JULY 30 2018 - THE BEGINNING
From the beginning, LEMON has been based off the idea that nothing can be perfect. As lead designer, I wanted to embrace that by allowing mistakes in the creation process. I wanted LEMON to be a display case for moving past the things that weigh you down.
Dealing with strong OCD has been a tough part of my life, and accepting these flaws in the design process is part of moving forward for me. I am a firm believer that accidents aren’t a bad thing. I believe they inspire creativity, progress, and keep things original, and that’s what I want to emphasize through this brand.
If the text bleeds a little, or a letter is misplaced slightly, or if something isn’t perfectly even, that’s human, and there’s nothing wrong with that in my opinion. That is for this project at least. Embracing that, I hope you can appreciate the flaws as I do.
DEDICATED TO THOSE WHO SUPPORTED ME FROM THE BEGINNING.
YOU WILL NOT BE FORGOTTEN.
I CREATED LEMON on a random day, I think it was in the summer. I was typing up random names trying to reach something that I could get behind.
Fashion was something I started to take an interest in from a business point of view in 2017. I was seeing what popular brands were doing, and thought to myself that it really isn't hard to design something that could be liked by many. I always had an interest in fashion, according to my mother who would point out that even as a toddler I was thumbing through clothes feeling each fabric, and closely studying colors.
AUG 13 2018 - THE FIRST ADDITION
I remember fabric being a huge part of my decision, and I remember not being very happy about going to an elementary school with scratchy uniforms. Fortunately, my high school experience was far from that. I grabbed every last ugly green shirt off the rack of the local H&M on the street fair and asked,
"How much?" They were on sale for $4 each, and there were roughly 20 of them.
"I'll give em to you at a dollar each" he said.
I took em home, grabbed some bleach from the dollar store and got to work turning that ugly green into something that would become somewhat of a popular trend in the coming years. My mom also said that I was drawn to what she would call strange colors as a child, but in the next issue of GQ, they were everywhere. From H&M, to Forever 21, to Vans, and American Eagle, I saw the lime green everywhere. The weirdest part is it wasnt that bright neon green that Billie Eilish had made so popular, but a desaturated one, that oh so closely resembled what I had stumbled upon and decided would represent the beginning of my brand.
Not much later after I had bought the shirts, I discovered there were accompanying shorts and that's when it was sold for me. I brainstormed and reached out to a few friends for feedback. My good friend Jordan proved essential in this process, steering me in a good direction with the designs so they were unique but not too crazy.
Once I had the stuff, I needed to shoot, so I borrowed a digital camera from Kauffman (my film teacher) and went out to my friend's house where we shot the first collection in his neighborhood. A few more joined in and the collection was immortalized. I still think it's one of the most iconic designs from the brand to this day, even with hundreds of concepts on the way.
What really stood out to me was the back, and the title of the collection
NOT DEFINED BY FLAW. It became the tagline I associated with it. LEMON was meant to be understood by the lesser known definition:
'a vehicle that turns out to have several manufacturing defects'
I felt like a lot of the youth could relate to it, with our varying issues so early in life. To not be defined and weighed down by something so pertinent in your life can be liberating.
MARCH 5 2019 - WINTER IN HS
THE SECOND HALF of this story was how I felt after seeing small scale success. Once people started to hear about what I was doing they wanted to be part of it. Photoshoots, free clothes, the like. I only gave the former. I was selling here and there but mostly it was about promotion. I wanted to carry these potential supports to my next, bigger venture. The weirdest, but best part of it was walking into any room, any class, that I've never been in, and having people point me out,
"Hey, thats the LEMON guy!"
Typical advertising. I got the popular kids. The football players, the cheerleaders, whoever had a big following and I offered them free photoshoot.
Just like mainstream artists wearing brands, this got the school ticking with mine. Parodies even ensued, "lime", "orange", I thought it was hilarious. Whether a joke, or serious, it didn't matter to me, it was growing my knowledge of the industry, and growing the collective identity of LEMON.
What it all came down to for me was my true supports, my friends, the ones who wanted more than just a photoshoot, but to inspire me. I think that's what resonated with me the most at the end of the day. It wasn't really about the numbers.
LEMON HAS BEEN a wild ride so far. I've learned a lot. I've learned about people, and how they're motivated. I've learned about time and how it speeds by. I've learned about character, and how it shows through in a photograph. Many things are hard to create, but for the artist it is universe that guides their hand. Creation is as easy as destruction, but a true artist doesn't destroy.
Time shapes everyone, and things are always changing. Capturing a moment, is art. Capturing an emotion is art. Expressing yourself is the most important thing in life. Like music, my art through LEMON has taught me about many things, and allowed me to feel many emotions. LEMON is one of the few things I can feel good about during my high school years, and I think if I had spent more time invested in creating things that I cared about and less time expecting others to care just as much about it, then I would've been a lot more successful.
Why do you think we create? I create because I have to, because I want to. It's in my blood, it's in my energy, it's in my soul. I think we create because it's in our destiny. I think we create because it's in our nature. Everyone works towards a goal. Just make sure that every step you take is in the direction you want to go.
MAY 21 2021 - WHERE WERE WE?
Two years had passed since I had done anything with LEMON. Was the idea forgotten? I wasn't sure. But it never left my mind. I said it in the video reembarking on this journey "I never stopped thinking about it."
Over the two year hiatus I had tried numerous design ideas, but nothing that I was proud of. In the end, it all came down to fabric. I was thinking large scale, and getting large scale t-shirts in good fabric wasn't easy. It was even more difficult for things like hoodies, socks, and other accessories.
One thing that I felt might be accessible was small scale accessories like stickers and dogtags, which had been in my mind for quite a while now.
It took some great friends to bring me back into this mindset. Without the help of my close circle, I might not have been inspired enough to continue this journey. I realized that there was a lot of work to be done if I'm going to really try things out again.
MAY 28 2021 - LEMON DOGTAGS
The idea for the dogtags dated back to when I was young. A family friend who I was close to, a role model to me, gave me a pair of dogtags with my name on them. He was in the marines, and he was one of the most kind-hearted and generous people I knew, still is. When I rediscovered these tags going through my belongings, I really was fascinated with the way that they sounded when you wore them above your clothing.
I feel that dogtags are a representation of who you are, in the sense that they classify you, your name, birthday, blood type, etc. I wanted to print the message of LEMON "NOT DEFINED BY FLAW" on these tags because it allows people to feel connected with the message as a whole, rather than be identified individually. A group mindset, a community.
The tactile sensation of the tags in your hands and against your chest, it's a great feeling. The sounds it resonates with the movement you make, it's all part of the experience. The way that you can pull them out of the pouch, these are all elements that I considered very closely. I wanted people to feel like I had back when he had given me those tags, and a hat. It wasn't about what they represented, it was the trust and bond that it created.
DEC 21 2021 -
WELCOME TO CAMP LEMON
CAMP LEMON came into my head a while back when I was talking to my aunt Monique about what I wanted to do with the brand next. It was definitely t-shirts. Summer was coming up, I wanted something that people could wear and connect with even further than the tags, but what to create?
Then it became incredibly obvious. One of my childhood obsessions — Percy Jackson, Camp Half-Blood. It represented a very similar idea to what I'm trying to create with LEMON. The community, a place of misfits, a place where anyone is welcome. The camp that I wanted to create would grow overtime, but for now it was a group of close friends. My friend G was generous to let me shoot this shot in his backyard, which just happened to match the exact vision of the poster I wanted to create, featuring Cesar, G, and Leo.
The collection was an amalgamation of three ideas — Percy Jackson's Camp Half-Blood, Gravity Falls, and my memories from being in the Cub Scouts as a kid. That's where the patches came from, and the pine tree that's split in half on the tees and the patches. The bracelets were something that I had in my mind for a long time as well, something about those silicone bands you used to get as a kid in school, that I wanted to recreate. Something that didn't need to be taken off, that could be showered with -- and it turns out that's how it worked out that way too. My therapist, close friends, and even my good friend/client that I do freelance media for all have worn the bracelet for days without removing it. Each with their own reason, but the bracelets say "NOT DEFINED BY FLAW" and I like to think it's a reminder to them, like it is to me, to not judge, to be patient, and to be kind.
APR 30 2022 - THE REIMAGINATION
It was a special day, the day that I was performing my first show at Mas More Better Skate Shop, opening up for 5 other talented bands. I was doing a live set, two of my songs off my next album that wasn’t out yet, and two off the album I just dropped last year. The night before, I had an epiphany, a moment of true clarity. I decided that LEMON had to be first and foremost a community based in generosity and love, which was my goal for the experience that it was for some time now.
As I developed my vision for CAMP LEMON, a lot of things changed. From my ability to calmly deal with mishaps in production, rather than getting upset, to my nature in how I brought together the small but growing group of LEMON to events that would allow everyone to socialize amongst fellow creative and kind individuals. It took nearly a year to fully develop and prepare a clothing drop for what I had established in my mind — a clothing brand. When the time came to drop, I was excited to see where it went, but the clear difference this time was I was in for a surprise. When no one bought the collection it made me ponder, “what had I done wrong? Was I not advertising it right? Was the community not interested.” In the end, I realized it was a sign, this was not the way that LEMON was intended to be taken.
On April 30th of 2022, the 1 year anniversary of Mas More Better Skate Shop, I gave away all of the collections.
Bands, kids, parents, friends, family. Everyone got the full collection. Dogtags, shirt, patch, stickers, ticket, bag. It was a special moment. Some of the skate shop kids wore it for my performance and we got to vibe in our attire. The looks on some of these kids faces when they got it, that’s the precious moments of life right there. All the gratitude that was shown, all the connections that were made, none of that could ever be replaced, and making money off it wouldn’t have felt right.
When the time came to close up “shop”, I realized this was the experience, the moment that I had been striving for. For so long I thought that LEMON could be a clothing brand, but really it was an idea, a community, a fleeting moment that would come and go. To not be defined by your flaws, to live in the moment, to connect with like-minded and kind-hearted people. This is what I wanted to create from the beginning I just wasn’t able to see how to execute it clearly.
LEMON used to be a clothing brand, now it’s a means of expression, and experience, but first and foremost a community of understanding, caring, loving, loyal, creative, inspiring friends, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
If you want to be part of this community, feel free to connect with us on any social media, and the events will be coming soon.
You can find all the links below.
Not Defined By Flaw