In late 2007, Baba. Afolabi (Founder) took a trip to Japan to visit his girlfriend at the time. While in Japan, he was amazed by the similarities between his African culture and the Japanese culture. During his visit, he participated in a few local activities including a soccer game at the Aoyama Park in Tokyo. Playing soccer made him realize a deeper cultural connection with the young Japanese at the park. As a result of his interest in world cultures, he developed the SuRu brand as a conduit to celebrate the similarities in different cultures across the world.
After spending some time in Tokyo, in 2007-2008, Baba introduced the SuRu brand in November 2009 by releasing cab driver hats and a few T-shirt designs. From then on, we worked hard at SuRu on brand development and product quality, as it is our top priority to present an impeccable, comfortable product that will last. In 2010, he had a serious futbol (soccer) injury that was so severe he was out of work for 8 months, living on temporary disability. According to Baba, it drove him nuts but yet fueled his passion to work even harder on SuRu. Through perseverance, he put his MBA education to work by completing a 35 page business plan (excluding the financials). He called it The SuRu Blueprint. He then diced it down to 29 pages (including financials) and he called it The Business Plan, then down to 8 pages and called it The Proposal.
Baba took the proposal to nearly all his friends with the hope of getting one of them to invest so he could revitalize the brand. He ended with two amazing friends that enabled us to produce our first top collection in 2012 and acquire a pop-up shop (temporary store) to sell them. It was overwhelming, as we got feedback from customers and fans, and people sending us photos of themselves wearing the product in different parts of the world.
Today, we have a new production model that will allow us to put our inner-city youth to work. But first, here is how it used to be; as a start-up apparel company, we were confined to buy from popular brands like American Apparel to place our graphics on their products to sell. We are now changing all that by producing our own blank apparels using our own fabric choices and sewing details from factories and shipping them to our location here in the San Francisco Bay Area, where we will do all the printing and embroidery work through local vendors. As we (SuRu) grow, we plan to invest our profits in assembling our own printing and embroidery machines and building a warehouse in the city of Oakland, CA. This will enable us to hire locally, supporting our local economy and igniting the inner-city workforce.
We believe this method will allow us to maintain a competitive price point; it will create a sustainable business in our community. We promise to ensure our workers both home and abroad are paid the legal minimum wage, maintain humane working conditions and balance a healthy work life.
Our ultimate goal is to make SuRu a global brand, support our local economy, and empower our inner-city youth workforce. We would like to give them the opportunity and platform to do something fun and develop careers for themselves.