James Sutton III, 30, Cincinnati, Ohio
Year founding of OATW
OATW was founded in 2009 by Floyd Johnson. Then I came on board as Brand Manager shortly after.
What is the story behind starting OATW? What inspired the idea?
It was really out of frustration. You have to remember what was going on economically in this area during 2009. There was a lot of frustration around here during the recession. As young creatives in Cincinnati and Ohio, up until recently we haven’t been taken seriously, even though we sit in the backyard or the shadows of Proctor and Gamble, one of the world’s largest consumer goods companies. We have all these prestigious Universities you know like University of Cincinnati has DAAP (Design Architecture and Planning). It’s really weird because you have all that creativity in the nucleus of these bigger corporations but Cincinnati is really conservative. And Ohio is really conservative. So it was just that frustration of us trying to break through.
We had all moved to different cities and came back (Chicago, Atlanta, etc). It was always about putting on for Ohio. People questioned you. You know you go to DC and tell somebody you're from Ohio and they ask "oh what’s out there" you know, like corn fields or try to play us. We've got Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati. All people would really associate us with would be LeBron James. Like "Oh do you know Lebron?" like no I don’t know LeBron hahah!
And really, all of the credit for pushing the idea was all Floyd (Johnson). It was a statement it was really controversial. People would look at it and say “why is it Ohio Against the World”? But it would start that conversation and that’s what it was all about. Because one person would ask why is it Ohio Against the World then we can say, hey look at all the awesomeness that we export out of this mug. And nobody gets the real credit for it. Whether you look at music you know auto-tune is really big and you look at Roger Troutman and those boys up in Dayton, that innovated that. Funk music, Bootsy Collins, The Isley Brothers, The Ohio Players, etc.etc, You Look at comedy and look at what Steve Harvey is still accomplishing. Steven Spielberg is from Ohio. Then there is the history aviation or even the NFL which was founded in Canton so those are facts that I like to put people on to - Why is it Ohio Against the World?
It started as an underground thing just a collective of homies that are into different things that are passionate about being their best selves.
What has been your most exciting moment with OATW?
LastSunday was dope (NBA Finals Game 7)!We called it last year when he (LeBron) came back. Sitting there watching Ohio State during the Sugar Bowl where the gray sweatshirt was featured.
And realizing that there was nothing else on TV worth watching that day but the game. We rented an RV and took a road trip from Cincinnati to Dallas. 8 of us packed up and we just made a road trip out of it. We just let the good vibes and the good times roll. We went down there and sold t-shirts and hoodies, it was really like a bucket list kind of thing you know - I'm going to just take a road trip with my friends.
Whats the next goal for OATW? (new merch, content, different mediums, etc)
We released the championship shirt to commemorate the Cavs win.
Other ventures you delve in?
Outside of OATW, I’m working with a few other startups through a program called Mortar to grow their market and grow their businesses. I also have a startup that is called Porter that is a solution for urgent travel. It's a membership program that provides access to airfare, hotel, & rental in the event of a family emergency.
I'm really involved with the startup Community here in Cincinnati. (#StartUpCincy). I am involved with the Urban League of Greater Cincinnati. I'm on the tech advisory Council for ArtsWave where we’re focusing on building bridges between the arts community and technology innovators.
One thing you want to do before 2016 is over?
For the Bengals to make it to through the playoffs & win the Super Bowl! If the Cavs can do it, the Bengals can. I’m gonna put that out there. Fans put a lot of positive energy behind Cleveland this year and they stayed healthy & made it happen. We are going to put the same OATW energy behind the Bengals and bring people together in hopes that they stay healthy and bring the championship to the Jungle.
Social media and website for OATW.?
Photo Credit: OATW: Ohio Against The World