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The term “classic” does no justice for the adidas Superstar. In a culture near dominated by ever-shifting trends, the Three Stripes clad sneaker has proudly stood the test of time — its influence spanning a storied 50 years. From holding command over the basketball market in the early 70s to outfitting the legendary RUN DMC at the height of their career, the silhouette was nothing short of influential. Even in recent years, this rings true as the pair has gradually taken a new lease on life as a universally loved staple, simultaneously being hailed as a totem of the brand’s revitalized mantra: “Change is a team sport.”
Newly framed for its anniversary, the Superstar has enlisted notables the likes of Jonah Hill, NIGO, Blondey McCoy, Blackpink, and many others to its roster of game-changers, each doing their part to inspire the next generation. But as all of the aforementioned can be confidently considered a native of the spotlight, we found it more fitting to share the stories of the unsung: local heroes who have made an impact throughout New York City in their own ways. From the owner of a sequestered yet bustling coffee shop in the Lower East Side to a leather artisan making their dream a career, we were able to meet with a number of talented individuals who were also gracious enough to share insight on the change they need to make and how it shaped their success.
I had to strip away the career everyone expected me to have, self-reflect, and really decide how I wanted my career to look.
Rachel on building a her career from scratch
After graduating from University of North Carolina School of the Arts, I made the decision to relocate to NYC to begin my career as a dancer. Like many others, the biggest challenge I faced was the balance between making ends meet and pursuing my desires. I thought I knew, or at least had a good idea of, the career path I was hoping to take until Camille A. Brown, a dancer & choreographer I REALLY admired, advised me to throw out all my preconceived notions and go for every opportunity that presented itself – from commercial work, to choreography, performing, theater, teaching, and all the things that encompass a dance career. Camille said to me, “you have to define what success means to you”. That really stuck, but it still took years to fully make this mental shift. I had to strip away the career everyone expected me to have, self-reflect, and really decide how I wanted my career to look—one that I could look back on and be proud of.
When I finally got the courage to start Blue Morph Collective in early 2016, I realized I was making a career decision that not only effected and brought life and joy to myself, but also to those that performed in the collective. Sometimes the needs and desires in our own hearts are actually fulfilled by fulfilling the needs, desires and dreams of others. I believe you know, “this is it!” when the place you inhabit and call home inspire and feed others just as much as you are inspired and fed!
I’m so grateful that I did not fall into the “traditional dance career life”, and courageously followed my desire to tell to heal the world, including myself, by storytelling through dance. It’s a bold statement to make, but I believe it; and I believe it’s happening, even as we speak.
If things don’t work out the way you wished for, you might want to reevaluate what you believe – what you consider as truth starting from the beginning.
Ockyeon on adjusting his approach behind creating a product
I still have a long way to go to truly consider myself successful, but if I had to mention the biggest change I had to make to contribute to my growth, it would be the adjustment of my approach in understanding the thought process of how a person creates a product. Studying the knowledge of a finished product is how I used to approach this, but I now focus on the process of the phenomenon behind a creation. For example, I would simply serve “cappuccino” as a part of the coffee menu, but as I opened doors to my cafe Round K, I started to concentrate more on the question “What is a Cappuccino?” I realized that historically how long the cappuccino had been serve, and based on what I learned about its history, I was able interpret it in my own to create one of our signature menu items – the “Egg Cappuccino.”
So, in the past, I would approach a problem as it is on the surface, but the biggest change and adjustment I made for myself was that I started to identify and question the core of a problem. My advice for the younger audience is, if things don’t work out the way you wished for, you might want to reevaluate what you believe – what you consider as truth starting from the beginning.
The only constant is change. Lean in, because the only way forward is through it.
Beka on her embrace of change as she evolved as an artist
I’m from the suburbs of Pittsburgh, and grew up an only child in a conservative family. Moving to NYC at 18 was absolute culture shock, and looking back on those early years, all I see is constant change. I questioned everything I knew – my identity, beliefs, habits, etc. Kept some, changed most. Experimented a lot. I was always a creative, driven kid, but definitely never set out to be an artist. There was this one afternoon that’s always stuck with me – I was in my buddy Nick Forker’s studio, which was down the hall from mine, venting about the ebbs and flows of my art. He looked at me and told me to get on board with the marathon of life as an artist, that the highs and lows were something I needed to embrace. The first time I realized that I was an actual artist, someone had to tell me. But he was right, and there was another shift – I started thinking differently about my intentions and the life I saw for myself for the next few decades.
Being a working artist (where your income relies on your artistic output) means having the willingness to be adaptable but stubborn where it counts: meet the demands of your clients, but remain true to yourself and your vision in the process. Part of choosing a life of art for me meant getting sober, and letting go of the distractions I was facing by being mastered by substances. That was seven years ago, and I absolutely would not have the life I have now without that decision. There are other obstacles now – growing pains are hard, and I’m facing challenges that require thoughtful solutions. But it’s a lot easier without having to navigate active addiction on top of that. Change is inevitable, can be exciting or terrifying or both, can require acceptance or intervention. The only constant is change. Lean in, because the only way forward is through it.
You can follow Beka on Instagram here.
A solid network of friends makes change so much more enjoyable.
Filmore on the importance of community and a support system
For those of us that move to NYC from other places in the US, I think change is ultimately inevitable because this city is so unlike any other place in the country. So I think part of the success I’ve achieved was just learning to adapt and embrace the city for what it is, the good, bad, & ugly. But the number one factor in any success I’ve achieved here in NYC is the community of friends I’ve met at the church I now help lead called C3 NYC. There’s this sort of arrogance in a young 24 year that moves to NYC thinking he can take on the big city by himself but I was quickly humbled by the fact that maximizing my potential is actually connected to the kind of people I allow into my life.
I needed my friends to encourage me through disappoint and believe in me when I didn’t believe in my self. If I had any advice to a younger crowd regarding the change, it’d be don’t do change alone – make sure the community is solid. A solid network of friends makes change so much more enjoyable.
You can follow Filmore on Instagram here.
Change, progression, or success, if you are speaking in terms of career or recognition, requires assertiveness, persistence and being outside one’s comfort zone.
Steven on his reliance on hard work for his career
Speaking of change, I find it’s not something that people necessarily like or know how to do. Its human nature where we want to “belong” or “follow.” There isn’t anything wrong with that as you always hear that being yourself is what makes you the most happy and comfortable. Change, progression or success, if you are speaking in terms of career or recognition, requires assertiveness, persistence and being outside one’s comfort zone. I always tell my team that hard work is the easy part – anyone should be able to do it. That being said, I tend to stick to what I’m good at but simultaneously be adaptive and ready to evolve in today’s fast changing world. My boss, Chef Nobu Matsuhisa, had recently asked me, “how did you achieve success in what you do?” I told him that whenever I’m doing something, I only want to be the best at it – or else don’t do it.
You can follow Steven on Instagram here.