Marv Flores, owner of KINGMAN, designs notorious jerseys to which the reggae-rock scene is known to sport, and support. He originally founded and ran Selah Int’l Clothing Company, and due to unfortunate circumstances, had to re-establish his new brand KINGMAN Strictly Roots + Hi Grade Apparel. Since that transformation, he has added more to his collection than just jerseys, including a new womens line called Empress Collective, spearheaded by his wife, Lani. Flores is a firm believer in running his business with those he would call family, so he aims to keep those close to him within the culture, value and integrity of his clothing line.
Top Shelf Reggae was able to get in touch with Marv about the future of his clothing line and how far he plans to take it. Read on to find out more about KINGMAN Strictly Roots + Hi Grade Apparel.
The story appears to be that you and a former associate handled Selah Int’l Clothing together, and in recent times, you went your separate ways. Can you tell us if you believe that was a wise and necessary move?
Actually, my wife and I started Selah Int'l over six years ago and ran the business from scratch. The brand manifested from a combination that included my hobby of playing basketball, my love for Rastafari principles, and reggae music. Originally, I ran a couple jerseys for myself and friends with biblical verses, including those of Revelation 5, Numbers 6, Leviticus 21 etc. With my past history in the action-sports industry with companies such as IPath Footwear and Timberland, I ran music marketing and promotions for all kinds of events, including festivals and concerts. People used to always stop me and ask where I got my jerseys and I pretty much sold them right off my back. Then, using all our savings, which was not a lot, we created Selah Int'l. We found we could offer people a meaningful and high-quality product. From then on, it took off and turned into something my wife and I could never imagine. It turned into a movement rather than just a clothing company. In late 2013, we decided to take on a third party to help strengthen and spread the message onto a higher conscious level. Needless to say, that direction did not work out. My wife and I had a vision and an integrity to sustain, along with a mindset and culture we hold reverend. Unfortunately, not all parties were on the same page. With a heavy heart, we decided to completely sever ties from a dream that we had built, and start over with what and why we created the brand in the first place.
What will be the same and what will be different about KINGMAN Strictly Roots + Hi Grade Apparel?
The vision and mission stands firm and will remain the same. We still have an opportunity to use this company as a vehicle to be a voice, bridge gaps, be proud of our heritage and traditions, and unite people to share truths. It will have the same good vibes and “one love” culture. That's first and most important to this brand. As far as the product of designing jerseys, the branding is what I love! It has always come easy to me. But now, I am more focused with an elevated mindset. I know this company will come with more fire! We will still offer high quality Basketball, Football, Baseball, Hockey jerseys, while also expanding the line with t-shirts, button ups, hats, hoodies, backpacks, and accessories. My wife and I also have a new collection for women called EMPRESS COLLECTIVE. And, while we are doing that, we are also experimenting with higher end materials, different fabrics, and even looking into earth-conscientious eco-friendly materials – not just domestic, but international as well. We also hope to create jobs and opportunity. Our philanthropy is very important to us and is something we were not able to follow through with Selah. So, we are definitely looking forward to all of this!
Are you still finding genuine loyalty among friends and other associates? How do you know who to trust and not to trust?
Unfortunately, we had to find out that it can be a rough world out there. Kindness is often mistaken for weakness. However, we are very humbled to see the support and family vibes from those who are true friends and colleagues. There is a lot of love out there too! I think once you figure out who is real, and who is just along for the ride, the journey can continue onward. You learn that words could mean nothing, but action says everything. “Friends” stay with you through highs and lows…this has been proven. In all honestly, I have to say that we are thankful and truly blessed.
Recently, you were at the Shoreline Jam in Long Beach, California and had a tent… along with Selah Int’l Clothing Co. and other familiar companies. Was that awkward?
At first it did feel a little awkward. At the same time, my obligations are bigger than just being at a festival and selling products. Other companies will do what they do and have their own agendas, which I respect, but I don't worry about that. My energy is about sharing good vibes and building a positive company with substance. Shoreline Jam was definitely a great festival!
What is your advice to anyone who may have recently gone through a feud, or disagreement regarding former associations and possibly even friendships?
Honestly, that is a difficult question to answer. I really find it hard to separate “business” and “friendship/family”. Speaking from the heart, if you’re part of the team, then you automatically become family. I've lived in the corporate world, and sometimes, it can be too serious. Don't get me wrong, one still has to be accountable for all his or her actions, but life is way too short. I want to build a company where someone wants to be, where vibes are up-full and it doesn't feel like work, ya know! It is that “one love family” relationship. So, my best advice as far as business is to really think things through. Get advice from the people who will really have your back, and who will keep emotions at home. Most importantly, put everything in writing, even if it’s on a napkin. “Your word” may mean something completely different to someone else.
How much more is to come? What can your supporters expect next?
This year was just a small preview of what is in store. My wife and I have put a lot of time and effort in re-establishing, and made some good links along the way. We seem to have built a solid family around us. We're excited about the elevation and expansion of the line, and the collaborations ahead. We want to grow with conscious and like-minded people. In closing, I'd just like to give a big up and thanks to all of ya’ll who have supported the vibes throughout the years. It's only through you in how we are “us” and why we are “we”. Blessed love to our extended fam’! You are the ones that keep this fire burnin’. As it has been said, “WE are the ones we have been waiting for.” Forward ever….
Again, thank you for taking the time to let us know how you are doing and what continues to inspire your clothing line. We here at Top Shelf Reggae cannot wait to see what you have planned next after an incredible showcase of jerseys under the name, KINGMAN Strictly Roots + Hi Grade Apparel.