We had the good fortune of connecting with Francis London and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Francis, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I’m going to be honest I started my brand on an emotional feeling I got when I first attended Agenda trade-show in 2006. Something told me I have to start a clothing line so I did but the process just happened organically. I knew I didn’t want to be just an artist because an artist creates for oneself. I wanted to be a designer because a designer creates for others while problem solving. So, my initial premise of starting UGLYDUKLYN was to help people. Now finding the right name was challenging and I wanted a name that actually represented people worldwide. Once I came up with the name of the brand, I knew I had to convey my message through storytelling.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Street Wear Fashion may look like it’s a beautiful profession but if you do not take fashion seriously and put in the time and money this isn’t for you. What sets me apart from others is that I am truly a hip hop enthusiast and with my love for hip hop and other genres of music I’m able to create streetwear pieces that represent the core values of UGLYDUKLYN. To me there is no street wear without hip hop and vice versa. What I’m most proud of is the journey I am currently on. I’ve been able to navigate within the fashion industry for 13yrs independently with no backing while learning something new every day. I will be honest I would not be where I am if I did not put in countless hours every day making countless mistakes while learning from them as a self-taught designer. I knew what I wanted and was willing to put in whatever time I had to even if that meant sacrificing hobbies and a social life. Putting in countless hours made me become an astute student of the game and I’m grateful that I didn’t quick the countless times I wanted too due to frustration and my eagerness to get better. If you ever read the story about THE UGLY DUCKLING by Hans Christian Anderson, you will truly understand what the brand is about. It’s about overcoming the impossible, it’s about finding your true self and being happy with who you are mentally, emotionally and physically. So, I took that sentiment and added my own version of what UGLYDUKLYN meant to me. I broke down the letters of the word ugly and came up with Understand God Loves You. Then I took the word duckling and took out the letter c and used the Uk to represent the United Kingdom where I was born. I then took ling and replaced it with Lyn to pay homage to legendary rapper Biggie Smalls who was from Brooklyn.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Since I’m Ghanaian I mostly eat west African food so I would have to take my friend to Nkechi African café or Veronica’s kitchen in Inglewood. I know I may be bias but I think west African food is the best. I don’t have a social life but for fun I would take them downtown to the fashion district sourcing fabrics and art and thrift shopping. We are definitely going to Universal Studios at least twice a week. I’m sorry, I love that place. Other than that you will find me home working in my studio relaxing.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to everyone who has helped me along the way especially my 4 children you all give me the push to continue on no matter what!!
Youtube: UGLYDUKLYN CLOTHING
📸: @Eric LaRokk