Photos by Asia Morris.
Long Beach resident and entrepreneur Daniel Kasidi saw an opportunity, seized it and never looked back. As his company, Rastaclat, has grown, it seems his heart and mind have stayed grounded.
Stepping into the Rastaclat offices in Long Beach, a creative energy hovers, emitting a laid-back vibe that’s comforting to a newcomer. When we sit down to chat about his humble beginnings, it’s like catching up with an old friend. There’s nothing to hide here, just an inspiring story to tell.
Kasidi was born in Kenya and moved to Orange County when he was five years old. Growing up in Placentia, he found skateboarding an accessible activity he could learn on his own, and quickly became obsessed. A day without a skate sesh was a day not fully enjoyed, as Kasidi would skate every day after school. As he developed, he landed a shoe sponsor, receiving four to five pairs of shoes a month. He’d open the box, throw on the shoes and toss the extra laces in the corner of his room without a second thought.
But one seemingly ordinary day, everything changed as he sat waiting, and waiting and waiting, for his friend to pick him up to go skate.
A Sir Richard Branson-signed box and its exclusive bracelet, inspired by a visit to the business magnate's private getaway, Necker Island.
“I had a bit of idle time so I start setting up a new pair of shoes, he’s still taking forever,” said Kasidi. “So I decide to take one of my extra shoelaces and just make a bracelet for myself. Didn’t think much of it, it was just something that I did out of my own creativity and a little bit of idle time, but I go to school the next day and 10 of my buddies are like, ‘Hey, that’s a really cool bracelet, can I get one to match my hat or my shoes?’”
Kasidi saw an opportunity to make a small profit, but what he received in return was far more than just a few extra bills crinkled in his pocket; it became an emotional transaction, as well. The next day, each of his first customers came back with a positive story to tell. Maybe they’d discovered a newfound confidence, were acknowledged for something or had felt inspired. Hence the planting of the seed for Rastaclat and its concept, Spreading Positive Vibrations one wrist at a time.
“At a young age, you’re still trying to search for your self worth and who you are, what your purpose is,” Kasidi said. “And I think I found that in this. It’s like I’m making someone’s day, even if it’s just for that day. I’m making someone’s day that much better or inspiring them to do something.”
Kasidi wanted to take that initial experience that his first patrons had with the barely budding brand and spread that positivity well past his high school stomping grounds, but he “was just a kid,” he said, and ran into plenty of roadblocks, or questions he didn’t know how to answer at the time. How do I mass produce the bracelet? How do I transform this idea into a tangible product available worldwide? How can I make it adjustable? Unisex?
Knowing that it would take a bit more legwork to reach his goals than what his entrepreneurial savvy had initially awarded him, Kasidi joined FIDM’s Apparel Manufacturing and Business program. At the same time, he began working as a sales representative for the same shoe company that had sponsored his skateboarding endeavors. He gained even more experience later on, working for major companies such as Levi’s and Reebok, learning the ins and outs of the business and the ebb and flow of the trade.
Five years ago, Kasidi was working for Levi’s, had just purchased a house in Long Beach and, unexpectedly, received a return check that would enable the self-starter to finally take a step forward. It was an “aha moment,” when he decided to take that jump off the diving board called risk, when he took a deep breath and dove into making the idea happen that had been gnawing at him for years.
“You’re going to live with regret if you don’t just do it,” he said. “So I took that little tax return check and put it all into Rastaclat, rebranded the whole thing and came up with a couple prototypes. I started it all up again. Five years ago Rastaclat was born as a brand and now we’re here.”
Once Kasidi had made the decision to go all in, it was a matter of tying the knot. He committed himself to the brand’s success and worked non-stop for three years, feeding and fostering the business until it could wobble on its own two feet. He was designing, marketing, selling, managing the books, everything. He would sell the bracelets at Bob Marley Festivals, Wango Tango, and the like, until Rastaclat began to gain recognition. Then it was a matter of expansion.
“We had to find the right people that believed in the brand and the message, and could bring value... people that are smarter than you,” he said. “That’s really important because you have to recognize your strengths and also recognize what you suck at, and find people that are great at what you’re not good at.”
Collaborations with other distinctive brands aligned with the company’s target demographic have also been key. Being able to work with the most innovative thinkers in streetwear, such as Diamond Supply Company, Jeff Staple’s Reed Space and Staple Pigeon, while coinciding new bracelet releases with big-name shoe companies like Nike, Jordan and Adidas have been integral steps toward the company’s growth.
Spreading Positive Vibrations isn’t just a tagline, either. The company consistently gives to charitable organizations such as the Ashley Wade Foundation, whose mission is to make a difference in children's’ lives who are fighting chronic and terminal illnesses, The Breast Cancer Fundraiser, The Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project and Tilly’s Life Center, to name just a handful.
Looking ahead, Rastaclat is aiming to enter the surf scene. With the streetwear and skate markets as a solid basis already, truly the brand’s message of spreading positive vibrations translates inherently into Southern California’s surf culture, so Kasidi and team are on a mission to prove that. The company also has plans to springboard off its sports-focused collegiate collections to create products showing off NFL and NBA team pride. A third “pillar,” or what Kasidi calls each goal, is technology.
Kasidi points to the Pride Vibe board, a collection of the thank you letters, snapshots and fan art sent to Rastaclat.
“Wearables and technology are the way of the future whether we like it or not and I think we can bring value to our consumers and our demographics’ lives, solve some of their problems [by creating] something that’s functional and fashionable,” he said. “That’s a challenge that we’ve set for ourselves and we’re very, very excited to challenge it. And no one’s really looking there, so [that] makes it even more exciting.”
He played devil's advocate, saying some may wonder what's so special about his merchandise.
They’re just shoelaces, after all, but it’s the idea behind the brand that matters, not solely its design. Others might say it’s just "hype," but at the end of the day, word of mouth is what grew the brand and what will continue to grow it, according to Kasidi.
“[...]And if you can accomplish that as a brand, it’s the best form of marketing," said Kasidi. "People have to believe in your message overall[...]. You gotta survive the test of time.”
Certainly, a “clatlifer” won’t hesitate to tell you that being a part of the Rastaclat pride is a reminder to uphold passion, righteousness, integrity, a sense of discovery and excellence in all endeavors.
After all, Rastaclat represents a way of life: a constant reminder to Seek the Positive.