G-81 designs ready to blow up
Like the winged grenade on the logo, G-81 has seemingly exploded on the local and international scene and the brand is soaring.
What started on a small scale in Damien Snappah Gibson’s Bush Hall, St Michael home on August 2, 2010, has quickly penetrated the entertainment scene, in particular, and bigger things are happening by the day.
The name and logo are both tributes to Rosetta Gibson, who helped to give him life. It was in 1981 that Snappah was born into the Gibson family. Add them together and the answer is G-81.
The increasingly popular logo is of even greater importance to Snappah. It is highly explosive, but Snappah has a simple explanation.
“I don’t mean it in nuh violent way. It’s because my mum is de bomb . . . . She is de cause ‘a me. That is where all my love is. And it flying because de sky is de limit,” he disclosed.
A fashion designer by profession, Rosetta is the person behind the Elegant Lady label. Snappah said she had been trying for a number of years to get him to follow her lead, and ultimately to make her proud some day.
“She always wanted me to do something with my art. Truthfully when she was telling me so, it was coming from a parent and it was in my rebellious years, so I didn’t really want to hear it. I wanted to use my art to sorta free me from the world’s stress, yuh know, instead of trying to mek money off it. But through doing other jobs I was never comfortable in the work,” the artist said.
Fortunately, Snappah had a printing press, which proved to be a launching pad when he met up with the guys at B-3 Image.
“They introduced me to some new materials . . . . So I did some experimenting,” he stated.
Having connections in the art and fashion industry helped tremendously, and the 2000-2002 art freestyle champ hit the road with his new G-81 line.
“Everybody wanted something original, and still classy at the same time, so I was able to provide them with the shirts they needed,” he explained.
It was Snappah’s fiery designs on Anderson Blood Armstrong’s costumes that lit up the stage at the bMobile International Soca Monarch competition last month in Trinidad.
Mia Mottley, the High Grade Band, Buggy, Danielle, Ronnie Morris, Vybz Kartel, Monga, Hotta Flames and other top names in entertainment wear the G-81 brand as well, and are part of the extended family.
Members of the immediate family are Celebrity Face, LRG, Mr Levii, Mysta Graham, Phantom Dundeal, Snappah, Horner Man (Capone) and G-81 Spice, who does all the designs for women.
T-shirts are the main deal, but Snappah is capable of doing anything that relates to graphics and art. He does posters, flyers, business cards, murals, and Snappah said he has never had any formal training in that area.
He is full of praise for established artist and close friend Danny Reid, who designed the awards that are presented at the Barbados Music Awards.
“He is who introduced me to this programme and give me the foundation on how to work the tools. And in a matter of two weeks when he came back. His exact words to me were ‘Snappah, you is a idiot’. In a matter of two weeks, I had enough production out to supply male and female with shirts and was starting to do posters . . . .He was very important in my movement,” Snappah said.
Another important influence was Mottley, who they said “pointed us in the right direction”.
“I thank the public for embracing me in everything I do, from the posters – I pon every paling and every wall and every pole,” he said matter-of-factly.
He recently started to print posters on shirts, and said the additional exposure had done a lot for business.
“G-81 is filtering its way through the different sources in Barbados . . .from country to town,” he said.
Stephen Capone Bennett quit his regular job recently to focus on the marketing and business element of the G-81 brand.
The plan is to establish branches of the family in 81 different countries. The guys in G-81 were recently assigned as brand ambassadors for one of the leading companies in Barbados.
Their biggest project to date is the contract with FAS Entertainment. The brand will be featured at the Digicel Barbados Reggae Festival, which gets under way on April 25.
Not only will the gear be visible, but the artistes will be out in force. Members will be performing at the Reggae Beach Party – the Bajan night – and Reggae on the Hill.
“Basically, we just looking to grow. We happy for any sort of help that we can get, because what we really need now is the infrastructure to build the business . . . to take it to another level. We need a printing press,” Bennett said, adding that a 150 shirts a day were done on the aged press.
“It just goes to show that the smallest bit of ummph you give G-81, we gine turn it into something massive,” he said confidently.
Justin Mr Levii Ramsay is known as the elf in the G-81 unit. He is the printer.
“G-81, the slogan is recreating life . . . . I would stay close to Snappah and anytime he down I got his back. He design, I pick the print, apply the print and I print the shirts until my shoulders get tired,” Mr Levii said.
“That is my twin brother. He think the same way I think. I can sleep and know that he gine get it covered the same way I want it done. It is rare to find somebody like that, that you can put almost your all in and just relax and know that dem gine cover it for you. So you know Mr Levii very important to G-81,” Snappah added.
Snappah had some words of advice from his heart and the G-81 family by extension.
“Stick in school and know everything that you can know. But secondly is try to do stuff that is independent. Try to be more original and innovative and Barbados and the world in turn would embrace the things that you do, rather than trying to follow somebody else’s train or whatever. Try and embrace something new, fresh and put yuh all into it and for sure, yuh gine succeed,” he said.
As the team looks to branch into new areas like mugs, shoes and other merchandise Snappah said he wanted to work with organisations Barbados Cancer Society, Verdun House and the like, to help them get their messages across in a new and creative way.
“I won’t charge dem, just give dem de designs, so that young people would feel a lot more comfortable in wearing, so that the message is spread a lot easier,” Snappah said.
The rocks in a river, never prevented the water from flowing, has emerged as the motto by which the family lives.
“We live by this everyday. Don’t care what stumbling blocks, we even try to remove other people stumbling blocks. . . . Once I ease somebody and maintain de process I feel good.