When most people are sleeping, young Brooklynite Ashani Allick is creating and planning. Recently, the 20-year filled me in on how he manifested his dream of a new trendy boutique and lounge, which he calls BarrelHouseBKLYN into reality. As well as the inspiration behind his new clothing line “Concrete Heavens.”
Ashani just shy of 6 feet looks like your average college student. Jean jacket? Check. G-Shock? Check. Sneakers you probably can’t afford? Check. But if your peer a little closer, you may start to uncover the genius that is working in the confinements of this young moguls mind. As CEO of BarrelHouseBKLYN, Ashani has tactfully put together all the things which he embodies to create something the world has yet to encounter. Warning! This interview may cause extreme “hateration.” Reader discretion is advised!
G. SPOT: So Ashani, without further ado, what is the story behind the creation of BarrelHouse NYC?
ASHANI: The story behind the creation of BarrrelHouse is interesting. I was attending Medgar Evers College, and I didn’t have a major, and I never was a great student. I felt lost wandering the halls of school. I felt like I had no sense of self, I felt like I had no direction. My mother always told me to go to school and get an education, but school was always far from my mind. After thinking about this I sat down one day and decided to take all the things that I love, Hip-Hop, Spoken Word, and Fashion and this was sort-of the birth of BarrelHouse.
The term "BarrelHouse" is a word that was used in the 1940's to describe a place where African-Americans would gather and dance, drink and let go of the stresses of life. It was also the place where alcohol was stored in Barrels, hence the name Barrelhouse. I used this concept and put my own twist on it, and created BarrelHouse BKLYN. Our mission is to promote positivity and ambition within our communities through all outlets of entertainment [fashion, art, music, and other forms of expression]. Our ultimate goal is to own our very own clothing boutique specializing in the latest fashion and apparel, while converting to a lounge space by night. The lounge serves as a platform for aspiring and driven artists to showcase their talent to an audience. We combined our favorite elements and BarrelHouseBKLYN was born!!
G.S.- Wow, so it’s originally a clothing boutique? How did you eventually get to add on the night time lounge?
ASHANI: I came up with the concept of adding music and poetry because these are two elements that I feel are universal. Music is therapy, music is relate able, music makes you happy or it can make you sad. People in Japan are singing lyrics to a 50-cent lullaby but they know not one word of English. That is amazing! Music is life. So by adding these elements to my BarrelHouseBKLYN, I hope to reach out to the youth in our community and relay positive messages, and inspiring their creative aspirations at the same time.
G.S, - Ok, and its to my understanding that you dropped out of school to pursue the building up and branding of BarrelHouseBklyn, where do you get the inspiration to make such a critical decision in your life?
ASHANI: I hate the term "dropout". I "took a break", so to say (laughs). I will eventually pursue my degree, but at this point in time, all I can think about is the advancement of my company and getting it to where I envision it to be. My heart and mind isn’t in school right now and it wouldn't be true to myself if I stayed in school. I do plan on going back one day though.
G.S.- Cool! So with that much passion behind it, what do you think it is that makes BarrelHouseBKLYN different from other stores that may be similar and why do you even think it is needed in the world of Hip-Hop, Fashion, and the arts?
ASHANI: What makes BarrelHouse different is that my partners and I are no older than 20, so we know exactly what the youth in our communities are in need of. We do not throw events, parties, and hold open mics for money. We do this so the aspiring poets, musicians, and future influences can have a place where they can express themselves in a fresh and unique way. A place like this is desperately missing in our communities.
G.S.- I feel you! So you say you have partners? Well who are they and how to they contribute to the production of BarrelHouseBKLYN?
ASHANI: Ok so I am the founder of Barrelhouse and my partners that I brought on board are two of my high school friends. Akeem Fields and Kirby Brewster. Kirby is in charge of Public Relations and reviewing any paperwork or emails before they're sent out and Akeem helps me with Promotion, Marketing, and Event Planning.
G.S. Ok, Ok, Ok, so I have seen the tee shirts! They are crazy! Lets talk about the clothing line! Concrete Heavens, can you break that down for me?
ASHANI: Concrete Heavens, is a Project that BarrelHouseBKLYN started in conjunction with an artist named Victor James. It is a street wear/lifestyle brand that draws heavy inspiration from the hustle and grind of New York City. Our slogan is: "Non Semper Erit Aestas," which means it will not always be summer. Basically meaning that things will not always be great on the road to success. There WILL be obstacles and struggles as you proceed. So be prepared for the grind, and be prepared to persevere. And that is Concrete Heavens!
G.S.- that is dope! I’m too excited right now!! That whole mission statement is crazy! Who has a mission statement for their clothing line? BarrelHouseBKLYN does! So Ashani if we can, lets briefly talk politics! How hard has it been trying to bring BarrelHouseBKLYN to life?
ASHANI: Honestly, trying to satisfy everybody. I've disappointed people. I've inspired people. I've motivated people. But I have to realize that not everybody is going to be supportive of what I'm trying to do and the best way to counter than is to always believe in yourself. That this is your life to live. So live it the way that makes you the happiest and the most content.
G.S.- and the dopeness continues man! Ok, so lastly Ashani, before we wrap up…Why the emphasis on Brooklyn? Concrete Heaven, kind of like Concrete Jungle, What’s the parallel for the people that want to know?
ASHANI: Brooklyn is a major influence on what BarrelHouse is! I currently reside in Queens, but I went to school in Brooklyn my entire life. All my rights of passage moments have occurred in Brooklyn. There is a certain swagger, presence, and demeanor that Brooklyn has that is unlike any place in the world. Just Spread Love, it's the Brooklyn Way!
Clearly the stars are in the future for this young entrepreneur and on behalf of the G.SPOT, I would like to fully endorse his hustle. It’s not too many youth in the world today doing at least half of what Ashani has done in the past year.
If you want to know more about BarrelHouseBKLYN or his incredible new clothing line, Concrete Heavens, click here!