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Endrow Metelus of Favela Boys Apparel Describes His Journey From Haiti to the US

From episode: Favela Boys Apparel: Empowering Underserved Communities Through Fashion and STEM

Can you share your story, the story behind your journey from Haiti to the United States and how your experience growing up in various communities have influenced your part? Obviously, I see that the focus of your organization is to try to change a conversation from the inner city being as it is portrayed out there in a positive light. Look at the illustration in the back of this shirt, of this t -shirt. This is really amazing. I love what you just said earlier. We're talking about this young man, for example, in the inner city. It's just to portray the environment, the mood in that very environment to tell a story, basically. Correct me if I am wrong, but while you're describing your journey from Haiti to the United States and how your experience in all this community has affected or influenced your view, your perspective to this point, can you please also integrate what I just shared, what you just shared about this young man, please? Correct. Pretty much born and raised in Haiti. I live in Port -au -Prince, the biggest city in Haiti. We live in Port -au -Prince. At some point, there was a coup d 'etat that happened. I ended up living in a farm for a couple of years. I've had that experience, living on a farm, 100 acres of land with mules, taking showers in the lake. Wait a minute. Why did you come to the United States, man? The coup d 'etat, the mules, everything, 100 acres. I live in a farm, doing the farmland, and I live in the city. Eventually, I was one of the lucky ones. Haiti, the life and experience of Haiti, there wasn't a lot of opportunity. I was one of the lucky ones to be able to migrate to the United States. The first place I landed was Brooklyn, Crown Heights back in the 90s, 96 to be exact. If anyone was in Brooklyn, not the Brooklyn of today, Brooklyn back in 96, you understand it wasn't the Brooklyn of today, the Brooklyn of gentrification Brooklyn that we know. I had to go ahead. I didn't speak any English. I had to learn the language. I had to learn the language. At the same time, I was also an outsider because it's so new to me, so I had to be outside trying to understand the culture as well, understand the culture, understand the language. Eventually, I moved to Queens, Hollis, Queens to be exact. Same thing, it's a whole different culture. Even though it's still New York, there's a different culture there. It's more residential, but still the inner city at the same time. Start to learn a little bit more English to communicate with friends, start making more friends because I can speak now instead of being, because when you don't speak English, you just analyze it. You're just observing because you don't speak the language. You can't communicate with other people unless they speak your language. It actually is a gift because you're just analyzing everything. You're just learning everything. You're just trying to understand everything. Then once you're able to communicate, now you start talking about music, films, and so on and so forth. Then eventually, when they hit 1999, I moved to the suburbs of Philadelphia, right outside of Philadelphia, right outside of the city. That was a shock as well because I'm going to school where, when I was in New York, some of the kids had the clothes, the fashion and everything, some of them. Most didn't. When you go to where I went to the suburbs, all the kids, they turned 16, they got brand new cars. It's true. They got Mercedes. Everybody's looking fresh. It was a whole different thing. It was very different. It was more focused on education. You talk about college, university. These are conversations. I didn't even know what college was when I was in New York. I didn't even know what high school was when I was in New York. When you go to the suburbs, that's the conversation you were having. That's the conversation. Is there a difference? There's a huge difference. Oh, really? A huge difference because when you're in the suburbs, the kids are talking about what college we're going to. What did you get in the SATs? That's the focus. The focus is that. Because most of the parents are white collar doctors, lawyers, or pretty much doing well. They wanted to make sure their kids have the skill set to continue that path moving forward. That's also all these things. From Haiti to New York, the inner city, to the suburbs. I had a taste of everything. It's so easy for me to get along with pretty much everyone. I'm able to do that over the world because I travel a lot as well. I love it. I love it being able to have all these different experiences. That's pretty much how I came with this whole clothing brand.

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