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Community Highlights: Meet Dennis E. Robinson of Pasadena CLSC.

Today we’d like to introduce you to Dennis E. Robinson.

Hi Dennis E., we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
PASADENA CLSC. is a local, Black-owned brand whose goal is to amplify, pay homage to, and celebrate Pasadena’s rich history, culture, and diversity. We create designs that are inclusive, timeless, and simply classic. The idea of a “city-based brand” was a direct response to the untimely death of Nipsey Hussle. His impact on the community was undeniable which was evident as folx worldwide wore his infamous “Crenshaw” tee to honor his legacy. While scrolling through Facebook a few days after his murder, I came across a post that read, “I love that people are honoring Nip and reppin’ with that Crenshaw tee. That’s was Dena needs. Where the DENA tees at???” Although I’ve attempted a few Pasadena brands in years prior, this got me thinking and reinvigorated my desire to create a new brand for the city. So I reached out to my cousin (who authored the post), we bounced around a few ideas, and co-founded what is now PASADENA CLSC.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
One obvious challenge that has affected every single person, family, household and business has been the global pandemic. PASADENA CLSC. was only months-old when the stay-at-home order went into effect, barely getting our footing with design concepts, order intake, product production, promo/marketing, etc. The shutdown severely impacted our fulfillment house, forcing them to cut their operations down by 70% which delayed them getting orders to us. As a result, this delayed us getting products to our customers (which made some folx unhappy), but it also taught us the art of managing customer expectations and how to under-promise so that we could over-deliver.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know?
Initially, the purpose of our brand was to provide folx an opportunity to rep Pasadena proudly through t-shirts, hoodies, and hats. Our first drop was a collection called “Them Dena Streets” that displayed a few revered streets in the city (a concept heavily influenced by Nipsey’s Crenshaw tee). We received a great response with this drop, so we provided folx the option to customize tees with a Pasadena street name that underscored their own personal love for and connection to the city. As we continued to evolve over our first year, we decided to abbreviate the word “Classic” in our name to “CLSC.” which is an acronym for “Cultivating Legacy and Supporting our Community (period)”. This change shifted our purpose as a brand and refocused our mission to be about more than just clothes – we understood that it is about uplifting our community. Although we are currently in the “infancy” years of the company, we are actively exploring ways that we can support our community. At the beginning of 2020, we designed and donated shirts to afterschool programs, in early summer we organized peaceful protests in the rise of racial injustice, and this past December, we organized a holiday toy drive-thru (which allowed folx to safely donate toys in the midst of the current pandemic). We pride ourselves in being huge advocates and collaborating with other local brands and businesses by patronizing, sharing, and reposting whenever and wherever we can.

Have you learned any interesting or important lessons due to the Covid-19 Crisis?
One major, overarching lesson (or skill rather) that I will always carry with me is the ability to stay flexible with timelines and expectations. I think it’s safe to say that most of us have been conditioned to commit to unrealistic or “hard” deadlines that oftentimes add unnecessary pressure and stress to ourselves. This pandemic really caused us to slow-down in more ways than one. I have learned not to rush when trying to execute an idea and let things happen organically because it will be reflected in the finished product. Embrace the process rather than to the finish line. Don’t be afraid to step back and take breaks when needed. Self-care is vital for the success of your business. In the spirit of Neighborhood Nip, it’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon. And the marathon continues in the City of Roses.

Contact Info:

Image Credits:

JV Ortiz Photography (@jv_ortiz_photography) Enrique Bautista (@r33kz) Aaron Carter Photography (@fp626)

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