They say “Don’t judge a book by its cover, but people do it all the time. We live in a world where people judge others who are different. Tyler Hoppel, of Redemption, experienced this first hand in a job interview. Even though he was qualified, they didn’t hire him because of the taboo associated with tattoos. This experience inspired Tyler to start a clothing to spread the message of accepting what is different. And so, Redemption was born. Their mission is to show people that, whoever you are, we are all human. We had the opportunity to interview Tyler about the brand, his inspiration, and the meaning of the designs. Check out the full interview below.
TM: How did you feel when you couldn’t get the job because of your tattoos?
TH: I was pissed! I couldn’t believe that someone would be so discriminating. Tattoos have become more and more acceptable it today’s work place. It was unfair and this is my Redemption against “the man”. We will see who gets the last laugh at the end of the day. In a way I’m almost glad it happened because it inspired me to start Redemption.
TM: How many tattoos do you have? Do you plan on getting more?
TH: I have a half sleeve on my left upper arm, wrist tattoos and some on my right upper arm. I plan on finishing my full sleeve on my left arm this year.
TM: Why do you think people are so quick to judge someone that’s different?
TH: It’s more about people fearing what they don’t know. People tend to find what they are doing “normal”. But this is usually farthest from the truth. If we all took the time to understand why a certain person is “this” way or “that” way, we may grasp their reasoning. People may also judge others to distract from their own insecurities or weaknesses. I often use the quote “Judge yourself before you judge others.”
TM: On your site, you mentioned that you helped run another clothing company in the past. Can you tell me a little bit about that?
TH: I helped run a clothing company called Ceerius Apparel from 2003 – 2009. We loved what we did and we had fun doing it. I met a lot of amazing people, like the guys in Conditions and Across Five Aprils. It was a great learning experience!
TM: How do you come up with ideas for your designs? Are they inspired by tattoo art?
TH: My mind is always working. I might hear about how someone was judged or someone judging someone else and I’ll try to flip it into a shirt design. I have a journal I carry around with me all the time for when those moments come about. It’s filled with ideas, some great, some terrible. Most of my ideas are not tattoo inspired. I do have to give a lot of the credit to the designers. They take my rough idea and expand it into something that’s amazing.
TM: I see you use a lot of symbols, like swords and mythical creatures. What do they represent?
TH: Crest: The snake means wisdom and in the military sense, the sword means justice or honor. So a snake wrapped around a sword would translate into wisdom guards or the protectors of justice. Protect Your Heart: The griffin is a mythical creature with the body of a lion and the wings and head of an eagle. Griffins are known for guarding treasure and priceless possessions. You must always be on guard of others trying to make you into who they want you to be.
TM: What are your most effective marketing tactics for promoting the brand? Do you only promote online or do use old school methods as well, like passing out flyers?
TH: A little of both. Word of mouth is huge also. One person may tell another and then so on and it becomes a snowball effect. Technology helps out a ton. Social media sites such as facebook are big helpers. Then you have t-shirt blogs to help get my brand reach out to people that may not have heard of Redemption yet. This year I’m making more of an effort to get out to concerts and pass out black & white fliers like I did with my old company. I like to think people like to see the man behind Redemption. I want them to know my story and build relationships with each one of them.
TM: I noticed Matthew Skiff designed some of your tees. How did that collaboration come about? Have you worked with any other artists?
TH: I stumbled upon Skiff on Emptees.com and have been a fan of his work for a while. When I first came to him about doing a design, he was really excited to do something outside of what he normally does and do shirt he would actually wear. I have worked with Kyle Crawford (Authentic, Icon), Derek Deal (Beholder) and SaintGraphic (Script).
TM: Are there any other brands or artists that you would like to work with in the future?
TH: Chazzy from Vicious History and I threw around an idea of collaboration last year. I hope that works out this year because VH is one of my favorite indie brands! I’d also like to work with David Smith and Same Kaufman.
TM: What are your future plans for Redemption?
TH: I would love to be in stores by summer time. I also plan on releasing a new line around that time. I’ve got an idea that could change the t-shirt game for a long time. So be on the look out for that before summer hits.