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Posted under: Opinion

Why I’m Carrying On My Brother’s Legacy Through The Black-Owned Business Of His Dreams

This is still very much Ahjanee’s clothing line and his vision. I am merely the vessel to bring it to the world.

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The unisex streetwear brand, STIX Unlimited, was originally established in 2010 by my brother, Ahjanee “Lemon” Arrington. I can remember like it was yesterday when he decided to start designing his own clothes. Ahjanee’s designs were unlike anything I’d ever seen. The clothes were not only based on looks, they were based on feel, too. One of his original designs, “STIX YZ,” features Braille writing for the blind.

But on December 21, 2019, my family and I lost Ahjanee to suicide at 24 years old — four days before Christmas. I knew my brother struggled with depression and would often be locked up in his room drawing and designing, but I never knew his sadness was at such a magnitude that he would want to take his own life. The funeral was packed with friends and family, people telling stories of my brother about a side of him that was so joyous, yet so tortured. People described him as a “light in a dark room,” “uniquely himself,” “the type of person that would give you his last” and “a true lover, supporter and friend.” The countless stories of people who spoke have stayed with me to this day.

One of the last things Ahjanee tweeted read, “each moment is a spec in a field of grass.” The thought stayed with me for months. This moment in time, I believe, is a defining moment in my life. I often replay the day I came home from work to my mother telling me the news, the late night cries, the support of friends and family stopping by every day, all the way until the funeral, where it finally “hit” and felt real, not like a nightmare anymore.

At the top of the New Year my mother, Vanessa, and I decided that his name, his designs and his legacy should be shared with the world. We knew we were going to re-launch STIX Unlimited this year in his honor and keep going for the long haul. We hacked into his password protected computer and downloaded his hundreds of designs. We picked out some favorites and decided we would start the line with tees, hoodies and hats.

The journey to our launch on April 25 presented no shortage of challenges for two people who never worked in fashion and design, producing an entire clothing line. The first of many challenges were the manufacturers. Either they were too slow for our liking or the quality would not live up to the many samples we had around the house of Lemon’s clothes. (In the last couple of years of his life he exclusively wore his own designs.) Next were finances. My mom and I  knew it would take money to produce the clothes, build a website, have a photoshoot and all of the other hidden costs we had no idea about. I took my tax return and stimulus check and my mom pulled from her savings to produce what we now know as STIX.

Ultimately, the hardest thing working against us was our own grief. There were some days when we didn’t have the energy to do the work. We would hold each other and cry and pray that Lemon would continue to guide us through the process. Kobe’s passing was hard, we took a major hit on our timetable due to COVID and sometimes we truly felt like we had no idea what we were doing. Through it all, I can honestly say that without our mother, Vanessa, STIX Unlimited would not have come together the way it did.

It’s been a few months since our launch and the support has been tremendous. There is not a day that goes by that I do not see support from someone in the form of a purchase, post or shoutout on social media. STIX proudly supports the Black Lives Matter Movement and is proud to say we are 100% Black-owned and 100% BIPOC manufactured. The movement pushing to support Black businesses has been inspiring for expanding our customer base.

Motivated to create a brand for all people to feel loved and included was the inspiration for the logo, which means “EVERYONE.” The logo was also designed by Ahjanee and is featured on every piece in the collection, including the best selling items, the “Everyone Hat” and the “Everyone Tee.”

Although Ahjanee is no longer physically with me, I feel his presence. He is guiding me through this journey and it brings me so much joy to see others support the brand. This is still very much Ahjanee’s clothing line and his vision. I am merely the vessel to bring it to the world.

For more information on the collection, visit our website at StixUnlimited.com. Follow on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @stixunlimited.

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