In late 2007, Baba. Afolabi (Founder) took a trip to Japan to visit his then-girlfriend. While there, he was amazed by the similarities between his Yoruba culture and the Japanese culture. He participated in some local activities, including a soccer game at Aoyama Park in Tokyo. Playing soccer made him realize a deeper cultural connection with the Japanese youth 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.
Baba. introduced the SuRu brand in November 2009 by releasing cab driver hats and a few T-shirt designs. Since then, we’ve worked hard on brand development and product quality. Our top priority is to offer an impeccable, comfortable product that will last.
In 2010, Baba. suffered a serious futbol injury that kept him out of work for 8 months and living on temporary disability. According to Baba, this drove him nuts, yet fueled his passion for the SuRu brand even more. With perseverance and determination, he put his MBA education to work by completing a 35 page business plan, which he called the SuRu Blueprint. He then got it down to 29 pages, and called it The Business Plan. Finally, he cut it down to 8 pages and called it simply, The Proposal. He took The Proposal to all of his friends with the hope of getting just one of them to invest so that he could revitalize the SuRu brand. With the support of 2 amazing friends, he was able to get the first top collection produced in 2012. He also acquired a pop-up shop in which to sell them. The feedback to the collection was overwhelming, with customers sending us photos of themselves wearing the product all over the world.
SuRu Business Model
We have a business model that will allow us to put inner-city youth to work. As a small start-up apparel company, we used to be limited to buying products from popular brands to place our graphics on. We are producing our own blank apparels using our fabric choices and sewing details from factories. We have them shipped to our location here in the San Francisco Bay Area, where we do all of the embroidery and printing work with local vendors.
As SuRu grows, we plan to invest our profits in assembling our own printing and embroidery machines and building a warehouse in Oakland, CA. This will enable us to hire locally, supporting our local economy and igniting the inner-city workforce.
We believe that this will allow us to maintain a competitive price point and create a sustainable business in our community. We promise to ensure that our workers, both here and abroad, are paid the legal minimum wage, have humane working conditions, and are able to balance a healthy work life.
Our goal is to make SuRu a global brand, support our local economy, and empower the inner-city workforce. We want to give them the opportunity and the platform to do something fun while developing a career for themselves.