"I cross out words so you will see them more; the fact that they are obscured makes you want to read them."
- Jean-Michel Basquiat
My name is Adam Khafif, and I started Lisn Up Clothing in my junior year of high school in 2011. At the time, I had one goal: put something cool on my resume to impress colleges. I decided that teaching myself how to use Adobe Illustrator, and selling my video games to buy a screen printing machine was a good start. While I couldn't write that as a brand's mission statement, I decided that my next goals were to create high quality products that resonate with my values and to create a unique buying experience for supporters. Too many purchases are finished as soon as a customer clicks "Checkout" in their Cart. Lisn Up is here to change that.
Lisn Up is modeled after themes found in the music industry. The brand’s releases are called "Albums", and each design is a different "Track". Every purchase comes delivered in boom-box packaging and the look-books are printed out as CD booklets. To add to the experience, Lisn Up donates 50% of its profit to a charity of the customer's choice, making each purchase personal, significant, and unique.
The first Lisn Up shirt sold in May 2011--to my aunt. Since then however, the brand has come a long way; from traveling around the country selling at trade shows to working with artists and influencers on unique releases for charity. The first line was launched when I traveled cross-country to sell at the RIS Convention in Long Beach. Shortly after, two NFL Players, Hamza and Husain Abdullah reached out to work with us. By us, I mean my best friends and I who were traveling around the country slinging graphic tees. Together we created various designs encouraging kids to stay true to their faith and remain steadfast in prayer.
From there, the Lisn Up team embarked on road trips to sell at conventions in Washington DC (ISNA, twice), Toronto (RIS, twice) and Connecticut (ICNA). It was at one of these shows that the next collaboration took life with Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad. The collaboration focused on a series of women's empowerment designs, inspiring women and young girls around the world.
With a reputation building as being the socially conscious streetwear/lifestyle brand from the fashion-quiet city of Boston, Lisn Up landed a collaboration with hip-hop icon Lupe Fiasco. We worked together three summers in a row on designs dedicated to the holy month of Ramadan, with an urban twist.
Solidifying its status as the go-to for charitable clothing collaborations, we set off on our most ambitious collaboration yet. In January 2016, The Noor Effect was created with journalist Noor Tagouri. Stepping away from the typical roster of graphic tees, the collaboration consisted of shirts, beanies, caps and collectible, numbered varsity jackets. Not only did the line garner incredible support, but it was picked up by major outlets (see Press) and a tour was set up, hosting pop up shops in five cities across the country. The GIRL Tour, as it was called, started in Noor's home-state Maryland, visited Brooklyn and Long Island NY, made a stop in Dearborn, MI, and ended in Adam's home-state Massachusetts at the one and only Johnny Cupcakes on Newbury Street. It was the first time Johnny had ever hosted a pop up shop in his 10+ years at that location.
Lisn Up was featured as #5 on the top 10 startups to watch coming out of Babson College; the #1 school in the US for entrepreneurship. The brand has received countless press coverage all the while reinforcing a consistent message and commitment to quality. The Lisn Up team has come a long way and is working every day to continue making the experience one of a kind.