We always talk about the brand but we never talk about the person behind the brand. Who is Lindsay Barnette and what’s next for you?

I’m a black female designer from metro Atlanta, GA. I’m a self-taught graphic designer that uses premium streetwear design as my medium of self expression. I started Kultured Misfits in 2015 while I was applying for jobs after college as a point of connectivity to art. I wanted my own creative outlet for self-expression. It was inspired by a group of friends I had in college. We’d meet up and have these conversations that lead to us talking about politics, art, style, music, and fashion; and I was missing that connection to them and the way we’d dream and share about our lives. So, I started to look for something that could express that same feeling I had back, specifically that feeling that would give others permission to be authentically themselves and to learn for one another like I had with my friends. Something that would remind us that we were never meant to fit in, we were always supposed to be uniquely ourselves. I’ve learned so much by simply listening or even more, being willing to listen, even if I differ in opinion. I realized that it doesn’t have to take away from me being myself, in order to learn about you, and appreciate you even. I like to tell our stories in each and every detail, each collection we put out. My goal was and still is, to search for the understated luxury within each piece; through the storytelling, the fabric selections, and the colors while delivering quality and a luxury experience you can relate to.

Up next for us is the release of our SS23 and FW23 collections. In addition to the collections releasing, we are working on opening a showroom in the near future for special client visits, and to work out of.  Showcasing the brand through in-person experiences has been key for us, so we are looking into cities we’d want to host pop-up tours around the US. We also have a few collaborations in the works and have finally started building our team.

How did you get the opportunity to get on Shaq’s show The Game Plan and how has that elevated your business?
I actually received an email from the show’s director, Dex Deboree, and I honestly didn’t think it was real. He reached out to set up a meeting to discuss the opportunity and I assumed it would be something super small and lowkey. But when we met, he mentioned that it was a new show with Shaq airing on TNT.
It was surreal because I worked for Turner Broadcasting/Warner Media on the Turner Sports team with Shaq for about 7 years and had recently left. Before I left, people were just starting to learn I owned Kultured Misfits, so I assumed it came about that way. But when I met with Dex and the show’s EP, Kfir Goldberg, they told me they had been researching Black Owned brands and came across Kultured Misfits on their own. They fell in love with our brand story, our messaging, and overall what we stand for. It wasn’t until the end of that meeting, I shared that I used to work for TNT and the last project I worked on for the company, actually was the concept for this exact show, but I never thought I could be featured since I worked there. They had no idea and it was a true sign of alignment for me.
The Game Plan was an amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was our first chance to tell the Kultured Misfits story in front of a huge audience and to do that with the co-sign of Shaq and Quavo was amazing. They really listened to my brand story, tried on our clothes, asked tough questions to test the integrity and strength of the brand, and ultimately provided us with some amazing opportunities to grow, even after the show aired. Being a small business, and especially in clothing/fashion, there are a lot of brands in the marketplace, and exposure, brand awareness, and co-signs can take your brand to the next level. The show has been able to do that through a large increase in sales, to opening doors for collaborations and partnership conversations we previously tried to get into. The most exciting, to me is the long-term relationships that have been built, from the crew that shot the episode to the director and production company to Shaq himself, we’ve been able to work together and have some fantastic projects on the way.
What are some adversities you faced as a black female-owned clothing business?
Mostly, it has been gaining the respect and funding needed to accelerate forward. In fashion, but especially in streetwear fashion, the industry can be very male-dominated and as a female who creates clothing that is more unisex or masculine it can be hard to get the meeting. Women can be looked at as the model, make-up technician or even the assistant when first introduced in this industry. In my earlier years with the brand, I even tried to go by the nickname “LB” instead of Lindsay Barnette in my email signatures just to see if I’d get a different response to the brand. Sometimes I did. I’d set up meetings and calls and they wouldn’t know that I’m a black female until we started but by then I had their attention enough to listen through the brand and the pieces.
Overall things are progressing forward, but gaining access to capital funds is also challenging as a black female entrepreneur. Kultured Misfits is and has always been entirely self-funded. I’ve spent the last 8 years working full-time jobs and building KM from the ground up, pouring portions of my salaries into purchasing the resources they needed.
I’m happy to see that more and more attention is being placed on female entrepreneurs as a whole and more dedicated opportunities are starting to be available.
Did you have any past experience in entrepreneurship?
Not officially. I had a few businesses as a kid as a lot of us do. I made bracelets, candles, and stuff as a kid; but nothing too big or that kept my attention for too long. I’ve always been fascinated by brands and how they can connect to people in a meaningful way
I grew up in a family of entrepreneurs and have a background in business, though. My dad started a vending machine business when I was a kid and then my mom took over the business after his passing. I saw what it took to run a business at a young age and always had it in the back of my mind as I got my degree in Marketing, so I always had it on my plan for what I’d do someday. I just needed the right name and something I was passionate enough about to see it through. Then Kultured Misfits came and I knew it was something that I needed to do.
What moment during your entrepreneurial journey did you realize you can really do this full-time and that this business could be something special?
Honestly, it was about two and a half years ago now. We were working at a vendor event and people were shopping with us, commenting on the quality of the products, asking us what our name meant, the usual. And I was speaking with a woman who told me that not only did she resonate with what our brand means, both to be a Kultured Misfit but also really identified with the “We Were Never Meant To Fit In” mantra, and she told me that he HS age some needed this brand in his life. She said he was a Kultured Misfit, and sometimes he doesn’t feel like he belongs. Doesn’t feel like he fits in with his classmates and that she was buying him these items so that he could walk into school with confidence and pride that he is a misfit and it is the way he was made, on purpose.
It was crazy to me to think that a complete stranger understood the entire message we were conveying and furthermore wanted to buy it for him to wear as a suit of armor for him to get through the day. That’s what it is all about for me. The community we can create through this brand, through our message, and through our clothing. That day I decided to accept that this is what I was put here to do and I needed to begin to plan to make that step toward doing it full-time. Now, as we continue to tell our story and are blessed with more opportunities for people to experience the Kultured Misfits brand, we’ve had many more stories just like that one. People are resonating with us in a way I could have never imagined. I started this brand as my own personal outlet, to give myself confidence, to give myself a creative outlet. It has become so much more than business, it is truly a lifestyle and I’m excited to see what we can take next.