Back in June, after retooling customizable shoes, jackets and other pieces for about four years, Raè Frasier started her clothing brand.
The 33-year-old Schenectady resident was finally ready to make something bigger. At the time, however, she never anticipated it would be her full-time job.
But that was before she lost her job as an engagement specialist at the Schenectady City School District in August, amid mass layoffs. To Frasier, not all was lost. It was just a sign.
“I felt like the gods were talking to me at that moment,” Frasier said. “I felt like I was supposed to. This was what I was supposed to be doing full time. I was, you know, very surprised and taken aback by that. I was really at a loss. But then, immediately after all that, [I realized] I’m supposed to be embarking on this art journey and really expressing myself to the fullest extent.”
Since then, the universe seems to be working in Frasier’s favor.
Her brand, Art Mon3y, has since become her hub for her go-to customizable shoes and jackets, as she now uses it to sell new product lines.
The brand is run primarily on Instagram and Facebook as Frasier has rolled out several collections of clothing, roughly one every two weeks. Her collections include hats, crewnecks, beanies, shirts and other pieces — oftentimes with powerful statements about human rights issues, like “Stop Killing Black People’’ painted on the back of her most recent limited-run sweatshirts.
“Of course, they’re going to invoke a lot of discomfort for some people,” Frasier said. “I believe in promoting hard truths with the purpose of inspiring people to grow, and to change their mindset for a greater cause. So ‘Stop Killing Black People’ has always unfortunately been a very relevant message. People mistake that as a political issue when really it’s a human-rights issue. So that’s my style. You know, I’m a big fan of making people uncomfortable with the goal of changing the planet for the better.”
While promoting messages of equality and making a global impact is a major goal for Frasier, she’s already been focusing on her individual customers for a few years now — painting Nike shoes, boots, hats and jackets with images of leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. or even Nickelodeon characters.
“That’s why, this past summer, I decided to actually launch a brand, because people always love the art that I’ve done. But some people, they don’t have concrete ideas of one-of-one pieces that they want,” Frasier said. “But they will always want something from me. So then I came up with the idea like, OK, create something for everybody.”
Art Mon3y may be for everybody, but Frasier’s collections are selling fast. Frasier prefers to have her items “collectible,” only offering about 50 of each. Prices vary depending on what she’s selling, with her latest sweatshirt going for $70-80, depending on the kind of material.
When she rolls outs a new collection, Frasier never reveals exactly what her new hats or shirts would look like, instead teasing them on her Instagram a week before. And it’s through social media where she makes her sales, gets commissions or catches the attention of prospective buyers.
“I think that people are really catching on to the non-replication kind of style of my work,” Frasier said. “It’s been a beautiful experience, especially, shout out to my allies. It’s common for Black people, Black and brown people, to easily be connected in and convey such messages. But when you have people who are not of color, stoked and excited about promoting these messages, it makes me feel like I’m contributing to some sort of change. I feel like I’m serving my purpose.”
Frasier, whose other artistic endeavors can be seen throughout Schenectady in murals, and who doubles as an assistant coach for Schenectady’s girls varsity basketball team, started her artistic journey to express herself but soon found a full-time endeavor out of it. And its message, she says, is to inspire others to find their purpose, too.
“Art Mon3y is derived from me viewing everything as art, everything, like literally everything from painting, to poetry, to rap, to teaching, to social work, anything that involves creation. And I believe that everyone should be compensated for whatever their art form, from yoga teachers to coaches, that’s all art you’re creating. To me the definition of art is, you know, is the unlocking of one’s true freedom. You’re not free until you’re creating. I think that’s what our purpose here on Earth is, is to create. Everyone is supposed to be creating something.”
In short, Frasier said that Art Mon3y is dedicated to anyone who has a dream, is doing something they love and is making it lucrative. By her own standards, Frasier is already living her dream.