FLINT, Michigan -- A collaboration between an iconic Detroit brand and an iconic Flint brand will also help raise funds and awareness for the global water crisis in Flint and communities like it all over the world.
The collaboration is between Eight One Zero, founded by Flint native James Thigpen Jr., and DETROIT VS EVERYBODY, founded by Tommey Walker. New FLINT VS EVERYBODY merchandise is available for purchase at FlintVsEverybody.com, with a percentage of each purchase funding water-related issues in Flint and other cities through Quartz Water Source’s donor-advised fund.
“Since the beginning of Eight One Zero, I’ve tried to figure out a way to give back,” Thigpen said. “This came together just based on the synergy I have with Tommey Walker. We’ve worked together in the past, but he didn’t know I owned Eight One Zero. This all just made sense to work together and it came together really quickly.”
DETROIT VS EVERYBODY was founded in 2012, intent on capturing Detroit’s spirit and pride while celebrating a beloved community that is often maligned in the media.
“The idea (of the collaboration) was how can we affect change?,” Walker said in a video. “We are taking the attention that we are getting from our individual audiences and pushing it back to Flint.”
Since its founding, DETROIT VS EVERYBODY has become a rallying cry and source of pride for people living in and around Detroit and also transplants who have moved all over the world. Thigpen’s Eight One Zero brand -- especially the iconic lowercase ‘f’ he created -- has similarly become a major way Flint natives show the love they have for the city. The ‘f’ is visible all over the city, but Eight One Zero’s social media is full of pictures of native Flintstones proudly showing off where they come from all over the country and world.
“I’m so grateful for it,” Thigpen said. “I feel like I’m just the steward of it, not the owner. I’m the person chosen to take care of it. My heart is invested and i’m genuine about the business, but i know the people that I serve and understand them, so I’m really a server. I’m very grateful people continue to believe in what we’re doing.”
There’s another Flint angle in the collaboration, too. Quartz was founded by Flint native Jonathan Quarles in 2020. His inspiration was the Flint Water Crisis, but the mission is global. The organization is committed to providing clean water sources to communities in need, giving back to communities through a donor-advised fund, and raising awareness about the global water crisis.
“The proceeds will go toward a variety of technologies,” Quarles said in a video. “With Quartz being a hub for second-line clean water solutions, it will go to technologies similar to atmospheric water generation, where you essentially make water out of air. It allows for a community to be empowered for their own needs, to create the resources needed for their community.”
The collaboration highlights Thigpen’s greater vision for his company, which is to not just discuss what the issues are communities face, but to actually do something about them.
“From day one, what we’ve done is not spoken about the issues, we strive to promote and highlight the great things,” Thigpen said. “Rather than talk about water, or things harming people, I’d rather say, ‘Hey, we’ll give money to the company that is doing the work.’ I want to be solutions-based.”