This is the story of my mother. She came from nothing, a trailer park in Texas, to growing up in Orange County, CA. Lived her whole life fighting society’s judgements against her. My father passed away when i was 15, I had to drop out of school to work and help pay the mortgage (and go to college), and we were ignored by a large percentage of my father’s side of the family. She had previously fought breast cancer and had a double mastectomy when I was very young, and when I turned 26—she was waiting on social security benefits (and was on food stamps and government assistance) and she knew something was wrong. She couldn’t go to the doctor in fear of having a pre-diagnosis, so she waited 2-3 years. Two to three years later, there was cancer, it had metastasized. Left breast, to right. She chose, due to the fact her belief in god had given her everything she had asked for, to not fight it. That she was done. To that end, we walked through doctors, surgeons, her oncologist. Eventually she had another double mastectomy, was prescribed the wrong pain medication post-op… and due to Medicaid, had to wait 7 hours to get anything stronger than ibuprofen after having 220+ staples in her chest. We brought her to an assisted living center. She called me, and was 100% lucid, she never lost her wits. The staff had let someone across from her room just die during the night, alone. Begging for help. The staff refused to wheel her outside for a cigarette. I lost my mind, tried pulling her out, they tried convincing me she was crazy. She wasn’t. We pulled her out anyway. From there, she stayed at a family friend’s house, and I watched her go from 140, to 125, 110, 100, 90, 80, and finally to 69 lbs And gone. She never once complained. Or felt sorry for herself, she looked death in the eyes, and accepted her fate. She supported her children, despite her own addictions, and showed the world what being strong, resilient, and proud meant. I miss her terribly, every day.

The Genesis of “Dope Minds Collective”

When most people think of “Dope”, a myriad of different things come to mind. Usually, something is “Dope” if it’s cool, awesome, or “man that jacket is dope!”. Other times, it’s referring to drugs. “I’m getting dope”. I decided, based upon my experience with substance abuse—growing up with it and ultimately struggling with it during different parts of my life, that I could take the power away from it, play off of it, and ultimately use it as a way of bringing my ideas and art to the market—while also providing a platform to help sponsor “dope” people. The brand isn’t about promoting sobriety, and while we respect people’s individual choices—we also want to provide resources responsibly and support organizations to help those in need.

In moving forward, one of the things I hope to accomplish is highlighting not only skateboarders, surfers, musicians, and creative monsters—but talk sincerely and openly about how we may use terminology that is drug-inspired, we are also focused on sharing, talking, and communicating about the perils of substance abuse. First hand accounts and support.

I started designing shirts and apparel mostly as a way of managing my own anxiety, as funds ran out and I could no longer afford doctor’s visits to verify my need for medication, so instead I drew. It’s the one place I can be alone, creative, and not feel like an outsider or freak to the rest of the world. I look forward to sharing experiences with everyone, and sharing products that help support our cause.

If you are looking for help with substance abuse related issues, Text ABOVE to 741-741 for 24/7, anonymous, free crisis counseling via the Crisis Text Line.  Rather talk than text? Call 1-800-448-3000 to connect with the Boys Town National Hotline

If you are looking for ways to help a friend, check out Above the Influence’s How to Help a Friend page.

If you are struggling with crippling depression or thoughts of suicide, please visit Suicide Prevention Hotline, or call 1-800-273-8255.

Onward, upward, full of love,


Destined For Greatness

Destined For Greatness

See, the reality of what it takes to start a company isn’t much. A little (or a lot) of time, love, and energy spent in the right places can really do a good thing. And really listening to yourself to find and maintain a pure vision. And finally, it doesn’t hurt to sell a house you’ve owned for 14 years or so?

Have I been dope for a long time? Well, let’s take a look at what a story line of dopeness looks like, and it’s a tale of what it takes to being dope to everyone else and not being dope to yourself. Dope enough that you know that you can put your mind and power to take on so many things, things that are responsibilities that are not your own, and definitely fall into a not-so-dope scenario where everything and anything is clamoring for your time, attention, money. You literally look at your bank account and it reads “credit cards are all over maxed”, “checking account: -$105”. You have bills staring you in your face for devices for other people, devices where other people aren’t paying although they are indeed old enough to drive and you’re borrowing money and looking like a fool to save things in your life that are yours in paper but also yours to lose, so yours to lose that when all the help is long gone… you’re left with not opportunities to take back your own power and a bleeding heart is all you have to give. You market a brand that people love, but sales are slow yet feedback is great. Why? You offer coupons to make the price attractive? And people say “thanks!” And they sit waiting. You realize something. In order to be dope, you have to be to be dope to yourself first and foremost and above all else, if you ever hope to live, breath, and own a brand that aims to tackle fake shit non dope things. You have to block out all the things that suck you of your time and energy, and actually just give yourself the freedom to be dope. You can’t dance the dance in a way where you allow people to take advantage of you and then cry about it later when they make juvenile threats—who fucking cares? 

There’s ONE thing I care about from this point further—using a home that I’ve owned for 14 years or so that’s doubled in equity, and hasn’t done anything for me but suck countless dollars from your wallet, why not empower a brand with the amount of money to which it would allow you to work on it, plan it, and not be distracted by it — Full Time. The thought and need one would have to use this to invest so properly into a brand called Dope Minds Collective, and ensure it’s success, well… this is where I will unequivocally soar. Today, alone, I rejected an interview with a company that surely would have paid me an amazing salary, been a great job, and probably lead me into a solid future—but would I have been chasing my own dreams or someone else’s? You have to simply risk it all in order to realize that your dreams are the most important—and whether or not you succeed in your risks, you can’t be safe by straddling a potential job and the dream you believe in so greatly.

Have I been an addict in other ways? No doubt. From the time I dabbled with research chemicals to the time I spent going through DTs and shakes from running away from the anxiety and PTSD, from not having any prescription or money to get to my PCP, and all the while foolishly not just spending the original money or finding community support programs and paying that $10,000 hospital bill to keep me alive. The thing that remains isn’t the drug use, abuse, or dependency—it’s the anxiety that remains. The fear, the lack of safety, the not knowing what tomorrow will bring.

See, I could get amazing jobs that pay a lot of money that enable me to my own addictions of helping other people help themselves first or I can finally wake the fuck up and realize that I am destined for greatness and that the reasons I’ve been holding onto a home… well they’re not being dope for me, and it’s time those things change. A house is a box with a roof over one’s head, keeps one safe, keeps one comfortable, but when even you’re fighting the truth of what you’re being told from the person who is saying “I can’t afford it, and this is good. It’s time” and you’re still unsure until you just snap—and the clarity of seeing your checking account and the numbers building a wall around you become so real they’re starting to look like a prison cell—you think to yourself one thing… do I run? Or do I own this moment and use it to define my story?

One of the reasons I believe in dope minds collective so much, is that what I’m promoting here isn’t a drug free lifestyle. I’m offering a place and a brand for the loner, the geek, the tatted up make out with your dad then maybe your mom queer boy and queer girl people like myself a way to buy dope threads that also put money where it’s mouth is. Experience is something we learn in life, that in order for anyone to have faith in you, you need to put that faith in yourself—and show it, otherwise it’s just more bullshit.

How many people does it take to say the same thing to get you to snap out of it and realize who’s helping you and who’s hurting you? 

1, 2, 5, 10, 15, 30? At times it’s so obvious it feels like it’s collaborated, but the reality is, having a swimming pool sized heart means you’re going to get a few turds in it, and what do we do when there are turds in the pool? Blow the whistle, make sure the pool is empty, recover turd, make sure the pool is clean BEFORE swimmers re-enter, and then swimmers can then later come back in. When things are not done in this order, the pool water becomes poowater and all the swimmers are really shitty to you all the time. It fucking stinks too. That pool had its days, and great ones and not so great ones, but I look at it from the perspective of greater things. Money is money, and when I ask you to put your money where your mouth is, I have a house to put on the line for the things I believe in. And a house is a pretty DOPE bet, that enables me the time and energy needed to carry out something of this nature and never look back. I’m looking at the great unknown and I just know, that this way—and only this way, am I destined for greatness. 

This is your Capitan speaking, and on the sunken ship we will have no shitty pools, because our residents are always #sodopeitsaddictive and any fakers that sneak onto deck are #evicted to their more basic channels.

This is the start of dopemindscollective and the the Capitain’s placing his hands on the Shipwheel, navigating the nameless to doper, #poserFree waters.

Now repeat with me:

We are the addicted, the nameless, the lost travelers from the sunken pirate ship, the ones who reject the ideals of your white collar lifestyle.

In order to believe your brand, you have to be your brand, and not second guess yourself. Don’t look back. Run, don’t walk. Believe in your success. Because you know, above all else, you were destined for success. All that’s waiting is you. Ask yourself the question: “are you #sodopeitsaddictive ?” If you are, like I am, join your capitan on the ship that sails to do real things and do real work for real good places. This is only the beginning. We focus on dope only issues, not ones to market ourselves as dope, but to live, breathe, and be positively dope.