My name is Harold Hernandez and I am the founder and artist of the independent brand, Kids with Krowns. I was born in the wild, crazy, beautiful and eclectic city of New Orleans. Most of my designs are based around the fact that I’m an 80’s NOLA baby. Other designs are produced to exhibit my life experiences, inspirations, ideas and most importantly the art of running a brand. This is my story told through screen printing.
KWKLA is the acronym for Kids with Krowns Louisiana. I started this brand in 2010 as a resurgence of my artistic vision. This is not my first attempt at this. I have been drawing on shirts with fabric makers, entering school t-shirt design contests and coming up with brand concepts since I can remember. I’ve always had my eye on independent lines since the days of watching “Yo MTV Raps”, the local “ Phat Phat and All Dat” and street skate videos. I always knew, after watching FUBU clothing become a such a hard hitting independent line that I had to one day do the same or die trying.
My primary mediums are graphic design and screen printing. The main focus is to show the process of how I develop a concept and then gradually bring that concept into a wearable piece of art. This process is shown through various social media platforms. I have been in the printing industry for 12 years. It’s been quite the journey learning about the world of screen printing. I started while in college with an ex-hippie artist from Pennsylvania, who built his business from scratch all in his back yard. Since then, I have had the opportunity to be a part of a few other shops all different and unique in their own ways. Along the way, I took as many notes as possible and slowly minimized my printing mistakes while maximizing my speed for shop production. That allowed me to make sure that everything produced for KWKLA was clean and presentable.
Before I learned anything about screen printing, my art training had already begun. My mom enrolled me in my first art classes, provided by Jefferson Parish, while I was in middle school. These would turn out to become an amazing three years of an extremely talented instructor getting me out of certain classes strictly for fine art lessons and beautiful memories. Luckily, I was able to continue this program through my next four years of high school. Art became the focus of how to escape my neighborhood and use it to travel to as many places as possible. This became a reality after I received a soccer scholarship to an out of state college which allowed me to continue my fine art studies.
College allowed me to build a concentrated audience for all my projects. If I produced a new shirt, I had the dorms and various outlets to try and sell them. I already had some experience doing this as my mom would help me sell the shirts we made for my soccer teams during tournaments. I would start by wearing the shirt I designed to practices before travel tournaments and letting the team know they would be available at the hotel during the weekend. This continued to be how I would show off designs to the streets of New Orleans. It’s always been my favorite feeling when someone asked about the shirt I was wearing. They would want to know who made them and how they could get one. I graduated from boxes to back packs for instances just like these. My bag would be full of freshly printed, extremely limited designs. You see, when I decide to drop a new line of garments there will not be more than a certain number produced. This way, when someone decided to be a part of our unfolding story they felt a sense of originality. Our purpose is to make you feel as if you’re a part of a street gallery with one-of-a-kind art pieces.
As I figured out how to get my designs onto select garments, then realizing that I could reach as many people as I wanted if I stayed out with my back pack I decided to concentrate on the New Orleans pop up culture. Frenchmen Street was an ideal place to start. Before all of the new businesses and organized art markets rolled through this downtown gem, Frenchmen was the perfect place to exhibit your art and find out what you were made of. It was just you and the crowd no bosses, no time clock and no industry standards. I remember having to get there at a with enough time to grab a spot that had good foot traffic along with available street light. Now, I could set up a table and shirt rack to display my work and not just have to wait for someone to notice my shirt.
After a few years of popping up on the streets, parties, outside of concert venues and sometimes bars my pop up routine was becoming more productive and progressive. I could swiftly find a parking spot, and display my street store within an hour. So If you didn’t catch me while I was out, well you missed your shot because my break downs were just as quick. I learned how to refine KWKLA’s story describing its purpose and mission statement. Public speaking became increasingly important as I interacted and learned about short attention spans. I had to become not just good but great as more and more people approached to the set up. It was a goal of mine to interact willingly and with friendliness so that people felt welcome while stopping by. Making sure I enjoyed myself while popping up, even after eight plus hours of working at a print shop, allowed me to realize that running this brand made me very happy.
Staying happy along with finding inspiration is so important as this brand continues it’s development. My occurrences in life impact KWK directly and so I try to keep my time on earth as interesting as humanly possible. I started this project out of a back pack, then moved it to the streets and ended with a bang as I successfully took over an established New Orleans art gallery and turned it into a Kids with Krowns store front. The next day, the pop up was gone and the gallery went back to it’s normal layout. The next phase was to push the brand even further and relocate it to Denver, Colorado. Everyone was curious as to why I would take a successful start up and abruptly remove it from its birth place. I had to explain to everyone that just like I had to leave New Orleans in order to learn more about myself so did the brand. One of the main focuses is to never become complacent. One must push themselves in order to break mental barriers and grow within.
Now, KWKLA’s next move is to become a part of the Denver art scene and continue its pop up culture. I came to the Mile High City with two new designs and a refreshened vision. We have incorporated the Colorado flag and a new motto, “Ain’t No High Mountain Enough” into the newest line up. Just like New Orleans, this city and state have so many beautiful things to offer. The culture, geography and art scene here is very different from any other city I have lived in and I absolutely love it. I can appreciate it’s differences which in turn allows me to fall in love all over again, with NOLA. The Mile High City is my new home but it doesn’t mean that KWK is not going to be relevant in the Big Easy. This relocation has pushed me to focus more on the brand’s website and make sure that ordering Krowns, even without speaking with me, is a fun and meaningful experience. It’s not been determined how long KWK will be operating out of Denver. Hopefully, the team and our public following continue to grow here and we can reach a level higher than we were at back in NOLA. The object is to become prominent in any art scene we step foot in so that we can do bigger things for beloved New Orleans in the future. The kids of New Orleans are true Kids with Krowns. We must succeed for them, and we will. B