Over two years ago, the Foghorn featured three USF friends who bonded over their experiences as first-generation Americans and came together to create a creative outlet they named Tailored Heritage (TH). According to their website, “Tailored Heritage is a creative collective and lifestyle brand that uses an artistic perspective to encourage positive cultural dialogue.” Since its establishment in 2013, Umar Issa ‘14, Cesar Martinez ‘15 and Milton Smith ‘15 have all graduated from USF, but not from the movement they’d worked so hard to spark. Despite finding full-time jobs at WeWork, Palette Creative and Yahoo, respectively, they have worked tirelessly to ensure that Tailored Heritage would not get left behind in the dust of their professional careers.
Three years of hard work came to fruition when their friend, Barry Lai, approached them with the opportunity of putting together their first exhibition. Lai was commissioned by the city of San Francisco to curate an art gallery in the Tenderloin and was giving them creative freedom with the space and contents of the show.
On April 8, their exhibit, “More Alike Than We Are Different”, opened with a reception at SPACE 236. A giant American flag greets anyone that walks in the door, but the stories they share through the photography and captions prove the diversity of the fabric of American immigrants and their stories. Martinez said, “Our main inspiration was the story of our families with a special focus on our mothers. As first-generation Americans, we have all longed to understand where our families come from. We conducted interviews, gathered artifacts, and took intimate portraits of our loved ones in order to tell our families’ individual stories.”
Through the exhibit, they hope that their intended message was clear. Smith said, “It was meant to show that no matter where we all come from, people from all backgrounds all have the same experiences and hardships as well as ambitions and goals to live fulfilling lives.”
But what is even more exciting to them at this point in their Tailored Heritage adventure is what they hope it will become. Martinez said, “We’ve been working on TH as our side-hustle for the past 3 years and are now at a point where we’re ready to make it a full-time gig.”
This means tapping into the working relationships they’ve had with American heritage brands like PF Flyers and Brooklyn Circus, and leveraging the creative work they’ve done for rapper G-Eazy and Design Rehab. Issa said, “We’ve learned a lot from our studies at USF and continue to develop professional skills with the companies we’re currently working for. We’re at a point where we’re confident in our ability to run a business effectively and be able to support our passions.”
Next month, though, they plan on exploring a few countries in Latin America. Their flights are booked and they hope that they come back from their travels with greater perspective and more lessons learned on culture and themselves.
In the meantime, they are planning another event at SPACE 236 to give people another opportunity to celebrate their art exhibition, and to personally connect with those who come to see their work.
“More Alike Than We Are Different” will be running at SPACE 236 until May 31, 2016.
Photo courtesy of Armenian Student Organization