Courtney Howells

The Dealer of THE DOPE GAME.

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THE DOPE GAME: "Smarten Up. Open the Market Up."

I'm Courtney Howells, founder and dealer of THE DOPE GAME apparel. With my brand's name being what it is and the content of this course coming from Biggie's "10 Crack Commandments", I had to sign up for this class. The fact that this is business (and personal) advice coming from one of my true inspirations was just plain old destiny.

Though we don't condone drug dealing either, the business model cannot be denied. Some drug dealers are essentially running "Fortune 500 companies". With this in mind, I have applied the crack commandments to my business before but it was interesting hearing Marc's interpretation of a few, like "Never get high, on your own supply." 

"The Dealer Drop" 2013

Jay-Z's "Blueprint" album is pretty much Dope Dealing 101 and my favorite music to work to. After taking this class, I decided to go back and re-analyze the track "U Don't Know".

On "U Don't Know" Jay says"

"And if somebody woulda told 'em that Hov' would sell clothin
Heh, not in this lifetime, wasn't in my right mind

Then

Smarten up, open the market up
One million, two million, three million, four
In eighteen months, eighty million more"

This means two things to me: 1) The obvious, not limiting yourself / brand. Don't be afraid to expand your assortment. Jay-Z opened his market to clothing and later sold Rocawear for $200 million.  2) Listen to GOOD advice ('Smarten Up'). I used to be very closed to any other ideas because of how passionate I am about my vision. I always figured that I knew better.

Like Marc, I began making custom t-shirts in high school for family & friends. After graduation in 2004, I started at LSU majoring in Fashion Merchanding. A bigger campus meant a bigger market and soon I could not keep up with demand. A friend of mine asked me had I ever thought about screen printing to produce larger quantities. I was against the idea at first because custom, one-of-a-kind, hand painted t-shirts were 'my thing'. What would distinguish my brand if I gave that up? After all, I was doing this 'for the love'. But soon that love started to fade due to the huge amount of work and little outcome. (1 week = 5 painted shirts) I gave in and decided to try a run of 25 shirts and they sold out the next day. 

Through more experiences like this, I've now learned to be more open ('Open the Market Up'). Creativity is an even exchange and the more you open yourself, the more ideas that you'll have. Your beginnings of an idea could be the final piece for someone else, and vice versa.

Winter 2011 Photoshoot

Custom DOPE T-shirt (2008)

**Bonus - I wasn't bullshitting about Ecko brand being THE reason why I began doing t-shirts. Here's a photo that I'd shared on Instagram a few months ago.

 

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