The Business of HYPE With jeffstaple, Episode 4: Michael Camargo, AKA Upscale Vandal

Upscale explains why he doesn’t have interns, why he bought the house he grew up in, and why everything really is Pusha T.

The Business of HYPE With jeffstaple, Episode 4: Michael Camargo, AKA Upscale Vandal
Business of HYPE
35,301 Hypes 26 Comments

The Business of HYPE is a new weekly series brought to you by HYPEBEAST Radio and hosted by jeffstaple. It’s a show about creatives, brand-builders and entrepreneurs and the realities behind the dreams they’ve built. On this week’s episode, Jeff sits down with Michael Camargo, the branding/lifestyle manager, consultant, and true multi-hyphenate also known as Upscale Vandal, at Sole DXB.

Jeff and Mike’s conversation was recorded just after midnight in Dubai. This is a crucial point, because Camargo was not allowed to travel internationally until June of last year. “Everything I’ve accomplished in my career so far, I’ve done on probation” Camargo says, just after removing his Audemar Piguets timepiece and over $100K in jewelry.

From the outside looking in, it might be difficult to figure out what exactly it is that Upscale Vandal does. Whatever it is, he seems to be doing a lot of it, though — whether its sharing Instagram Stories of himself burning the midnight oil with screen-printers and distributors or photos of his meals as the Hood Anthony Bourdain.

In this far-ranging and wide-reaching sit-down, Camargo explains why he doesn’t take interns (“I don’t wanna teach people the wrong way to do something”), growing up in Ozone Park (“John Gotti was seven blocks away”), and why Kanye West was right: everything really is Pusha T. After all, when Upscale first ventured into the field of lifestyle and brand management, it was Pusha who told a young Camargo that everything he knew about fashion could be applied to the music business. Mike has since gone on to consult for Roc Nation and artists like Push and J Balvin, helping bring their brands to the global stage. “Marketing,” in according to Upscale, “is the language you create between a consumer and a product.” Upscale also believes that being an influencer is the antithesis to being a consultant. If the success of his consultation relies on his influence, says Mike, then he is a bad consultant. “Kids might not think that. They’ll see you and be like, ‘Ooh, you lit!’” There has to be some discretion. “The hand,” according to Upscale, “has to be invisible.”

Camargo also believes that it’s crucial that brands recognize the importance of self-reflection and -realization. “Reebok took a sharp L,” says Camargo. “But Reebok is also doing phenomenally right now: they’re looking at where they’re lacking.” This ability to rehab their image, Upscale says, is an area where Under Armour has struggled. “They shoulda jumped on the Dad Shoe meme—if I was controlling digital, there would’ve been dad swag beefs!”

This episode contains references to the following:
0:35: AP - Audemars Piguet
11:19King Tut
26:36: Roc Nation
26:44: BBC
27:18: iamother
27:46: Planes
28:33: DJ Mustard
28:39: Lenny S.
29:12: Lil Pump
29:39: Pusha T
29:54: Niketalk
30:01: The Store
30:18: Sneakercon
30:20: Errol Nike
30:43: Sole DXB
30:47: Mazefest
31:02: Fear of God
31:07: Pyrex Vision
33:17: J Balvin
39:02: D’Evils
1:01:47En Noir
1:08:11Under Armour
1:09:36Brand Jordan
1:10:26Andre Agassi
1:11:48Frank Cooker
1:12:10Aleali May

Listen to the conversation in full above. Be sure to check out past episodes of HYPEBEAST Radio and don’t forget to leave a comment or review on Apple Podcasts, Soundcloud, or wherever else pods are found.

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Episode Transcript

The Business of HYPE With jeffstaple, Episode 4: Michael Camargo, AKA Upscale Vandal

Upscale explains why he doesn’t have interns, why he bought the house he grew up in, and why everything really is Pusha T.

Jeff Staple: I want you to, and not that you need to be reminded of this, but speak freely, speak honestly.

Michael Camargo: Of course. So you mean don’t sugar coat and tell you all the lies?

Jeff Staple: If there’s a thing that you want to just get off your chest, but you want to say off the record, feel free to say just off the record.

Michael Camargo: I don’t want to say anything off the record.

Jeff Staple: Nothing’s off the record? All right. But we can edit portions out.

Michael Camargo: That’s gotten me in trouble, right?

Jeff Staple: Because it ends up being on the record?

Michael Camargo: Yeah, because people get in they feelings, and I’m like what I’m supposed to do is lie, you know what I mean?

Jeff Staple: If you can do not disturb your phone, just for the audience who can’t see right now, you’re taking off all the AP and all the gold right now off your wrist.

Michael Camargo: I’m trying to get comfortable-

Jeff Staple: It’s too heavy right?

Michael Camargo: I’m just trying to get comfortable.

Jeff Staple: The AP is just weighing you down.

Michael Camargo: I’m just trying to get comfortable so we could speak freely.

Jeff Staple: From HYPEBEAST Radio, I’m Jeff Staple, and this is The Business of Hype, a show about creative entrepreneurs, brand builders, innovators, and the realities behind the dreams they’ve built.

Jeff Staple: Michael Camargo, better known to y’all as Upscale Vandal, represents to me the new generation of today’s entrepreneurs. Those individuals you see dominating social media, but you don’t exactly know what they do. But you know they’re successful, and that they have a firm grasp on their skill, you just don’t really know what their skill is.

Jeff Staple: Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t some Paris Hilton shit where you’re just famous for being famous. Nah, these people work, but the work is so new, so blended, and so organic, that it’s difficult to differentiate what work is and what just their life is.

Jeff Staple: Have you heard about the slash generation? It’s a term coined for people with an uncommon combination of job titles that they often prefer to take on, versus just one traditional one. So if you have a friend that is a DJ/stylist/curator/chef, then you know what I’m talking about.

Jeff Staple: Upscale personifies this slash generation, and Mike has a mile long resume of experiences, so let’s dive into this episode.

Michael Camargo: I want to make sure that everything I do is made for a younger version of myself.

Jeff Staple: Right, you could’ve made a ton of mistakes and stuff.

Michael Camargo: No, made, and still you know my background pretty well, like I went through it man, and it’s just now past five years has been a blink of an eye. But like I’ve really gotten all my hits off in five years. It’s a blessing, but it puts you in a whirlwind where you’re not focusing on making sure you’re doing the right steps to leave a foundation for the kids who are coming after you.

Michael Camargo: That’s why I don’t take interns.

Jeff Staple: Why?

Michael Camargo: Because I don’t want to teach somebody the wrong way to go about doing something, and that’s my way. It’s the unconventional way, and it’s hard for me to give you a blueprint that I’m making up as I go. And if I lead you astray, I feel responsible. So I’d rather learn, make the mistake, and then show you and let you decide which way you want to go.

Jeff Staple: Uh-huh (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: So I’m not going to take anybody under the wing unless I know that they have the tools to make it like I had the tools to make it. If I failed, I knew I’d be okay, because I wasn’t going to lose in the full regard. I’d probably take a small loss, but I’d be back.

Jeff Staple: I feel you.

Michael Camargo: And a lot of kids ain’t like that, you know?

Jeff Staple: Yeah. I admit, I have over 25 employees and stuff, and sometimes I do get a pang of guilt in me, where I’m like the same for everyone.

Michael Camargo: And if you went anywhere else, it’d be so different for you, meaning like those kids.

Jeff Staple: Yeah, I can’t say if they’d be better or worse, but I almost sometimes feel bad.

Michael Camargo: I’d say they’d be worse. I mean knowing what you’ve done, like again, think about all the people that look up to everything you’ve built, right? And you’re more public now, and I think that’s because the ethos of what you’ve done for streetwear, for fashion, for sneakers, kind of pushed you to do that.

Michael Camargo: And you’re a family person, you know that there’s a responsibility that comes with your success. But I’ve noticed it, because if I would’ve known everything you’ve put out there, seven years ago, eight years ago, you’re still laying the blueprints. So I know that the kids that work for you are probably like, again, you guys are like, ‘Man, we just did this project, we broke this door down, and we were a part of it now.’ You know what I mean? But I’ve seen you do that from afar, and not know how the fuck it happened, right? So it’s like, how do you send them off into the world with this knowledge, and then they’re like, ‘Wait, how do I apply it to this new thing?’ And they’re like, ‘Yeah, there is no Jeff Staple here for us.’

Michael Camargo: If they go to work at Company X, ‘Wait, there’s no Jeff here, we can’t do this.’

Jeff Staple: All right, good. I’m going to make sure all my employees hear that.

Michael Camargo: They know, they know.

Jeff Staple: All right, everyone out there that works for me, did you all hear that? You might want to rewind and listen again. Naw, I kid. So like I said earlier, Mike represents this new generation that is very hard to describe. I often hear these people call themselves an artists, or creative director. There’s a great meme out there with Oprah Winfrey passionately pointing to people in the audience, ‘You’re a creative director, you’re a creative director, you’re a creative director!’ There isn’t really a catch-all phrase that easily describes what all these people can do, so in speaking with Mike, I definitely wanted to know how he describes his own profession.

Jeff Staple: So you obviously have a mastery of fashion, in a certain way, where I think it’s also very difficult to succinctly say what it is that you do. If you were on a airplane and someone’s like, ‘Hey, what do you do?’ How do you answer that question?

Michael Camargo: In the short way, without sounding obnoxious, because that happens to me often, I really have to take a second back and listen to myself, to say what I don’t want to say too much, but I’m a consultant. I started off in the business of fashion in sales, I was a sales manager for a bunch of brands. I built a bunch of brands and when I was in sales, people who go to school and take the conventional route, once they’re in a position that they’re comfortable in, and that they’re succeeding in, they’re like, ‘Okay, this is great. I’m finally doing what I love to do, I’m gonna do this.’

Michael Camargo: Me, I’m like, ‘Wait, but why doesn’t this work this way And how come I have to go through all these loops? ‘So then I started learning all the things around it, the marketing aspect, the digital portion, things that I didn’t have help as a sales rep to do.

Jeff Staple: Right. And I feel like you learned not by reading a book. You’re the kid that learns that the kettle’s hot by touching it.

Michael Camargo: And then I touch it again, and then I touch it again, and then I thought maybe using an oven mitt would, but then I got burnt again. I wouldn’t trade that, and I think that using that same metaphor, putting my hand to the fire is the best way, was the best way for me to learn, because of the extremities that I came from. All right, so I had to go a further way, right, and the furthest way to go is to lead by example and to show, like, I’m not scared to get burned doing this.

Michael Camargo: There’s a lot more companies that are willing to put you in front of the firing range.

Jeff Staple: They’re like, this dude can handle the burn.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, and that’s what ended up happening, like I’d go and I’d work with these companies. I’d be like, wow these kids are really slow. They have no hustle in them. You were given a [inaudible 00:07:26], you went to school, and then you went this, and you worked at nine places that gave you enough resume to muster up a little interview at this place, and they finally let you in, and you’re just going to keep your head down and do this.

Michael Camargo: Where I come from, that’s crazy to me, and you’re the same, right? I often think about this when I build new things out, and I’ve taken your example plenty of times, and other people who I respect like, Aaron Levin, or Noah Callahan. I say, what would have Jeff done here? Because I know there was a time when you faced adversity. You’re minority right? I think that people, and I think that in the fashion industry culture the blurred lines of race playing a factor into business, but they don’t understand what you’ve had to deal with knowing you have to go to a corporate level.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: You’re still an Asian kid from, wherever you’re from, and it’s like-

Jeff Staple: I’m a minority everywhere I go.

Michael Camargo: Right, so you have to realize, you may not have deal with the same level of race, but you had your own hurdles. When you’re going into these corporate offices, you’re like, “Man, I’m going to eat these guys alive.”

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Because they didn’t have to do anything that I had to do. And I often put myself into that mind-state, so that’s what ended up happening. I started learning every position.

Jeff Staple: Uh-huh (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: I was a shooting guard, but I was like I could probably, post up, and I could probably defend the paint. I just started doing that and the more things I got under my belt.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: The more I kind of built a niche company. Which is the Upscale Vandal Group, what we do is, the easiest one sentence is. We can get you hot.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: It doesn’t matter if it’s an album roll out, or if it’s a clothing line, or if it’s a beverage. I’ve worked with Pepsi-cola, I’ve worked with [inaudible 00:09:14], I’ve worked with a lot of companies in the past 4 years, 3 years, and our entire purpose is to get you hot.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Get that demographic that you want to be hot in, organically. Not by attaching my personal social media to it, I do that if I organically believe in a product that I’m working with.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: There is plenty of clients that have hit, that you’d never known I’ve worked on, and will never know because that’s the part about being a good consultant. You’re never supposed to see the hand, and you’re not supposed to see the puppet strings. That’s what I do, I’m a consultant of all. I mean the company does lifestyle marketing and brand development.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: But I’m a consultant, in all regards.

Jeff Staple: So before sales, you were also into styling right?

Michael Camargo: Yeah that was my first gig ever. It was my entry into the business. It’s funny hearing myself say this, because I just did a podcast with It’s the Real. You know those guys?

Jeff Staple: No.

Michael Camargo: Oh they’re like hip hop, two Jewish kids who grew up on hip hop. They do sketch comedy hip hop. It’s great, and they have a really good podcast. That Hype-B should actually look at. Because they have such a wealth of knowledge of hip hop, and from their perspective it’s different. They’re like upper West side Jewish kids. I did it with them, and they were asking me similar questions, but we faced on the music face of it.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: We’re talking in the fashion sense of it, so it’s funny seeing myself in the dichotomy of those two. But when I started styling, it was because, I thought, and this is to be very non-vulgar, non-heavy, but when you’re a kid from where I come from.

Jeff Staple: Which is where?

Michael Camargo: I’m from Ozone Park, which is an area that’s right on the, literally the bordering avenue of East New York Brooklyn, and Jamaica Queens. So it’s a beautiful place, because you get such a meld, like I grew right on the Brooklyn side. You get such a meld of what’s going on, because I grew up in between one of the worst housing projects in New York City. Right between, borderline wise, and then the mob. John Gotti, is from seven minutes from my house.

Jeff Staple: The hood.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, then Tut, and all those guys you heard about. These street legends were from right there too. That dichotomy of crime makes a very different type of environment to grow up in.

Jeff Staple: How was, young Upscale Vandal?

Michael Camargo: I’m exactly the same.

Jeff Staple: Yeah?

Michael Camargo: I’m dead serious. [crosstalk 00:11:39] and I hear it all the time.

Jeff Staple: You must have been just seeing, like [crosstalk 00:11:42] and shit.

Michael Camargo: Everything came from my sister. My sister in the streets running around, just being a kid at the end of the early 90’s.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Imagine being, you know it what it was like. It was being a kid in the early 90’s in New York City.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Gave you literally an encyclopedia version of knowledge of the culture, and when I say the culture. I don’t mean like the kids say, “Yeah keep it for the culture.” I mean like the culture everything is built on. I’m talking about low-lives, rap, all the first, her best friend Leroy gave me Reasonable Doubt on a tape.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: All those things happened in real-time for me.

Jeff Staple: Real mix tapes out of the trunk of a car.

Michael Camargo: Yeah all those things happened in real time for me. Seeing that, is where everything that I represent now comes from. So it’s like, I’ve been the exact same person forever.

Jeff Staple: Uh-huh (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: My barber, he’s been cutting me, [inaudible 00:12:30] Madd Cutz Barbershop on Forbell. He’s been cutting me since I was 14. 13 going on 14.

Jeff Staple: You still live in Ozone Park?

Michael Camargo: Yeah, me and my sister bought the house we grew up in.

Jeff Staple: Wow, that’s dope.

Michael Camargo: Still live on the same block. He was on my livestream the other day, and he knows about what I do. And he’s like man it’s crazy, seeing you be the same exact kid from when you were 14 to now. Like you’re the same person, we preach the same things, you want the same things. You’re all about your clothes, you’re all about this-, you’ve never changed.

Jeff Staple: Do you ever feel like, you’ve never changed, but the world caught up to you.

Michael Camargo: No, actually-

Jeff Staple: Then what’s changed? Why are you so successful now?

Michael Camargo: Because I feel like now, I’ve been able to, the ideas and the synergies that I’ve had. I have the blessings to put them into play now.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Before, if I had an idea when I was going to shoot, imagine if Nike did [inaudible 00:13:34]. Now I can call somebody and say, “hey, you guys should do this, and if you don’t want to do it with me. You should do it with these people”.

Jeff Staple: Well here’s the thing you could have called them before. They just wouldn’t have listened to you.

Michael Camargo: Right, I couldn’t have called them before, because I was on the street.

Jeff Staple: Yeah you can.

Michael Camargo: I was on the street, they weren’t going to listen to me.

Jeff Staple: They weren’t going to listen to you is the key, but now they’re listening to you. You’re the same dude though.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, Clark brought me around Nike for the first time. They shot the Clark Kent, and he would introduce me to reps, and then we’re like. This my man, you know he calls me Charm.

Jeff Staple: Why?

Michael Camargo: So funny. Mayer, you know Mayer?

Jeff Staple: Yeah.

Michael Camargo: Mayer, anybody that knows me from before used to call me Charm. That was like a street name. It was like, my real name is Mike, and it’s funny because depending on who a group of people you knew me from. You knew me for one thing. Chicago played a big part, of me getting into the industry.

Jeff Staple: Uh-huh (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: When I was a stylist they introduced me to [inaudible 00:14:24] Madden, they introduced me to the industry a lot. My Chicago guys called me Brooklyn Mike, because I’m from Brooklyn, and they would come and visit me and stay in Brooklyn. So I was Brooklyn Mike to them, but to Clark, and Mayer, and everybody in New York I was Charm. [crosstalk 00:14:39]

Michael Camargo: It’s funny, when people tell Clark, “Yo, I was just with your man Vandal.”, he’s like, “Oh, Charm, that’s my man.” He won’t, you know what I’m saying. That’s not him. He won’t say it.

Jeff Staple: I know him as Charm.

Michael Camargo: Yeah it’s funny.

Jeff Staple: So pre-,

Michael Camargo: He would take me to these people, or I’d be around, and he’d be like “Yo, this is such and such from Nike.”, and I’d be like “Wow.” And the man be like “who’s this kid? He’s wearing like $30,000 necklace, he’s driving a Charger, with five televisions in it.” It was wild right, it was like he’s probably like known in this, but he’s like a street kid.

Michael Camargo: They didn’t care about me.

Jeff Staple: What were you doing before styling?

Michael Camargo: I was in the street, right before styling, I had just. When I started styling I just came home from fighting a case.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: I was on probation, and I knew I had to change my life, but I did some time and I ended up getting time served. I took a plead deal, that gave me time served for all the time I was fighting my case in jail, and then I came home on five years aggressive probation. That’s when I knew I didn’t want to go back to jail.

Jeff Staple: How long were you away for?

Michael Camargo: All together it was two jail years, 18, 19 months. When I got locked up, they didn’t want to give us a bail hearing. So I fought for nine months, and then came home for a month got remanded, because they took our bail away and had to fight the rest of the case, and then.

Jeff Staple: Can you say what it was for?

Michael Camargo: It was drug conviction. It was conspiracy drug conviction. A1 Felony.

Jeff Staple: Is that moving or using?

Michael Camargo: No! Never using. No, I’ve never used drugs in my life until June. I started smoking weed in June.

Jeff Staple: It’s a new habit you picked up now.

Michael Camargo: Yeah it’s funny, because everybody is like, “What are you going to do when you get off probation?” I got off probation in June. I’ve done everything, that’s another thing, I’ve done everything in my career I’ve done off probation. We’re in Dubai right now, I wasn’t able to travel until June. Overseas.

Jeff Staple: Wow.

Michael Camargo: It’s crazy.

Jeff Staple: So you knew, after you went to jail, this isn’t a place I want to come back to.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, it was a lot. Not to get too deep into it, but there was a lot in my case, that stipulated a bunch of things. My family was involved, and it was a lot of things, and I was just like, man this isn’t the way. My father went to prison, my father got sentenced to 15 years. Then got deported, so I’ve been around that a lot. My friends, my uncles, my this, my that, like death, murders, kidnappings, seeing that from a distance as a kid. Like I’m Colombian, so when I was growing up.

Michael Camargo: I grew up in the early 90’s, I was born in the late 80’s. Seeing what was going on in the news back home, and my parents, and my mom and my uncle reacting to it. I remember when Escobar got killed. We were at my Uncle Carlos’s house which is a block away, and like it was all over the news. I was like, “Man, this is nuts.”, and I remember this, I don’t remember so directly, but I remember that being an energy around and you know my dad was in a gang, my mom was in the gang.

Jeff Staple: Oh your mom and your dad.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, both my parents was in the gang. My mother did federal time, and my father did federal time.

Jeff Staple: Do you think it’s very difficult to escape that lifestyle? When you’re brought up in it.

Michael Camargo: Absolutely, I wasn’t brought up in it. I was sheltered, but once you get to a certain age you see that energy.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: And my sister kept me away from all of that, because my sister is like a straight and arrow. My sister ran the streets, just because as a rebellious teen, but she fixed her life up quick. I trickle all my success into her, because she raised me.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: She was the one that was like, “That shits wack.”, “Don’t wear this.”, “Don’t be here.”, “Don’t do zirconi.”, like my sister, the best thing always about my sister. I always tell people, as much balling, as much flossing, as much whatever extravagance her friends had. My sister was always the one with a steady money, steady car, and her bills paid, and her own spot.

Michael Camargo: All her friends were selling dope, doing robbery, doing whatever, and she was the only one with a steady income because she worked a straight and arrow job. I’m like fuck that right, like whatever. The only job I’ve ever had is that, I was at work at a call center. So I’m like I went straight from that to this.

Jeff Staple: On this show, I try to stay close to the topic at hand. Which is business, there’s other places to hear the history and personal bios of people, but in Mike’s case, his family, his upbringing, and his surrounding hood was his business. So I felt like I needed to make an exception here. He got his degree from the streets, and his sister was the professor. As we heard from Mike a failure in this course, didn’t just mean an F, it would likely result in something far worse.

Jeff Staple: I interviewed, Sarah Andelman, on a previous episode, The Founder of Colette, and while Mike and Sarah couldn’t have come from a more disparate background. They do share one thing in common, they’ve only had one job, and to me that shows complete dedication to their craft. It doesn’t matter where they come from, the passion is the same.

Jeff Staple: Last time we hung out in Vegas. We had a little discussion on Jay’s new album.

Michael Camargo: Yeah of course man, wow.

Jeff Staple: And we talked about, a little bit about, how like Jay’s got this new perspective in life, but he came from the old ways.

Michael Camargo: Of course.

Jeff Staple: You now have this dual perspective too.

Michael Camargo: Yeah absolutely, it happens, it’s a natural progression.

Jeff Staple: If you’re doing it right, it’s a natural progression.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, well what you just said like when you said, you had just said, we were getting into like. Coming through what I went through. I think that is the reason I was able to make it, is because I made it from such a deep place. That all the wealth of knowledge I accrued, on my way gave me the skills to survive now. Which I don’t think people who go about things the conventional way, can achieve the level of successes that I’ve wanted to do. There’s still a lot of fear, and fear is the number one problem in anything.

Michael Camargo: Anything in love, in business, and whatever this is your fear, is the only thing that really holds you back. Fear of not being able to pay your rent, fear of losing your wife, fear of whatever. Fear is the biggest determining factor of everything. I came from somewhere where all my fears were stripped away step by step. I wasn’t scared of prison, I’m not scared of death.

Jeff Staple: Yeah, failing, whatever, you did it all.

Michael Camargo: All of those things as you go, so now I’m in the business world, and I’m like, “This shits a piece of cake.”. This is easy! I’ll eat everybody’s food in this room because I’m not scared of anything that comes with the repercussions. So like with Jay, it’s the same thing, he went through all of these dualities, and like learning himself, and that’s what happens to us.

Jeff Staple: Uh-huh (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Same thing, you go through it, and you’re like, “This shits wack.” There’s shit that I do on Instagram, that I did when I first started that. I look back I’m like, “Jesus Chris, what a bozo.” But that’s self-realization, you have to go through that to grow up.

Jeff Staple: A question I often get asked now is, where do I get my influences from, and further where should young people in today’s generation get their influences from? Is it still form the family? From friends? Is it from school? From the culture? Where should it come from when the whole world is literally right at your fingertips?

Michael Camargo: The internet changed everything, and in a good and a bad way. You got to deal with the pros and cons of it. I think that one of the biggest cons is the access to lifestyles and the way people portray things is way too prominent. People absorb that too quick, so like when you were growing up you had very few influences that were deciding factors.

Jeff Staple: Your homies.

Michael Camargo: Your mom, your homies, and like maybe one or two people other than that.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Now it’s like, who do I listen to? For a young mind, and for parents in this world, it’s hard for you to be able to keep a strong hold when there’s so many things going on that kids don’t know the inner workings of. People look at like, The Kardashians as idols, and I get the hustle but like, is that what you want to be known for? Do you want all those stigmas attached to the millions.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: I wouldn’t want to, but there is kids that are fine with that. There is kids that like… no disrespect to Kanye or anybody but like, when your kids grow up and they search about you. Which is the first thing they’re going to do now.

Jeff Staple: Uh-huh (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: What do you want them to see? I’m sure there’s a lot of headlines that read millionaires, celebrities, success, but then on page two of Google search there’s some shit that you-. I wouldn’t my children to see. Yeah I think it’s affected, with the drug culture with the way it is now. The drug culture is not the drug culture I grew up in. The fact that you even asked right, was it a using or a-. That’s a real question now, because all the kids that are rapping, are users.

Michael Camargo: I come from an era where that’s, you’re a corn ball, like what are you doing?

Jeff Staple: Using and-

Michael Camargo: You’re a bozo, like I mean like we smoked. We smoked bud, or maybe some liquor or whatever. I few kids back then, I mean like maybe some ecstasies or something, but you’re doing ‘xans’ and ‘lean’ all day, I’m like you’re bugging. Like that shits crazy.

Jeff Staple: You can’t run a business that way.

Michael Camargo: You can’t do anything that way, like how are you doing anything that way. How are you like-. Honestly, you know one of the biggest things I’ve noticed is, how safe the world is now. Can you imagine-, you grew up in New York.

Jeff Staple: Yeah, Jersey, New York.

Michael Camargo: Same shit, you grew up in the shit right. You grew up in it where like, right now I’m wearing a $100,000 worth jewelry. Shout out to Raffaello & Co. By the way, but like how safe it is where you can drugged up, ‘xan-ed’ up.

Jeff Staple: In a club, yeah, with all this jewelry on, yeah.

Michael Camargo: With all this jewelry on. And you’re not even on point. In the New York that I grew up in, if you weren’t on point, you was getting took.

Jeff Staple: The New York that I grew up in, you put your 20’s in your sock, and you put your singles in your wallet so when you get jacked, yeah here’s all my money.

Michael Camargo: That’s what I’m saying like, somebody on Xanax can’t even, he doesn’t even know where his wallet is. That’s like, it’s so safe, cause all of these kids are running around having a good time. I’m glad that, that energy is not there. I’m glad that the robbery and all that stuff-

Jeff Staple: Are you really? Sometimes I wish like-

Michael Camargo: I mean like-

Jeff Staple: [crosstalk 00:25:13] when it gets too gentrified, I’m like there needs to be a shooting.

Michael Camargo:  I wish that definitely was more of a realization. Like a realizing factor, I don’t wish crime or harm on anybody. I wish there was more realization and respect.

Jeff Staple: Respect.

Michael Camargo: Because I went to Spike Lee’s house, they had this Jordan event, and he was talking about how people, real estate agents, rezone and name them some other shit. Like Coral Gardens, and Lafayette Greens-

Jeff Staple: Rigid, Dumbo, yeah.

Michael Camargo: I’m like, this is Farragut Projects fam, don’t call this anything but, Farragut Projects. So yes, I do think, it’s a factor, and you just kind of like, we don’t want to be those bitter old men always complaining, right. We just got to try and embrace it, and move foreword.

Jeff Staple: So let’s go back to some of your pedigrees, you did styling, you went into sales, you’re learning those two aspects. Now you’re sort of known doing lifestyle consulting.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, lifestyle marketing, brand development.

Jeff Staple: What is, for people who aren’t really sure, and sometimes I’m not even really sure, but what is it mean when you like work with Pusha T, and J Balvin on their lifestyle development?

Michael Camargo: It’s a little different for both, because Pusha [inaudible 00:26:26] into the industry, even when I gave you my shot on music, he was like, “Look everything you know on the fashion side you can apply to music.” So I was working at Roc Nation, when I did Billionaire Boys Club I was the sales manager for certain territories, in there. Then I developed-

Jeff Staple: For Pharrell’s BBC line.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, Pharrell’s Billionaire Boys Club, I worked, you know he has a partnership with Jay.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: I was doing sales there for that brand, and then we launched three other brands while I was there. We launched, B-Line, we launched, Black, we launched, Ice Cream division.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: While I was there, it’s in the Roc Nation offices so I built a good relationship with everybody there now obviously. Shout to Emory Jones, who’s a big inspiration, one of my big brothers, and once that partnership, they didn’t split but the brand management went back onto [inaudible 00:27:16] staff, they offered me a job on Roc Nation to help develop-

Jeff Staple: Essentially Pharrell took back a 100% control of BBC correct?

Michael Camargo: I don’t know the logistics of control, but they went back to the development.

Jeff Staple: Yeah, so doing it through Roc.

Michael Camargo: Doing it yeah, in conjunction with Roc.

Jeff Staple: But you stayed at Roc essentially.

Michael Camargo: Yeah so Emory offered me a position on Roc Apparel to help launch some projects they were working on, because they were buying up brands, and launching Planes, which is the paper plane logo that everybody is familiar with now. Me and Emory had such a good relationship, it was a no brainer, like this is home. They’re the ones who hired me, and embraced me, obviously Pharrell, huge-, [inaudible 00:27:59], Phillip, all those guys were huge inspirations, and huge parts in my career.

Michael Camargo: But when I got offered the position, I stayed there at Roc.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: But there was a transition period, where I was kind of like in limbo. I didn’t really have a task day to day, and then I started working with somebody in the music marketing department, who kind of saw me, saw the talent that I had, and was like, “Hey, come here. What about this, and what about that.”, and he started asking me so I started like, the first thing I did was, I did some small product runs, for DJ Mustard, they wanted to do some giveaway stuff. So I came up with some cool concepts for that, and then Lenny S, obviously would ask me for my opinion. I started learning that, music and fashion marketing are the same, it’s applying a certain principle.

Michael Camargo: The easiest way for me to explain marketing is, marketing is the language you create between a consumer and a product.

Jeff Staple: It’s the messaging.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, its the language it’s how we speak to each other, and how we relate to each other between a product and a consumer.

Jeff Staple: That’s a great way to put it.

Michael Camargo: Thank you, and… Music is the same way.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: If I try to pitch you right now Lil Pump, you’d probably be like, “This is not what I listen to Fam.” But if I marketed it to you a cool way, you’d respect the marketing and take a listen to the song.

Jeff Staple: Yeah, exactly.

Michael Camargo: Right, that’s what ended up happening. I started learning that and Pusha was like, “Yo, nah, you home team. You coming with me.” He was working on his album, and I had caught the tail wind of the last album. His digital presence was something we really wanted to work on. Because, Pusha is the first internet rapper, people don’t realize that.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: The Clipse, and coming under Pharrell with a first hype beast rappers. You know the used to call their fans the ‘Clipsters’. Because it was all like, college kids who go on internet, find out-

Jeff Staple: On forums and stuff yeah.

Michael Camargo: Yeah forums, and Nike talk, and where are all the Bape and BBC that they were wearing, and they were sound track to that music. I mean you remember, like we met, the first time we ever met, aside from me going to the store and being a super geek fan, and you being like, “Yeah kid whatever, there’s a thousand of you that come here everyday.” Was at sneaker-, one of those sneaker dunk exchange, or one of those.

Jeff Staple: Sneaker Con.

Michael Camargo: Through, what’s this dude’s… Arrow from Nike. So he’s like, “Yo! You know this is Jeff.” And I was like, “Oh my god, like finally.” [inaudible 00:30:22] Hey what’s up yeah I’m going to back over here and these 90 other sneakers. But again you know like, that show that I met you at, the Clipse were performing.

Jeff Staple: Uh-huh (affrimative)-

Michael Camargo: And they performed at all of those shoes. They got booked for Dunk Exchange, Sole Collector, whatever all of them.

Jeff Staple: And we’re here at Sole DXB in Dubai right now.

Michael Camargo: And Pusha’s here.

Jeff Staple: [crosstalk 00:30:42] And we were just, a week ago, we were in Sao Paulo at May’s Fest, and-

Michael Camargo: And Pusha was there.

Jeff Staple: So he’s always embracing this.

Michael Camargo: Yeah because, the thing is he’s the conduit. Kanye said it, everything is Pusha T, that rant that he did. But think about it, what’s Jerry Lorenzo brand called?

Jeff Staple: Fear of God.

Michael Camargo: And what was Pusha’s first mix tape called? The Fear of God.

Jeff Staple: Oh…

Michael Camargo: Right?

Jeff Staple: Good point, touche.

Michael Camargo: What was Virgil’s first brand called before Off-White?

Jeff Staple: Pyrex Vision?

Michael Camargo: Pyrex Vision, what is Pyrex Vision?

Jeff Staple: That’s right.

Michael Camargo: Pyrex thirst turned into Cavalli thirst, that’s Pusha. Think about everything in that stream of things comes from Pusha. You know the Pharrell association, the BBC, and the Bape, and the Play clothes.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Anyway, that being said, Pusha’s digital presence, you know he’s very laid back person. Very quiet, and… He basically, was like, I want to create a new wave on digital, on my socials. I don’t want to do socials conventionally. I came on board, because that’s something that I specialize in. We started talking about how to incorporate his Adidas projects, his music, all of those things, to the roll outs. And how are we going to put them out to the kids, who are consuming all of his information just on social media. So that’s how I came on, and that’s kind of what I do there.

Jeff Staple: It’s amazing to hear how Mike honed all of his skills. In sales, by getting people to buy his shit. Styling, by telling people how to make it all look fly. And marketing, I’ve literally never heard of marketing as succinctly as he just did. Social media, have you seen his IG stories? He honed all of these skills, and applied them to one of the most platforms there is, music.

Jeff Staple: He did it with one of the most influential musicians in the game, Pusha T. The key point in this bit though, is when he was in Roc Nation, and he said he sort of didn’t have a place, and a specific thing to do there. We’ve all been there before, feeling aimless at a job, maybe sitting at your desk and start twiddling your thumbs, you start taking longer lunch breaks, start coming into work late, start leaving work early, but the defining moment of a successful person. Is being able to work through these moments, to find your purpose, and make your place.

Michael Camargo: Now Balvin is a different story, J Balvin, who is an international Latin music star. Didn’t have the conduit to American street fashion, culture, or fashion culture in general. Because in the Latin music industry that’s not the thing, like style is, questionable. I’m Colombian, and I’m proud to be Hispanic, but like if you look at Spanish music stars like-

Jeff Staple: It’s mad Euro right?

Michael Camargo: The first thing, you know what I’m thinking about fashion when you look at them, you know what I mean. Jose has a really, really strong love for fashion, and as an outlet of creativity. It reminds me a lot of Pharrell as being able to expand his presence to multiple things. So when me and him met, he was like, “Man I want to do this, and I want to do collabs, and I want to do fire merch, but I want to have lifestyle boutiques, and I want to do-.” So I was like, “Yo let’s do that, that’s easy. Like this is how” But you know, it’s getting his idea out into materialization form, it has nothing to do with his music, but it’s also getting the American audience and the European audience to embrace him for things other than his music.

Michael Camargo:  That’s my job there, it’s building that language, again it’s marketing it building a language that, it doesn’t matter that he makes Spanish music, everybody at GQ still fucks with him. They don’t know what the words are, but the vibe is there. As long as his look, and his appeal and his understanding of what the lifestyle project that he’s working on is, they’ll respect it, and it’s my job to create that language.

Jeff Staple: So are Pusha, and J through your consultancy group?

Michael Camargo: Yes.

Jeff Staple: And do you still do any work with planes and Roc.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, I mean Emory is always going to be my big brother. Anything, if he ever needs my advice on, they’re not a client, like a full-time client, but I’m always there. We always chop up ideas, anything they need me for, I’m there so, that’s family. They’ll always be ingrained in what I do.

Jeff Staple: When you, sort of go through these projects. Do you see it more of like, you’re adding and layering on or do you feel like, you have to put one to the side and concentrate on another one.

Michael Camargo: It’s tough, because-

Jeff Staple: Because there’s only so much time-

Michael Camargo: In a day, I know trust me.

Jeff Staple: So how do you keep adding?

Michael Camargo: I mean, tell the people what time was it.

Jeff Staple: I mean tell the people where we are.

Michael Camargo: Right now, we’re in Dubai it’s 1:00 AM in Dubai. Well it’s 12:51 AM in Dubai, which means in New York, it’s 3:51 PM, and I landed today at 3:00 PM. How long have you been here, two days?

Jeff Staple: Yeah.

Michael Camargo: So you’re still, off the schedule, but again we’re doing an interview, we’re doing a chat. But it’s because, again there’s only so much time in a day we have to capitalize and follow it. Pusha landed 40 minutes ago, he’ll be here in an hour or so, and then we got to go-, you know what I mean? It’s, this business is about, really enjoying the technicles.

Jeff Staple: You better enjoy it.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, because it’s not fun. If you don’t really love this shit, it’s not as fun as people think. That’s one of things I always try to convey.

Jeff Staple: Uh-huh (affrimative)-

Michael Camargo: If you follow me you’ll notice I’ll post, like a video at screen printer at 53 Merch, or at my embroidery place, and be there at 3:00 in the morning.

Jeff Staple: Yeah I see that.

Michael Camargo: But like, that shits real. That means I only slept two hours, before I had to be at this 9:00 AM interview.

Jeff Staple: Yeah, you were saying because of social, all kids see is the-

Michael Camargo: The good.

Jeff Staple: Bottle popping, the spending-

Michael Camargo: I try not to. Listen, it’s hard to encompass bad, in a visual way.

Jeff Staple: I know.

Michael Camargo: I’ve tried to, and it just doesn’t look good. It’s not supposed to look good, but if I put myself creating a [inaudible 00:36:43] at 2:00 AM. How do I post that, so you engage? Kids are going to scroll by and, be like I don’t want to see this.

Jeff Staple: Let me show you this picture, this is in Dubai right. I don’t know who shot this, but they tagged me on it. It’s me in a construction vest, at a desk, with a laptop.

Michael Camargo: Oh you got glasses on.

Jeff Staple: Yeah, I got my sunglasses, I’m just banging out a floor plan.

Michael Camargo: But you see what I’m saying?

Jeff Staple: It’s hard to make this look good on ‘The Gram’.

Michael Camargo: Exactly, but people like us, again this is why I say it’s important. It’s hard to make it look good on ‘The Gram’, but the kids who are looking to only look good on ‘The Gram’, aren’t the ones that are going to make it. So if you post that, and it’s probably only going to get 200 likes, but 80 of those kids are going to be like, “Fuck! Jeff, Jeff is doing. I need to get on Jeff level.”, and those are the kids I want to reach, because those 80 are going to change, the entire 100,000 who didn’t like it.

Jeff Staple: They’re going to be giving us work in 10 years.

Michael Camargo: What?! Absolutely!

Jeff Staple: Absolutely, right. I want to ask you about, because you grew up entrenched in hip hop culture.

Michael Camargo: Yeah.

Jeff Staple: And now, you know there’s thing called Street Culture, which wasn’t a [crosstalk 00:37:49] back then.

Michael Camargo: It’s funny.

Jeff Staple: Do you think, hip hop culture and street culture are the same, or do you see a difference between the two.

Michael Camargo: No, there’s a difference.

Jeff Staple: Explain.

Michael Camargo: Hip hop culture to me, has a little bit more of a global appeal, because there’s hip hop culture in Brazil, there’s a hip hop culture in-, you know Ray’Quan just did a show in Brazil.

Jeff Staple: Oh okay I had no idea.

Michael Camargo: Yeah that’s like a week after we left. That’s hip hop culture, that’s, people taking, that’s a music that was made out of social angst, that was spread across the world, that everybody can relate to.

Michael Camargo: Street culture, now we’re talking like, the street culture that Pusha’s attached to. There’s a very different degree of understanding of what that is, to me. Like street wear culture, is different thing, but street culture like… Trap music. It’s funny what I hear people call trap music now.

Jeff Staple: Yeah.

Michael Camargo: To me, that’s like, what they’re calling trap music isn’t-, that’s drug user music, that’s not music. Trap music is music, that people, it was like Jay. Is a trap music artist. If you’re talking about, if you listen to D’Evils, and you don’t tell me that’s a trap record. Like the South, might of coined the term, trap music for it’s sound for it’s beats. That term mainly come from the South, but-

Jeff Staple: By definition.

Michael Camargo: By definition, D’Evils is a trap record. That’s a trap record, and it’s like that’s a very, high taste level music for the street. This is what Pusha makes, and this was like, F.A.B still makes that type of music, Jadakiss makes that type of music. Like street culture, to me isn’t globally accepted. It isn’t globally understood because, it’s being marketed incorrectly.

Jeff Staple: Will it be? One day do you think?

Michael Camargo: I hope not.

Jeff Staple: Really?

Michael Camargo: Yeah, I hope not, because I think street culture is something that allows, people to separate the categories, of what you really, who you’re targeting something with. I think that if it spreads it’s going to get just as loosely based as everything else that’s going on. It’s like a niche.

Jeff Staple: Oh so you think, it’s diluted.

Michael Camargo: Yeah it’s like, think of street culture like, the American Express black card.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Right like, you can get one, but can you really “have” one? You understand what I’m trying to say? That’s a stamp that people really cherish, and walk around with the fact that, like you can walk into certain cities and people embrace you in the hood. That’s one of the things me and Pusha are trying to do, everywhere we go. I do it for sure, when I was in Paris, I went to the hood. When I went to Brazil-, and it’s not some cool, I’m tough, shoot them up, bang bang, hood shit. That’s corny. It’s about seeing people, the heart of the city is always in the hood. Because the hood, is represented by people that have, who are making something out of nothing.

Michael Camargo: When I went to Brazil, all the people that worked in the hotel, lived in near Favela. That’s what I’m trying to say, that’s where I go. I want to show them, listen yo, like I’m coming to fuck with you all because I’m in your city, I’m enjoying the best of your city, and I know that that city wouldn’t run without you guys. That’s why I go to the hood.

Jeff Staple: To get the hood, [crosstalk 00:41:02].

Michael Camargo: I don’t go to the hood to be like, “You know, I’m in the hood. I’m safe!” Man, that shits corny. Like I always thought that that was so corny. I’m good everywhere, no you’re not. You’re not bulletproof. If you really wanted to be touched, somebody could get you touched. That’s just the nature of the world. I think that going to the hood, and showing respect and showing love to those people is important. I don’t know if there’s a hood in Dubai, but if there is I would like to go check it out.

Jeff Staple: There is I think.

Michael Camargo: There is? Yeah, we should go check that out.

Jeff Staple: Yeah.

Jeff Staple: So if you follow Upscale on any of his socials. You’ll see that he’s on a first name basis with so many influential people. Now hopefully, one day you’ll also be on this level, but in this hustle. That’s only level one. What you’re able to take away from these interactions is what separates the boys from the men. Mike breaks down, what he was able to peel off, from each of his mentors.

Jeff Staple: You obviously, got to be in touch with a lot of amazing people, you mentioned Emory, you mentioned, Pharrell, you mentioned Pusha. Can you give us a key, what is one of the key learnings from each of them, because to me those three guys are so influential in their own ways, but so different.

Michael Camargo: Right, of course. I mean like Jesus Christ, and that’s the beauty right?

Jeff Staple: Tell me, what’s the learning from each one that you took away from.

Michael Camargo: All right, the first thing to do when you want to learn from anybody that you look up to. Is figure out your commonalities.

Jeff Staple: Yeah and I got another piece of advice.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, go ahead.

Jeff Staple: Don’t ever ask them. Like what can I learn from them.

Michael Camargo: Can you mentor me?

Jeff Staple: Do people do that? What??

Michael Camargo: No, not can you mentor me, but what can I learn from you.

Jeff Staple: Yeah what can I learn from you, teach me something.

Michael Camargo: That’s crazy, like you’re a show pony. Hey! Look at how I balance this Nike, shit like, what the fuck. That’s crazy, I’ve never heard that. I’m glad I’ve never heard that. Because, I’d ‘black’ on you. That’s great piece of advice man, I’m going to take that for myself, not that I’ve used it, but I’m going to implement it to kids that asked me.

Michael Camargo: But the key to it, is learning the commonalities and let me tell you why. If you connect with somebody that you look up to, and you looked up to for certain reasons, but then you realize you don’t have any commonalities. It’s going to be really difficult for you to take a blueprint, and follow that blueprint, because you’re following something doesn’t reign true to ‘you’, as a person.

Jeff Staple: Yeah, you’re perpetrating yourself.

Michael Camargo: In a way, not in a bad way, but you’re trying to say, “Man I really love Jay’s journey.”

Jeff Staple: But it’s not you.

Michael Camargo: But that was Jay’s journey, and even if you don’t-, if you have three or four commonalities that’s good. You can find your own approach, and you can retool their blue print, but if you’re following somebody that you really naturally don’t have a large portion of commonalities with, you’re kind of going to be fucked. You’re a big inspiration to me, but I wouldn’t want to follow, be mentored by you. Because our commonalities wouldn’t allow me to excel in a world, that you excel in.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: But, what I can do is, if I look up to you, and I realize, how little our commonalities are. I can pull away the things that you’ve done and figure out how to retool those for myself.

Jeff Staple: Wow. That’s deep.

Michael Camargo: The reason it hit me, and the reason that I learned that is because, of what we started the conversation with. 80% of my followers don’t know what I do for a living, and that’s a problem.

Jeff Staple: They just want the lifestyle.

Michael Camargo: They just want the lifestyle. So you don’t even know the commonalities that we have. You don’t even really know that if you really do want the lifestyle. Do you know how tired I get? How unhealthy I am? Do you know how often I got to go to the doctor? Is this what you want? Do you want to not sleep this many-, do you only want to eat one meal-. Yeah I’m a hood Anthony Bourdain, but I eat one meal a day.

Michael Camargo: It’s terrible, it’s super bad for you.

Jeff Staple: There’s mad sacrifices.

Michael Camargo: And it’s not about [inaudible 00:44:46], not being ready to make those sacrifices. It’s if those sacrifices are the right ones for you. So that’s the one thing, I always say, find our commonalities. It just so happens, with all three people you mentioned, I have very strong commonalities with.

Jeff Staple: But they’re very different people.

Michael Camargo: Right!? But that’s-

Jeff Staple: So how do you have commonalities with these three very distinct people.

Michael Camargo: But that’s the beauty of it, and that’s why-

Jeff Staple: Break it down, what’s the commonality for each one.

Michael Camargo: So we’ll start with Emory right. Emory went to prison, for something he did, but he stood to his morals. He stood up for who he was, and he didn’t expect any handouts, just because of his circle, and that’s the same person I am. I had a bunch of people, when I came home from doing my little time. That was like, let’s do this, let’s do that, and I was just like no. I’m going to do this, like I’m going to figure it out. And it’s been a struggle, and the only handouts that I took was from my sister. Man because I knew there would be a payback, but that was our commonality we we’re going to let our felony records, and our crime past define who we were, and we weren’t going to take now for an answer.

Michael Camargo: With Pusha, our commonalities are the high taste level of understanding where we come from. Pusha has such a high taste level, and as aspirational goals for where he comes from. He comes from Virginia crack era, like that shit was wild. People don’t talk about Maryland, Virginia, or-. After ‘The Wire’, it was a conversation, but prior to that. People didn’t know how nasty it was, and he came from that to like, he’s at Noble five days a week. Him wanting the best of the world, it comes form a genuine place.

Jeff Staple: A taste level and an appreciation of the craft.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, and like even his rap, and his music, that all is for me. We’re the type of person when we see somebody who we think is corny rocking something. That we started, we off it.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: That taste level is a commonality that is important in what we build because, it’s the same thing with socials. If we’re doing something like, if the caption sounds like somebody else, we not doing the right job.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Our commonality is there, and then who’s the third person? Balvin?

Jeff Staple: Pharrell.

Michael Camargo: Pharrell oh wow. Now, Pharrell is whole different thing, and I always tell people this. The only two men, I ever looked up to aside from a [inaudible 00:46:56]. Mine father, it’s Pharrell and Jay. Jay for his business and his relatability from the street, and Pharrell, because Pharrell was the first person that taught our entire street culture, the real street culture.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: That you could be from there, and still act and be and wear whatever you want, and say whatever you want. It’s cool like, honestly, Pharrell single handedly took away all my fears about fashion, about homophobia…

Jeff Staple: Yeah the bravery that he has.

Michael Camargo: Yo! And because he’s that motherfucking dude. You see Pharrell, don’t think he’s pussy. Like don’t take his kindness for weakness, Pharrell is still a Virginian dude. He’ll still talk some shit, and he’s still pop shit, and he still-. His women, like his female background, what woman didn’t want Pharrell at one point. All of those things that people, “Oh, yo, Pharrell’s mad gay, painting his hair.” My hair is dyed right now, and these are things that, I learned.

Michael Camargo: We may not have too many commonalities, but he gave me a rubric to get outside of my box. Without him, I don’t think I’d be as eclectic.

Jeff Staple: How long does it take for you to know that you have commonalities with someone?

Michael Camargo: Like two conversations.

Jeff Staple: You just read it, like radar.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, because the thing is, how people carry themselves. You know where I come from, and how I grew up-,

Jeff Staple: You got to read people; fast.

Michael Camargo: You got to read people super quickly. Especially like in prison, that shit changes you a lot.

Jeff Staple: Friend or foe.

Michael Camargo: No, not even that, but like there’s foe friends. There’s like CO’s, it’s like an entirely different governing system.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Going to prison, matured me a lot faster than I should have. In different ways, not as a man, but mentally. Having the capacity, to understand to deal with 30 different men, from 30 different backgrounds, you’re in a dorm, sleeping next to 30 different personalities. How can this happen, how can you manage this? Some people, didn’t make it, and they lash out, and some people are violent, and they ‘clique’ up with gangs because they don’t have the mental capacity to manage this situation. Institutionalization is real.

Michael Camargo: My senses for that, went to a thousand in prion, because I was like. Even somebody the way they ask you something, “Yo, let me borrow that.” Yo, let me borrow that, could mean 90 different things.

Jeff Staple: The way they ask is like, yeah-

Michael Camargo: “Yo.” It could mean 90 different things. “Yo, it’s your turn on the phone” That could mean seven different things.

Jeff Staple: Uh-huh (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: It’s my turn on the phone, I better get on now, or I can’t get on later, is that what you’re telling me? Or are you telling me like, “Yo, get on the phone now. Because I need it right now after you.” Or are you telling me “Yo, you can get, you good.” How you are you saying it to me. Those shit, you got to pick that shit up quick. If not, it could cause you harm, like you could die.

Jeff Staple: If you read that wrong, do you get [crosstalk 00:49:51]

Michael Camargo: Hell yeah, I’ve seen motherfuckers come home, that I was in the same dome with go home with a lifetime scar on they face.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Because, once somebody told him hand me that. They interpreted it the wrong way. Now, I wasn’t trying to be a victim of that circumstance. My sense got sharpened, and-

Jeff Staple: So when you walk into a boardroom situation, and you got CEO, you probably like this is like checkers.

Michael Camargo: It looks like, when I walk into a board-, I’m being dead honest with you, when I walk into 90% of the rooms that I walk into. It looks like a buffet. It looks like a big buffet.

Jeff Staple: You’re the shark.

Michael Camargo: I’m going to eat this motherfucker’s food. This nigga can’t keep up with me. I don’t care how big he is in the company, he doesn’t know more than I do. This is how I feel man. It’s just how I function.

Jeff Staple: And it’s probably true, because they haven’t seen a quarter of the shit that you’ve seen.

Michael Camargo: As of so far yeah.

Jeff Staple: No matter how big their LinkedIn page may be.

Michael Camargo: I don’t want people to think that-, I also don’t want people to think that just because of the crime factor, or the prison factor, is what made me that sharp. It’s my interpretation of the world, once I came home and was able to acclimate. The corniest motherfuckers in the world that be like, “Yeah, I doing ten joints, man. I just came home from doing ten joints.” I’m like, well all right, what do you have to show for it? You came home and did ten, what are you doing right now with that experience with that wealth of knowledge. Are you putting it back in a positive way? Are you creating a business? What are you doing? Or are you just always going to be the toughest nigga forever.

Michael Camargo: Okay so you’re scary. Okay and what? You’ll die at one point, and then what will you be? When I come with that aggression, I don’t think I’m better than them because I’ve survived worse things. I think I’m better than them because, I went through a-, huge experiences, was able to come out on top, but I’m using those against them in a business format.

Michael Camargo: So if you walk into a room, and say, “You know, uh, millennials in the Mid-West aren’t buying this. We don’t understand why, because the algorithm shows us that they should be.” And I’m like, that’s the problem. You’ve never walked into a mall in Alabama, and had $50,000 in your pocket and not be able to spend it, or see another drug dealer in a mall, see another kid in the mall in Alabama, or in Wyoming or Arkansas, all these dope, really drug heavy cities, and find out what the economy is like. So I’m going to take that little tid bit of information that I got when I was there, and I’m going to turn it into an asset, on the business side.

Michael Camargo: Okay you know what you guys need to do? There’s some community outreach that’s missing, there’s some brand lists that are… have gaps there. That’s what you don’t know. You’re looking at numbers. I have an experience with people, so that’s why I walk into rooms like that, you know what I mean.

Jeff Staple: I think it’s important for your consultancy sake, you’re there no trying to eat these people alive. You’re there trying to help the brand, and I have this problem too. When I walk into a lot of these boardrooms, I’m like, “Ya’ll don’t care about the brand. I’m here to help this brand, I don’t know why you’re here. I think you’re here to work out till your pension kicks in. You’re here to cash in on your check.”

Michael Camargo: What do you-, like. One thing I always wondered, you’re one of the people that were able sit on the other side of the table.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: How do you make sure you remain sharp? When you’ve already achieved that one, I already know how to achieve it. If I achieve success and stay focused that’s easy, but when you’re on the other side of the table and have seen like, how treacherous that world is. How do you jump back onto the other side, and still remain true to your product.

Jeff Staple: I think I had, I didn’t try to do it on purpose, but I had my clothing line, and I had read space. Which was-, it was very ground floor.

Michael Camargo: Like a testing ground?

Jeff Staple: Yeah, that’s like. Real ground floor shit. But [crosstalk 00:53:29]

Michael Camargo: But now you sit with corporate America, though. So how do you go back, to those, even if you do or don’t have those brands. How do you, I mean change the neutrality of what you’re doing? Do you ever go back on the other side be like, “Fuck, that one-, that one was brutal. That one was for the check, how do I clean this one up?” Or does that not even happen?

Jeff Staple: No, it doesn’t happen. There’s definitely things that I do for the check, but they still have to mean something to me.

Michael Camargo: Of course.

Jeff Staple: Still has to be on my case.

Michael Camargo: So that’s what resonates, always make sure that, the moral compass is aligned with that. I try to do that too, but I-

Jeff Staple: The moral compass-,

Michael Camargo: The difference between me, they’re going to come to me and I can say yes or no for a check. The reason I ask you is because, you been a gatekeeper, but you’ve also been on the other side of the table.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: By giving people, those deals, do you remember all of those things.

Jeff Staple: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, of course, and that’s why I love what like, Jay, and Roc Nation, and Emory does because they have to live on both sides of the table as well.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, it’s a real tough thing. I know, that’s why I asked you. Because I know their way of doing it, but your way has to be completely different.

Jeff Staple: The one thing that I think resonates is that, knowing what’s right and what’s wrong, and just to be able to man-, and be like, “You know what? I don’t really care how much money we’re going make out of this. That shits just wrong. I wouldn’t want you to treat me that way, and the fact that you might even be proposing, to treat somebody that way means that one day, you’re going to try to do that to me.”

Michael Camargo: Right, right, right. How many times had that come back to bite you in the ass?

Jeff Staple: Where I turned it down, or I took it?

Michael Camargo: Where you took it, where you said your piece and it didn’t go that way.

Jeff Staple: If I say my piece I live with it. I don’t regret it.

Michael Camargo: Right, it’s cool.

Jeff Staple: Yeah it’s totally cool.

Michael Camargo: Nice. Yeah those are things you got to learn, man. Those are things I haven’t seen yet.

Jeff Staple: Walking away, is a lot harder you’ll find, and saying no to that check is much harder. Saying no is much harder, you could say yes to everything, yes man them to death, and just take everything that comes that way.

Michael Camargo: Those are the things that scare me. Because I have so many, I have a skill set, that’s kind of been honed into what I do, but I’m around so many people that inspire me, that I’m like man. I hope I’m prepared for the time I’m going to be on the other side of the table.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: You know?

Jeff Staple: Yeah.

Jeff Staple: Yo, Mike. I ask the questions, you answer them, that’s how this works. No, but I’m glad Mike flipped this question on me, and now I’m going to take time to reflect on this further, because this is my show and I get to do that. To the young individual listening to this at home. If you do your job right, and if you hone your skills correctly, eventually people, companies, and organizations will start throwing money at you.

Jeff Staple: When Mike, talks about being on the other side of the table, he means the other side of the table that controls the purse strings. So, picture yourself at a job interview. You’re sitting at a table, your side of the table is asking for the money right? The other side of the table is controlling how much money gets spent. That’s the table Mike is referring to. Now in an ideal world, every time somebody offers you a check, it will be in perfect alignment with your moral compass.

Jeff Staple: Do you feel super good about taking this check, in exchange for the services you’re about to render? Or do you feel just a little bit icky, or do you feel really straight up gross about it. In an ideal world, it’s all gravy, good money, good vibes. In worst case scenario, you get offered bad money, and it’s bad vibes. Those are fine to me, because those are deals that are easy to walk away from, but what if it’s ridiculous money you’ve never seen before in your life, and kind of so-so vibes?

Jeff Staple: This is where it gets tough, and this is where the moral compass kicks in helping you to hopefully, make that right decision. Moral compass is really just another way of saying, intuition, and being able to read your own intuition is a major skill set to acquire.

Jeff Staple: You’ve now, in addition to everything that you’ve done. You’ve now, become your own brand in recent years.

Michael Camargo: It’s so fucking weird.

Jeff Staple: Yeah so you’re a brand too, and when you speak on social, and you do it so well, but you’re the host of your own live 24/7 talk show.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, I hate it.

Jeff Staple: How does that-, but you’re good at it.

Michael Camargo: I’m good just because it’s me. Yeah it’s not hard at being you, if you’re really you online. There is nobody, and this is something I can really, I don’t have to knock on wood like, there’s nobody walking the Earth. That will ever meet you, and be like, “Man, I knew Mike when he was 17. That’s not him! He’s frontin’” It happens on my social, all day. Kids come up, yo we went to high school together. I can’t believe you’re doing the exact same thing you said you were going to do.

Jeff Staple: That’s dope!

Michael Camargo: It’s crazy, you know, but it’s because you got to remain true. Be you, and also be very clear at showing your mistakes, and owning up to your bullshit and when you’re broke. You’re broke. People don’t say that, people don’t be like, I’m hurt, I’m hit right now. I’m hit sometimes, I’m independent. Yeah you see me stunting but there’s a lot that goes up and down with that stunting. Sometimes a bill might have got missed, or we might just not be able to do Noble that week. Like it happens, you know, I’m not rich. It may look like that, but I try my hardest to show you it’s not like that. And I’m working towards it, and I think the more transparent I am, the more people connect with me. You know what I’m saying?

Jeff Staple: How are you at, I mean you represent a lot of individuals and a lot of brands in the past. How are you at representing, you, yourself? How do you negotiate yourself?

Michael Camargo: That’s why I said I hate it. Because this is the problem… Being an influencer, is the antagonist of being a consultant. If everything I consult on has success depends on my influence, I’m a bad consultant.

Jeff Staple: Yes. And you’re kind of fucked.

Michael Camargo: Yeah.

Jeff Staple: Kids don’t know that, but-

Michael Camargo: Kids think, “Oh, you lit!” [inaudible 00:59:30]

Jeff Staple: You got shoes?

Michael Camargo: Yo he’s lit! Yo for every one fucking one pair of shoes they send me, I buy seven, fam. What the fuck are you talking about? But now, nevermind the money I spent, because I posted one free shoe. You think all the eight the I bought were free. So how does that help me? In my scope of trying to show, look this is how you go about doing this, make sure you don’t need anybody.

Michael Camargo: Listen, you know why I buy seven pairs of shoes? Aside from the fact, that I’m a fucking addict. Because, I want everybody who gives me anything to know that I don’t need them.

Jeff Staple: Yeah, I agree. I buy. Please send it back, I buy.

Michael Camargo: Send it back. I don’t need it, I’m cool. You know why? Because you’ll never be able to dictate what I say, what I do, or what I wear. Because you gave me something, and luckily everybody that gives me stuff, knows that, and gives me stuff that they honestly want me to wear.

Jeff Staple: Yeah, and I think the industry sees-, You mentioned influencers versus consultants. The better you are at being an influencer, I think they automatically see, you actually have no skill set.

Michael Camargo: No skill set.

Jeff Staple: Other than, being an influencer.

Michael Camargo: And listen-,

Jeff Staple: There is no influencer-, but you actually could be good at-, you could be influential and good at your job, but I think-

Michael Camargo: You have to learn how to separate the lines. That’s what I try to do, and that’s why I hate being an influencer. You know, I just recently started showing my face, you’ve been following me for a while. The reason I’ve been doing that, is because I realized, it’s unfair to kids who relate to me not being able to have a figure head. To say, all right you are a real person.

Jeff Staple: Yeah.

Michael Camargo: So if I’m never showing my face, if I’m not taking pictures, if I’m not signing autographs, then am I really some body that they’re connecting to? Then everything I’m doing is kind like counter productive.

Jeff Staple: I’m the same. I realized a couple years back, that I had to step in front of the curtain. I’m a-,

Michael Camargo: I know because I used to try and do that. I was one of those people, yo Jeff-

Jeff Staple: Trying to hide behind the curtain?

Michael Camargo: No! For you fool! Like I used to be like, “Jeff can you sign this?” And you’d be like, “Yeah, just give me one second.” But now, you’re a lot more, because you were shier back then. You’re a celebrity, now you understand people connect to you and have followed you for a long time. You know, I understand why you do it, because I have to do it myself. A lot different for you, because you actually have product that you’ve put out. I’ve never put out a product that’s mine.

Michael Camargo: Like [inaudible 01:01:40], we were found it. It was ours, but the product wasn’t mine. I didn’t design it, it didn’t say I was skilled man, it didn’t say Mike Camargo, it didn’t say none of that. I’ve very rarely, have put out anything that’s mine. So people ask me to ask other things, that I’m involved in and it’s weird.

Jeff Staple: Right!

Michael Camargo: You can sign a staple shirt, you can sign a Pigeon Dunk, it’s your thing. I understand, but when people come up to me and ask me for an autograph, it fucking, it freaks me out.

Jeff Staple: All entrepreneurs have been at this crossroad, the decision of whether to take the stability of a paycheck from a company versus the freedom and risk, of doing it on your own. It’s definitely not for everyone, and each person has their own unique set of circumstances. If you’re supporting other people, that will play a factor in your decision. If you have certain expenses that you just can’t sacrifice, that will play a factor. If sleep is important to you, that will play a factor as well.

Jeff Staple: With the amount of connections Mike has, I wonder if he has ever thought of cashing in his entrepreneurial chips, and taking the corner office, for the man.

Jeff Staple: So now that you have your own, consultancy and you’re basically the owner of your own company.

Michael Camargo: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Jeff Staple: How is, is this better this way than working for someone, and getting a steady check?

Michael Camargo: Oh man, that’s not even a question. Being your own boss is the only way I’d ever be able to see life. I don’t think I’d ever take a corporate gig, ever again. I don’t think-

Jeff Staple: Corporate gig meaning, like do you consider Roc, a corporate gig?

Michael Camargo: Yeah.

Jeff Staple: Okay.

Michael Camargo: I mean unless, it’s a…

Jeff Staple: Then you get, a paycheck you know what you’re going to get. [crosstalk 01:03:17]

Michael Camargo: Roc is different. Roc is home team. So I’d consider anything with Roc, because they’re family. They helped build my career, Emory helped build my career. I would consider anything there, but like yeah I understand the stability of income, and all that stuff, and being able to shift culture on a bigger level. Like if I was an executive at Nike, or something, and those are positions I’ve considered, but not being able to do what I want, say what I want, whenever I want is something. That freedom I don’t think I would trade for finance.

Jeff Staple: Yeah. How are you, now living check to check? Is it life is gravy, like is it- [crosstalk 01:03:50]

Michael Camargo: No, no, I mean, all the money goes back into the business, and I spend a lot of money to make money. As you know, pitching for projects that you don’t get is a loss. People don’t know that. People think that-

Jeff Staple: You still need money to pitch a project, yes.

Michael Camargo: What? Mad money! It’s a portion of your budget. People don’t know how much I spend to pitch a project, and there’s a lot of times I don’t get it. So that’s lost money, but that’s investing in my company. But things are okay, this year has been on the up and up. My finances are managed pretty well, and I’m trying to grow right now, but I do take some L’s and there are times where I take a loss and money isn’t coming in. I might not a [inaudible 01:04:32] or a retainer for that three months span. But it happens, and I’m fine with those, because it teaches me, what to do better in the upcoming years. So I’m cool with that.

Jeff Staple: Does all the money go back into the company? Or do you like, pay yourself?

Michael Camargo: Most of it. No I don’t pay myself, all of it goes back to the company. Yeah all my expenses come out of the company money, but you know I splurge in it.

Jeff Staple: Yeah, I can see.

Michael Camargo: A little Raffaelo & Co visit, here and there never hurt nobody, you know what I mean.

Jeff Staple: Right, right.

Michael Camargo: It’s apart of the costume.

Jeff Staple: I know.

Jeff Staple: So now, that we have a much better understanding of who Mike “Upscale Vandal” Camargo is, and where he came from, and now that we know he calls himself a consultant. I wanted to put him on the spot a bit and ask him, what advice he gives to a brand that is struggling. Particularly, in the very competitive sneaker market. A culture that is near, and dear to both of our hearts.

Michael Camargo: All right, so the first advice I’d give to a company that’s trying to fix themselves is, self-realization. Go through a period of self-realization, really find out and put out, and this doesn’t, won’t ever happen. I know, because I know these companies, but that’s the only way to fix the problem. Is it really wash out, and do a self-realization period where you’re saying, “This is what we did wrong. We have to own up to these.” Fix those errors, and then move forward.

Jeff Staple: Why is it so hard for a company to look at themselves in the face?

Michael Camargo: Because a company is multifaceted, and different branches are responsible for different things. If you go to a Nike or a Jordan, or an Adidas or whoever, the marketing department won’t take credit for bad product.

Jeff Staple: Yeah, they’ll more likely point the finger, that it’s sales.

Michael Camargo: Right!

Jeff Staple: It’s design.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, and that’s the problem with working with a company. Right, that’s the thing.

Jeff Staple: Nobody wants to take accountability.

Michael Camargo: Nobody wants to take accountability, which is why, it’s one of the things that frustrates me about working in that world, because it’s hard to fix something that’s broken because of gaps in time. For example, this is no shot, it’s hard for me not to take shots at anybody, but lets say a company like… I’ll give you a good example of who’s doing it. Reebok.

Michael Camargo: Reebok, took a sharp L. For a long time, they were always in the competitive like top five or whatever. But, they took a sharp L, and I think that Reebok, is doing phenomenally right now. Because they’re looking at, where they are lacking. And they said, “We fucked up here. We had a little hype in these basketballs zones. So everybody go to basketball. Fuck everything else.” And it’s like no man, Reebok was lifestyle. Reebok had so many cultural moments.

Michael Camargo: I don’t know how the system worked, but they looked and said, “We probably fucking up, and we need to allocate some attention and let’s wash away the revamps of the 90 different fucking shoes that we already don’t sell, and let’s fix that.”

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: You know they hired, Frank “The Butcher”.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Who was the cultural god. Like Frank, knows every moment that happened in sneaker culture that meant something, and his job was to go in there and pick, beacon style things to develop, but he’s doing it in such a real way. That works for Reebok.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: None of the projects, that Frank has put out, don’t look like Reebok. They don’t look like they’re chasing anybody. They look like they’re Reebok, and I think it takes a lot more than one person.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: If every department, at Reebok did that I think they’d be okay. I think they’d be in really good shape.

Jeff Staple: So you’re saying that Reebok was a brand that was able to look at themselves, square in the face and make a change.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, but a lot of companies don’t. Like Under Armour isn’t doing it, you know, I know because I’ve sat with them.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: I sat with them, and the one project I did with them, was a smash. Then I see the glimpse of hope in there, and it’s just like, it’s the Titanic. It’s too big of a machine to move quickly, and they have the money, but it’s like, bro. Do shoes just, the logo in the shoes are just not accepted, it’s badly designed shoe, wear that.

Jeff Staple: A weird logo.

Michael Camargo: If I was at Under Armour, do you know how fucking quickly I would jumped on the dad shoe meme?

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Instead of trying to ignore it, and fight it. I would have killed it! If I was on the digital team.

Jeff Staple: Own this shit.

Michael Camargo: I would have listened. I would have had like, memes a curry shooting up a monarch. Like all types of dad swag beefs. Like I went and outfitted, all the dads on T.V. All the fucking dad swags.

Jeff Staple: Sitcom dads-

Michael Camargo: No, I would’ve done fucking, what’s the name, Silicon Valley. They’re all dressed dad swag right.

Jeff Staple: You would had them all wear it.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, I would’ve had them all wear it, and they could joke about it. Embrace that shit, learn how to flip that shit, instead of saying like, “No, you know they’ll learn to love the logo.” Are you fucking dumb? They’ll learn to love the logo? Is that what you-, is that what you’re really hoping for? Is for kids to say, “Oh you know what? This UA on my shit, is just, it’s cooler than the [inaudible 01:09:26]” Yeah, you’re fucking dumb.

Jeff Staple: Well let’s see how it works out for them.

Michael Camargo: Hey call-[crosstalk 01:09:30]

Jeff Staple: What are your thoughts on, brand Jordan right now?

Michael Camargo: On fire.

Jeff Staple: Okay.

Michael Camargo: On fire.

Jeff Staple: But the sales report say, they’re struggling.

Michael Camargo: Again this is the thing I’m talking about, it’s about a company being a big ship, and there being different things. The sales reports are struggling, this is one of the unfair factors, of putting Jordan against every company. Jordan was built off a legacy of shoes that are retros.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Right?

Jeff Staple: Yeah.

Michael Camargo: Meaning that, for the brand, to create new product. Is very rarely accepted, because kids are so attached to a legacy, that they won’t embrace new things, because there is a far attachment that is attached to one person.

Jeff Staple: Right.

Michael Camargo: Nike, is not attached to one person. It’s attached to a multiple people, and like all those people have their own legacy. The Agassi, Andre Agassi, developed a whole new generation of sport tech look. That they could feed off of, and do all the silhouettes off of that, remind them of that. Same thing for like, Nike baseball, with Griffey. They did all this cross training thing, that they were able to feed off of.

Michael Camargo: Jordan has one guy. His name is the shoe.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: So that legacy is shadowing.

Jeff Staple: [crosstalk 01:10:44]

Michael Camargo: They have to make magic, and volume, and multi-billion dollar business with one legacy shoe.

Jeff Staple: But people hold them up to Nike’s Swoosh, as the second [crosstalk 01:10:53] to do that.

Michael Camargo: Right, it’s unfair. But, think about it. All the new products that they’ve done, like the 31? Was stupid!

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Fire. Again it was based off of the legacy of something that was done, but that shoe was murdered. But kids don’t give it to shops because kids don’t have any softs. Kids now a days don’t have they’re own swag, they’re rebuilding off of swag that’s existed already. So like, it takes brave kid to wear a shoe, that wasn’t popular at one point, and make it popular. Like a 16 or a 23 or whatever.

Jeff Staple: All your friends are wearing Stan Smiths, and stuff.

Michael Camargo: Right.

Jeff Staple: You better be coming out with a Jordan 31.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, exactly! Or a Jordan 16, like a retro that wasn’t as popular, or 14 or whatever. I think they’re doing phenomenally, especially with like the special [inaudible 01:11:41] projects. Like Gemo Wong, in Frank Cooke’s department, man have you seen the shit they’ve been putting out? The way they’re dropping stuff even.

Michael Camargo: Innovation is not the issue there. They know what they’re doing, they know how to tap in, they know how to-, Nobody, nobody right now in footwear is telling better stories than them.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Tell me, one person.

Jeff Staple: I don’t know.

Michael Camargo: Even their shoe revamping. Look at how they’re doing, look at how they did the Laylee May shoe, and the story that it told, right. When they go and put it in a swap meet. In Cloths and Swap, they told the story A to Z, when they dropped the Jordan. One of my favorite things they’ve done was the Spike Lee, ‘Do the Right Thing’ four, which is really limited. They rented out Spike Lee’s actual house, redid Mookie’s room, and then you were able to get the Jordan four with the scuff on it from the movie. Full story telling, and it’s a Jordan four, how many more ways can you tell a Jordan four story, without Mike?

Michael Camargo: I think Jordan is doing a phenomenal job, and their new product is all ill. The fact that they brought back ‘Trunners’, and they revamped them. You got motherfuckers wearing Trunners again. That’s not easy man.

Jeff Staple: Right, that’s not easy.

Michael Camargo: That’s not easy, but they’re doing it.

Jeff Staple: Okay final advice for somebody that looks up to you.

Michael Camargo: My first advice would be, get to the roots.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Get to the roots of what made me, and what made you, you. The Pigeon Dunk, and all those things, beautiful. Things that inspired me to design my own shoes. Just creating my own brand, have my own space, but get to the roots. Maybe re-, Everybody wants to recreate somebody’s highlights.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: Everybody wants to mimic and create their own highlight from somebody else’s highlights. Nobody wants to go and create a low light. Nobody wants to create a bad time, and I think kids should do that. I’m not saying go to jail. But I’m saying like…

Jeff Staple: Make mistakes.

Michael Camargo: Make mistakes, and make mistakes in the realm of what the mistake that propelled you, to go to where you were. Get fired, a few times. Whatever it is that propelled-

Jeff Staple: Or maybe not get fired a few times, but don’t worry about getting fired. Do things, that might get you fired.

Michael Camargo: Yeah, yeah, yeah, and… With me, if somebody was like, “Yo, I want to model myself after you.” You know go to the root, because that’s really where all the sauce came from. Was me, moving through these channels, and figuring it out. That all these little sprinkles that came after were, anybody could, you can get that when you’re on your own. But, go to the roots.

Jeff Staple: What’s the most common mistake you see them make? Because you run into a lot of them.

Michael Camargo: Talking.

Jeff Staple: And not doing.

Michael Camargo: And not listening.

Jeff Staple: Okay.

Michael Camargo: Yeah. The biggest mistake, I see with anybody is how much they want to talk to me. Go do, and listen. Are you really listening like, when kids come up to me and are like, “Yo, I want to build. I want to [inaudible 01:14:31]. Yo my man.” You know what I hate the most, bro? This may sound like a dick move, but I’m doing it, maybe kids will start listening not to do this. Don’t connect, don’t correlate yourself to me, or anybody you meet. Why?

Michael Camargo: Why are you doing that? No, I’m being serious. If I met with you, and I’m like, “Yo, Jeff man. Honor to meet you bro. Great-, yo, my uncle John he used to do production at the house where you did your Staple shirts.” And you’re like, “Dope.”

Jeff Staple: Yeah.

Michael Camargo: And I’m like, “Yeah, so like, my uncle John. Yo, so we should do this.” Why?! Introduce me to your uncle John, not you. You fucking idiot.

Jeff Staple: That’s so common, I know.

Michael Camargo: Bro, but why? Why? Why?

Jeff Staple: I don’t know why they do that, but-

Michael Camargo: It’s because they’re trying-

Jeff Staple: It’s a nervous reaction.

Michael Camargo: No, it’s not. It’s they’re trying to even the playing field between you and them.

Jeff Staple: They’re trying to find a connection point, that is not deeply rooted.

Michael Camargo: Don’t do that! Don’t do that, because you’re trying to come up, why are you trying to connect to me? Learn from me.

Jeff Staple: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: If I’m in a level, where you want to be at, don’t try level-, in a conversation. Don’t try to level ourselves in a conversation. When I just met you. I fucking hate that.

Jeff Staple: Uh-huh (affirmative)-

Michael Camargo: I hate when a nigga comes up to me, and motherfucker’s like, “Yo, man, yo. My cousin-, You know my cousin Matt? You know Matt?”, yeah I know a Matt. “Yeah so, he used to work at Roc when you was working there. He used to deliver all the packages.” And I’m like, “Dope.”

Jeff Staple: Thank you, have a nice day.

Michael Camargo: Bye. He’s like you know, but then he’s like-

Jeff Staple: But yo, Matt!

Michael Camargo: He tries to do the full circle, “Yo, so like me and Matt are trying to start this thing, and like you guys were cool so like, he had told me one time that he shook your hand.” Like it’s wild. They go off into these tangents, of like. Don’t connect yourself to me, bro. Not that, I’m above you or whatever, but if you’re trying to do something. Don’t try to bring up a bunch of things, that haven’t been done, because now I’m just realizing you’re not doing anything with your time.

Jeff Staple: I know. It almost feels like, they’re literally spraying smokes and mirrors at like, [inaudible 01:16:28]

Michael Camargo: That I don’t need.

Jeff Staple: And then you’re just like-

Michael Camargo: I’d rather you come up and tell me, “Yo, man I’m a struggling artist. I got kicked out of my house, because I’m trying to do screen printing, and my mom is allergic to the smell. Do you know of any places that I could screen print. I want to make a brand.” Tell me that. Don’t tell me, “Yo, my mom used to work at Home Depot, ten blocks from your house.” I don’t care, I rather you tell me what you’re trying to do. See if it sparks my interest, and get some advice from me, and keep that moving.

Jeff Staple: All right man, I think that’s good. Thank you very much for your time.

Michael Camargo: No of course man, thank you for doing this.

Jeff Staple: Tell us how we can keep up with your life.

Michael Camargo: At Upscale Vandal everywhere in life. @Upscale_Vandal,, if you’re looking for some consulting work, or if you’re listening to this and you’re one of those companies that I mentioned, or if you’re looking some consulting work go to the website, send [inaudible 01:17:12] info at Upscale Vandal.

Michael Camargo: We here man, we trying to share the culture trying to be like Jeff Staple in Dubai. Living, my man.

Jeff Staple: Thanks for listening to the episode. You can find out more, about the show, or listen to past episodes, at Subscribe to us where you listen to podcasts. I use overcast, and you can reach out to me on Twitter, @JeffStaple. You can check us out on the web at, and you can email any questions to,

Jeff Staple: The Business of Hype is directed by Daniel Laveta. Edited and produced by Bright Young Things, you can check them out BYT.NYC. Engineering was done by Patrick Morris. This was recorded at Sibling Rivalry Studio in New York City, and on location at Sole DXB in Dubai.

Jeff Staple: I’m Jeff Staple, and you’ve been listening to the business of hype, on Hypebeast radio.