Streetwear certainly has its ‘Meccas’ in California, with Fairfax Avenue in LA and the Haight Street in San Francisco. But, sometimes the best spots are where you’d least expect. Tucked in on the second floor of an unassuming shopping center in Artesia is Rooted, a fast-growing destination for streetwear, kicks, art, and culture here in the OC, run by a passionate team working to preserve the fundamental elements of hip hop and fashion. The shop’s buyer and marketing manager Eric Solidum’s goal is to ‘keep it rooted’ by integrating the team’s passion for streetwear, DJ-ing, art, and B-Boying into the store to feel less like a shop, and more like a landmark and hangout for the city.
The word is getting out about Rooted, and quickly too. Last year, the team collaborated on a t-shirt design to benefit those affected by Typhoon Haiyan, and the shirt’s release was so popular that it crashed their website, with orders coming in from all over the country. This is only one of the ways Eric and the team are reaching out though. While most shops in SoCal close before 9:00PM (or earlier), Rooted is open late, until 10:00PM Sunday through Thursday, and Midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, providing a whole new level of shopping convenience.
Then there’s the gear. In addition to carrying clutch pieces from brands like 10.DEEP, Stussy, Illest, SSUR, and Quintin, Rooted have teamed up with Bespoke Cut-And-Sew to offer a full headwear showroom in the shop, along with Footage, who run a rare sneaker consignment operation in-house too.
With so much greatness coming out of one place, we headed over to the shop to chop it up with Eric about his passion and drive, building the business, and keeping it rooted. Read on to find out all about it, and check out Rooted for more information.
(Eric surveying the massive headwear selection at Rooted)
HOW DID YOU GET STARTED WITH ROOTED, AND WHAT’S YOUR ROLE AT THE STORE?
I got approached by one of the main owners Albert as far as working on building up the shop. He had brought the shop over from Pomona after finishing school out there and then decided to bring it out here to the lovely world of Artesia. I had just come from another venture and was looking to stay in the fashion world. Luckily the opportunity arose where I was able to help out here as far as buying, forecasting the style and fashion, as far as what brands we want to carry. I deal a lot with the social media, I deal with buying for the shop. I can’t take full responsibility though, I’ve got the Sick Degrees team behind me, and we all pretty much share the load as far as getting the shop’s name out there, and what we believe in.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE SO FAR?
Biggest challenge I guess is probably the outreach, as far as just driving traffic into the shop. It’s been picking up a lot more now though, and people are starting to take notice that we’ve got a shop in Artesia and that we’ve got the brands people are looking for. For all new businesses, a main priority was definitely organization and deciding on the direction for the shop.
ROOTED KEEPS SOME PRETTY NON-TRADITIONAL STORE HOURS, HAS THAT BEEN WORKING FOR YOU GUYS?
Absolutely, I think just because the store hours aren’t typical they will tend to come here if they’re looking for gear to go out. It’s something we’re doing different here to cater to our customers and it’s working out well. In our area, there’s definitely a lot more traffic coming in later in the evening.
A COUPLE MONTHS AGO, YOU GUYS CREATED A T-SHIRT TO BENEFIT THOSE AFFECTED BY TYPHOON HAIYAN, AND THE RESPONSE WAS SO HUGE IT CRASHED YOUR SITE. HOW DID THAT PROJECT COME TO BE, AND WHAT WAS THAT EXPERIENCE LIKE?
We created the project for Typhoon Haiyan because the Rooted team is predominantly Filipino, so we wanted to do our best to give back to our own people, since we couldn’t actually be there to help. So, we felt it was best to create a platform within our realm to benefit them and that’s where we came up with the concept to use our logo with the roots and the Filipino sun to create a design and make a t-shirt, specifically to benefit those affected by the natural disaster. The experience was surreal, neither I or the rest of the team expected that we would get such a huge response to the point where it shut our website down. It was pretty amazing to see the response from people everywhere, no matter what race, or where they were from. We were definitely stoked to be able to do a service like that.
(Rooted’s Typhoon Haiyan Benefit tee)
WERE THE ORDERS PREDOMINANTLY LOCAL, OR DID THEY COME FROM EVERYWHERE?
A lot came from the West Coast, but we received orders from Indiana, to Michigan, to North Carolina, pretty much nationwide. Watching my phone blow up with orders and e-mails of purchases was crazy. It was amazing to see how much people cared, even without being directly affected by the typhoon.
ANY PROUD MOMENTS AT ROOTED YOU’D LIKE TO SHARE?
Every day I’m proud to be working at Rooted. Our team is definitely proud to be working and building this every day. We stand by our mission to ‘keep it rooted’ so we don’t lose focus in staying grounded and keeping it real. I feel like we’ve come a long way as a shop, and there’s always more to improve on, but it’s been awesome to be linked up with two prestigious brands, Bespoke and Footage.
(The Rooted/Sick Star Team)
(The Bespoke selection is HUGE)
(Footage’s selection of new and rare kicks is also extensive)
WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME EVENTS ROOTED HAS HELD?
With the ARTesia Project we wanted to provide a blank canvas for those to display their art on a monthly basis. It did really well, we had artists like Agapito Doronio III, we had Sick Star (Eugene from Rooted) showcase his photography here as well. We also had Angry Woebots, at the other location. He actually did a full-on mural of a Panda, and it was pretty damn amazing how fast he was able to throw that up. He finished it in less than an hour and it was pretty damn good.
We did another project on crate digging we called “45th and 33rd”, which we see as sort of a lost art in DJing. We had some reputable DJs like Rhettmatic, DJ Clutch, and Ike Check, come out, it was a cool event. It’s something we wanted to do to ‘keep it rooted’, bring it back to our roots. It was kind of like a beat swap meet in the city of Artesia.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR ROOTED IN 2014?
I hate to sound cliché, but we definitely have some big projects for 2014 that we’re in the process of ironing out that we have to keep under wraps for now. But, Dopamine36 will definitely be of the first to know. It’s going to be exciting as far as new brands in the shop though. Currently, we have our sights set on expanding in terms of offering more sophisticated gear, we do want to cater to those who have grown up in streetwear and are looking for a new style of gear. We definitely want to do more art events and in-store events, like the ARTesia Project. It’s fun to be able to curate stuff like that, all of us are fans of art.
Thanks to Eric and the humble team at Rooted for having us in the shop. Stay tuned for lots more from these guys, check them out on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and swing by the shop to see it all in person!
11688 South St. #202
Store hours: Mon-Thurs: 12p-10p Fri / Sat: 12p-12a Sun: 12p-8p