A&O Community Feature: Troy Douglass, Cultural Blends

If you are a fan of the Blazers or follow Snoop Dogg on Facebook*, you probably know of Cultural Blends. Their ‘1977’ Blazers hat and their ‘The Best Coast’ license plate & accessories have been gaining popularity for the past 6 years.

*Snoop Dogg reposted a photoshopped picture wearing “the Best Coast’ shirt on his social media which became the #1 most shared Facebook photo of 2015 with 36,000 shares.

Also on July 19th, Owner/Designer of Cultural Blends, Troy Douglass, was a featured panelist and vendor at our Native Creatives summer event. He created Cultural Blends to explore the concept that when you learn about other people’s cultures, commonalities will be found, and expressing those common ties strengthens humanity.

He is just starting his journey as a business owner and apparel designer, learning about his own ethnic and cultural history and uncovering the products to express that journey. During the panel discussion we got to hear a little bit about this journey. But we were eager to learn more about him, Cultural Blends and his inspiration:

Photo by @iamirvine at Native Creatives

What do you love about your job?

I love the freedom of creating products to express certain feelings and/or perspectives I have on something, or the experiences I’ve been through. I absolutely enjoy the process of creating a product: from brainstorming, the initial “Aha!” moment, presenting the idea to the market for feedback, all the necessary steps to manufacture and price the product, trying my best to strategically market the product, then finally, and the most rewarding, seeing people actually like your product, and hopefully buy your product.

What are some of the challenges of running your own company?

There are so many challenges, it’s very hard to single out the most challenging! One that is coming to mind right now is: saying no to my friends. A lot of my personal life has been sacrificed, and has to continue to be sacrificed in order to ensure continued growth. Since inception, I’ve always found it difficult to balance a personal life with growing the business. In the past year, I’ve been more focused than ever before, and it has been fruitful.

Photo by @iamirvine at Native Creatives

How do you go about developing or producing your products?

It all starts with coffee; a 12oz cold brew to be exact. For me, developing products stems just as much from formal brainstorm sessions, as strokes of inspiration pulled from the subconscious while running errands around the city.

For inspiration, I like reading, or watching videos of people speaking about how they made it to the point in their career they’re at, the hardships they overcame, and the behind-the-scenes strategies they employed. I’m inspired by their honesty about the mistakes they made along the way, and the successful moments that caught them by surprise.

What is your big vision for the company? 

In the next two years, hopefully Cultural Blends products will be carried in 250+ retail locations. Another goal is to establish the brand in customer’s minds. Currently, many people know certain products that have been successful, but don’t understand the brand’s essence.

In the longer term, I’d like to establish other brands and create new products that appeal to different market segments. But Cultural Blends will always be there.

What do you find challenging/rewarding of having a company based in Portland?

I enjoy having my company based in Portland because this is where I’m from. I grew up in the area, and a good part of my ancestry is tied to the land that is now called Portland. I feel proud to build my brand here.

Portland is also an undeniable hub, big companies have been started here or have migrated here. Yet, Portland manages to retain more of a local vibe than other big cities. There is more willingness to help one another, and seemingly less cutthroat competition.

Photo by @iamirvine at Native Creatives

What advice would you give someone looking to start their own company or product line?

Be authentic with yourself. Start with a strong “WHY”. Have a strong reason for doing what you’re about to do. The stronger the “WHY” the easier it will be to push through adversity when it inevitably strikes.

Want to be featured? Have a new product or launch to promote? 

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