Anwar Taj Washington—known widely by the name of Anwar Carrots—is not new to the design game. Though some may be surprised by his level of resounding success, especially for his age (he was listed on Complex’s 25 under 25 back in 2012), the New Jersey native has been observing and quietly crafting since his early days on the Fairfax block.
For any young brand owner to succeed, it takes perseverance, attention-to-detail, and an outpouring of creativity and personality. Anwar has continually pushed all of these facets—and more—from the days of his earlier concept, Peas & Carrots, to his current hustle, Carrots by Anwar Carrots. With a range of streetwear and footwear collabs under his belt, ranging from XLARGE to Puma to our own The Hundreds by Anwar Carrots collaboration available now, we look to Anwar to discover how he maintains honesty and consistency throughout his design and the reminders he uses to continue striving for success.
Go with your heart—the rest will follow.
A lot of designers get tripped up in what everyone else is doing, how they can improve themselves in every arena, that they lose what makes their voice, and eye, unique. Anwar attributes a lot of his own success to his marketing and brand-oriented approach paired with his focus on his personal vision. In Josh Peas’s recent interview for The Hundreds Blog, Anwar said, “I’m not like a ‘designer-designer’… I’m good at marketing and branding, if anything, so I’d rather just focus on the brand itself than focus on graphics.” Graphics, for him, are saved for further reaching collaborations where he can be inspired by the people he’s partnering up with and appreciate their aesthetic. Everything else though—all facets of what makes Carrots Carrots—is straight from the heart: “I would say the two things I go with are aesthetic and intuition. I go with my heart.” It’s about perfecting—and finding that by looking internally.
“Learn from your mess-ups. Just keep it pushing.”
Anwar told It’s a bummer when something you put your heart into doesn’t work out. Anwar’s familiar with wins as well as losses, but it’s his approach to failure that makes him stand out. After he got fired for the first time, as he describes in our interview, he felt down for a week, but bounced back and emerged even stronger with a renewed concept for Peas & Carrots International. Similarly, after his shop PNCSS closed down, he spent a week letting it sink in, and then he says, he was “back at it.”
“I was like, well fuck... Everybody’s like, ‘Just do another brand.’ I said, ‘What do I call it, Carrots?’ Carrots by Anwar Carrots.” So instead of sulking, Anwar let it sink in for a short period of time, came back with more drive, put in more work, and organically grew his next brand. As he told Wine & Bowties, “Everybody fucks up. Learn from your mess-ups. Just keep it pushing.”
It’s a testament that we’re familiar with (have you seen our “Mac Daddy” graphic?), but gentle reminders are always helpful. “I am a huge believer in what you put into the universe will come back to you, so why not think huge?” Anwar told us back in 2015, not too long after Carrots by Anwar Carrots debuted. “I was put onto this earth to see how far I can go in life,” he added.
Anwar’s aspirations include being a household name and creating a product that can be accessible to anyone; he often references Martha Stewart as an inspiration when explaining how big he wants his brand to become. He told Josh Peas recently, “It’s like, what if I can take how BAPE looks and make it the same price as Martha Stewart?” Having big goals and dreams is all the motivation you need to continue pushing forward—not only in design, but in every facet of life. See how far you can go, and don’t stop until you’re where you want to be.
Streetwear—and fashion as a whole—is a field that is constantly changing. Be open to changing with it, to finding new ideas, to gathering inspiration from an array of places you never thought imaginable. Anwar has worked in retail, music, fashion, art—rubbing shoulders with people in those fields along the way and building relationships. Be willing to be open to new things; experimentation may just lead you to your breakthrough. Anwar told us he would be down to collaborate on a game-changing lifestyle project with home shopping network QVC. How many other streetwear brand owners could you imagine saying the same?
Focus on integrity.
There’s more to brand building than money, fame, trade shows, and partying—something that brands often highlight unnecessarily. Instead of focusing on personal gain, Anwar advises us to “focus on integrity.” To him, that translates into building real relationships with those who value your work, and who you value in return. “We choose [stockists] based off the personal relationships we have with stores... we are focused on keeping that integrity and putting our line in the spots we think are cool,” he told XXL back in 2014.
Those invaluable symbiotic relationships establish a base to create your brand and do more for you than any superficial tradeshow exchanges could. In our recent interview with Josh Peas, Anwar said, “If you put yourself on the inside looking out literally rather than the outside looking in, [you’ll realize tradeshows are] not needed... You could travel [and] meet people with way more fire shops.” At the end of the day, it’s about the real experiences you have, the personal relationships you establish, and the integrity you maintain while building out a brand that is fully and unapologetically you.
The Hundreds by Anwar Carrots is available now at flagships and the Online Shop.