Bad to the Bone
The Good Company is that downtown spot—and they have the threads to prove it.
Photos by Keith Morrison
“I don’t like streetwear that much to be honest with you,” says The Good Company co-owner Kumasi Sadiki, 29. He’s wearing a sturdy forest camouflage jacket with unfamiliar construction from his own label Freed Minds that predates Good Company’s brick and mortar store. It’s Friday, and Sadiki is sitting in the front window of the shop overlooking Allen Street. The inconsistent pop of party balloons bursts from a promotional video shoot that’s being made in the store. Each pop invariably scares the shit out of everyone in earshot, although the team has been at it for twenty minutes or so. “Streetwear to me is a corny term,” he continues. “I see it as artistic entrepreneurship. It’s just a medium, like zines, to get a quick and relevant message across. If you can do that consistently, then you have a brand.”
Recently, the store has collaborated with artists ranging from Whitney Biennial showing Bjarne Melgaard (embroidered duffle bags) to Washington D.C. rapper Yung Gleesh (hard plastic water bottles), but the store’s genesis dates back to November 17, 2012.
Kumasi says he remembers this date clearly, not because he’s so enamored with his store, but because of a court date he had a month previous. “I’d never had so much money taken from me at once, man. Never go to Maryland.” Quinn Arneson, Kumasi’s business partner, interrupts the thought with a status update. He’s been filming the balloon bits on his phone and he shows Kumasi the fully edited video: Every time their intern Esteban pops a balloon, his Good Company shirt changes color.
Sadiki nods in approval of the video just as sometimes-employee and always-friend John Price (aka JP) bursts into the store. First, he sucks in the familiar surroundings–the sparse assortment of T’s, hoodies, hats, acrylic pins, and a diverse wall of zines plus the colorful wall and ceiling cartoon painting by Texas-born, New York-based artist Josh Maupin, aka Lil Kool. Kumasi and John then begin dissecting Fabolous’ video for his single “Lituation.” Both agree the song is strong, but the video deserves further analysis. With Kumasi hailing from Portland and JP from Austin, Texas, it’s interesting to watch them digest one of NYC’s most prominent crossovers.
No sooner has a pseudo-verdict been reached on Loso’s latest when the conversation unexpectedly turns to boxer shorts. It takes a minute for The Good Company founders to fall back in synch, but they wholeheartedly agree on producing boxers in the next few months. “This dude can make anything,” Kumasi explains, motioning out the door and even further East to a nameless neighborhood garment manufacturer. “The minimum order is 12, so there’s no pressure or anything, you just do it.”
“We try to but we don’t,” begins Kumasi on the topic of following the garment industry standard quarterly cycle. “The money is in the seasons, and it’s a commitment; you have to design whole collections. We’ve done both. We’re about to drop a fall/winter collection, but it’s the middle of winter! He then laments, smiling, “Usually for us quick strikes are the way to go. Make a shirt in a timely manner, and it’s good, it’ll sell. As a young brand, that’s the only advantage. Everyone else planned their shit out at the top of the quarter, but we get to react to how someone feels right now. It’s just a t-shirt, that’s what you’re supposed to do.”
Just as things risk getting a little too focused, JP quietly puts Ja Rule on back to back with Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz 1999 hit “Déjà Vu (Uptown Baby)” then smoothly transitions into an all DJ Screw marathon. Music is key to the Good Company vibe, and they’ve been running Muddguts radio out of the front of the store on the regular. “Blunt Guts” (Kumasi and JP’s show) had already been on for a few months when the Muddguts gallery shut down. Lele Saveri, co-owner of Muddguts and overseer of 8ball Fanzines, reflects, “I went over [to Good Company] to hang for a bit, saw the kids hanging, someone getting tattooed, (Matt ‘ManFace’ McCormick and JP both occasionally tattoo out of the store) people were reading zines, someone else was doodling in a sketch book…I realized it was the perfect spot.”
JP helms the computer and Kumasi paces the store, looking after the kids, and checking in with Quinn’s filming. Quinn, for his part, is the calmer of the two, which is saying something, in that no one would accuse Kumasi of being high strung. He directs Esteban to position the next balloon in a way that doesn’t block out the chest print. It’s business as usual here, and the place is half full of young guys pitching in. This youthful sweat is essential to the Good Company DNA. The store is owned by two people that aren’t 30 yet, and has already been going strong for two years.
As the day comes to an end, the gate comes crashing down, and the crew gathers behind the main computer. Someone turns and says; “Wanna see the Japanese OG Maco? He sucks.” The song starts…and it’s terrible. Everyone chimes in to add their own two cents. Orders are piled high on the table, ready to ship early the next day and everyone’s smiling…