Back in 2010, I started interning at Crooks & Castles. I won a Twitter contest when they were looking for interns and at the time I was majoring in music. I wanted to compose for film and TV, and when I got that internship, it consumed all my time. I started doing marketing, and built up their social networks. I was there for 2 years and at the same time of their 10 year anniversary, which was huge for them. I went from wanting to do music to doing marketing in a matter of weeks. I was sending out packages to the likes of Rick Ross and Drake.
A year in, I dropped out of school and I was able to focus on marketing for Crooks. After Crooks, I moved onto Primitive. At first I was working at the shop, nothing too crazy, then I started to do marketing for them. After 3 years, that’s when I started to reach out a lot more and connect with other people in the industry. I met Lani and Bam from Hellz Bellz while I was at Crooks and when I went to Primitive, that’s when I started to help Lani and Bam with their menswear line, GPPR for about 6 months.
My role at Primitive started to get a bit busier and I stopped my work at GPPR. In 2014, I went back to Hellz Bellz, GPPR was over, and I was fully focused on Hellz Bellz. I started writing for their blog, What The Hellz.
At one point, I was running the Hellz Bellz blog writing solo. I wrote under two aliases, my own personal one and then Kiko, a Japanese intern. I had to write with a girl’s voice. It was a lot of fun and it got to the point where I was doing it really well and it got a little weird. It was a different outlet to create this character. She was more popular than I was! That’s where things are now, and I now run the Hellz Bellz Twitter. It’s funny because I’ve built relationships with some of these girls who think they are talking to a girl so sometimes it gets weird because they’ll get personal with me and I can’t break it to them. I have to keep it under wraps for the most part because it’s a persona for Hellz, but it’s a lot of fun!
My partner and I are the backdoor to a lot of boutiques. We run an eBay account to where we sell shoes. It’s worked out to where some shops need us. We’ve built this weird niche and aside from that we go to Nike and Adidas outlets to get goods to flip. We periodically go to Vegas to check out the market because we are starting the beginning phases of putting on a sneaker show in Vegas. We’re planning on it on being super legit, working with boutiques and stores and combine some music as well. It’s bringing a different aspect to sneaker shows that hasn’t been done before.
After some changes, that’s when I moved to San Diego. Through the Hellz Bellz blog, that’s how I learned about Koogle.tv which is the Korean company I’m helping with now. It looks like it’ll be a lot of fun and though I’m still in the beginning stages, it’s something I have a huge interest in. Korean culture isn’t as mainstream here in the states, and I want to bridge the gap for the US market and Korea with fashion and music. I think Koogle itself was directed towards the Korean-American who are staying up to date with things happening in Korea. They touch on everything, and though the fashion and music side is small scale, that’s something I want to grow since that’s a relatable market across the board.
I started at Koogle because I missed writing. When I started at Hellz Bellz, writing wasn’t very structured it was very free. And writing as a character was very eye opening attaching either my opinion or Kiko’s opinion. When people went to the Hellz Bellz blog, it was to share different opinions, not so much about news. For Koogle, I try and be a little more personable as a way to educate people who aren’t as into K-Pop or Korean culture because it is interesting and has developed so quickly. It wasn’t too long ago they had access to American views in a sense. Once that access became available, things have moved really fast.
I love collecting different magazines because it offers different perspectives from around the world. Everything is so different including the different styles that are trending, taste in streetwear, and even retail. It’s so different to see how Japanese magazines differ from European magazines, whether it’s color, aesthetic, and photos. You can’t get all of the information from one subject in just one place, especially because information is moving so quickly in this day in age. Subcultures in certain countries aren’t subcultures anymore, because people have access to the internet. These independent magazines take all of that information and put it into print instead of regurgitating it on the internet, and it means so much more to have that physical copy of something done well with great photo quality so you can look back at it.
With some blogs and magazines, they cover interviews with OGs in the industry. It’s getting knowledge from someone who’s been doing something for years, sharing what they know in seeing how the industry has changed over time. I always feel like when people ask me what I’m into, it’s OG Japanese brands some people may have never heard of. You can’t get better info than an interview with someone who’s been doing something for years. Whether it’s in fashion, photography, art, coffee. It could be anything. People take interviews for granted. I don’t think a lot of people read them. There are some things you’d never know about otherwise.
Time management is so important. When I was living in LA, I was working at Starbucks from 4 to 10 in the morning. I worked at Primitive from 10:30 to 8:30, then I would work on my projects until 10 at night or 1 in the morning and continue that routine. That was the busiest I’ve ever been because I had to be at these different places. I was working for 20 hours out of the day most of the time.
You need passion. A lot of people want to do stuff, but not a lot of people want to put in the work. When they see the work is hard, they take a step back. Once you take that step back, it’s hard to really get back into the groove to go ahead and create. It’s almost like seeing someone force a passion that’s not really there. It’s something they want but not something they want to earn. I have fun doing all of these things, even if I have 4 things I have to worry about in a span of 12 hours. I find a way to balance it for myself when I really think about it. I’m active with Hellz Bellz every day, so I can oftentimes take time to schedule certain content even though I can actively tweet about relevant things. Balance and time management was tough at first, but I found a way to include it and organize everything to make it easy for me. Sometimes I can’t do everything I need to do because something come up, but it happens. Early mornings and late nights are what my days consist of. And I find I definitely have trouble working from home. I can do way more work sitting at a cafe than I do at home. There are so many things I want to do but I have to be picky because my time is limited, but we’ll see what happens. I never turn anything down right away.
Matt Maraia is the man behind the screen busy tweeting and creating content for Hellz Bellz and Koogle. Though he’s very active on social media, you won’t find him at these Instagrammable cafes or spots just for a pic. His personal Instagram and Twitter are full of sneakers, fashion, art, and of course his own opinions. When he’s not working on one thing, he’s oftentimes working on something else.
His experience in marketing and social media goes hand in hand with his interest in art, music, and fashion, and he continues to discover more through his work. When he once wrote under the alias, Kiko, for Hellz, he called himself “his own version of Gossip Girl.” From managing his time to travel across 3 major cities in a span of every few weeks, he continues to demonstrate how time management is key, especially with working in the industry you want to be in! We admire his eclectic tastes in music and how that translates into his next moves. Since our last conversation, he’s now back in LA and he shared he has a few things up his sleeve, namely a sneaker show in Vegas, and a few projects that he has yet to share details about! So stay tuned!