“You don’t create change by doing the same thing over and over again”
Whether it’s the rose that grew from concrete or the phoenix rising from the ashes, KCC’s founder likes to believe that there’s always room for growth, but since his younger years - he’s definitely been on the rise.
James “Vandal” Watson, was raised by a strong single mother in the south west of England. Swindon Town to be exact.
At a young age James’ mother was forced to push her dream of fashion and design to the wayside to help take care of her family. Her dream felt like such a far away goal that she became a hairdresser - and although it wasn’t her deepest desire, to her it is art form in its own right. No matter how hard she worked she encouraged James to be involved in the arts as an outlet for everyday life.
Growing up, James got into everything (quite literally). A combination of hyperactivity, creativity and curiosity was the mix for brewing up his own experiments despite his lack of focus academically in school.
So where did ‘Vandal’ come from?
In the world of hip hop most people earn their street names or aliases from their crew mates or reputation, but that’s not how it was.
James’ nickname ‘Vandal’ was given to him by his mother.
“He was my little Vandal. In every way imaginable, from breaking the house TV by conducting science experiments of his own, to sawing off the leg of his grandfather's favorite chair.” said Caroline Pacy, James’ Mum.
“James would have given Dennis the Menace a run for his money. But at the end of the day his cheeky little dimples and adorable smile usually kept him out of trouble.
As a teenager he found graffiti as an outlet for self expression the appeal also came from the fact that this hip hop element also pushed a few boundaries of mainstream society. He wanted to be part of a community, and that’s when music and the arts found its way into his world.” she continued.
“It’ wasn’t till he was suspended at school for his daring art that he pushed a few other limitations. Looking back I wouldn’t have had it any other way. You don’t make change by doing the same thing over and over again”.
Needless to say, James and his Mum has a strong relationship, but that couldn’t save James from his school grades.
With all the distractions, James failed most of his GCSE’s (SAT’s in the USA), because his mind was often focused on sports and art, but he knew he had to accomplish more, so when his Aunt in California (USA) offered him a second chance to brush up on his studies and finish out school in the US, he went.
It was two years later when James finished High School, this time in the USA. Although he notably improved, it was a while yet before James really fell in love with academia.
Regardless of finishing with extra credits the choices moving forward were meager. Returning home to the UK and attend college there or go to a community college in California weren’t in his cards, and that is where James opted for the US Navy.
The world opened up in ways that weren’t afforded by either of the other options and for the next 5 years, James toured Asia and Australia with the Navy. Naturally active James dove headfirst into cultural experiences and activities, soaking up the arts and a list of friends along the way.
It was on an evening in 2004 that James’ mother called him in Japan from the UK.
The news - his younger brother Jacob was diagnosed with autism as well as muscular dystrophy.
James felt helpless.
It was on this evening that became the catalyst to the change in his life.
He vowed from that day, that he was going to achieve a lifestyle where he could take care of his younger brother when the time came that his Mother couldn’t.
James knew the daily grind wasn’t going to cut it, nor did he want to neglect his burning desire to build something that could involve the arts as well as business.
He wanted to create something that he could change his life, challenge his current situation and something he could be proud of, so he started a clothing line - paying homage to his mother's dream and encapsulating his love of the arts and passion for different cultures, but also acknowledging his own love for the area.
When James returned back to mainland USA in 2008, he moved to Jacksonville Florida (JAX) to forge his future endeavors. Tired of the negativity being spread in the world James believed in positivity and that following the rules of positive thinking would be his mainframe for curating his clothing brand, and thus kingdom clothing company was born.
Over the next few years, James was researching and learning about the indie brand market and soon started attending local music and art shows selling his clothing online and at fairs.
His passion for arts and business felt like they had effortlessly woven themselves into his world, and the vow he’d made in 2004 was looking positively attainable.
That’s when life threw a spanner in the works.
It was Wednesday the 5th October 2011, this time the phone call from the UK was from James’ older Brother and the news was grim. Jacob, the little brother he’d been building his company for he went into cardiac arrest and it wasn’t looking good.
No matter how fast James got on the plane to get home, it wasn’t fast enough to say goodbye to him before he passed, Jacob was taken off life support and pronounced dead October 7th.
Jacob was only 12.
“I didn’t know what to do. Here I was building something to take care of my Brother, and now he was gone”
James searched for answers, falling into bouts of depression and sorrow, but this was the moment that would change the way James viewed and lives life.
“I felt like, what was the point of it all”, said James. “It took me a long time to finally see through that one moment and see the beauty and power in the whole message rather than just breaking down the whole process into that one moment”.
Now more than ever, James felt he had to live the message of positive thinking to get him through the hard times.
He wanted to remember and revere his Brother the only way he knew how. That way to continue Jacobs message of positivity, fun and joy and this is what the Kingdom Clothing brand stands for. KCC serves as a message for positive change and a beacon of hope for anyone going through hard times.
Returning home to the US, James went full throttle ahead, earning a bachelors in business and is currently working towards his second BA in digital media.
The culmination of his studies powers his brand, which has been up and running since 2012. From festivals to music videos - the power of KCCs message is clear about its direction of positivity and hope.
James knows Jacob would be proud, and hopes he still is.
Since it’s conception, Kingdom clothing brand has always stayed on course to deliver the message of celebrating positive outcomes in negative situations and that no matter how tough a situation is, that you can still overcome any obstacle and achieve your dreams.
The brand is as much James and James is KCC.
Currently, while James earns his second BA, he’s got some plan in the works to spread the message even further.
He’s continuously on the lookout for new designers and ready to support fresh new talent whether it be in the form of Bboy/Girls, Graff, M.C.s or DJs, so that he can spread the message, the love and of course the positivity.
“Life’s going to crush you and no one can prepare you for it, but it’s not about being crushed - it’s about what gets squeezed out of it”