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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17 Empowering Bible Verses For Women

You go, girl.
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We all have those days where we let the negative thoughts that we're "not good enough," "not pretty enough" or "not smart enough" invade our minds. It's easy to lose hope in these situations and to feel like it would be easier to just give up. However, the Bible reminds us that these things that we tell ourselves are not true and it gives us the affirmations that we need. Let these verses give you the power and motivation that you're lacking.

1. Proverbs 31:25

"She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future."

2. Psalm 46:5

"God is within her, she will not fall."

3. Luke 1:45

"Blessed is she who believed that the Lord would fulfill His promises to her."

4. Proverbs 31:17

"She is energetic and strong, a hard worker."

5. Psalm 28:7

"The Lord is my strength and my shield."

6. Proverbs 11:16

"A gracious woman gains respect, but ruthless men gain only wealth."

7. Joshua 1:9

"Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

8. Proverbs 31:30

"Charm is deceptive, and beauty does not last; but a woman who fears the Lord will be greatly praised."

9. 1 Corinthians 15:10

"By the grace of God, I am what I am."

10. Proverbs 31:26

"When she speaks, her words are wise, and she gives instructions with kindness."

11. Psalm 139:14

"I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made."

12. 1 Peter 3:3-4

"Don't be concerned about the outward beauty of fancy hairstyles, expensive jewelry, or beautiful clothes. You should clothe yourselves instead with the beauty that comes from within, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is so precious to God."

13. Colossians 2:10

"And in Christ you have been brought to fullness."

14. 2 Timothy 1:7

"For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline."

15. Jeremiah 29:11

"'For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'"

16. Exodus 14:14

"The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm."

17. Song of Songs 4:7

"You are altogether beautiful, my darling, beautiful in every way."

Next time you're feeling discouraged or weak, come back to these verses and use them to give you the strength and power that you need to conquer your battles.

Cover Image Credit: Julia Waterbury

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My Roommate Dressed Me For A Week, And I Have Thoughts

Find you a roomie that will go through your closet to pick out your clothes for five days in a row.

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Since I'm a college student, I don't see a point in putting effort into choosing my outfit each day. My go-to outfit is a sweatshirt with ripped jeans and converse. Sometimes I'll wear a nice shirt with a cardigan, but that is rare.

So, when I was going through what I wanted to take back home (since I didn't wear them), I asked for my roommate's approval and she selected a handful of shirts to keep. Since I had gotten rid of half of my clothes, she thought it was a good idea for her to decide what I should wear since I wouldn't do it on my own. Not only was she right, but she actually did it.

For this challenge, I was able to pick out my undergarments, socks, and shoes. My roommate chose my shirt, pants, and accessories.

Monday

Christina Stover

Starting the week off, my roommate went with a nice sweater and jeans. I really like the sweater, I just haven't worn it since winter break. Within the first five minutes at my 8 a.m. class, I received a compliment. I thanked them and told her all about how she was picking out my clothes for the week. She laughed and thought that was funny. The sweater was a bit warm, but it was still nice to wear something that I usually wouldn't and get noticed for wearing something different.

Tuesday

Christina Stover

Tuesday was similar to Monday in the sense of a sweater and jeans. I got the sweater for Christmas a few years ago, and it really seems like the kind of thing to wear to church instead of a casual weekday outfit. I really love floral patterns, so I was instantly drawn to this sweater. It makes me feel like a confident adult and that is definitely appreciated. She also picked out the baby blue raindrop necklace in the picture, and it really complimented the darker colors in the sweater. And I wore a pair of jeans that didn't have rips in them for the first time in months.

Wednesday

Christina Stover

A little fancier on this hump day. Wearing a cute dark green shirt with a little knot at the bottom, a cardigan because it's short sleeves and casual leggings. The necklace is an outline of the world's continents. I definitely felt a lot dressier in this outfit as opposed to jeans and sweatshirts. My signature half-up-half-down hairdo pulled the whole outfit together. Again, this is something I would wear to church and not to class. But I think this also helped my confidence and allowed me to come out of my shell a little, which is always a good thing.

Thursday

Christina Stover

Wearing a crop top in winter is always a power move. I really loved this outfit because not only did it color coordinate, but it was super cute. I had an interview earlier this morning, so I had mascara on, and it made my eyes pop, which was great. And the Army-green button-up shirt really brought the whole outfit together. The shirt says, "Crazy plant lady." Which is exhibited by the pictures of plants on the shirt and the cactus and succulent tapestry in the background. I thought this was one of my favorite outfits, plus I always love an excuse to wear leggings.

Friday

Christina Stover

Today, she gave me a little break. I spent the weekend at home, and she gave me a simple long-sleeve that says "Bowling Green" on the back with a huge mandala design, and the iconic ripped jeans. I had an interview this day as well, so my makeup is done again, and I wore a translucent teardrop necklace. The outfit was comfortable and practical for a day of running errands and spending time with family. It has been a while since I've worn this shirt, as well, so I enjoyed spicing things up with such a bright shirt.

Overall, I think this was a fun and exciting little experiment. What started as an assumed joke, turned into a learning experience about myself and my clothing options. I'm not saying that I won't be wearing sweatshirts frequently, but I am saying that it's nice to have options for fancier outfits. Each day we would have a little photo shoot that was funny and extra, but another fun perk of doing this experiment.

Now, in order for this to come full circle, I need to go through her closet and pick out her clothes for a week. That's definitely something for me to look forward to.

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