Our New Black History series continues today with our very own Fresco Wilson. If you've ever watched any videos on the Stadium Goods YouTube channel, you definitely already know Fresco, AKA Fresco BK, as the face and voice of the brand. But Fresco is much far active in sneakers beyond being our resident YouTube star. He's also a teacher spreading the knowledge and culture of sneakers through the SOLEcial Studies program here in New York City. Learn about Fresco's journey through the sneaker world, and what black history means to him in the video clip and full interview below.
For those out there who don't know you, could you please tell us who you are, where you're from, and what you do?
Fresco Wilson: I am Fresco Wilson. I am from Brooklyn, New York and I am the Editorial Producer at Stadium Goods. I am also a teacher of SOLEcial Studies.
Tell us a little bit about your background and the journey that took you here today.
FW: I'm pretty much a city kid who hustled his way to New York City and eventually throughout the world. Born in Brooklyn. My parents are of West Indian descent. My mother was born in Jamaica, raised in London. My father is 100% Jamaican. Both moved to New York City in their 20s. School, growing up in the city, being very interested in basketball and shoes: that transitioned into me becoming a storyteller for a marketing company.
Basketball inspired my love for sneakers and I just realized that no matter what I did, I couldn't get away from shoes. It was inevitable for me. So that transitioned into me working various random jobs, then landing with Game Seven Marketing as a storyteller. So I would go around telling these extravagant stories of basketball and fashion in New York City. In 2015 comes Stadium Goods and SOLEcial Studies. SOLEcial Studies is an extensive teaching program that teaches people about the cultural and business side of footwear. And from 2015 to 2020, I've just been engulfed in shoes and it's helped me expand in ways that I can't explain. It's taken me across the world. So yeah, my background is all dedicated to sneakers.
Tell us more about SOLEcial Studies and your students, where they come from and what your goals are as a teacher.
FW: SOLEcial Studies was created by my business partner, Sean Williams. Awesome dude. He came up with this program to basically empower not just adults, but kids as well in regards to the sneaker community, because they are some of the driving forces of this entire business. So, with my background in storytelling and my background in sneakers, I partnered up with Sean in 2015 and I am the head teacher of SOLEcial Studies. So we've had, I want to say anywhere between eight to ten schools, throughout the New York City area that we've taught at. I had a contract with the New York Public Library. I taught in various libraries throughout the summer. And SOLEcial Studies pretty much empowers kids in this realm of the world because they dominate this business but they don't necessarily know anything about it. So, we give them kind of a gateway to think outside of the box. Something that they love so much can inspire so many different things.
We want to teach the kids that they are huge career opportunities that they may not be aware of in the footwear space. And essentially, it's all kids, but I teach a lot of brown and black kids and I want them to see that somebody that looks like them can be successful in this space of the world. And there's a bunch of us, it's not just me. There's a lot of people that have a mainstay in the black and brown culture in the sneaker community.
How old are the kids that you teach?
FW: So I have from ages 2 years old to 17 years old. And my partner Sean, he has a residency at Drexel, so he has college students. So we range from 2 to 21, or older.
I have different programs in various schools depending on time slots, but it's mostly in the morning hours. So my program will be from 8:00 to about 10:30. Kind of like an elective class that the kids can take to teach them something outside of what their normal curriculum is. I hate to say this, but the normal curriculums kind of teach conformity. They don't necessarily teach anything outside of the box. So we need the regular curriculum, don't get me wrong, but I just want the kids to know that there's something that they love that inspires them to do something more.
You mentor a lot of people. I think that's important to point out about you. Do you want to talk about mentoring?
FW: My gift in life, and I've realized this later on as soon as I started teaching, is to give. So, it's poison for me to obtain this information and not pass along to someone to help them become their better self. So if I have the opportunity to help someone build and be their better self, that's my goal in life, to help people build and become better.
What does Black History mean to you?
FW: Black History is the three I's. I call it the three I's. It's intelligence, integrity and intimidation. Being a black or brown person, that comes with intimidation. Like there's going to be some people that look at you in the sense that they don't necessarily understand you. It may be fear, it may just be misunderstanding. There's a variety of things that go into that, but that's not just a curse, it's a gift, because intimidation makes people think. Intelligence is just being able to convey and express your message in a way that's understandable for everyone across the board and just being confident and being sure that what you're saying is valid. And integrity. Integrity is just being upstanding and just holding yourself to high regard.
The people that I feel are black and historical all possess the three I's. And they have taught us various lessons over time that have guided us in the world today. Even though a lot of those stories have been told an extreme amount of times, they always resonate, because everything is a cycle. As much as we think everything is different, it's very much the same. So in regards to Black History, they guide us from their point of view and help us get to where we're going. I wouldn't be here without Black History.
What is the New Black History to you? How do you feel about being part of creating that?
FW: The New Black History is the empowering of the creative and knowing self-worth, understanding that those people that fought for us in the beginning, the ones that are helping us understand how we can continuously fight and own our own space, a lot of those people own their own space. And when I think of the New Black History, I think of Jay-Z. I think of Barack Obama. I think of these people that have empowered themselves and they live in this space of not just the business aspect, but we understand the business, but we understand our worth and our creativity and what it brings to the business of everything. So New Black History is creativity and not conformity.
How do you hope to shape it in ways that you haven't already?
FW: I hope to provide understanding. It starts with understanding amongst my people, and if we can have a better understanding of each other, then maybe the world can have a better understanding of us. I want to shape Black History by doing and not saying. It's easy to say we live in the world of social media. You can say anything you want, but the action is what puts forth the change. So in regards to me contributing to Black History or to the New Black History, it's the action of the influencer. Influence is a powerful word. So I don't want to be an influencer in the general sense, but I want somebody to grab a piece of my story or grab a piece of something that I may be providing to them that will help them just understand all crosses of the culture.
How are sneakers part of your identity and how do they inspire your work?
FW: I've come to realize that I cannot get away from sneakers. So once I realized that, I realized that I can't work for sneakers. I have to make them work for me. In regards to my creative process, or how they inspire me, I feel like sneakers are like the root. They're like the grass, they're like the soil. So the soil, the soul, the basis of my everything is from my feet. Because if you don't stand solid and you don't uphold you, this is the base. So when I think of how sneakers inspire me, it’s from the ground up. Everything starts from the ground up. You have to start from the bottom. And when I think of the bottom and the base of what I give to the world, it probably starts with sneakers.
So sneakers have not only inspired me, but they've guided me.