Frame of Mind with Trash Genius (Rel Mariano)

Welcome to the Frame of Mind series, the brain child of Chase Price with RedefineU Media. At hygge, we’re kind of known for keeping it short. Most of our videos are under one minute and at Zero Day we strictly enforce the 10 minute rule. But a few months ago, Chase came to us with an idea: interview local start ups and entrepreneurs about their stories and ask them questions that small business owners, creatives and community leaders everywhere are struggling with. This series of long interviews (yup, 30-45 minutes) is designed to get in-depth and personal, so get ready to dig in.

When it comes to hometowns, if you talk to most teens or young adults, they all can’t wait to get away. Rel Mariano, a local artist, creator and rapper, felt exactly the same way. Born and raised right here in Charlotte, he says he and his friends used to dream about the day they could go to “more creative places” like LA or NYC.

He’ll admit that it took him until about 2012 to really feel pride for his city. He started traveling to other cities like the ones he dreamed about living in when he was growing up, but he realized while he was there, he just couldn’t wait to get back home.

“Home will always be Charlotte,” he says.

It was around this time, armed with his new love for his home city, that he decided he wanted to help give Charlotte a “phrase.” New York City has “I <3 NY.” There’s Virginia is for Lovers. There’s Everything is Bigger in Texas.” He wanted people to think of Charlotte and immediately connect it with something positive.

“From Charlotte With Love” was born.

Almost overnight, his t-shirt design absolutely blew up. He can’t keep them in stock, he told Chase during his interview. Every time he puts more up online, he sells out almost immediately. He even started create tote bags with the saying, but those are gone just as quickly.

 “A lot of people are drawn to the positivity,” he says. “That’s what I like. I just wanted something that would make people feel proud.”

He’s doing all of this while working full time as an analyst for a tech startup, working on his music career (he’s even been featured in a song with Rick Ross) and welcoming a brand new baby boy into the world just last week on October 11 (congrats, Rel!!).

We love Rel’s story and were so inspired by the love he has for Charlotte, so we asked him if we could collaborate with him. We’re absolutely pumped to have our own line of From Charlotte with Love and Easy shirts that combine both our brands into something truly incredible.

In this Frame of Mind episode, Chase gets deep with Rel and asks about his rap career, how he keeps as authentic as possible in his music and work, and what’s next for him. So take a break, kick your feet up and get ready to learn from someone to watch here in the Queen City.

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