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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20 Small Tattoos With Big Meanings

Tattoos with meaning you can't deny.
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It's tough to find perfect tattoos with meaning.

You probably want something permanent on your body to mean something deeply, but how do you choose a tattoo that will still be significant in 5, 10, 15, or 50 years? Over time, tattoos have lost much of their stigma and many people consider them a form of art, but it's still possible to get a tattoo you regret.

So here are 20 tattoos you can't go wrong with. Each tattoo has its own unique meaning, but don't blame me if you still have to deal with questions that everyone with a tattoo is tired of hearing!

SEE RELATED: "Please Stop Asking What My Tattoos Mean"

1. A semi-colon indicates a pause in a sentence but does not end. Sometimes it seems like you may have stopped, but you choose to continue on.


2. "A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor."


3. Top symbol: unclosed delta symbol which represents open to change. Bottom symbol: strategy.


4. "There are nights when the wolves are silent and only the moon howls."


5. Viking symbol meaning "create your own reality."


6.Greek symbol of Inguz: where there's a will, there's a way.

7. Psalm 18:33 "He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; he causes me to stand on the heights."


8. 'Ohm' tattoo that represents 4 different states of consciousness and a world of illusion: waking (jagrat), dreaming (swapna), deep sleep (sushupti), transcendental state (turiya) and world of illusion (maya)


9. Alchemy: symbolizes copper, means love, balance, feminine beauty and artistic creativity.


10. The Greek word “Meraki" means to do something with soul, passion, love and creativity or to put yourself in to whatever you do.


11. Malin (Skövde, Sweden) – you have to face setbacks to be able to go forward.

12. Symbol meaning "thief" from the Hobbit. It was the rune Gandalf etched into Bilbo's door so the dwarves could find his house.


13. “Lux in tenebris" means “light in darkness."

14. Anchor Tattoo: symbolizing strength & stability, something (or someone) who holds you in place, and provides you the strength to hold on no matter how rough things get.

15."Ad Maiora" is translated literally as “Towards greater things." It is a formula of greeting used to wish more success in life, career or love.


16. A glyphs means “explore." It was meant as a reminder for me to never stop exploring.

17. "Aut inveniam viam aut faciam," meaning roughly, "Either I shall find a way, or I will make one."


18. Lotus Flower. It grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flower's first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment.

19. The zen (or ensō) circle to me represents enlightenment, the universe & the strength we all have inside of us.

20. Two meanings. The moon affirms life. It looks as if it is constantly changing. Can reminds us of the inconsistency of life. It is also symbolizes the continuous circular nature of time and even karma.


SEE ALSO: Sorry That You're Offended, But I Won't Apologize For My Tattoos


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8 Fall Trends You'll See And Then Immediately Need

Plaid is in and you should wear it out.

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As the summer is starting to come to an end, even though it's still 90 degrees out and pumpkin spice everything is on the shelves, fashion is changing along with the seasons and I'm here to keep you updated.

Cher Horowitz Plaid

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This just might be my personal favorite fashion trend thus far because it's based on the best 90's movie Clueless. It's not just the infamous bright yellow plaid that models are struttin' but all sorts of colors from pink to beige. Fashion icons such as Michael Kors, Versace, and Christian Dior have put their models in this popular design. Before you say, "As if," give plaid a chance.

80s Look

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Ah yes, we are time traveling in the fashion industry and it is truly amazing. From the floral prints, acid wash, and oversized suits you will be so "vintage," and hoping that your mother still has some clothes from her golden years. (Tip: thrift shopping might be more beneficial for this trend, and cheaper.)

HOT PINK

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Hot pink shall work well with each and every one of you this fall. This vibrant color seems intimidating to some, but if Chanel and Alexander Wang say it's the HOT new style, then hey it's got to be true. Embrace the pink, and work it while carrying your pumpkin flavored coffee and donut.

Sexy Suits

YES, YES YES. Professional is meeting sexy and I am here for it, and so should all of you as well. Of course, just because this is called a suit does not mean that you should wear this to your 9-5 office job because then HR will get involved and that sounds time-consuming. Put on those tight dress pants and head to the bars.

Prairie Style Dresses

When I say "prairie," style I'm not talking about getting all dressed up to be called Laura Ingalls Wilder, but something similar. These dresses would definitely be frowned upon in the year 1870, but in 2018 we are more than accepting of these fashion pieces.

Oil Spill

This fabric will make you noticeable but in the best way possible. It gives off this holographic rainbow oil spill appearance, and yet that may sound unappealing, it's actually beautiful and fashion designer Antonio Berardi thinks so too.

Colored Lenses

Put those boring sunglasses down, and pick up a more vivid pair. Tis the season of tinted lenses and a brighter style.

Animal Print (fake please)

My middle school self is thriving because I was the queen of zebra print. Anything from giraffe, cheetah, or zebra print is in, so let your inner safari animal out this fall and follow Tom Ford's footsteps.


Hopefully, you have taken this all in and you are currently purging your closet and already have at least one plaid item in your online shopping cart. Happy fall, and dress accordingly.

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