The collective CornerStore, like many of the things that have changed the world today, was drummed up in a student’s room in December 2015.
With the aim of uplifting communities, and bringing young creatives together, KO (@potentKO), Prince(@prxnce), Nana (@potentGYFT) Ugo (@Ugothegreatest) and Obi (@obiaura) – friends or should we say more like brothers are some of the hottest creatives out right now between them having over 10,000 followers of Instagram, expressing their talents such as modeling, styling, videography, photography, graphic design, and producing.
CornerStore had a successful debut at S X SW (one of the US’s largest music festival). Whilst they admit there is no secret formula to success, they have credited their success so far to a range of factors including hard work, their compatibility, their culture, coming from African backgrounds, this is what helped to influence a lot of their craft. They also claim to owe success to being genuine, and not just making noise, but having a beneficial and lasting effect with lots of positive energy.
CornerStore’s first three US events were free, to gain the trust of their “family” and because they felt it was worth sacrificing the short-term dollar to build their culture. Since Inception, CornerStore has enjoyed incredible success, leading to one of their events being sponsored by Arizona drinks and have enjoyed incredible turn outs. However this year they wanted to expand and crossed over the land to come and make their mark on London Town, another city with lot’s of culture, diversity and creatives.
Ugo and KO payed a visit to London the summer before and become enamoured with the scene. When the guys were asked why it was important to do something internationally so early on in the development of their brand they responded saying: “We come from a city people don’t really make it out of – in order to make some true noise you have to leave and come back… it is not conducive for growth.”
As all the CornerStore team followed eachother to come to the UK the London crowd came out to support their movement.
From artists like Berna (@oneberna), Lancey Foux (@lanceyfouxx), Ama Jones, LeanLiving, Lucid1800, Dayge (@_Dagye) and BevLdn, to DJ Selecta Suave, and some of London’s favourite up and coming designers like Collide or Fail by Leslie (@praytoleslie) and NOTHING by jai Eleven (@apexjai, @jaielevenstudio). The event was an open mic on speed, and a showcase with a twist. CornerStore sets itself apart by adding value to the typical paid for concert, by creating a culture of networking, whether you meet your future collaborator, the photographer you’ve always needed or the producer you always wanted to work with. These events are a platform for young creatives to connect and get the respect and recognition they need, as much as they are performances or showcases.
I didn’t know what to expect upon arrival, but as soon as I walked through the door with my friends we were given a warm welcome by all the team, and I could already see what the whole buzz was about.
What I loved most about this event was that it stayed true to the aim, of creating value for it’s audience. It wasn’t about the team being eager to take my money for the event to let me through the door, the organisers warmth and care about whether we were having a good time was very assuring. They took time to go around the room and make everyone feel special for coming out. For CornerStore, every event is about giving you somewhere not just to watch a performance alongside strangers but sharing an experience and becoming a network. The aim is to put people (creatives) who maybe would never be in the same room together, and connect them. And CornerStore did so much more than anyone was expecting. I’m sure this event has led to multiple businessess opportunities for the next time their in London.
Like many other Londoners I know living in London is never seen as that exciting so I wanted to really find out, what made these young men leave their hometown Dallas, Texas to come to my city?So why London I asked? “I guess because you live in it, you guys don’t think much of it (it being London’s underground music, creatives scene and culture), but from where we are it’s beautiful and we wanted to come experience that”. Irony is many of us Londoners probably feel similarly about the US’s underground music scene. “Absolutely, for everyone it feels like the grass is always greener on the other side, and that’s why you should go where you are celebrated not tolerated”. Ugo and KO’s initial trip, also helped them build a network here and started the team’s fascination with grime and UK rap, which for the team was “…reminiscent of the 90s hip-hop culture. “We love the culture, the slang, the melting pot, we’ve been taking it in for a while especially since the visit”.
Seeing these two cultures fuse together was unforgettable and it was done in the most casual and unforced way. We could all appreciate exactly how global music, fashion and art is, and see the influences of both cultures on each other, and why it is so easy to appreciate and celebrate both scenes. People mingled, artists took the mic, and the audience circled around them, no stages, no VIP, no barriers, everyone was on the same level and united. Everything about the event echoed openness, good vibes and the sense that talent was welcome, and did not need fancy packaging. I honestly am very happy I could be a part of something like this.
So what’s next for the guys of CornerStore? Will we be seeing them again soon? Well i’m sure they’ve had a great time here, but they have to go back to their hometown and keep the momentum happening there.
CornerStore’s next event is on August 11th in Dallas you can get tickets here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/cornerstore-dallas-tickets-36360676763
After that they plan to take on other booming cities such as New York, LA, Seattle, Toronto and even Atlanta. I think the most important thing to remember here is that this all exists off the back of these young men’s efforts, self-belief and investing in their dreams. There were no rich investors, no handouts and no ready-made connections. As it was perfectly put to me by them “We want to be able to tell that kid that’s just like us, and say if we made it, you can make it too.”
From all of this it is evident to see that these young men have left a good feeling in our souls over here in the UK and we are more than happy to have CornerStore back here in the future. However how will that vibe be kept here without the guys presence? They answered “We are still a platform, we want to come back and build, and we will come back, but the point is to be a catalyst for the culture (of creatives networking and sharing their work)”. KO reminds me that the vibe will stay, and it can only remain that way because positive energy creates positive outcomes.
Thank you for reading.
Photo credits: @QuincyVisuals