Hellcats Inc: Staying True to your Vision

Hellcats Inc, is an apparel and accessories brand founded by husband and wife duo Clark Orr and Brittany Reagan. The brand is known for its “inclusive punk,” theme, as it features slogans such as “skip school,” and “let’s get dark together.” Yet Hellcats Inc, wasn’t built overnight. Prior to starting Hellcats Inc, Orr built his personal brand as a freelance graphic designer for 15 years. Meanwhile, Reagan made and sold vintage apparel for 3 years. Upon their collaboration, Hellcats Inc, became a cross-section of their individual styles.

Orr’s years of experience as a freelance graphic designer taught him an important lesson that he carries out through every piece he designs under the Hellcats Inc, brand. “Everything we make, we have passion in it and I think that’s what gives us longevity rather than just doing something because it’s gonna make us money,” Orr said. He learned this lesson the hard way when a fan suggested he design a Doctor Who inspired silkscreen poster to sell at a comic book convention. At the time, Orr did not consider himself an avid Doctor Who fan. “That’s what people want, I’ll give that to them. I’ll make some dough along the way,” Orr said. He printed 100 copies that took two days of printing to complete. However, during a 3-day comic book convention he did not sell a single copy. Since then, Orr stopped catering his designs to trends. In the short-term the product might fly-off the shelves, but in the end “it doesn’t add to the longevity of the brand,” Orr said.

Reagan on the other hand, has a different learning curve. Often times Reagan must remind others that she has an active role as co-founder of the business. For instance, while they host pop-up shops, customers often assume that Orr is the sole owner of the business. Furthermore, Reagan often opens emails that start with “hey Clark,” or “hey man.” “I just take a lot of pride in signing my name at the end,” Reagan said. “So when they read it they’re like ‘oh I’m talking to a woman, I shouldn’t have just assumed I’m immediately talking to a man,’” Yet asserting her voice as the feminine aspect of the brand doesn’t end there. She continues to collaborate with Orr to learn how to update their website, and screen print their products.

It’s not always easy for a husband and wife to coincide within the same business. Yet Orr and Reagan have found a balance. Orr continues to help Reagan learn the hands-on skills of production. Meanwhile, Reagan helps Orr overcome his creative roadblocks and perfectionist tendencies. “For me it took being able to look at everything as a whole,” Orr said. “Not everything has to be 100 percent, maybe 95 percent is good or 80 percent is good, whatever, but as long as everything is honest and true to us is really the test.”

Growing Orlando: Measurable Impact

Brent Buffington is the founder of Growing Orlando, a non-profit urban farming program. It began as an initiative to address food access in the city of Orlando by teaching people to grow their own produce, and maintaining a ¼ acre urban farming lot in the neighborhood of Parramore. Since it’s inception, the program has grown and donated X produce to the Coalition for the Homeless, taught X children at The Jackson Center’s after school program, and lead X gardening workshops.

Since its inception, building partnerships has played a key role in the success of Growing Orlando. For instance, Growing Orlando did not dedicate a significant amount of resources to build an after school education program. Through partnership with the Jackson Center, Buffington was provided with the space to build a garden on-site with a group of children already enrolled in an after school program. In another case, Growing Orlando broadened its impact on the community by finding a place to donate the surplus of unsold produce to the Coalition for the Homeless.

Opening the gateway to partnership, Buffington approached organizations with examples of impact that Growing Orlando has had on the community. “You can always remember the faces and the names of the people you worked with, but for many, seeing the impact comes down to, a lot of times numbers,” said Buffington. In Buffington’s case, that measurable impact becomes the amount of food that was donated, or how many children are enrolled in the after school program.

Most of these partnerships were built while Growing Orlando was a relatively small organization. Buffington said in the beginning it was easy to network and develop social capital as a small organization. The organizations that partner with Growing Orlando have their own separate day-to-day projects and missions. Through measurable impact Buffington built a track record to show how they might share resources to achieve their goals. “We all fall into this big umbrella of making a better Orlando, a better place for people to live here in the city,” Buffington said. “For us specifically that’s creating more access to fresh produce.”

Snap! Space: Adapting to Change

At 8 years of age, Patrick Kahn found himself in joint custody between Switzerland with his father, and France with his mother. Both parents were avid art collectors, and that inspired Kahn to fall in love with drawing and aspirations of becoming an artist. Grandiose billboards through the streets of Paris further spurred his creativity. However, Kahn realized “It doesn’t pay the bills, unless you’re dead,” he said.

For that reason, Kahn moved to Los Angeles to study and pursue advertising to satisfy his creativity and still pay the bills. Upon graduation he started a creative studio that designed business cards and small catalogs. He founded and curated his own magazine “The Book L.A,” that featured photographers. His got his “big break” when he worked on a fashion campaign that brought his art to the billboards of L.A. Then he had a family.

A wife and two children living in his bachelor pad of Central L.A. was no longer a viable lifestyle. After almost 20 years in L.A., Kahn did not make this decision lightly. “You feel like you’re building something in a city like L.A., the city is strong, vibrant, you’re there and it’s growing,” Kahn said. “Then you go to a city like Orlando which is fledgling and it seems like everything has to be done from scratch.”

Starting from scratch is arguably the main factor to the success of Snap! Space. The city of Orlando had a request for proposal to attract advertising agencies to take residence. That’s when Kahn realized that the city of Orlando was serious about reinventing itself. “What can I bring?” Kahn thought, “Maybe I can bring my friends and then create this environment.” While the art brought “Hollywood,” to Orlando, it was accessible to everyone via an annual Snap! Festival. “It’s not like crazy, intellectual art, it’s celebrities,” Kahn said. After 4 years of Snap! Festivals, Kahn has two permanent exhibition spaces, the historic Cameo building in Mills/50, and a gallery space at 420 East Apartments in downtown Orlando. Today Snap! Space curates beyond celebrities and high-fashion, featuring artists such as Zun Lee and Jamel Shabazz that explore issues such as identity and inequality. Snap! Also provides a place for people to learn the craft via photographer meet and greets, portfolio reviews and printing demonstrations.

Snap! Space is a 501c3 organization at a time when the demand for an art gallery has come into question. In the past, an art gallery was a vital place for people to be exposed, interact and buy art. “Now the gallery [has] to reinvent itself.” Khan said. “We are in a modern world and we are competing globally.” Kahn’s next venture is to produce an augmented reality art show across the city of Orlando. “Do I have an idea if it’s going to work?” Kahn asked. “Probably not. Do I think inside myself that it’s going to work? Yeah, I’m 100% confident.”

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