Adam Khafif a college student and entrepreneur is making strides in the designer business, with Lis’n Up Clothing. He is not only a designer but a philanthropist,donating money to charities with every purchase. He has collaborated with NFL players to create odes to his Islamic faith. Mr. Khafif is definitely a mogul in the making. Here’s what he had to say.
Where are you from?
I’m from Saugus, MA, but hardly spend any time there. I went to high school in the heart of Back Bay in Boston, and spend most of my weekends around Roxbury, playing basketball or visiting the mosque there. I’m currently dorming in Wellesley at Babson College.
Where did the name of the clothing line originate?
First came the idea to have positive messages and donate to charity. The goal of this is to make people aware of what is going on around us, to listen to the messages. If you’ve ever tried to get the attention of a large group, you usually find yourself saying “Okay Listen Up!”. This is an attention grabber, and that’s pretty much where the name came from. My mom and dad helped me a lot with the name and they actually gave me the spelling: Lis’n Up.
Being a college student, how do you manage to balance your class work and Lis’n Up?
Class is a priority of course, but I’m lucky enough that my classes all end before the post office closes. So when I receive orders I’m still able to send them out before the end of the day. After class I do everything I need to do for Lis’n Up like sending orders, designing, ordering, planning our next trip etc. I do this until I’ve completed anything I need to for the day. After that, the rest of my night is for music, I mean…homework.
Have you ever considered getting your clothes sold in a store?
I am always thinking of getting my clothes into stores. I feel like that’s the next step to getting our brand out there. I have my line in one store in Jamaica Plain called Loud Accessories, and we were tried out in AWOL Boston. The shirt we gave them sold pretty quickly, so they’re going to give us a spot in the winter, God willing.
How would you describe your clothing?
I find it hard to describe it in one way. I’ve tried to call it urban or hip hop, but it’s deeper than that. I find it to be more unique, especially because of our conscious messages. You’ll find a lot of music in my designs, and a more modern look, but I’d describe it as being relevant. The message pertain to every situations and have an everyday look to them. Nothing too crazy that will scream for attention, but the designs have messages that are often opposite of what pop culture is trying to promote. My clothing promotes thinking and contemplation.
What are your biggest influences when it comes to making your clothes?
I think I’m influenced a lot by my parents, because they are also entrepreneurs, so I’ve seen what it’s like. As far as my designs, they are heavily influenced by music. I am always listening to music, when I’m designing, doing homework, etc. I’m even listening to music right now. I look specifically for conscious rap with positive messages, something that people can relate to. That’s where I get a lot of my ideas from. My dad also watches a lot of religious lectures, so some of the messages come from lessons he has learned from those.
I see you have Islamic sayings, are you Muslim? If so, how does that effect the clothes and how people wear them?
I am, and the designs with Islamic sayings are actually pretty exclusive. The FA:JR shirts are collaborations with two muslim NFL Players (Hamza and Hussain Abdullah). We’ve already sold out of three designs and we are on the fourth batch. The Empower Through Sports and Hijab shirt are collaborations with Ibtihaj Muhammad, a member of the US National Fencing team, so shout out to all of them for the support. I feel that religion helps keep me in check. I know that part of being a muslim, aside from the worship, is to help others and to promote good. It prevents me from making clothes that make no sense, or that do make sense, but in a negative way. It also keeps me ethical. Instead of a solely profit-driven business, I’m concerned with charity and where my products are coming from (sweatshops, child-labor, etc). In the end, we’re all going to be asked about everything we’ve done, so what’s the sense in promoting harmful and degrading messages
You contribute a lot of your revenue to charity, which are some of your favorite charities and why?
I don’t really think I have a favorite charity. I give people the option of where they want us to donate to. This gives their purchase a more personal feel. They are now donating to what they like, not what I choose for them. All the charities are unique in their own way. I tried to find charities of all different kinds, because a lot of people are connected to or touched by different foundations. One that I find really cool is the Ray Tye Foundation, which helps fund life-saving surgeries for people who can’t afford medical care.
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
In the next five years I would like to find Lis’n Up in many more stores, not only in Boston, but in the region. I also want to get a lot more site traffic. We’re doing alright in social media, with over 8,000 Twitter followers and over 2,700 Facebook likes, but I’d like those numbers to be seen in site visits as well. We’re getting there!
Continued success to Adam and Lis’n Up Clothing. Make sure you go check out the clothing at http://www.lisnupclothing.com.