every last item. Lastly, Lupe Fiasco never backs down from doing what he believes in especially in an industry such as music, which is heavily tailored for a specific type of scene. This taught Adam to never back down from his values when it comes to his passion.
What started off as something cool to add to his resume instantly switched to something that stood for a positive movement that calls attention for certain issues such as sex trafficking and the Syrian Refugee crisis. Besides that, Adam chooses to include his customers every step of the way. If a line isn’t designating a specific cause to receive 50% of donations from sales, the customers get to choose between these five: New England Cancer Research, Ray Tye Foundation, Unicef, Greenpeace, and Islamic Relief.
Adam chooses to collaborate with people whose work he loves or who he finds inspirational. Lisn Up has collaborated with the Abdullah brothers who play in the NFL but chose to take a year off from playing to dedicate time for Hajj. Another collaboration was with Noor Tagouri, a journalist who is passionate about sharing stories about cultural injustices while fearlessly wearing her hijab.
Lisn Up’s latest collaboration is with Yuna, a Malaysian singer who is living her dream while also representing the hijab. Adam was in DC during the Noor Effect photo shoot when he met Yuna after her show. Since she was busy with her album promotion during the summer, Adam took the time to come up with a pitch that she could not refuse. And that’s exactly what happened.
The collaboration is called “The Places to Go Collection”, named after his favorite song on her Chapters album, and it aims to support refugees. While Yuna’s album is about traveling as a musician and missing family and friends along the way, Adam related that to the refugee crisis. The collection is related to how refugees are forced out of their homes and out of the lives they’ve known for the longest, only to end up in a place that may not necessarily welcome them with open arms. That’s why with every piece for this collection you can see that incorporated. For example, the flight jacket incorporated the fact that every day a refugee has to take flight in search of a new home. Another item is the vintage bag and it incorporates that at a moment’s notice a refugee may have no choice but to pack up and leave. Adam raises the question, “If you had ten minutes to pack up your life, what would you be sure to remember?”
I had the opportunity of seeing Adam and his team in action during the Noor Effect Pop-Up shop in May 2016. And what fascinated me, since I knew little about the brand at that time, was the energy exuded from everyone on the team. It was clearly evident that every single member of the team stood for what the brand stood for. Lisn Up is not your regular streetwear brand; it’s a brand that pays it forward to society and makes it a point that building each other up is key. And I believe that is a rarity now a days.
Check out more information about LisnUp here.
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