Three Ways to Wear Your Pride: DIY Till I Die
The Fresh, started by Montclair’s Jason Soroka in 2010, is a limited edition, punk-inspired street apparel brand. The idea is to produce only a limited amount of items, adding unique value to the product. Jason learned about screen printing from his roommate as a creative outlet outside of playing music. He started selling his t-shirts online, at shows, and local skate shops. His inspiration for The Fresh stems from his youth: “I grew up going to hardcore and punk shows, skateboarding, and working at the Bloomfield Ave Café and Stage (RIP), so the concept behind The Fresh reflects that. My designs are inspired by New Jersey’s underground scene and counter culture.” Jason openly supports DIY culture, evident from his motto on stickers and some of his designs that read “DIY Till I Die.”
Jason, like most new business owners, faced challenges funding his project. He learned that saving in every possible way was going to help him turn The Fresh into something big. Pinching pennies at 21 years old was difficult, but worth it for Jason. Money wasn’t the only hurdle he had to jump, having had no experience with the clothing industry; “every new season came with a learning curve and a plethora of new information and dilemmas as well.” Faced with the daunting task of breaking into this market, Jason taught himself how to run his own business based on experiences and observations. Jason found that reading a lot of books and articles online about business, graphic design, and the history of street apparel was very helpful in getting The Fresh off the ground. Jason studied the operations and techniques used by brands that he admires such as Supreme, Stussy, The Hundreds, Obey, 10 Deep, and Glamour Kills. He also learned a lot about screen printing from his roommate Jesse, in order to have a better understanding of every part of the garment-making process; “I am lucky enough to have a number of friends who are in bands, own skate shops, or have extensive knowledge about the garment industry, so I’m constantly asking questions and learning from them.”
The creator of The Fresh has a New Jersey tattoo on his right shoulder to signify his love for the state he grew up in; “North Jersey, Essex County, and specifically Montclair, is where The Fresh calls home. It’s where the company was born, and without it, I don’t think The Fresh would even exist.” The Fresh gets its support from areas like Newark, Paterson, Wayne, Jersey City, and Clifton. The Fresh has often held events like the Freak Show parties, art shows, and DIY concerts in his hometown, Montclair. He is very involved in the music and art scene in New Jersey, and he looks for opportunities to give back to the state that has given him so much. In addition to events, he even offers up his home and venue to touring bands so that they have a place to stay or play. By organizing parties and skateboard-related events, Jason stays consistent with his support for punk culture in the state. Jason’s most recent endeavor was an art show that he held at Gallery U in Montclair, the majority of the proceeds of which he donated to the Bellevue Ave Public Library.
Clearly, when Jason wants something done, he doesn’t wait. He gets to work himself to follow his passion, making him a true-to-form DIY advocate.