By Mrinal Gokhale
The weekend coming to an end didn’t stop people from attending Instant Vibes: Art, Music & Networking on Sunday, April 23. Starting at 6:30 p.m. at Paper Box Lofts (1560 W Pierce St.), attendees enjoyed free food, drinks and music while shopping local businesses.
There were four young entrepreneurs that sold clothing, art, jewelry and other handmade goods.
In one far corner of the mid-sized room sat Jose Robinson, CEO of Instant Karma Apparel. Robinson is a graphic design student and self-described art enthusiast.
He said he has organized other networking events in the past, but this was the first where people got to shop.
“I have been to many galleries in Milwaukee and felt they could use more artists of color,” he said.
“I also wanted to create a more relaxed environment where people actually get to touch the art they look at.”
Towards the middle of the space was a rack with Queen Collections clothing, an extension of Instant Karma Apparel.
One piece for sale was a pink vintage coat with “Power to the People,” painted on the back.
Next to it was a pair of American Eagle jeans with the word “Hustle” painted in a vibrant design.
Ashley Jordan, who began as a social media specialist for Instant Karma Apparel, said that she released the Queen Collections line for women in March 2017.
“I always wanted my own business,” she said. “I buy clothes from thrift shops and add my own twist. A lot of it is a reflection of me as a woman of color.”
She added that she also works a corporate job during the day in addition to pursuing an acting career and modeling for Instant Karma Apparel.
Adam Villegas, CEO of LOUD clothing company, said that he and Robinson met at Club Timbuktu. He displayed both his clothing line and artwork that he does on the side.
“Every Tuesday, Club Timbuktu lets local artists show their work, which is where Jose and I met. I came today because I like what Instant Karma stands for,” he said.
Instant Karma Apparel was launched in 2014. The unisex line is sold online and at an Indie record store in Milwaukee called Exclusive Company.
Robinson said he has seven employees so far who each have additional jobs.
“We have a mechanical engineer, choreographer, actor, photographer and videographer,” he said. “We also have an outreach specialist who seeks local volunteer opportunities for us all to get involved in.”
Chadd Lane, Vice President of Instant Karma Apparel is also a mechanical engineer. He said that although the team makes most sales by vending at local festivals and markets.
“When we meet people in person, they learn how we’re from Milwaukee and we’re trying to give back to our community,” Lane said.
Other local vendors were Papyrus and Charms and Heal & Glow candles. The local CopyWrite Magazine was also there to give free copies of their latest issue. The event attracted almost a full house and ended at about 10 p.m.