As a Senior at Auburn High School, Titus Ross and his friends wanted to make the school community stronger. “We did this by getting people to the games, events, and anything else we could think of. Our goal was to make everyone feel as if they were a part of something positive,” said Ross. Eventually, the number in their group and any reservations they made became THIRTY+. Ross has taken that vibe of togetherness and is promoting the same sense of community through the clothing he launched, THIRTY+.
When asked what he is most passionate about, Ross responded with two words, “creating, and community.” makes sense that his business is a clothing line with a mission to promote a positive lifestyle and community.
“Community has always made the most sense to me,” said Ross. “Why work so hard by yourself when working together is so much more efficient? It’s a truly beautiful thing stepping into a strong community. Everyone is so comfortable with each other that outsiders are welcome. The population learns and grows together. Plus, living in such an environment improves overall happiness and understanding of others. Ultimately, I really just want people to understand there is a bright side to this life. Negativity and fear of our neighbors will get us nowhere. [That] mindset will only make life sad, so we’re taking a different route over here at THIRTY+.”
THIRTY+ was officially established in August 2016. The business is presently run by Ross his business partner, Ty Rivers. “We work with a lot of other creatives on projects, but the majority of business is done in house,” said Ross.”
We chatted with Ross to learn more about THIRTY+ and their mission:
Auburn Examiner: Bringing the community together can mean so many different things and be done in many ways. Why did you choose a clothing line?
Titus Ross: Well that question is somewhat hard to answer. The clothing side was so natural it was honestly crazy. I’ve always had a passion for clothing and design. Growing up I was always creating something from duct tape wallets to custom shirts so once I saw the traction THIRTY+ was getting I had to seize the opportunity. Once the first shirt was sold, there was no going back! After that, I realized how powerful clothing can be. My favorite part was giving the customer our product and watching their face of excitement!
AE: Who is THIRTY+’s target customer?
TR: Our target audience is really anyone who believes in what we’re doing. Of course, we shoot for younger customers, but we have a wide range of supporters. THIRTY+ is really for everyone, I mean that’s the goal in the long run.
AE: What inspires your designs?
TR: Our ideas come from all over the place. Mostly from everyday life. We’ll just be out kicking it and see something that sparks a dope idea. For example, the “yuhoo” graphic was inspired by us driving around one night, and we thought we saw bigfoot! The convo kinda went like “dude what if we hit bigfoot that’d be hella crazy.” “That’d be a cool shirt could you imagine” that moment was turned into a physical product. Other times Ty and I will just go over things we’ve been thinking about and build on each other’s ideas.
AE: Are you the only designer or do others contribute?
TR: As of now the designs are made by Ty and me. It works out well with my graphic design background and his drawing skills. We just put the two together and get it done! Sometimes we’ll use other artists when the job is over our head, or we find their style fits the project.
AE: You’ve recently been sharing new styles of tops that will be available. How do you stay up to date regarding fashion, and what your customers want?
TR: Yeah that new crop top is heat! One of my favorite projects so far and it’s our first venture into women’s clothing. Keeping up with the times is definitely a science. You gotta be willing to try different things but still be on par with the trends. At THIRTY+, we’re really trying to bring the creativity and art back to clothing. [We’re] always pushing to be ahead of the game with fresh concepts. At the end of the day, we focus on doing what excites us, and what we think our audience will love. It’s not about trends all the time. It’s about making a piece that feels good to wear, is versatile, and long-lasting.
AE: Who creates THIRTY+’s clothing?
TR: [It] depends on the project, but we’ve been transitioning into an all-in-house operation this year. That’s a big goal that will just make everything easier. Right now, we have a couple of people we’re working with, and they’re doing a great job! Most recently a homie from high school has been helping a lot. Shout out to Erratic and shout out to 30Berg!
AE: What is it like for you to create your designs?
TR: Nothing matches the feeling of having an idea, then being able to make that a reality. Creating is the fundamental reason humans are the top species. We [can] take what is around us and then mold surrounding into whatever! I think people who aren’t in an artist field need to have a creative hobby [to understand this concept fully]. It’s truly empowering.
AE: One of THIRTY+’s more popular designs is “Still Dreaming.” How did you come up with this design, and what does it represent to you?
TR: Honestly, I had no idea we’d get so much good feedback from that design. My close homie Bryan actually told me to make this so I guess he can take the credit for this one. At first the “Still dreaming” design was just something [fresh] and different, [then] we ended up adding a deeper meaning behind the design. Something like this needs to stand for more.
Martin Luther King Jr was an activist for equality within the United States. With the current controversy going on about race, it was a perfect opportunity to remind people what matters. Dr. King is an iconic figure. Seeing his image immediately reminds people of Martin’s cause. Equality, community, and togetherness.
AE: Frequently the THIRTY+ brand has a symbol associated with it (three fingers, with the pointer and thumb, squished together). What does this represent?
TR: Our hand sign was made all the way back before the business was formed. We used it back in high school when THIRTY+ was just a group of homies. The meaning is really simple. Three fingers up representing the number “3”, the overlapping of your index finger and thumb creates a gap that represents “0.” The overlapping also creates an x like figure. We use that to represent a plus sign, all together it says THIRTY+ and lets everyone know you’re with the movement.
AE: This THIRTY+ hand symbol is similar to the “okay” hand gesture. This hand symbol has recently been questioned as a hate symbol, being associated with the alt-right and white supremacists as a gesture signifying ‘white power.’ How do you respond to those who may question the similarity?
TR: Wow that’s crazy. I haven’t heard about this before, but that’s definitely interesting. [I’m going to] have to look into this for sure. People can get our symbol mixed up with a lot of things. They’ll try to create a different meaning behind it because they just aren’t familiar or understand what THIRTY+ is. Ty always sums it up nicely – just tell them it’s simple, it means THIRTY+ – “we’re in this together.”
AE: How do you hope your brand, THIRTY+, can bring the community together?
TR: I could write a whole other article on this question alone so [I’m going to] try not to ramble. [Ihope] that THIRTY+ becomes a bridge, something so captivating that you can’t help but form connections. THIRTY+ is like a vibe itself when a supporter puts on some gear, they should feel good. People should be hyped on coming to an event because they know everyone there supports the same thing they do. THIRTY+ – Positivity, Creativity, and Good Vibes. If I can break it down to one statement, [I hope] that THIRTY+ builds a strong community that inspires others to live positively.
AE: What does THIRTY+ as a brand do within the community?
TR: Right now, the brand is focused on changing the common mindset. Lately, we feel there’s been a huge wave of negativity in the world, and we’re just trying to revert it. By pushing our message, everything we do this allows our audience to truly resonate with us. Sometimes all people need is a good cause to get behind. Once people get our vision, they usually become hardcore followers. We plan on being involved in and hosting more events in the near future. Events are hands down my favorite part of the clothing business. It’s just something about showing up to a new area and being able to share your vision with so many new faces is amazing.
Remembering Bob Jones
AE: Tell me about your connection to Bob Jones. (We first met Titus at the recent Bob Jones Service Scholarship Concert at Half Lion Brewery.)
TR: I actually met Bob Jones on my first day of high school. I remember the school had an assembly for all freshmen. During the assembly Bob was speaking on unity and asked some student for a dollar, I was already confused like ‘why is this teacher taking cash from a student?’ He then ripped this kids dollar in half! One thing about me is that I’m pretty frugal, so my heart dropped at the sight. I don’t remember exactly what Bob’s message was, but it was something along the lines of “this dollar holds value on its own, when placed with others the value increases but *rips dollar bill in half* apart there is no value.”
I definitely butchered that, but that what I got from it. After that, I wouldn’t really interact with Bob until my senior year when I got involved in student leadership. Bob and I never got extremely close but when we did talk it was always dope. One of my last memories with him was at the very same assembly that I first saw him at. Three years later I ended up being the student he took the dollar from for his presentation.
AE: In your own words, describe Bob Jones.
TR: He’s almost like a superhero. I mean the man has his own catchphrase (“Focus on today”). Bob Jones was one of the dopest people I’ve met. You could just tell he was a really genuine person, he just had that type of vibe. He definitely is an Auburn legend.
AE: How did Bob Jones impact you personally?
TR: To be honest, Bob influenced me a lot in high school, but I didn’t fully understand until after graduation. Over the summer I had some personal issues going on, everything is better now, but it changed my mindset a lot. It just hit me while looking at Bob’s phrase “focus on today.” That’s all you can do as a person. No one has control over time or what happens in this life. So just focus on the day at hand. Live in the moment and enjoy the day you have. [It’s a] really powerful message.
AE: You didn’t receive a Bob Jones Scholarship, but still support the program and give back to it. Why is this scholarship important to you?
TR: I was not an athlete and graduated (in 2016) with a 2.8, so [I was] not the best candidate for that scholarship. We all should support scholarships like, why not? Supporting scholarships is directly helping a student chase their dream. I also [have] a soft spot for the Auburn community, that’s my home.
AE: How did you get involved with the Bob Jones Scholarship program?
TR: Ty and I both attended AHS, so we knew all the staff well. I really wanted to work with the school, we started the brand because of this school [after all]. After talking with Katie Henry and John Morehead it was decided THIRTY+ will be selling a custom Bob Jones inspired piece, all funds will be donated towards the scholarship. [It] couldn’t have been a better situation. We hopped on it, and everything was successful! This was in 2018, Katie invited us back this year, and we’re hoping to make it a tradition.
AE: How is THIRTY+ giving back to the Bob Jones Scholarship program?
TR: THIRTY+ sells merchandise at the event and then donate profits. We’ve done this for two years now and hope to keep it going.
AE: What are your goals for THIRTY+?
TR: Ideally THIRTY+ blows up, and we all move to Cali in a fat house. Doing what we love, making good money, and spreading good vibes. That’s the ultimate end goal.
AE: Where do you see THIRTY+ in a year?
TR: 2020 is looking to be a great year! Every day we’re getting better at doing this, so by 2020 who knows what we can do! I see the next year really being a year of new growth and recognition. [I’m] excited to keep pushing our limits and seeing how far THIRTY+ can go.
AE: How many brand ambassadors do you have?
TR: As far as brand ambassadors go, we only have one person with that title. Although we have a lot of people that help us with exposure. Everything from shout outs and just bringing us up to others. All that stuff helps out.
AE: Where can folks purchase THIRTY+ apparel?
TR: You can get your hands on THIRTY+ at www.thirtyplus.net, and on our Instagram. We list all our products on these platforms. Currently None Of The Above Skate Shop [also carries our products].
THIRTY+ does pop up shops as much as possible. If you catch us on the right day, I’ll even sell out my trunk sometimes.
Life as a Small Business Owner
As the Founder and CEO, Ross fills a lot of roles. There isn’t ever really a typical day. “A day in the THIRTY world can be anything. We’ve got so much going on right now,” shared Ross. “Typically, I’ll get up around 8-9am if it wasn’t a long night. [I’ll] check my phone [to] make sure all the business stuff is responded to. Then [I’ll] hop on my sewing machine. That usually takes up the morning.
“After getting ready for the day, I gotta decide how I can maximize my time.” Ross continued. “Do I gotta film or shoot anything? Are all my orders ready to go? How can I get some exposure? Is my team on track? These are all factors that morph my day. Once I pick a route, it’s just a matter of busting out as much as I can, while balancing a personal life, and a job. At the end of the day usually just relaxing with the homies or getting comfortable at my crib enjoying life.”
Ross assures that THIRTY+ is going to keep working. “We’re making our dreams a reality, and if that resonates with you contact me,” said Ross. “If not watch out, ‘cause I’m either coming for your spot or keeping it pushing. No time for that period.”
To keep up with and support THIRTY+, follow them on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. “Just being involved is support!” explained Ross. You can show support and stay involved by “watching the Youtube videos, liking and commenting on social media (Instagram and Facebook), and even word of mouth is good support. The goal is exposure.”