Words by Keane Fletcher

Tomorrow is the official launch party at our newly opened store at Kawana Shopping World and we can't wait to see you! To celebrate we're finishing up our series on some of our favourite creators -- all of them in stock at the Hipland store -- where we pick apart exactly what makes them (and their brand) tick. 

Next up, US-based Paul Espino (@paulyblunts), CEO and founder of lifestyle and cannabis brand DRO. Taking their aesthetic inspiration from hip-hop and street culture the DRO label originated on the streets of Los Angeles, designing, cutting and sewing bespoke garments since 2012. But it wasn't until 2014 when they said goodbye to sunny California and hello to icy Colorado (a move made for obvious reasons...) that the brand really took off, even teaming up with rapper Waka Flocka Flame and partnering with international retail giant Zumiez last December. 

To celebrate DRO's place on our shelves we sat down with Espino to talk all things fashion, branding, and the importance of avoiding 'analysis paralysis'.

You can check out some of their apparel here on the Hipland website and keep scrolling for our interview with Paul Espino below!

1- How did Dro get started?

As with anything in streetwear, it began from not finding a brand that represented us. Or people like us.

2- What was the original vision for the brand? Has it changed much over the years?

We are still the same brand 9 years later from a vision perspective. At times brands start expressing their worldview, gain attention from the angry youth to later dumb it down JZ style to make more money. We are still flying straight because the founders are still in charge.

3- Was there a crucial tipping point that helped solidify your vision for Dro?

Yes! Two actually. The first was linking up with the right business partners, because it's very hard to find trustworthy and loyal people in the world today. It's hard to find people who have earned their stripes. The second was launching our own line of legal cannabis products in the U.S. because it's what DRO is about. At its core, DRO is Cannabis. DRO is to Cannabis like Nike is to Sports.

4- Talk us through some of Dro’s biggest failures. What did you learn from them?

There have been failures - but not 'dead-end' like failures. We have been doing the apparel thing for a while and our experience has helped us avoid a lot of pitfalls when launching a streetwear brand. If we have failed at something its been at 'not failing enough'… meaning that at times we need to try more things and fail fast … but have the right way to test what success of failure looks like.

5- How do you feel about being stocked in Australia?

It's insane how we can be on the other side of the world - yet still you still find connection to the brand. And it's only because cannabis transcends everything. Its culture that binds us.

6- What are your hopes for the future of the brand?

I hope that we don’t stop trying. What I mean by that is at some point things can get repetitive and become mundane. We want to make products that are meaningful to our customers. That is who we design for. When you stop trying - you have given up. When you stop trying - you don’t exist.

7- What advice would you give to other up-and-coming brands and creators?

Prepare yourself for the long run. It's going to take you a decade to make something tangible from your ideas, dedication and lunch money. Focus on making 'quality decisions' and don’t get analysis paralysis. Don’t wait for the stars and planets to align for you to get started… start somewhere… even if it's a rough start.

Thanks for stopping by Hipland!