Intergenerational Learning – Youth Inspires Experience at the adidas Brooklyn Farm
17-year-old Kim Aponi shares her take on creativity with adidas designers.
Older colleagues have valuable life and work experience from which younger ones can benefit.
This is the usual one-way conception of what generations can learn from one another. During my rotation at the adidas Brooklyn Creator Farm in New York I was taught about what it means when older generations learn from younger ones.
I got the chance to meet Kim. At the time, Kim was a 16-year-old designer and entrepreneur from Chicago who was invited to the Farm to co-create with our brand.
Kim’s creativity, passion and professionalism left a mark on me and showed me how important intergenerational learning truly is. Read on to find out what inspires Kim, what she would advise a company like adidas, and the three things she’s taught me as a next-generation designer.
Hi Kim! For those who don’t know you: Can you give me a download of ‘Kim in 30 seconds’?
Hey Hannah! My name is Kimisha, but I go by Kim. I’m a Chicago creative, entrepreneur and visionary. I created my first brand, Kim Products in 2015 with custom made denim pieces. The more I produced the more attention I got from local kids my age. This caused me to step deeper into streetwear, what I believe really captures the youth, and eventually broaden my products.
“My goal is to try to give back to the community and emphasize the creatives in Chicago.”Kim Aponi, designer and entrepreneur
Chicago is a city know for many great things but there aren’t many resources for emerging visual artists in my community. My brand stands for the wave of youth in our city who are looking to make real change for generations to come.
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How did you get in touch to co-create and explore with adidas and the Brooklyn Creator Farm?
I was actually part of a basketball focus group interview in Chicago where I stood out to one of the Creative Directors of the Farm [Denis Dekovic]. He invited me to come to the Farm and explore in a new space. I was able to stay at the Farm twice for two weeks each, and both times I was able to produce four garments, and present to the designers at the Farm my thought process and inspiration behind each of the pieces.
I really got to understand silhouette and patternmaking with the different machines and fabrics with the staff on site and it brought me to a higher understanding of the cut and sew process. I couldn’t expand on those areas in Chicago for money and time reasons, and I was still at school. For Kim Products I rely on wholesale pieces which I customize, but it is my ultimate goal to push out a full collection. Last year, I got accepted to Parsons School of Design, so I am building on the knowledge that the Farm has provided me with as we speak!
From where do you draw inspiration for your designs?
My pieces are built around the idea of customization: I want to make things special for people in my city. Not enough credit is given to the art scene in Chicago – it would be running half of the scene right now if it had the right resources! My items are well priced to make them affordable – the money I make I reinvest back into the brand or help friends and family. It’s like the big brother/big sister phenomenon of making sure everybody eats.
In terms of the design, the simplicity of the primary colors I use on my pieces are analogous to my personality: I am not a complicated person – and primary colors are like the purest form of expression.
What advice do you have for a big company like adidas?
Give communities a budget and a platform, give them control over what should be done, how it should be done and what’s going to work for the community, what should be invested into, what should not, what’s long term and what’s not – then you don’t have to hire five managers to come into the community and ask the question.
“I think the most effective way that a corporation can impact the community is by literally diving into it, by empowering and enabling it. ”Kim Aponi, designer and entrepreneur
Get it directly from the kids. I think that’s a huge thing, products would be a lot different.
What’s your vision for yourself in the future?
I really just want to be able to create my entire life and never lose the aspect of having the ability to create and having the spirit to create.
Me specifically, I’ve had a lot of moments in my life where I was not even able to create how I want to. That’s like the long-term picture for me despite any type of financial freedom or just mental freedom. My biggest thing is to just have the ability to create and be happy with that.
Kim, you’ve blown us (designers at the Farm) away with your presentation skills. How can we get that presence, that energy? What is your biggest advice to the next generation of presenters?
Honestly, I’m just really big into planning and preparing. The more you plan, the more familiar you are with what you’re presenting. Also, nobody’s going to be confident in something that they’re not passionate about. I’m really just trying to make sure that I’m passionate and honestly just super familiar with whatever I’m talking about. That definitely helps.
Also, be super friendly. I’m really big in terms of always keeping good energy and always promoting positivity. And last but not least: I always make sure every time I present, or every time I get feedback from somebody, that I’m reflecting and executing what I need to do better.
Talking to and working with Kim was intergenerational learning at its best for me. Three things I’ve learned from her and now reflect on are:
- Having the financial and mental freedom to create and to produce art is an honor and not a given. If you successfully do so, reinvest back into your brand and help friends and family.
- The most effective way for a corporation to positively impact a community is literally by diving into it and by empowering it with the right resources. Set up safe spaces for the communities to create.
- In order to blow your audience away, preparation and passion for your topic is key. Also: Keep smiling and show positivity.
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