The Building of a Black Fashion Brand Made in Baltimore - Black Enterprise

The Building of a Black Fashion Brand Made in Baltimore

Treason Toting Company Founders Aaron Jones and Jason Bass (Photo credit: Erin Douglas)

When some people think of Baltimore, they immediately think of the HBO series The Wire, and the depiction of crime, drugs, and scandal. However, many fail to recognize the city’s untapped talent. Through Treason Toting Company, founders are making great strides to change the narrative and have been doing so since the start of their company in 2013.

The business duo is a force to be reckoned with; Bass has a background in business and marketing and has worked with top brands, while Jones is a skilled tailor who previously worked for Nordstrom. Collectively, their talent and creativity is the foundation of their business. It’s no surprise that the company’s products have caught the attention of NBA star Stephen Curry, who was seen wearing the Charles backpack from the original spring/summer collection, not to mention J. Crew and Nordstrom both having previously featured Treason Toting Company for pop-up shops. It won’t be long before people are unable to mention Baltimore and Treason Toting Company in the same sentence.

Black Enterprise Contributor Nicole K. Webb caught up with the founders of Treason Toting Company to learn more about their journey.

Black Enterprise: How did you come up with the concept for Treason Toting Company?

Aaron and I were taking a break from a previous project in streetwear and trying to figure out our next project as we ventured from neighborhood dives to cocktail clubs. After about a year of expressing our interest in doing something impactful, while being comforted with the advice that we should pursue something more traditional in a city that was working hard to recover from issues with violence and drugs, we decided that current conditions were not acceptable and that we had to commit social treason to change the narrative. Aaron developed our first product, a weekender bag that allowed us to build a brand that is focused on being streetwise and cultivated.  We want to inspire people to explore the world and themselves.

How does the city of Baltimore inspire your business?

Baltimore inspires our business every day. We are from Baltimore, born and raised. This city has roots in the textile industry—seeing all the old hand-painted signs around the city serve as a faded reminder of our past. We also commonly come in contact with Baltimoreans that have become comfortable with staying in one neighborhood for the majority of their lives. We are motivated to create a brand that inspires them to explore more and learn from new experiences.

Who is your primary target market for your products?

Our primary consumers are individuals that are tenacious in pursuing their passions. They are on a continuous journey of self-discovery and awareness. They can transition smoothly from job to side hustle and do things with intention. In most cases, we are talking to the urban millennials that are hopeful and willing to explore.

What has been your most difficult challenge thus far as business owners? How have you handled this?

Keeping up with the unexpected, high demand for our products. We found a contract manufacturing partner in Baltimore to help increase production and the quality of our products.

What has been your greatest success since being in business?

Being able to create a self-sustaining business that hires in Baltimore and manufactures in Baltimore. We want to contribute to the greatness that is Baltimore. Our city is behind us and supports us every day.

BE: Why should potential customers purchase a bag from your company, as opposed to others sold in department stores?

We are a company of values and principles. We chose to stay in our hometown and create the highest quality bag from materials for products that don’t break down, they break in. We are people you can touch and feel every day around the city. There is a soul to the brand that people can easily pick up on.

BE: What do you believe is a misconception of entrepreneurship?

People believe that once you have a business, you are instantly wealthy and have unlimited amounts of free time. It is not easy and not for everyone. We take it very seriously, because Treason Toting Co. will be our legacy.

BE: What’s next for Treason Toting Company?

We’re looking into expanding into apparel, working with talented artists, and introducing new silhouettes.