The phrase “product of my environment” is most often used when referring to negative behavior as a result of being raised in harsh conditions such as poverty and violence. The youth of Buffalo, NY are in no way strangers to these conditions, as the city has been mentioned as one of the poorest, most dangerous cities in the country. Justin “JuJu” Hawkins, the creator & owner of P.O.M.E. (Product of My Environment) clothing line embodies the idea that being the product of a negative environment does not limit you to the negative behaviors associated with it.
Juju is a remarkable representation of the message he wants to send to the public through his line P.O.M.E. Established in late 2012, Justin’s line is a way to use his artistic abilities to put out positive messages. Initially, he produced the clothing for himself because he wasn’t a fan of the new clothing trends that he found when shopping but as people saw his pieces, a demand was created for more. P.O.M.E. now produces everything from sweatpants to varsity jackets and prides itself on the fact that Juju can print on any garment brought to him. Justin often seeks inspiration in serene environments like the marina and gets ideas for designs by applying his unique perspective to things he sees
and experience in everyday life. He has created more than ten logos using those inspirations but has only released about half of them so far because he is holding some to make sure he has new releases for special events and holidays.
He’s constantly spreading the word about his brand through his participation in local events like the Young & Ambitious Magazine Launch Party and participating in this year’s Closet Freak Fashion Show at Canisius College in Buffalo. In addition to running his clothing line and completing school, JuJu works as a barber in a local barbershop and even cuts for some of the Buffalo Bills football players and hair show models while dressing them in his clothing as a way to maximize the exposure of all his talents. Justin takes great pride in signing his own checks and seeing the direct correlation between how his hard work turns into profit. It’s an incentive to work his hardest all the time. He says the best part of running his business is making his own hours because he isn’t a morning person and he struggles the most with learning to deal with the different unprofessional habits of others. Mr. Hawkins has recently expanded into a partnership hiring someone to handle a lot of the business aspects of his brand, including the inventory, paperwork, and website. Now that the website is up, his goal for the year is to increase his organizational skills and to continue to spread the word about his brand and the positive message behind it.
Ultimately he hopes to be able to provide P.O.M.E. apparel to people across the United States. Juju says his biggest accomplishment so far may not be much to other people but it has been his ability to inspire others. He says people contact him every day about the positive effect he has had on them. To better represent P.O.M.E. Justin has dedicated himself to projecting a positive image at all times. During his journey of self-improvement, he stopped drinking alcohol and spending time with anyone who might be a negative influence. He also stopped watching television and listening to the radio to make sure he is only receiving positive messages. In his spare time, he listens to Eric Thomas and Les Brown as often as possible for that positive push. Juju finds great pleasure in spreading those messages through motivational speaking. He speaks as often as he can to the youth, from toddlers at a daycare to athletes at his alma mater Hutch Tech High School. Justin's advice to others interested in starting a product line is “If you want to do, it just do it. There will be obstacles but they will make you better and if you really love it you won't let them stop you”.
You can look out for updates on the Product of My Environment Facebook page (POME716) and you can purchase P.O.M.E. clothing and order custom products at Pome716.com.
Video shot at Signature Cuts 2312 Main Street, Buffalo NY 14214