Albany Teen Lands Business Deal With Retail-Powerhouse, "United Arrows," In Japan

Albany Teen Lands Business Deal With Retail-Powerhouse, "United Arrows," In Japan

Taofeek Abijako talks to me about his clothing design company, "HEAD OF STATE"
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“I can't even believe I’m alive right now."

Taofeek Abijako, an 18-year-old soccer player and entrepreneur from Albany, NY, tells me as he sits next to me on a bar-stool at the Daily Grind Coffee Shop dressed head to toe in clothing from his design company, "HEAD OF STATE."


While most 18-year-olds are planning their schedules or packing their bags for school, Abijako is taking a gap year to negotiate business deals with high end international retailers.

Founded in 2016, "HEAD OF STATE" features a combination of printed t-shirts manufactured in Pennsylvania, and threads Abijako hand-paints himself.

The concept behind the unisex design company was inspired by the song “Coffin for Head of State,” by Nigerian Afrobeat singer, Fela Kuti, which touches on the corruption of the church and government in Nigeria -- Abijako’s home for his first 11 years of life.

“There's a lot of issues going on lately with politics especially back in Nigeria," Abijako told me. "Fela, who's one of the biggest inspirations behind this... his song was focused on exposing corruption, calling out the government and all the messed up stuff that's going on back home, and I relate to that in so many ways.”

During his senior year of high school, Abijako left the soccer field to begin painting designs on converse sneakers and uploading pictures of the finished products on Instagram.

“The art was really his passion,” David Weiss, the varsity soccer coach at Albany High, Abijako's Alma Matter, told me, “Soccer was his hobby and art was his passion, and I just think it's wonderful at his age to find out what his passion is.”





After receiving many Instagram messages of individuals requesting customized sneakers with his designs, Abijako reached out to his fellow Albany High graduate, a film major at SUNY Albany, and crew member of “As You Are,” which premiered at the 2016 Sundance film festival, Aden Suchak, and began developing his brand, http://www.headofstateny.com.

Major streetwear blogs, like Hypebeast, and celebrities and the like began taking notice.

Amandla Stenberg, or “Rue” from the Hunger Games franchise, who was on the set of "As You Are" with Suchak and Abijako, can be seen rocking HEAD OF STATE shoes.

What began as painting geographic designs on converse and vans , ended in a discussion, only seven months after his initial post, between Abijako and a major Japanese retailer: United Arrows.


“In 10 years I expect Taofeek will be one of the most popular and sought after designers in the world, let alone the country,” Suchak told me, “I think he has the talent and certainly the motivation to get there.”

Suchak (left) and Abijako (right) posing for Abijako's Instagram back in October


The collection, described by Abijako as a “social commentary," utilizes simple colors and fits paired with hand-painted acrylic designs to produce sophisticated streetwear which could be described as a "crossover between the brand Supreme and the artwork of Bruce Gray."

Pat O'Connell, one of his teachers and mentors at Albany High says that upon a first impression he realized, “he knows what he wants to do and what he has to do to get there, which is very difficult for kids this age.”

“I want to focus on saying stuff without using words,” notes Abijako, and with his first major business deal since the birth of "HEAD OF STATE" being with United Arrows in Japan, he seems to be saying quite a lot.



All images courtesy of Taofeek Abijako

Cover Image Credit: Taofeek Abijako
Cover Image Credit: Taofeek Abijako
Cover Image Credit: Taofeek Abijako

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When You Give A Girl A Dad

You give her everything
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They say that any male can be a father, but it takes a special person to be a dad. That dads are just the people that created the child, so to speak, but rather, dads raise their children to be the best they can be. Further, when you give a little girl a dad, you give her much more than a father; you give her the world in one man.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a rock.

Life is tough, and life is constantly changing directions and route. In a world that's never not moving, a girl needs something stable. She needs something that won't let her be alone; someone that's going to be there when life is going great, and someone who is going to be there for her when life is everything but ideal. Dads don't give up on this daughters, they never will.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a role model.

If we never had someone to look up to, we would never have someone to strive to be. When you give a little girl someone to look up to, you give her someone to be. We copy their mannerisms, we copy their habits, and we copy their work ethic. Little girls need someone to show them the world, so that they can create their own.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her the first boy she will ever love.

And I'm not really sure someone will ever be better than him either. He's the first guy to take your heart, and every person you love after him is just a comparison to his endless, unmatchable love. He shows you your worth, and he shows you what your should be treated like: a princess.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her someone to make proud.

After every softball game, soccer tournament, cheerleading competition, etc., you can find every little girl looking up to their dads for their approval. Later in life, they look to their dad with their grades, internships, and little accomplishments. Dads are the reason we try so hard to be the best we can be. Dads raised us to be the very best at whatever we chose to do, and they were there to support you through everything. They are the hardest critics, but they are always your biggest fans.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a credit card.

It's completely true. Dads are the reason we have the things we have, thank the Lord. He's the best to shop with too, since he usually remains outside the store the entire time till he is summoned in to forge the bill. All seriousness, they always give their little girls more than they give themselves, and that's something we love so much about you.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a shoulder to cry on.

When you fell down and cut yourself, your mom looked at you and told you to suck it up. But your dad, on the other hand, got down on the ground with you, and he let you cry. Then later on, when you made a mistake, or broke up with a boy, or just got sad, he was there to dry your tears and tell you everything was going to be okay, especially when you thought the world was crashing down. He will always be there to tell you everything is going to be okay, even when they don't know if everything is going to be okay. That's his job.


When you give a girl a dad, you give her a lifelong best friend.

My dad was my first best friend, and he will be my last. He's stood by me when times got tough, he carried me when I just couldn't do it anymore, and he yelled at me when I deserved it; but the one thing he has never done was give up on me. He will always be the first person I tell good news to, and the last person I ever want to disappoint. He's everything I could ever want in a best friend and more.


Dads are something out of a fairytale. They are your prince charming, your knight in shinny amour, and your fairy godfather. Dads are the reasons we are the people we are today; something that a million "thank you"' will never be enough for.

Cover Image Credit: tristen duhon

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