“Mahogany is really about keeping people together and keeping relationships strong.”
Hometown: “Murrieta, CA. It’s a city between Los Angeles and San Diego. I really consider all of Southern California my hometown, though.”
First job: “I worked at a Christmas tree lot.”
3 things you would save if your house was on fire: “My cat, for sure, and my books. I feel like I could eventually replace everything else.”
Currently cued on his mp3 player: “Mostly old Kanye West. I bought the Late Registration album when I was in high school and, to this day, it stays in my car.”
All-time favorite film: “I think it’s Four Brothers. I always watch it when it comes on TV and it has the two things I love most in movies: crime drama and a great soundtrack.”
Favorite place to be on a Saturday afternoon: “Skateboarding. It’s a hobby I picked up since moving to Kansas City and now I really wish I’d started earlier. I like to find unpopulated areas where there’s not a lot of traffic, so I can sorta feel like I own the place.”
What inspires his creativity: “Relationships and conversations. I try to listen to how people talk to each other and how I speak to the closest people in my life. You never want to get too far from that, because then it starts coming from your own head instead of reality.
What we do is not poetry. It’s communication. We try to say what people would naturally say in a slightly more elevated way. So I’m constantly reading books, looking for dialogue, repetition, rhythm–any way to enhance what conversation sounds like and trying to figure out what will stick in peoples’ minds.”
One thing he never does: “Man, that’s a tough one. I never copy. It’s really important to me to be original or to try to take old ideas to new places.”
Pivotal moment in life: “Going to Morehouse College and the specific environment they create there was very formative for me.
It’s an all-black, all-male institution, and as narrow as that sounds, it was actually the most diverse experience of my life up to that point. Being around a school full of people that looked just like me, but thought in a million different directions was an eye-opening experience for me.
Because I thought the grooves were already kind of set as far as the things that I was able to do…think about, experience, be a part of…Morehouse completely changed my life.”
What Mahogany stands for: “It’s really about keeping people together and keeping relationships strong. While I don’t really imagine our cards to be the thing that sparks those relationships, I do hope they can help enhance them and make people pause.”
Who he pictures when writing cards: “Mostly my immediate family. My mother is the oldest of eight children and has four sisters with distinct personalities. So whether an idea is upbeat, kind of laid back or more serene, I think about how my different aunts would react to it. They come into play quite a bit.”
Hardest thing about writing: “Actually just sitting down and doing it. When it comes to writing I get very theoretical, so putting the rubber to the road is probably the hardest part.”
How he knows when his work is good: “It has to sing.”
Advice to aspiring writers: “Just write. It’s the only way you’ll figure out if it’s what you want to do. It’s not really something you can talk about or even dream about. So write and keep going.”
Unique perspective he brings to his work: “I’m young, male and an only child. That’s not the typical Mahogany consumer, so that’s part of it. I also try to find the fun in relationships and try not to get too serious.”