Broken Clothing: A Jersey City Brand Supporting Mental Health Locally
Broken Clothing is a local Jersey City brand that works for a cause. The team creates unique clothing with a mission of supporting other locals dealing with anxiety, depression, and more. The Hoboken Girl had the chance to talk with owner and designer Vincent Ramos about the brand’s mission to be inclusive for all as well as give people a way to express themselves through clothing. Read on to learn more about Broken Clothing and how the brand is helping Hudson County residents.
Hoboken Girl: Tell us about yourself.
Vincent Ramos: I grew up in Union, NJ, and have lived all around Jersey City for about six years. For four of those years, I have been working in the food and beverage industry in the JC area. I was raised by a single mother. I have two siblings, a brother and a sister, both younger. We are all extremely, extremely tight. Our childhood wasn’t always easy, but I did grow up in an extremely loving home. Coming up I never had a group of friends around me who accepted me for me. I’m weird, I’m funny, I’m angry, I’m curious, confused, obnoxious, impatient, sometimes cynical but mostly optimistic, and always authentic.
I have suffered from severe anxiety disorder for the past three years or so. I am currently in therapy for the past year and am taking anti-depressants to suppress my intense anxiety. Broken has helped to give me purpose and an outlet for my feelings. I’m thrilled to be able to speak so freely about who we are as a company and to be working together with a group of people who I can truly call family.
HG: How many people do you have on your team bringing this vision to life?
- Vincent Ramos – Owner/Designer
- Jaylene Santiago – Director of Operations
- Michael Boucher – Head of Marketing and Editing/Quality Control
- Veronica Rivera – Head of Entertainment
- Eric Mejia – Special Event Coordinator
- Joseph Vargas – Social Media Ambassador
(Photo credit: @br.ok.en.co)
HG: What brought you to the area? What do you think makes this area special? And/or makes it a good fit for your business?
VR: I moved to Jersey City because I was bartending in NYC and the commute was so much easier. What I found was an incredible, community-based area. The community is so strong and so progressive it was unlike anything I had been exposed to before. There are so many small businesses in Jersey City and a lot of them are just as concerned with self wellness as much as we are. I really couldn’t think of a better area to start a business designed to speak about mental health than here. From my time living and working in Jersey City, it genuinely feels like a community of people building up people, businesses building up other businesses.
Read More: A Guide to the Unique Boutiques in Hoboken + Jersey City
HG: Tell us about Broken Clothing’s mission and services.
VR: “Heart and mind, body and soul. It’s unfortunate how vulnerable these things can be. Luckily with pain comes strength and within that comes this clothing brand. Here lies the reason for your pain, the empathy for your emotions, and the strength to persevere…”
You’ll find this message on the “ABOUT YOU” section of our website. Really, we are nothing close to being “trained professionals” here to fix all of your problems and give you all the answers to your life mysteries and obstacles. We are at best, a group of friends who know exactly what it’s like to struggle with mental illness and who are just trying to give the people of this world a platform to express themselves through any means necessary. We have chosen to express ourselves with clothing — which has a very powerful meaning behind it. We want to be a beacon of hope for people who have never been given a comfortable space to talk about the mental issues that they deal with every single day. We are here to relate, we are here to listen, we are here to accept, we are here to learn, and we are here to let you know that you can make it through whatever you are dealing with and YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
HG: It mentions on your website that the ideas for apparel come from memories and real-life experiences. Tell us about some of those and which pieces they inspired.
VR: “PYHO” which stands for Pour Your Heart Out, is one of our earlier designs a little closer to the hearts of all of our team members. It features a skeleton behind the bar pouring liquid from a heart-shaped bottle into a glass. There’s no one at the bar, just a lonely, bare-boned bartender.
In our industry, it takes an extreme emotional toll on our brains to continue to “perform” for our guests in this industry.
Yes, it is by choice, but our source of income relies on us being in a good mood for our guests every single day. It takes an extreme amount of energy to do that every single day. Can you imagine what it’s like to be surrounded by people who are out and having a good time when you are dealing with things like depression and anxiety? It’s filled with jealousy and anger for not being able to share those same feelings. It is emotionally and physically depleting of any energy you have left to give. This design was meant to be an outlet for me to express myself and show respect to all the other industry workers out there who are putting their mental wellness on the line just to pay the rent.
The rest of our designs and their origins will be talked about in the near future on our upcoming podcast ‘86d’. Here we will be going more in-depth and sharing all the raw emotions that go into everything we do here at Broken.
(Photo credit: @br.ok.en.co)
HG: How did you bring this team together to create Broken Clothing? Were you friends beforehand?
VR: Our General Manager, Jaylene Santiago, and I have been in a relationship for two years. Mike, Eric, Veronica, and I all worked together at a bar in NYC circa 2018. We had lost touch for a little while and fortunately all reconnected a couple of years later. In the midst of getting up and running Mike found Joseph Vargas just skating around in Brooklyn one day. Mike loved his sense of fashion and they got to talking. Eventually, we met and he grew to become a great addition to the Broken family.
HG: Do you sell Broken Clothing anywhere locally?
VR: We have been involved in a few pop-ups at Northern Soul in Hoboken. We also currently have an application pending for the ‘All About Downtown’ festival in Jersey City on September 22nd, 2022. All other sales are done hand to hand to Hudson County locals and through our website at www.brokenclo.com.
HG: What is the biggest obstacle you’ve had to face in what you do?
VR: I am positive that some of the bigger ‘obstacles’ are yet to come and they are welcomed with open arms. Obviously work, life, and business balance are always a challenge, but for now, I would say one of our bigger obstacles is learning how to maneuver between the mental health space and the fashion space. We want to make controversial, fashion-forward clothing without exploiting the mental health industry for profit. This topic and lifestyle of self-love means everything to us and will always be more important than the clothing.
(Photo credit: @br.ok.en.co)
See More: Where to Get Clothing Customized in Hoboken + Jersey City
HG: What are your goals for this year?
VR: We are looking to get a podcast up and running so we are hoping to have about 50 episodes up by next year. We are also looking to triple our social media presence and interaction to build a strong community foundation within Broken. More exclusive drops, more interesting clothing, bigger events. We are more concerned with letting people know that we are here and that we understand what it’s like to struggle with mental health than profits for the time being. As long as we can continue to fund our message we are confident in hitting these goals.
HG: What do you enjoy most about what you do?
VR: Having the ability to talk about who we are and what Broken is all about every single day has been so therapeutic for me, and I’m sure for the rest of the team as well. It keeps me in the now and reminds me that what we are doing is extremely important. Telling my story to people creates a comfortable space, I hope, for people to get some things off of their minds that they might never have shared with anyone else. It may also remind them that they are not alone. I know as a team we’ve put some smiles on people’s faces and hopefully made a lasting impact no matter how big or small. These are the things that keep us going.
HG: What advice would you give to those who want to start their own business?
VR: I’m sure this is advice as old as time but frankly just get started. Have an idea, take a risk, execute, and stay consistent. We have only been around for 8-9 months and since day one we have grown by leaps and bounds and have learned so much. Take the first step, everything is uncomfortable until it’s not.
(Photo credit: @br.ok.en.co)
HG: Anything else you want to share about your business, career, yourself, or your team?
VR: We have a lot of exciting things coming up in the next few months. On May 21st we will be making our first appearance at the Trenton Punk Rock music festival. Over 300 small businesses will be in attendance with live music and food trucks at the Cure Arena in Trenton, NJ. We are also working on getting our podcast, 86’d, up and running. More on that to come on our social media platforms.
Head of Entertainment Veronica Rivera and the rest of the team are in the midst of putting together a dance showcase for June 22nd and 23rd. This showcase will be a mixture of interpretive and contemporary dance, showcasing the struggle of mental health and the light at the end of the tunnel. This show will be held in the heart of the theater district in NYC with choreographers from all over New York and Miss Rodriguez herself. Tickets will go on sale next month through Eventbrite. All info will be flooded to our social media platforms in the following weeks.
Keep up with Vincent and the team at Broken Clothing on Instagram and the website. You can also contact the company via email at [email protected] and by phone at (908) 247-8203.