Thursday, May 26, 2011

King Status X DRComrades

King Status Tee: If you are a king in your own right, whether it be in business, on the mic, on the court or any aspect of life, this tee represents you. There is only one type of status you need and that’s “King Status!”

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Fashion For Freedom Movement

From DRC's Creative Director, Eric Ndelo:

The fusion I see around me is astounding. So many different, creative individuals and organizations are using fashion to convey a message and it is more than just something I've observed.

It's a movement. And the message is freedom.

It make us smile to see that it's cool to be conscious and that there are so many like us - Obey, Invisible Children and So Me, to name a few - who are implementing social awareness initiatives to speak out for a cause. We all have a creative drive to convey a message through fashion that can be sold to raise funds to support the countries and people who need it the most. The people who have been hit with unthinkable atrocities or natural disasters.

As we at DRC ApeParel continue to push for freedom from oppression, exploitation, fear, slavery, murder and so on in the Congo (and worldwide), we are honored to be part of an amazing body of people in the fashion industry who are striving for real, honest change.

Support us and be part of the movement

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Congo's Treasure: her land

The River and Rainforest
The Congo is the planet’s second largest river by volume - the Amazon is first - and second largest rainforest. It stretches across central Africa and two-thirds of the forest is found in the Democratic Republic of Congo.  

To get an idea of the magnitude of The Congo’s impact on the region check out this blurb from 

Millions of people across the region depend on the forest for food, medicine and shelter, and the cultures of many communities are founded on their relationship with the forest. No less than two-thirds of the DRC's 60 million people rely on the forest in one way or another.

The wealth of biodiversity is also immense. Forest elephants roam the area as do three species of great ape: gorillas, chimpanzees and bonobos. Animals and birds such as okapi and the Congo peacock are found nowhere else. And, as with all large forest areas, the Congo plays a vital role in regulating climate, both locally and globally.

Logging the rainforest in hopes to boost the region’s economy has been met with the cold, hard fact that the land has been stripped by unfulfilled promises. Corruption is wide-spread and until the minds and hearts of officials can be changed, plans to trade the natural resources of The Congo for financial gain, thus improved living and working conditions, will continue to fall down a well no one can see the bottom of. 

To the world, as much CO2 as has been released by the UK in the past 60 years could be released by the deforestation of The Congo. To the people, their lives are directly connected to the welfare of the land. It is our global and social duty to be conscious of these threats and work towards change and protection of the land.

The Gorilla Habitat

Logging, agriculture, illegal hunting are the main causes for destruction of the gorilla habitat in The Congo rainforest. Threats to both the forest and the gorilla go hand in hand and their safety rely on the success of the government to enforce penalties. 

Grauer’s Gorilla is the largest of the four types of gorilla and lives only in the DRC.

The Cross River Gorilla habitat is being carved into isolated blocks and can only be found on the Nigeria-Cameroon border.

The Mountain Gorilla lives in the heights of the forest and exists in just two spots today.

The Western Lowland Gorilla is threatened by the demand for bushmeat and the Ebola disease, but recently a secluded crowd of 125,000 were discovered in the DRC!

Organizations like the Wildlife Conservatory Society do tremendous work to discover vital information to help save these gorillas and their fellow forest mates. The most important thing we can do to help is put pressure on the government of these countries to implement defined restrictions on where and when humans can impede on the lives of the trees and all the species of bugs and animals that live in them.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The new DRC ApeParel Website has launched!

It's up and running - click here! 

We are proud to present improved features, sly navigation and a design that is rugged yet stoic, gorilla-style. 

Our backend and under the covers coding is very complex with over 960,000 lines of code running the site. We have at least another 200,000 lines of code to be injected into the system before the end of the year, and boast 55,000 lines of content currently in the system - which will continue to grow at a rapid pace! Our goal here is to make it easier and faster for our providers to put content into the system and to ensure visitors interact with a clean, simple to use, fast interface.

To recognize the power, flexibility and scalability of Titus aka DRC 3.0, we use these technologies:

DRClassification System: the powerhouse -- allows us to easily organize and reorganize our content with a few simple clicks of the mouse; our content is now centralized and hosted on redundant in-house hardware.

DRCandy UI: the candy -- a highly customized user interface providing a vibrant, visually appealing experience for our customers; no candy is sweeter than DRCandy!

DRCache: the speed -- a developed component to make visits to the site load quicker than ever. Not only does the site look good, but it's fast as well!

DRCommerce: the shop -- a revamped system provides an exciting shopping experience. A virtual walk through our store is one of those experiences that makes you say "It's Cool 2 B Conscious!"

Look for future enhancements to the website like mobile phone apps, wallpapers, PS3 themes and more!


Website Architecture.....Jay Dawkins II
Creativity & Website Development.....Eric Ndelo
The Cause and blog content.....Jen Novelli

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Let's Party and...with The Notorious B.I.G.

Fourteen years ago this week - on Wednesday, March 9th - a nation will remember one of the greatest rappers in history. That nation is the hip-hop nation. The rap nation. His home, the American nation, and many others around the world that knew Christopher Wallace as The Notorious B.I.G.

From sea to shining sea

Biggie's talent was born in the gang-torn, hustl'n streets of his Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood, and as it grew, so did his notoriety. Twenty-four years later he was shot and killed in Los Angeles, where his death washed over his fans like a drowning wave.

Today we remember what made him great.

No one could tell a story like Biggie. His flow is lyrical, his delivery honest and he's a beast at his craft. And that's something that we at DRC ApeParel identify with.

When we created our logo, the Gorilla represented not only a native species to the Congo, but also a cool, intelligent and seize-the-day nature. We believe this instinct was crucial to Biggie's survival and success, much as it is to ours.

So, this weekend as we celebrate the birthdays of our Chief Operating Officer, Tony Mercer, and Creative Director, Eric Ndelo, we will commemorate the life and death of The Notorious B.I.G.

Join us in Gorilla City!

We extend an invitation to all of you - our fans, customers, volunteers, friends and DRC family- to join us at Sin City at 410 Westinghouse Blvd. in Charlotte, NC from 10pm-2am.

No Cover. No inhibitions. It's cool to be conscious!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Invisible Children & Girl Up

Invisible Children is a non-profit organization started by three Californian dudes who while traveling in Africa one summer, decided they could make a difference. Like most things, the evolution from that day to today, and a company generating the energy and funding to support six Ugandan-led programs, has been a process. It all started when they realized a massive amount of raw energy and love exists in people around the country who want to make a difference. They asked, how do we capture it?

Invisible Children: WHO WE ARE from INVISIBLE CHILDREN on Vimeo.

This type of change is what we at DRC ApeParel envision when we get up in the morning, when we sit down at the office, and when we have a new design inspiration to bring to you.

As we grow and expand our reach, we encourage you to take this journey with us. Connect with us on Facebook, be part of the blog community, chat with us on Twitter. Tell us how we can strengthen our relationship with you and we'll impart things you can do to help bring peace to the Congo and other areas of Africa, like Uganda.

Challenge yourself to be a part of peace by checking out one of the six Invisible Children programs, as well as the Girl Up campaign supported by the United Nations Foundation.

Girl Up connects American girls with girls around the world who are close to the same age. This one-to-one connection not only raises the confidence and spirit of both girls, but the value of communicating across diversity and distance empowers them. The future of peace and prosperity for both countries where these girls live is dependent on what they choose to do with their lives. We need their strength and we need their leadership. Get involved or donate to Girl Up!

It's all about making the connection! We'd love to hear from you today!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Thread of True Congolese Unity

We round out Black History Month with a man whose philosophy is paramount to the future of the Democratic Republic of Congo. Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961), a Congolese independence leader who helped orchestrate the Congo's freedom from Belgium, is our resident DRC ApeParel historical hero.

photo credit:
Patrice Lumumba was born to a small tribe, grew up writing poetry and reporting for the press, then started the first nationwide Congolese political party. His rivals believed his humble beginnings could be overshadowed by their birth rites to prominent tribes in Belgian Congo, but his roots were a source of his strength and led him to great influence.

Lumumba was able to connect people of all tribes, spanning 905,563 square miles of country (slightly less than 1/4 of the US). Not a small feat. And not something others had attempted.

Bringing people together in this way shed light on the similarities between tribes, their common denominator being desire for a free nation, and increased the likelihood of a successful transition from Belgian rule to independent rule.

The MNC - Congolese National Movement - headed by Lumumba, won the first elections and formed the new independent government on June 30, 1960, now national independence day.

Soon after, already shaky ground began to rumble. His resolve to run the country as he see fit, independently, led to what historical claims report as a situation in which "an imprisoned Lumumba was more dangerous than a dead Prime Minister". Escalated tension and hostility among other leaders with vested interest in the Congo, both foreign and native, led to Lumumba's arrest and subsequent murder.

His life, as is the case for many of history's true leaders and men and women of heart, is one of great tragedy and triumph - without his vision for a united Congo, without his individual leadership, the thread of true Congolese unity would be further lost in a battered sea of global political bureaucracy.

Let us take up his philosophy, let us fight for an empowered, unified Congo! Pe No Chao!

Purchase our tribute to Lumumba shirt!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

In good company with three musical masters

Let's go on a journey. Start with a lazy afternoon sittin' on the dock of the bay with the king of soul. Then as the day turns into night follow the sounds of the blue train down into the club and dine with the master of jazz. With renewed energy, learn da art of storytelling into the wee hours of the morning from a legendary hip-hop duo. What a trip that would be, right?

Otis Ray Redding, Jr. was born in 1941, the year President Roosevelt established the Fair Employment Practice Committee and prohibited racial discrimination in hiring by federal departments. Though his death was untimely, he was 26 and his biggest hit "(Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay" was yet to be released, Otis Redding's is identified by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where he was posthumously inducted in 1989, as synonymous with the term soul, music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm and blues into a form of funky, secular testifying. 1967 marked other untimely deaths as riots for African American civil rights escalated. But like the ebb and flow of Redding's bay, positive strides were also made that year. Justice Thurgood Marshall was inducted into the Supreme Court and state prohibitions to interracial marriages were ended.

John William Coltrane was given to us in the year of 1926, born in the small, North Carolina town of Hamlet, and left us the same year as Redding in 1967. Early family deaths and the discipline of The Navy constructed the design of his early life, and the rest is jazz history - he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize Special Citation in 2007 for his masterful improvisation, supreme musicianship and iconic centrality to the history of jazz. He seems to have attained a Zen-like jazz through the mastery of internalizing his surroundings, learning from fellow musicians and friends like Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk, by absorbing information and returning it to the world with a signature that could only be John Coltrane.

Outkast is Andre 3000 and Big Boi. Known to their mommas as Andre Lauren Benjamin and Antwan Andre Patton, they were both born in 1975 in Georgia and have a passion for hip hop. Musically, Outkast weaves elements of funk, soul, rock, electronic, spoken word, jazz and blues together to create an original and diverse sound. And though they are succeeding by measure of awards, sales and popularity, Outkast stands for a different measure of a (wo)man....

i'm speakin about you playin with that phony stuff you sharin
in your raps Mercedes Benz and all your riches
thinkin you got it, but get it get it

Their ability to transform the basic principles that guide their lives into music is what makes them legends. To them, hip hop is a lifestyle - a mindset even - and proves to be a solid foundation for their infinite creativity and good will. Check out...


Subscribe to the blog below and get weekly posts straight to your inbox! It's cool to be conscious!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Power of O

O is a powerful letter. The shape is complete and simple, evoking a sense of strength and boldness in its viewer. Words starting with the letter O can seem to take on a life and personality all their own. Original. Outstanding. Oprah.

Yes, Oprah Winfrey is our Black History Month lady of the week today because she embodies outstanding originality, a trait we at DRC ApeParel strive for in our clothing and hope to encourage in you!

Oprah says about her life...

I don't think of myself as a poor deprived ghetto girl who made good. I think of myself as somebody who from an early age knew I was responsible for myself, and I had to make good.

This attitude about life resembles that of Martin Luther King Jr.'s and is the mantra behind not only her success, but her ability to change her life and the lives of millions. Born on a farm in Mississippi in 1954, the year racial segregation was ended in public schools, Oprah explains that from an early age she knew she was bound for greatness. Since its beginning in 1986, her talk show has been rated #1 for 24 consecutive seasons and reaches more than 40 million viewers every week in the US alone.

She worked her way up the latter, from first African American news anchor in Nashville at age 19 to local talk show host in Baltimore, and then to Chicago to host a morning talk show that quickly became The Oprah Winfrey Show. Her style, power and choice of topics grabbed viewers' attention, pulled people out of their comfort zones, and allowed them to analyze their concerns, problems, and lives. By utilizing data and information from experts in combination with an optimistic perspective, Oprah changed they way millions approached life and the positive energy fueled a lasting success.

Then in 2000, the power of O struck again with O, the Oprah Magazine. A women's lifestyle magazine, it currently has 2.35 million readers each month and extends her message to LIVE YOUR BEST LIFE. In 2002, Oprah took this message a step further, off her American front porch and into the heart of South Africa where she launched her first international edition of the magazine. And in true Oprah fashion she didn't stop there. In 2007, she founded the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy Foundation, a first-class school designed to nurture, educate, and turn gifted South African girls from impoverished backgrounds into the country's future leaders.

The Oprah Winfrey Show is in its last season this year, the final episode being sure to release a flood of tears from people around the world, but tears of relief and joy have already sprung following the debut of OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, this past January 1st, 2011. The power of O continues and there's no doubt the ripples of its wake will be felt for generations to come.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Black History Month 2011

We are not makers of history, we are made by history.

So said Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in his book, Strength to Love, in 1963. He believed that if the people of a society use history as a guide to living, and are humbled by it, they will make wiser choices for themselves, their families, neighbors and ultimately, the world. If they however, view themselves as makers of history, an unfounded confidence may cause the society to repeat the same mistakes again and again.

This quote provides us with another insight as well - the difference between these two can be easily confused or missed altogether by the untrained mind. He calls for us to become acquainted with disguises, know ourselves, and prepare our minds to ensure a reality in which we come closer to truth.

Dr. King is one of many important black figures in history. His philosophy and civil rights activism changed the way an entire generation and generations to come viewed themselves, society and their fellow man. As we forge ahead into February, the DRC ApeParel blog will be bringing you highlights each week of valuable people, ideas, places and events in Black History.

~It's cool to be conscious!~


Who: The Organization for African Students Interests and Solidarity, O.A.S.I.S., at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill 

What: 30th annual Africa Night 

Where: UNC-Chapel Hill campus in the Great Hall of the Frank Porter Graham Student Union

When: Friday, February 12th, 
Dinner at 5pm, Fashion Show at 7pm

Buy your tickets online!

Dinner $5, Fashion Show $7, Combo $10

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

One Signature, One Love

DRC ApeParel just signed this.

It's the Enough Project's petition to continue to keep conflict minerals regulations strong. Just like an individual person, organizations and groups of people also need reassurance, motivation and support from the greater whole. So, sign the petition now asking the SEC to hold their resolve and not back down in the face of pressure and greed.

5,000 signatures by January 28th are needed to reach the goal that has been set. That's two days! Show your support and take the opportunity to describe in your own words what it means to you.

It's cool to be conscious!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

African influenced style steps up big in 2011

In the spring of 2009, we saw an abundance of African influenced designs walk down the runway in New York, including hairdos for Christian Dior. This year, Gwen Stefani introduces her Spring 2011 L.A.M.B. collection that is steeped in unique, unabashed African style. Stefani makes it hard to look away, and we, for one, don't want to.

As for most things in life, to keep something alive and bursting with positive energy, change, adaptation and creativity must be an integral part of the process. Thus, the leading minds behind the development of new DRC ApeParel lines and designs have big plans for 2011!

DRChic ~ Our cut-&-sew women's line based on interpretations of Pan-African culture is sure to spice up your wardrobe!

L.E.S.A.P.E. ~ Our Afro-Street-Global men's line inspired by fashion movements in areas of African Diaspora from the 1920s-1990s carries a clean yet rugged vibe. Be on the look-out this fall and check out our previous post on A Sapuer's Life.

This spring, our T-shirts will reflect much love and respect for...

Black History ~ Check out our tees this February..and your local city events, tours and journalism for a great opportunity to get educated!

The ladies and gentlemen in our lives ~ This Valentine's Day, February 14th, we will be introducing Love Languages, Peace Languages, Nappy Love and Lord of Love tees.

The Notorious B.I.G. ~ 14 years ago, on March 9th. RIP, Biggie.

Check out more hot men and women's designs at!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Reflection: The life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

photo credit:, quote credit: wikipedia
All I'm saying is simply this, that all life is interrelated, that somehow we're caught in an inescapable network of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. For some strange reason, I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. You can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality. ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

After traveling to India in 1959, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was more committed than ever to the process of change through non-violent activism, and had rounded out his belief system for the cause of liberating black Americans across the country and bringing special attention to the lives of southern black Americans. In the years that followed, Dr. King:

Organized the Montgomery Bus Boycott (at the age of 26) that led to racial desegregation of all Montgomery public buses initiated by Rosa Parks.

Founded the Southern Christian Leadership Conference in 1957 and led it until his death.

Delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech at the March on Washington in 1963. View it on Youtube here.

Saw the Civil Rights Act of 1964 passed.

Campaigned tirelessly for black American economic stability, an end to the Vietnam War and the plight of those in poverty across the nation.

Before his assassination on April 4th, 1968, Dr. King addressed a rally at Mason Temple and delivered a message indicative of a person who had lived a truly humble and heroic life. From DRC ApeParel to you, may we all strive to change lives through actions guided by meditations of universal truths.

And then I got to Memphis. And some began to say the threats, or talk about the threats that were out. What would happen to me from some of our sick white brothers? Well, I don't know what will happen now. We've got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn't matter with me now. Because I've been to the mountaintop. And I don't mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I'm not concerned about that now. I just want to do God's will. And He's allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I've looked over. And I've seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. And I'm happy, tonight. I'm not worried about anything. I'm not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord. ~ Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. 

In addition, we believe that the memory of Dr. King and support of his causes are respected most through our own service to the community. Check out MLK for more information!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

South Sudan's Vote of Self-Determination

We were late to Rwanda. Late to the Congo. And late to Darfur. Today, Sudan is the most likely country in the world for an incidence of war and genocide to occur. Especially given that yesterday, January 9th, marked the first day of South Sudan's week long referendum that will ultimately decide if they will continue to remain with the North or become their own state. Many in the long voting lines Sunday said they were choosing independence, for separation from what they say is a violent state led by a violent man, President Omar al-Bashir.

President Jimmy Carter, along with Senator John Kerry, U.S. Special Envoy Scott Gration, actor George Clooney, and Enough Project Co-founder John Prendergast, are currently present in South Sudan to show support for the referendum. Carter says President Omar al-Bashir does not expect South Sudan to carry the debt of the country if they should separate, but new independence would bring a host of questions and concerns about border control and income that the citizens of Sudan and the world are hopeful can be addressed peacefully.

George Clooney and John Prendergast have teamed up to bring another aspect of the watching world onto the scene in Sudan to promote peace...and prevent war and possible genocide. The Satellite Sentinel Project is a way for anyone to watch areas of potential conflict and threat in Sudan via the web. Read more about how this groundbreaking project is using current technologies to keep an eye on Sudan during this critical time. 

To get a better idea of Sudan's precarious position, check out this video; co-production of Not on Our Watch and the Enough Project.

Do your part to be conscious!