Introducing C. Harvey: Entrepreneur and Visual Artist
The Rai Report interviews C. Harvey on her passion, her purpose, and her career as a multifaceted artist and creator of streetwear brand Generation of Dreamers.
Interview by Alexis Rai Gaynor, Editor-in-Chief of The Rai Report
C. Harvey is a self taught visual artist and emerging entrepreneur from Baltimore, Maryland. In 2010 she launched Generation of Dreamers, a streetwear apparel brand that went on to be featured in boutiques in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, the UK, and Japan within 3 years. She is also the founder of Baltimore's Gifted, an art & ecommerce initiative that provides retail platforms for black youth to showcase and sell original art and apparel.
Her work in social innovation has earned her the 2017-2018 Social Innovator of the Year award, presented by Light City and she is currently a Red Bull Amaphiko fellow.
Hi C., thank you for interviewing with The Rai Report. I wanted to interview you because I think that you use your life as a really awesome platform for personal growth and inspiration for other people to grow and express themselves freely.
You're very welcome.
Tell us more about who you are as a professional.
Some people say that I am an artist. I say that I am a creator and an entrepreneur. Some people call me a social entrepreneur or innovator. Everything is rooted in apparel, fashion, style, and art. Street art, hip hop culture, e-commerce. My life right now is a blend of all of those things and using them all to help the youth. I am ready to transition back into my dream which is my streetwear apparel company Generation of Dreamers, founded in 2010. That's been on my mind and my heart for a while. I finally have the opportunity and the space to do it so I am really happy to get back to my first startup [company]. Right now, Red Bull® Amaphiko is helping me develop a sister company to Generation of Dreamers to address vertical integration and manufacturing in the apparel industry so that we can really try a different type of innovation. We are working on something big so I am excited.
That's pretty cool. When I first met you, Generation of Dreamers was your focus at that time. It's been really cool to see how you've grown as an individual and expanded your brand into these other areas. I would love to hear more about Generation of Dreamers and how the concept began.
Generation of Dreamers began in Fall of 2008, living in Philadelphia. I got laid off. I was severely depressed. I was super drunk, that was when I used to drink, and I was talking with my friend and I remember that we were talking about our parents not understanding us and I blurted "They don't understand that we are a generation of dreamers". I didn't know what that would be but I knew it sounded slick as shit so I texted it to myself so that I wouldn't forget it. I wrote it down the next morning and it just stuck with me. Another weird night, I was watching a special on the Discovery channel about doppelgangers. I learned that two people who aren't related can look almost identical but no matter how identical they look, their fingerprints will never be close or the same. Something about that really infatuated me. There is literally no one that could ever be you. I took a sharpie, started drawing on my thumb, then started pressing my thumb print onto paper. The next day, I drew a drip. I didn't know what it would be. I was just in a very weird space. Like I said, I was laid off and I wasn't finding any work so I had to move back to Baltimore. I told myself that if I had to move back to Baltimore, it would not be just for a 9-5 [job]. My soul was telling me that I had a gift so I started Generation of Dreamers and decided to see where it would go. I was unpacking all of my stuff from boxes and I came across the thumbprint with the drip and I was like "That's it. Generation of Dreamers and THIS is the logo." I copyrighted it and incorporated the LLC in 2010. Within the first three years of being in business, Generation of Dreamers secured two retail accounts in Japan, one in the UK, one in the UK, one in LA, New York, Boston, two in Baltimore, and was a vendor at Venue Tradeshow in 2014 and Bank Sale Clothing Expo in 2017.
That is impressive. I love your logo so thank you for sharing the story of its conception.
What are three things that you do every day that are non-negotiable to set yourself up for success?
The first thing that I do when I wake up is say "I am grateful" outloud. I try to tell myself one encouraging thing at the very start of every day because I can think negative so I make sure to compliment myself about something every day. The third thing is to be mindful of the decisions that I am making. Either it's bringing me toward my goal or taking me away from it. It's the small decisions that can lead to a big opportunity.
You definitely have to be grateful and mindful. You hit points that everyone should understand about self care and success. Positive and encouraging self affirmations are different for everyone so whatever makes you feel like your best self, remind yourself of it as constant as you can because your subconscious always registers it and is always ready to take on the information that you have to give to it.
What's been your favorite project to work on thus far?
My art collection.That was the start of healing and self-therapy. That's what helped put me back on the map and started to elevate my career to the next level. My first and only, so far.
What's been the most memorable moment of your career?
The Red Bull Amaphiko Academy, which just happened about two or three weeks ago. It was very groundbreaking for me in a way that I never imagined and I am so glad that it happened. I am still digesting the experience. Everyone was crying and hugging for like ten days. That was the safest environment that I've ever been in, the most supportive environment I've ever been in in my entire life. Everyone was having breakthroughs. Everyone was genuine. I've never felt love like that. It's an eighteen month fellowship so it's not a come and go thing, this is real work. I think it's life changing. It hasn't changed my life just yet but I definitely feel excited about whatever is to come.
Wow. I love that. You're so eloquent. I love the way that you describe stuff. I can tell that you're an artist.
What was your dream career as a young girl?
As a young girl, I wanted to be a professional BMX bike rider or a scientist. That's really all I wanted to be until my senior year of high school, then reality hit that it wasn't going to happen.
I have a friend who is a professional biker so I can link you with him if you ever really want to explore that space.
I will. This Spring, it's my mission.
What's the greatest piece of advice that you've ever received from another woman?
Honestly, I just started to have women around me in that capacity. I do not really have that many women around. I think it would be April Walker and Shanti Das who basically told me to stop thinking that I would continue to have problems in my industry or with men because I am a different type of woman or a masculine woman. Stop thinking that I am different and know that I am unique and remember that there is space for someone like me. Just embrace and own who I am on every single level.
That is beautiful advice. One of the main reasons that we started The Rai Report was to show women and girls different examples of all types of women so that you can find your reflection and have that inspiration to follow your dreams and give you the hope to go on in achieving your success. That's what I genuinely love about life. I know so many successful people but it's different types of success in different spaces and it's all based on personal definition and intention. It's so important to understand your own definition and intention for yourself because it helps to clarify the experience that you have. It helps you to understand your experience better because you have an understanding, the comfortability, and the confidence within you and the parts of you that you know. Seeing yourself in other people helps you to love yourself more. It's apart of The Rai Report ethos to be mindful of who you are and what you have to bring to the table. We all have different powers. We are all great at different things.
Excuse my rant. (both laughs)
Who is your female role model?
My grandmother, Yvonne Harvey.
Where do you see your career going next?
I see my career moving toward more detailed apparel design and manufacturing. I am also about to get back into product design so I am really about to take my design artistry to the next level. I am really inspired now and I am about to let all of my ideas go now. There is no point in holding on to stuff, you have to put it out.
What's your end goal for your career?
This isn't really a career for me. This is my life and my purpose. There is really nothing else that I would be doing besides this. I want to turn Generation of Dreamers over to my youth to run. I don't want to sell the company. I do want to build my schools. The way that I feel about education right now, I will probably go to law school when I am older to get a law degree and sue the city's school system.
What's the most valuable lesson that you have learned in your career so far?
You need to be patient with yourself and be patient with other people. And, you can't take a step without the Creator.
What advice would you give young women looking to grow a career as an artist?
Make sure that you are actually bringing something new to the scene. I see a lot of women coming in and doing dainty shit because it's cute but it doesn't really add anything to the culture. It doesn't add anything to the legacy of streetwear brands like FUBU, Karl Kani, Rocawear, Cross Colors, and Starter. You've got to be undeniable.
Do you consider yourself a leader?
No. That's something that I struggle with. People say that I am. I don't consider myself a leader. I get creeped out when people follow behind me because I have designed my life to take pretty big risks so I get nervous for other people to follow my lead.
What purpose or passion fuels you?
My purpose is the fuel. My soul is the purpose and is the fuel. My soul understands that I am here [in the physical world] and this is a vessel and experience that I need to fulfil my soul's journey. I am here for human potential. I just want to see what my maximum potential is in this world. I don't understand how people don't want to see what life would be if you took it to the max.
I love that answer. Now, we are about to get into the bonus questions. They're fun.
What's your life's theme song?
It would have to be Nas "Halftime". Or "Bodak Yellow"!
If you could have a conversation with any woman, dead or alive, who would it be?
It would be the first black woman on Earth, ever. I don't know if I would ask a question, I would just want to be in the presence of her.
What female, dead or alive, is your spirit mentor?
Harriet Tubman because she was actually making moves out here, taking risks. And Ida B Wells because we share the same birthday.
Three words to your younger self?
Patience, gratitude, and compassion.
Three words to your older self?
Love, love, and love.
Aw. It's been my pleasure to interview you, hear your thoughts, and pick your brain. I look forward to interviewing you again. You have so many amazing things going on. Thank you.
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