By now you may have seen the ME or ME4L on tees all around Belize and online. And it is always special when, without much words people wearing them acknowledge each other with a nod and a smile, hidden by a mask of course, something about the eyes though, and the eyebrows tell what a hidden mouth is doing. It’s not just merchandise, not just a fashion line, it’s family. The people wearing the clothes feel that they are a part of something, and that is exactly what Money Eye Clothing Company (moneyeye.me on IG) is all about.
I was fortunate to catch up with Money Eye Pablo a few weeks ago when he visited Belize with some of his family members for Easter. It was one of those perfect April days in Belize City, and as he was getting his locs styled by the very talented Tanya at their family yard on Iguana Street, we discussed the origins of Money Eye, which has various ventures from music production, fashion and entertainment, their Belize City roots, which have since extended to Los Angeles California, and beyond.
“Belize has culture, and once you have culture, you’ll always have something to do, and that expands a young man or young woman’s imagination, so it was definitely good growing up in Belize, it taught me a lot, taught me about hard times and struggles but it also taught me to appreciate what i have.” says Jasima.
Jasima (Money Eye Pablo) emigrated to the USA when he was 19 years old and while there were a lot of new things to experience, or things which he experienced here but were on a much wider and more developed scale in Los Angeles, as he says “you know we da Bileezyan people, and we know how fi adjust” so he adjusted and manoeuvred the best way he could.
The company was started in the early 2000s, before he emigrated to the US by his two older brothers Jason (Jay Mack) and Dwayne (Do Die) which started with party promotions but which later evolved into music and entertainment.
Eventually the brothers would pause these, to refocus energies on something else.
“Everyone wants to be proud of who they are. A Black man waan be proud fi be wa Black man and a Belizean wants to be proud to be a Belizean. People don’t want to live under anyone’s shadow anymore, not to say we don’t want to follow and learn, but people want their own identity” ~ Jasima says, he continued that he felt that the best way for them to achieve this would have been to bring out their clothing brand. Along with his sister, brothers and others, they continue to expand the clothing line. They have tees, hoodies, snapbacks, slides and are constantly exploring new products. The designs are all unique and can be personalised to suit the customers’ requests.
Their business model is focused on their vision, of course financial gain is an obvious objective, but the Money Eye Company believes that that can’t be the only objective, that the narrative can be changed.
He believes that too many times, people get nice jobs, leave the southside and then shun their origins by looking down on the southside. “We wa do fu we ting, and bring di hope, di change, create opportunities. We noh waan give up pan weh we come from, dis da fu we roots. This da weh mek we who we are. Why not come back and nourish the roots? People say nourish the fruit, but you have to nourish the roots.”
Anyone who is keen, knows that all fashion trends are extracted from the hood, the inner cities, the southside, the barrio, the favela. And while the people who create these looks get no credit and are told that their look is tasteless or cheap, these very same looks later become high fashion on catwalks in fashion cities around the world, and fashion forward and lauded on white celebrities.
So i cannot hold my excitement that this fashion line is not extractive, not appropriating, not exploiting. This brand, hailing from one of the most creative parts of Belize City, Queen’s Square, is sharing what they are, know and come from.
We don’t talk enough about the rich history of Queen’s Square, that it exists because mostly single mothers, encouraged and assisted by May Davis, got machetes and waded through high grass and marsh to clear the area to develop it. Hence the name, Queen’s square. (please read more about May Davis in From Colony to Nation: Women Activists and the Gendering of Politics in Belize, 1912–1982 by Anne S. McPherson)
This same Queen’s Square, is home to so many art movements and artists, musicians, a young entrepreneur and kite expert, Ryan Davis. That G Micheal Reid, and diaspora Belizeans, who would rather I keep their names anonymous, maintain, with the help of Belizean businesses and Belizean citizens, one of the prettiest, cleanest, and most active little parks in Belize City, the Charlie Burton Park.
It is no wonder or strange fact to me, that ME Clothing Brand and their other ventures, the Money Eye Company, comes from this place.
They aim to keep growing and go global with the brand, to offer competition to bigger brands.
So how do you order clothes? if you’re in LA or anywhere in the USA, you find moneyeye.me on instagram and you send them a dm. If you are in Belize, the process is the same, and items are shipped here on a schedule.