Sneak Attack DC brought out DMV entrepreneurs


by Phyllicia Williams

“I feel at large the DMV really needs more solid events. I feel like too many people are focused on having events only to make money, and at the end of the day don’t really care about the people that come to the event. I’m trying to bring attendee oriented events to the DMV area, and beyond. I saw a void, and decided to fill it,” said Mark Thomas founder of the Sneak Attack DC event.

This event was a sneaker and fashion buy, sell, and trade with two floors filled with a full bar service, music, and networking opportunities held at Liv Night Club located in NW, DC on June 8 from 12 to 5 pm. It featured 12 local vendors, music by DJ Mista Selecta, and the sponsors: Sole U, DMV Nation, TVAF, Kickk Spott, Lux Brands, and From A Fly Society.

As the owner of his own photography company (, Thomas worked his way up from Frederick, MD to the rest of the DMV where he established himself as a entrepreneur by attending a lot of local underground hip-hop shows and taking pictures.

Thomas is a photographer who is currently diving into event planning and promotion. Sneak Attack DC was inspired by the lack of main traveling sneaker shows coming to DC this summer so Thomas took advantage and came up with an event that would enhance his network.

“I also wanted to help cultivate a mature sneaker community, due to the event being 18 and older. My whole vision behind my events going into the future is planning events that I would enjoy going to. I don’t tend to find a lot of events in this area I want to go in and I believe in being the change you want to see, so i’m just going to start making events,” said Thomas.

Thomas goal for the Sneak Attack DC was to create a positive environment for mature sneaker collectors to network, buy, sell, and trade, as well as have a good time.

One of the local vendors, Originial Crackage, described the event as a total success for upcoming and new designers.

“The best part about the event was seeing all the rare kicks.The network opportunities were great just like most vending events are. I was able to meet and converse with many different people who came to the event and other vendors. My overall goal was to get the Original Crackage brand out there and gain more customers and fans,” said Wes Woods, CEO/Creator/Designer of the Original Crackage line.

Woods, from Bowie, MD, established his craft a year ago by designing Original Crackage clothing, predominantly shirts, along with running the business with the assistance from his close friend, Collins Morfaw. The line was established about a year ago and has grown its popularity mainly through Instagram (@originalcrackage, @wes_4x).

“The DMV community has influenced my craft by greatly appreciating my designs for Original Crackage. I was able to gain the support with enough people to appreciate my designs, which was one of the reasons that pushed me to go all out with my brand,” said Woods.

Although this event focused around sneakers and fashion vendors, music also played a strategic role by marketing local artist such as Eboii (TVAF) and Lightshow.

“DMV is a close knit community in which everyone has a team or camp they work with. There is no bridge (in regard to collaboration & supporting each other). TVAF seeks to create this bridge by expanding our brand and appealing to a diverse audience not just in music production alone. We support all who support what we do. We just want to create, execute, and succeed,” says the director and executive producer of Tunnel Vision Affiliates Studios and apparel, Stixx.

TVAF is a versatile entity that specializes in music production, video production, clothing and event coordination established in 2010. Driven by hard work and dedication, TVAF brings in new innovative ideas to the entertainment industry. TVAF sponsors/coordinates events that help bring people together on a social & business level. They support and help other entities who have a passion for success and progress.

“Im always looking for new ways to be innovative with TVAF, so Sneak Attack DC was a platform to get people together to share our brand and clothing with everyone. I see every event as an opportunity to network so I had to get the team involved. It was very rewarding,” said Stixx. “We Built a great network of new people to work with to keep TVAF buzzing and building a stronger fan base. I was introduced to various brands and artists in the DMV which TVAF will be working with soon such as SNAPAHOLICS, DMV NATION, KICKKSPOTT, KICKRUSDMV, DEADSTOCK, Lightshow & the list goes on!”

DMV Nation, another sponsor of the event, got involved with Sneak Attack DC because it was a great way to unify good people. Dreams Motivation Victory Nation – a social media marketing group – established themselves in the DMV area in 2010 by taking on different approaches of social networks and showing face at many great networking events.

“Our overall goal was to build with some great people. I think we played a good part in the promo side of things. Sneak Attack DC seemed like a dope event and a great way to get our name out to the public,” said Dominique Harris, the CEO/Founder of DMV Nation.

Harris, the Washington, D.C. native, enjoyed connecting with old leads and building with new ones.

“Our area played a major role on our rise from the bottom. [DMV Nation] just made good connections and were built off of good leads. We felt like this area needed a brand that stood for something more than music. Other great arts were not being pushed enough and things had to change. So we made it our mission to put on for this city,” said Harris.

Oxon Hill, MD native Brandon “Fresh” Oredugba, owner of Xclusive Stylez, overall goal was to sell everything including exclusive shoes, hats and etc.

“The DMV is a very fashionable area. We love clothes, cars, shoes and entertainment. But one thing everybody wants is to be different or have some exclusive gear. And unlike other areas, the DMV has always been big on shoes,” said Fresh. “Even when the sneaker game started to die around 2006 the DMV was still hip and grabbing shoes. And since a lot of people want the exclusive shoes and do not want to spend the time camping out or didn’t get a chance to grab a ticket, my store is the perfect place for them to grab that shoe they missed out on. So that is what gave me a opportunity to become successful.”

Other than the customer service and rare items they can provide, Xclusive Stylez are very involved within their community. They have held events for kids to get free hair cuts, held cookouts and basketball tournaments and currently coach a AAU team of the young youth.

“We had no issues or problems at any point of the event. No robberies, vandalism , theft or pure hate. It was a good event with a better atmosphere,” said Fresh. “We use any and all avenues to promote our business and get to meet our customers. We feel sneaker events are good for the buyer and seller. The business got to make money and gain exposure. And the Customer had a large selection of exclusive shoes in one area at the same time. It was “Sneakerhead” heaven.”

After slight success of his first event, Thomas affiliated with From A Flyer Society, plans to take this project to another level by having more 18 and older events as well as opening up his demographics to all ages. Thomas expects to continue the Sneak Attack DC events, be highly involved in planning charity events to give back to the DC area and to host a concert in the near future.

“I was happy with the turn out. I did not get any bad feedback. I enjoyed myself, and I believe everyone else that came did. I received a lot of help getting the word out. I could not have done it myself. I would like to thank the sponsors: Sole U, DMV Nation, TVAF, Kickk Spott, Lux Brands, and From A Flyer Society,” said Thomas. “Also, I would like to thank all of my friends that aided me in the promotion. Mista Selecta who provided all of the music. I would like to thank the staff at Liv for being very helpful and everyone that was involved in anyway with Sneak Attack DC. Without them the event would not have been what it was.”

Entrepreneurs have made a way to not only promote their business but to support each other in the DMV area. The Sneak Attack DC has paid the way for more local independent businesses to think outside of the box more and to open avenues such as positive networking opportunities to bring everyone together and lift each other up in the business industry.

To keep up with these young entrepreneurs in the DMV area please follow, support their latest projections and look out for more to come:

Mark Thomas – @CapturetheCapital (IG) @CapturetheCAP (Twitter) &

Wes Woods CEO/Creator/Designer – @orignialcrackage (IG), @wes_4x (IG/Twitter)

Stixx CEO/ Director – @TunnelVisionAF, @stixx_tvaf, @sway_tvaf (IG/Twitter)

Dominique Harris CEO/Founder – @DMVNation (Twitter)

Brandon “Fresh” Oredugba Owner –, @KicksRusDMV (Twitter), @ceo_xclusive_stylez, @xclusive_stylez, @tattedup_marley (IG), Xclusivestylez tv (YouTube) Xclusive Stylez (Vine)

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Researching to find a way

by Phyllicia Williams


When graduating from any college or university, the first question of many graduates is “how can I find a job in the industry I desire?” Whatever your skill set is, some graduates apply themselves and look outside of the box. 

Linwood Johnson, an alumnus of Norfolk State University, was a mass communications major whose focus was in broadcast. After hosting many parties, being a student ambassador, a student intern for the  Barack Obama campaign in the 2008 election, in fashion shows and event planning in the SGA, Johnson used his researching skills and resources to network and find a job in a clothing trade line. 

Johnson is an assistant at the Foundation Showroom in Los Angeles, CA, a multi-brand showroom that handles all the sales and marketing of brands in the country such as Urbanears, Pro Keds, Keds, G Shock, Cult Denim, Generic Surplus, and Supra for women and also part owner of Play Cloths. 

Johnson told Spartan Echo it is amazing to be in the position he is now because a lot of the labels we see in stores now derive from the Foundation Showroom.

After sending out many resumes, the Foundation Showroom was one of the companies that carried him aboard his journey to success. Johnson said his initial idea was to do marketing and PR at a record label but he soon realized that the industry is constantly changing. He then started to go to trade shows held in New York and met influential people in the branding and marketing industry. 

“A lot of people are so generalized in broadcast and PR but there are smaller avenues that you can take to get to where you want to be. I feel like this is good because we don’t only do sales, we have a marketing department too and there’s so many aspects to get into marketing,” said Johnson. 

Johnson said his journey is not over yet and with the networking he’s doing in LA, he is looking forward to teaming up with influential designers. 

Being a Richmond native and from the east coast, he would have never thought of LA. Running into many writers, actors, singers and the town being built on entertainment, the competition is hard when living in LA. 

 “People need to really do their research because when I say I went to Norfolk State they look at me like what is that. So I’m like a representation of what people are going to know about Norfolk State. So, if I come in here and don’t know about all the other brands, our competitors and all these other designers, I’d look like a dumbass because that is basically a representation of the school,” said Johnson. 

Although it took a year to reach his current position, Johnson told Spartan Echo that the people your looking to be hired by don’t really need you, so you really have to go hard and explore because if you really want it, you have to dig deep. Researching and reaching out to the alumni and people in the industry is the best strategy to applying for the jobs we want. 






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Music Theory Studios follows a dream

by Phyllicia Williams


With dreams of opening a performing arts school, Jazzerae Mitchell tells Spartans to take heed of the things we learn at Norfolk State University when it comes to running a business. 

Mitchell, better known as the old host from Hot 91.1 morning show, established Music Theory Studios – an art/music studio serving all of Hampton Roads area with full-length classes and workshops – in 2008 with other co-founder DJ Karee of 103 Jamz for 12 years. 

Mitchell, originally from New Jersey, is co-owner and general manager of MTS. 

After moonlighting/shadowing and putting in almost 50 hours a week working in other studios, Mitchell told Spartan Echo that she learned how to successfully run her own business through hard work and with the guidance of mass communications professor Chase. 

MTS holds 24 different art classes, vocal and piano lessons along with an engineering program and a DJ academy. They also supply artists with photo shoots, websites, and mix-tape covers, etc. 

“We started this studio, not only because we wanted to help artists but because we wanted a place we could escape, because as artists we had nowhere to go. It all started with what we wanted,” said Mitchell. 

MTS non-profit classes/programs and lesson plans called Soulful Techniques dedicates itself to music and art education. 

“We have the best engineers; they all went to school and studied in the finest engineering courses. And they worked at one of the best recording facilities in Atlanta, Miami and California,” said Mitchell.

MTS demographics speak to children of the ages 14 and above because Mitchell said it is the parents who are willing to put their child’s talent to work and keep them active. 

Students can range from kindergarten to high school (age 18). 

Mitchell told Spartan Echo that it is referrals that bring MTS good business.  

“What makes us different is that we still made it. And our consistency and our loyal to our customers is what makes us excellent,” said Mitchell.

Alumni of NSU also bring in great networking skills and assist MTS with reaching their goals. 

Head graphic designer/photographer Andre Tilman and administrative/PR specialist Angel Gooch look up to Mitchell and the staff at MTS as a family. 

“We are a family at Music Theory Studios and we support everything that each of us does, from independent projects to ideas for the studio,” said Gooch.

Gooch, who started off as an intern for MTS, told Spartan Echo her story and what MTS taught her about being in the business industry.

“They prepared me for everything and more. Jazzarae is the ultimate boss, mentor and friend, always making sure I know what’s going on in any aspect of any business events, transactions whatsoever,” said Gooch. 

As an artist herself, Mitchell is an MC and singer who writes for inspiring female artists. 

MTS released a record called “In the Mood” last summer which was picked up by Interscope Records.

“We also have placements under Music Choice. So, right now, with the music industry constantly shifting, we are all about seeing where everything goes,” said Mitchell.  


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Spartans had Obama’s back

by Phyllicia Williams

On Election Day, Nov. 6, 2012, President Barack Obama repeated history by being re-elected for his second term as President of the United States. Major electoral states such as Virginia, which is known to be a republican state, and the help of new voters brought his campaign race to a successful conclusion. 

Like many other HBCUs that support Obama, the students at Norfolk State University spent months volunteering, registering and getting their peers ready for Election Day. Some students stood in line or traveled to their place of residence just to get their voice heard. 

“I came to vote not only to be a part of history, but because I actually had an issue with what Romney stood for and I couldn’t change it by yelling at the TV or complaining. So I exercised my right to vote, which ultimately brought me to the polls on Tuesday,” said first-time voter Ariel Wade.

According to CNN, their National President Exit Poll projects 50% of college graduates and 51% of voters with no college degree voted for Obama. The exit polls also projected that a majority of Obama’s votes derived from the ages 44 to 18. According to the Associated Press, the youth represented 19% of the votes.

“The fact that Obama is for gay marriages and not against abortions., I feel like a lot of young people support the fact that he’s letting us make our own decisions and not pressuring or judging people for their decisions,” said senior Bexsyra Maximo. 

Maximo told Spartan Echo the reason she participated in this year’s election is because of being underage to vote back in 2008.  

“Because I am a first-time voter and I witnessed freshman coming into my tutor class as first-time voters, I believe it was a lot of first-time votes that helped him out. I was excited to see them do it at an earlier age than me,” said Maximo

The election outcome was based on demographics and how well each candidate got out there to express the rights they felt we, the people need. In Virginia, Obama had some surprising numbers including those in the city of Norfolk. 

According to, 72% of the votes in Norfolk were for Obama, while 26.8% were for Romney. After Obama’s visit to NSU back in Sept., he left the Spartan Community with one thing and that was to promise him a vote after messing up his NCAA bracket with their historic win over Missouri. To many of the Spartans, Obama encouraged the young voters and the people voting for the first time to get out there, spread the word and vote. 

“He fought for my struggling class and those who have struggled. He gave me a sense of security that my vote did matter. So I did vote because I wanted to try and continue Obama’s efforts for a stronger middle class,” said senior Dijon Dowl. 

Most of the Spartans views of their first experience voting in this election all come down to Obama’s campaign team and his influence on the middle class and college students. To senior Simone Collins, her influence to vote came from her views of Obama back in 2008.

“In 2008, he had to clean up Bush’s mess along with trying to begin his own legacy as President. After he cleaned up and strengthened foreign relations, he then fought harder for a failing middle class, which now solely has the power to turn the economy around,” said Collins. 

From Instagram posts to Tweets and Facebook statuses that encouraged their peers to get out and vote, Spartan first-time voters felt confident about their assist to make a change. As NSU held a watch party of the polls election night, many felt– regardless of the outcome– they had hope and had his back. 

Some Spartans who voted for the first time told Spartan Echo that they exercised their vote because some people weren’t informed of what this year’s election was about, so they did it for the people who couldn’t or didn’t speak out. 

“I voted for him because I believed in his campaign. And now that he is re-elected as president, I hope he focuses on the employment rate because he did receive a lot of criticism about that,” said senior Tanaisa Brown.

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From NSU to Spielberg: Alum lands role in “Lincoln”

lincoln Vic Motley

by Phyllicia Williams

A Norfolk State University alumnus makes his way onto camera time after working with Hollywood stars and Oscar winning film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer and studio entrepreneur Steven Spielberg. From many years of learning the entertainment industry, he feels NSU prepared him for his role in the historic biographic war drama called “Lincoln.”

Victor Motley, a journalism alumnus of NSU, spent post-graduation auditioning to play a union soldier at war in Steven Spielberg’s newest film and was selected among many others. The auditions were held on September 15, 2011 in Richmond, VA, Motley’s birthplace where he became interested in becoming an actor.

At NSU, Motley took all types of courses outside of journalism such as drama. Motley tells Spartan Echo about his incredible experience entering the film making industry.

“What I learned from the drama courses, then, was to keep going, even if you mess up or if you don’t know what to do, just always know the cameras are always rolling. If you drop a gun, start punching or choking your opponent, as long as you do something to make it look real,” said Motley.

After being the only alumni of NSU at auditions, Motley tells Spartan Echo that he felt very confident while working with Hollywood professionals. He said he felt prepared for his first camera debut with Spielberg and his team after his experience at NSU volunteering to be on a Spartan television show about life on campus.

While working with makeup artists and costume designers from all over the world, Motley said he had to get into the routine of what actors have to prepare for while in character, as well as constantly changing costumes.

“It is not easy to become an actor and to have a main role. It takes a lot of practice and rehearsal time,” said Motley.

With over three hundred people who attended this audition, Motley had no idea that he would be featured in one of the scenes, let alone shown in the trailer. He tells Spartan Echo that he was sitting at home watching the local news when he saw the opportunity of becoming a part of Spielberg’s film “Lincoln,” to be released in theaters November 9, 2012.

Although, Motley is currently planning to continue his studies and achieve his goal of becoming a lawyer, he sees the possibilities in every opportunity he seeks and encourages his fellow Spartans to do the same.

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Ciroc the Mic, Rocked the Mic

Ciroc the Mic, Rocked the Mic.

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Ciroc the Mic, Rocked the Mic


Yo Gotti of CMG Label/Epic Records (Source:!i=2437002966&k=CDfGHCs)

by Phyllicia Williams

SoPhocused LLC, an event planning company partnered with DJ TouchBasis, owner of Penny Candy Clothing Line  Devon Jeffrey and a few other alumnus of Norfolk State University striked back this year with another event that opened the doors for entrepreneurship and networking opportunities for independent artists trying to pave a way into the music industry.

On Saturday, March 30, 2013, James “Cali” Callaham, CEO of SoPhocused LCC, presented the “Ciroc the Mic” concert to Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, VA. The showcase featured  a number of independent artists, such as Brix, Kevin Flum, G Money, AlexB, Rizzy Rich, the Blackout Band and Young FP who all opened up for CMG Label/Epic Records artist Yo Gotti as the headliner.

“It felt great actually one of the happiest days of my life, not because the concert was a success but, more so happy for my artists to see everything I was telling them in rehearsal came to light. They rocked it, in my opinion, I had the vision, it just felt like another day at work and I’m happy people helped me make history in the tidewater area,” said Cali.

Although SoPhocused LLC are known for throwing party events in the DMV and the Hampton Roads area, where it all began, their first concert is the start of Cali bringing on another side of his productions.

Cali was inspired to put on a concert because he believes being a party promoter isn’t unique anymore. And because he’s a producer and an event coordinator he decided to step outside the box and take on a challenge that most party promoters haven’t thought of doing.

“My goal was for everyone to come out have a great time with no altercations, no mishaps, and no malfunctions. To prove the urban community can come together in a big capacity, follow all rules and still have a good time,” said Cali. “I looked forward to proving all the doubters wrong because there has never been a show of this type [urban] at this venue. So I looked forward to making history the most.”

This event was also hosted by MTV’s Wild N’ Out’s own Spanky Hayes along with music from Dj Total Reck, Dj TouchBasis and 93.9 FM radio disc jockey, DJ QuickSilva.

“[Cali] contacted me on twitter to see if I was going to be on the east coast and I so happened to be in New York. So he wanted to get up and meet each other,” says Hayes.  “I’m looking forward to going on stage and turn up and act a fool. I’ve never been here before so I’m not bashful because I don’t know anybody here. It’s an opportunity.”

Grand Cru artist Brix managed by Cali, is originally from Brooklyn, NY and pursued rapping as a career two years ago when he released his first mix-tape called Brix Tape One.

“I represent the person who came from nothing and left the hood. I’ve seen bigger things and know what’s out the hood. And now I’m trying to get other people to follow my lead. I’m telling the story from both sides of the spectrum,” said Brix.

He said he met Cali as an undergrad back at NSU almost ten years ago and recently joined forces in a business relationship. Brix has done venues this size before and performed at a SoPhocused LLC’s Annual All White Party, and is hopeful for everything he has succeeded thus far.

“It’s a good feeling I’m just blessed to have this opportunity. I understand how major it is [performing for Yo Gotti] and I just want to capitalize,” says Brix.  Brix is scheduled to shoot a music video of his first single called “Did It On My Own” in the Dominican Republic this May.

Majority of his opening acts never opened up for an artist in the music industry and for some, it was their first show ever.

Detroit, MI artist G Money said Cali heard his debut mix-tape “Smacked.” Not knowing what to expect next, Cali called G Money back to meet him.

“I played some of my new music and he was like ‘Yo your going to open up for Yo Gotti March 30th.’ And I was like wow! At first I didn’t believe it, like damn lets see if it really happens and it did,” said G Money.

“Three months ago I was a solo artist, and Cali my manager put it all together and introduced this to me. It was amazing. This was the biggest thing, I never performed before so hopefully I shut it down,” says K Flum,  the youngest opening act who tells the story of how Brix followed him on twitter and led him in the right direction with SoPhocused LLC for his music hustle.

The only talent that stood out from the rest of the showcase was the only R&B artist, AlexB. Starting out singing in the church, he describes his style of music as having a little edginess to him with a rapper swag and how he is all about showing his versatility.

“It’s an opportunity and I’m ready to seize it. Im grateful for it. I love to do music and I love to sing,” says AlexB before joining G Money onstage for a collaboration track.

For some, this was an eye opening experience to see how good things happen to those who work hard for it.

Rizzy Rich a Virginia Beach native of the Hampton Roads area speaks on the Ciroc the Mic concert, being another opportunity after opening for many artist such as YC, Ace Hood, Trina, Waka Flocka and Fabolous.

“I represent the struggle and the grind. So I rap about the grind,” said Rich. “It’s always a blessing to do things like this especially when I’m starting to see all of my hard work being paid off. And it gives other people from my neighborhood, that know me inspiration to keep hope alive.”

Young FP originally met Cali growing up in Virginia Beach, VA and has opened up for Trinidad James, Wale, Currency, Rick Ross and Travis Porter after taking his rap career seriously about two years ago. Young FP explains his brand called Forever Star Life is for people who want to make better of themselves and a state of mind for his lifestyle type of rap.

“SoPhocused has been around for a minute. They throw great events and I have definitely been a supporter. He’s from my area and he’s one of the few who’s got the right head on his shoulder because where we’re from people don’t make it out. So for whatever he has going on I come to show love. And so for him to make me apart of it is a good thing,” said Young FP.

SoPhocused LLC is looking forward to new endeavors such as a comedy show and their first play production. Cali believes anything coming from his team and himself is expected to be innovative and creative.

Cali would like to thank Spanky Hayes, Dj Quicksilva, Dj Touchbasis, Dj Total Reck, and the whole So Phocused LLC affiliated crew (in which is his immediate circle.) He thanks CMP and Bottle Gang, the whole entire staff at Chrysler Hall that helped in the process, Yo Gotti and his management team for coming, rocking the show and keeping him comfortable with their professionalism. Most importantly he thanks the people who supported the event because it was truly a great event! He also thanks the businesses in the seven cities that allowed them to put flyers and posters up and Hot91 and 103 Jamz.

For more information about each independent artist, please follow their Twitter/Instagram accounts for their latest and upcoming projects:

Brix – @BrixTV (both)

Kevin Flum – @KFlum (both)

G Money – @G_MoneyManee (both)

AlexB – @Alex_B_High (both)

Rizzy Rich – @Rizzyspg_/ @RizzyRich

Young FP @Young_FP/ @Foreverstarlife

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