From Paul Newman’s 1961 pool hustler to street hustler to Larry Flint’s Hustler to hustla to the 2013 film “American Hustler”, the word has gotten a pretty bad rap. But in the end, according to the dictionary, it simply means ‘one who hustles’ ‘a go-getter’; in short, a pursuer of the American Dream.
With that in mind, Roselle native Jeff DuPerrier and Michael Sette – along with store manager Dakota Liguori – are proud to call themselves Street Clothes Hustlers. Their newest location, Strong2, at 21 East Westfield Avenue is in line not only with the entrepreneurial spirit of believing that continuous hard work will bring you to the success of your dreams, but expansion to create a name for themselves – literally.
Jeff and Michael got together some time back to create their own brand of clothing and called it ‘Strong Hold’. Taking the next step, they realized they needed a store of their own, and ‘Strong Hold Shop’ was born. Originally setting up shop in Boonton, Jeff and Michael moved their store to Bloomfield where they have been growing for the last three years. In 2012 they even had their own pop-up shop in Seaside Heights but Sandy, having hit the shore hard, destroyed that location.
Then, this year, Jeff and Michael looked around and realized that there was nothing in Union County as far as a full-fledged street wear studio ever since Syndicated Clothing moved to New Brunswick and they wanted to capitalize on that. From shirts to hoodies to pants to caps to tank tops to sneakers and more, 2 Strong – symbolized as Strong2 and S2 – caters to a unique and loyal customer base. They even have a small studio backdrop so when people buy they can showcase themselves. Jeff said, “We’re trying to bring that New York feel to Union County.”
Collaborating with other clothing brands, such as Hot 97 DJ Bobby Trends’ Shake The Block – who, along with New York Knicks Iman Shumpert were both at the Roselle Park Grand Opening earlier this month – 2 Strong keeps its ears & eyes on the street, not to just see what the next hot trend is but to create it.
“My partner, he wanted to be more than just a store, he wanted to be a brand,” Jeff said about their philosophy, “And now we’re thinking about how to make this brand bigger. The concepts behind the tees, hats, everything we do, we have a meaning behind it.”
To be sure they carry other well-known brands such as Syndicated, Faded, Faded Royalty, G-Shock, Mitchell & Ness, and Heist to name a few. But having those along with their brand on the shelves is just the beginning. Jeff stated, “Not only do we carry other dope brands but we want to be a dope brand.”
Dakota added, “We didn’t just want to be a retailer, we want to be a movement.”
There are shirts with different icons from Muhammad Ali to fictional Tony Soprano but one of their favorites is also their biggest inspiration – #23, Michael Jordan. ‘Victory Is Ours’ is not only one of their prominent designs but a big part of what they believe.
Jeff recalled what is remembered as “The Flu Game” and uses it as his inspiration. Game 5 during the 1997 Finals against the Utah Jazz, and Chicago Bulls Michael Jordan was visibly pale and weak from a fever as he took the court against the recommendation of the team’s doctors. The finals were tied at two games a piece but Jordan, fighting dehydration and fatigue, played and went on to score 38 points, giving the Bulls the game. At the end of the game, Jordan collapsed into teammate Scottie Pippens’ arms, and had to be supported off the court. The Bulls went on to win the championship the very next game.
“That’s a great work ethic!”, Jeff said, “He played against all odds to bring out the best not only in himself but his team.”
From promotion by Dakota down the shore to utilizing social media its potential, their design and clothing have been showing up in other studio boutiques in the tri-state area. Jeff remarked, “It’s an awesome feeling when you see someone walking around with your gear on. Eventually, the goal is to have a store full of the “Strong” stuff and make our designs exclusive and send it out to other retailers. We don’t want to sell. We want to build.”
Dakota knows that the Internet is key since it is the modern-day word-of-mouth, “Our strong following comes from having a small crew but a large network.”
In the near future, an online web shop as part of their website is in development and the guys have their eye on the available storefront next door to expand to sell sneakers and have the two stores connect to each other. Jeff summed it up by stating, “Two locations is really good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s just the beginning. We see a Strong World.”
Strong2 is opened from 1 p.m. until 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, and from noon till 8 p.m. on Saturday. They are opened on Sunday by appointment only and have already had some dates booked.
Located at 21 East Westfield Avenue, their phone number is (908) 245-2463. They can also be reached through their website at strongholdshop.com, their Facebook page (link), or by following them on Twitter @Stronghold (link).