When a hat is more than a hat
A new merch collaboration between Crafted Culture Brewing and Fortune Over Fame is not only raising money for a Gahanna charity, but potentially helping pave a path for future Black entrepreneurs
When Rahim Ewan launched his clothing line Fortune Over Fame, he did so with the aim of taking over Ohio and then, eventually, the world. But even amid this ongoing quest for global domination, the entrepreneur hasn’t forgotten his roots, which stretch back to the years he spent growing up in Gahanna.
It makes sense, then, that Ewan’s path would one day cross with that of Anthony “Sizzle” Perry Jr., the founder of Gahanna-based brewery Crafted Culture, which Sizzle established in his hometown, rooting the business in a mission of community service (hence the brewery’s slogan: “Be[er] the change").
The two first connected by happenstance when Sizzle noticed a brewery customer wearing a hat made by Fortune Over Fame. “I was like, ‘I love that hat. I need one.’ And he told me, ‘It’s my buddy’s brand,’” Sizzle said during a recent interview alongside Ewan at Crafted Culture.
Shortly thereafter, the two made contact via text message, which quickly spurred talk of a collaboration and the creation of a co-branded hat. The limited-edition merch, now available at the brewery, features Crafted Culture's “[Be]er the change” logo set in an Ohio-shaped patch on the front, along with the words Fame Over Fortune stitched on the back. Proceeds from sales are being donated to GRIN (Gahanna Residents in Need), a nonprofit providing short-term food and financial assistance to neighborhood residents in need.
“GRIN needs materials ... and this is a chance to maybe help them create a little cushion,” Sizzle said. “A lot of opportunities were created here [in Gahanna] for both of us, so this is a way for us to give back to the same neighborhood.”
“I could throw a rock to my mom’s house from here,” Ewan said. “I’m a big Ohio guy, and I’m definitely a Columbus guy, but I’m a Gahanna guy at heart.”
Others clearly felt the connection, too. Within minutes of Ewan arriving at the brewery, stacks of hats in tow, the pair were approached by a customer who made the first purchase, modeling his new cap along with an unfortunate Pittsburgh Steelers T-shirt. “We’re going to have to cut that out [of the photo],” Sizzle said of the shirt as an Alive photographer snapped pictures from the wing.
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Beyond the ability to give back to the community that Sizzle credited with helping to shape him — “I attribute a lot of who I didn’t become [to Gahanna], if that makes sense,” he said — the brewery founder embraced the collaboration as another opportunity to uplift a fellow Black business owner, an element that is woven into the DNA of Crafted Culture. When I interviewed Sizzle at Crafted Culture in June, for one, he noted that in time he hoped to fill the 20-foot-shelf behind the bar exclusively with liquors from Black-owned companies.
This foundational idea surfaced again in a brief discussion between Ewan and Sizzle about the potential for future production runs of the hat.
“We can always go back and make any change you want, different hats, different colors,” Ewan said.
“Any color you want as long as it’s black,” Sizzle said, and laughed. “That’s just my thing with the [Crafted Culture] merch. I don’t ever want to create a situation or a branding campaign where people forget that this venture was Black to begin with. So all of our merch — hats, T-shirts, I don’t care if we launch sweat pants — any color you want, as long as it’s black.”
Ewan expressed disbelief at the collaboration, noting that while “it’s just a hat,” it’s also the coming together of two Black business owners from Gahanna, who collectively could help pave the way for the next generation.
“It will help spark other Black entrepreneurs from Gahanna, who’ll say, ‘These two guys did it, and they’re coming together for a good cause. … Maybe we could follow that path,” Ewan said.
“It was 1900-odd years before someone climbed Mount Everest for the first time, and the next person did it four years later, and that’s something we want,” Sizzle said. “We took advantage of opportunities that existed for ourselves, but it took us a little longer to get here. I was in my 30s when I got here. The next person who has the opportunity to bring Black excellence to Gahanna, hopefully they do it at 22, you know what I’m saying? If you can get it at 19, get it.”