Meet the guys of Wampum: Lennon and Marley Ficalora. Lennon keeps the store’s good vibe while Marley is on top of the number$. Their most recent endeavor was the opening of their second skate shop at 5 Cleveland Place in the neighborhood of Soho in New York City. Wampum carries brands such as Herchel Supply Co., Brixton Supply Co., Diamond Supply Co., HUFSF, Supra, Sabe, and Adidas Skate. DirtyLaces got the chance to catch up with the brothers to talk about their decision to open skateshops and what’s next for the brand. Read more after the jump!
DirtyLaces: How did you go about starting your store?
Marley: So we wanted to create a high-end skate shop that brought brands we loved from the east and west coast together since we grew up half the year in Olympia, Washington, and half the year in Montauk, New York. We wanted a cultivation of brands from the coasts all to one area.
Lennon: We grew up in a surf community where skating is secondary to surfing. Where we were there was no good place to buy skateboards. All the places carried old stuff. There were no places you could get a skateboard for a decent price. Every store would jack the prices up real high. So we got the opportunity with the space and we thought it would be cool to do a skate shop and build something and a community that wasn’t there for us growing up.
[Their first store in Bridge Hampton, NY was opened on June 21, 2011—the first day of Summer, Go Skate Boarding Day and Lennon’s Birthday]
DL: How did the name come to be?
Marley: With the name Wampum, we asked all of our friends how they felt about it. We really had trouble with our name. We were throwing out all sorts of names. Once we figured this name out, all of our friends really liked this name and approved so we ended up going with it because it kind of relates to where we are from. Wampum is Native American clamshell that is from New England region. Brings back that local aspect.
DL: How were you introduced to streetwear?
Marley: I would say we were introduced to streetwear through family friends on the west coast that were into skateboarding. We used to go skate camp, skate contests in Washington. We learned about brands and the culture through submerging ourselves in skating
Lennon: Welll, I would travel to the city to skate. So that is where I was first introduced, and ya know coming into Supreme.
DL: What is something you wish people knew about being in the industry—running a line and a store?
Marley: I wish people knew how much work it is. You have to know the direction you want to go with it, where you want to end up, and how to stay true to the style you want, it is what you bring to the table. I would say staying true to yourself, knowing your style, and the amount of work it takes are things I wish people knew
DL: What has been the biggest challenge launching a street wear brand and opening two boutique stores?
Marley: I think the biggest challenge at the start is finding sources to get your products made. It is hard at first to know the connections and the language barrier. Most streetwear brands won’t give up their sources. Really finding where to get your stuff made and the steps of getting your product in your hands is the biggest challenge.
DL: When people are describing Wampum, what do you want them to say this brand embodies?
Lennon: I think Wampum should embody skate life style. Not just skating but how you feel, how you can express yourself through skating, so it could be for people that aren’t skating.
DL: Where do you draw your inspiration from? What is currently inspiring you?
Lennon: Everywhere.. Right now, we have two new lines coming out. With Fresh — is a line with a play on street wear. It is in your face and has a lot of slogan tees. Bringing back the old style, but still clean and classic. With Wampum, a prep punk, kind of like 80s style. It will start dropping in the beginning of next month.
DL: Any advice for aspiring clothing designers?
Lennon: Just do it. Make your shit. Start small. Go for it. Be true to yourself
Marley: You got to give it 100%. There is so much competition out there. It is really the effort and drive that gets you to the next level.
DL: How do you feel the brand has evolved since it first launched?
Lennon: From my first tee shirts with Fresh to now, I feel good. I am learning a lot.All the screen printing is now in house. We had other people printing and we didn’t have as much flexibility as we wanted. So now we are pulling our own ink and trying new stuff.
Marley: I would say the customers. The exposure. The city is a different market
DL: What is the best perk about being owner and founder of your own brand?
Marley: The best perk is you get to create. It is always awesome to create. If you are selling other peoples stuff it is good because you are supporting the skate scene. When you are making your stuff you get to put something out there that hasn’t been out there before and it is you mark on the industry. And when you see people wearing your stuff, you are like wow this is awesome all that effort, all that time, your creative output.
DL: Is there a creative team behind the designs?
Marley: There are a lot of people, Charles Lee and all of our friends that help pitch in. It is a collective effort. A lot of other artists have inspired the work.
To date, what do you feel is your biggest accomplishment?
Marley: Having two amazing stores, with quality goods and moving forward at a rapid pace.
Check out Wampum at their website WampumNY. Stay up with brand by following them on twitter @wampumny and on Instagram.