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Practical knowledge propels hip hop boutique


Soum Soumahoro

Soum Soumahoro stands in front of his booth at Russell Bazaar, where he sells hip hop clothing.

By Marcus Wright
Special to the Michigan Citizen

DETROIT — Soum Soumahoro is a “businessman.” He owns several businesses — two in Detroit plus a few in New York. He is the proprietor of S&S Boutique, which is located in the Russell Bazaar at 1600 Clay.

The boutique sells hip hop clothing. “Hip hop clothing is defined by the way it is worn,” Soumahoro says.

The unique and distinctive style of hip hop fashion originated with African American youth living primarily in New York City and Los Angeles in the 1980s. Hip hop fashion then included vibrantly colored tracksuits, rich-looking leather bomber jackets, sheepskin jackets, Doc Martens boots and Adidas-brand shell-toes with “phat” or oversized laces. 1980s hip hop fashion icons included Run-DMC and LL Cool J.

The fashion now is less based in street wear and more in the idealization of such. The main elements of modern male hip hop fashion today are oversized T-shirts, baggy or sagging jeans, gold or platinum chains, boots or a fresh pair of kicks (sneakers), and a bandana or do-rag tied around the head (often with a fitted cap on top).

Soumahora, a native of Ivory Coast, West Africa, moved from New York to Detroit. He has been traveling between New York and Detroit for 20 years. “I love being in business for myself,” Soumahoro said. “Being in business is a family tradition. My father is in the rice business. I have an uncle who is in the diamond business.”

His wife and two sons work in American businesses.

Soumahoro said that although his sons have attended business school, he is teaching them the practical side of business.

About which he has plenty to say. “Start small and organize with a back-up plan for six months,” Soumahoro said. “It takes three years to succeed.”

Soumahoro advises stay on top of your business; use family members — let them learn the business. “You must love your business. Love what you are doing,” Soumahoro said. “You have to push yourself. Market your business and sell your merchandise.”

Soumahoro said it is most important to satisfy customers but don’t give away the product. “Those are the challenges of business,” Soumahoro said. “Love your business like you’re going to school. Do your homework.”

Soumahoro said a friend in Ivory Coast said to him, “Let’s go to America” and he responded simply, “OK.” He said he came to New York to help and work with his uncle in the diamond business. “I bought two taxis and started to sell mixed tapes, T-shirts and then created my own line of clothing, THUG,” Soumahoro said. “I worked on changing the concept (of THUG). I came up with True Heroes Only God Can Judge Me.”

“My father and mother taught me well. Practical knowledge, not business school knowledge,” is what matters, Soumahoro said.

Soum Soumahoro owns S&S Boutique, 1600 Clay, Booth 429. For more information, call 917.577.7234.

Contact Marcus Wright at

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