It was once said that a good vacation is over when you begin to yearn for your work. In Jordan Greenwald’s case, he yearned for his work and then some.
Greenwald is the founder of a streetwear cultural company known as Meta Cartel. The company launched after Greenwald took keen interest to the street art he witnessed across Spain during a study abroad trip which he describes as a ‘visceral experience.’
“I was taken back by how something can be in a different country, completely out of context for someone like myself yet it really just permeates your soul,” Greenwald recalled. “It didn’t matter the culture or the language barriers, I was getting the message (of the art).”
When he came back to the United States, he decided to get a lawyer and start a business which would use art to convey messages. Greenwald is aiming to build a lifestyle brand with deep beliefs. He believes that by capturing the mind of a millennial aesthetically, he’ll be able to draw them into seeing the cultural point of view which Meta Cartel represents – progressivism.
“I want to put in that heavy and impactful message not because everyone will get it but because I feel like if we’re in a position to spread ideas and really operate like a brand and not just a company that wants to make money,” said Greenwald.
Meta Cartel’s belief in progressivism includes such positions as supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and combating institutionalized racism, gay rights and the legalization of marijuana. Greenwald doesn’t pretend to have the solution to some of these problems but says that through his brand, he wants to help keep the conversation going.
The triangle on the hat symbolizes higher thinking while the designs underneath the brim are 18th century Spanish illustrations discovered in history books, a hat tip to Greenwald’s original inspiration for starting his company.
After the hats are designed stateside, they’re sewn in a Vietnamese factory where Greenwald says the best quality hats are created.
Thousands of Vietnamese factory workers protested earlier this year and went on strike after a new law was passed barring employees who resign from collecting a lump-sum of health insurance money.
When asked about the worker’s rights issues in Vietnam and whether they affect his company, Greenwald says that to his knowledge there have been no complaints or worries. He has not been on the ground to visit but plans to do so in the future.
Maya Dawit worked for the Digman Center, where Meta Cartel’s headquarters are housed, as a video editor when she met Greenwald. Dawit has always been set on not working the typical 9 to 5 job and says that working with Meta Cartel is helping her achieve those goals.
“It’s really refreshing when you meet someone who is running a business but is running it in a way where you’re in an environment where you are comfortable,” Dawit said. “You don’t feel like you are working for a business you feel like you’re helping out a friend.”
The company has been able to channel the messages they’re trying to breakthrough to their audience through art work. Meta Cartel has commissioned artists from New York and other areas including the DMV in a quest to give creative forces a voice. Their most well known work so far is a Martin Luther King Jr. mural displayed on campus during Art Attack.
Greenwald advises incoming fans of his brand to “live an elevated lifestyle, be you but respect other people and try to have an open mind.”