Blackcraft Turned a Heavy Metal T-Shirt Operation into Big Business
In the summer of 2012, sepulchral Orange-based clothing company Blackcraft Cult was just an idea, an itch burrowing through the brains of co-founders Bobby Schubenski and Jim Somers. Less than two years later, their designs appear on celebrities and musicians ranging from Slayer to Kesha, their revenues and online followers number in the millions, and the company seems to be on the cusp of total world domination.
"With Blackcraft, [our message] for kids is 'believe in yourself, and create your own future,' and that if Jim and I could meet this vision we had, then anybody can do it," Schubenski says. "We want to show kids that it's OK to be different, and to go against the norm. Be different, and stand out, get off of that rat wheel that everyone says they're on."
That positive message resonates with the heavy metal and industrial scenes that both clothiers come from, and shines through the dark imagery on T-shirts with lines like "Hail Satan and Drink Coffee." Schubenski cites early Orange County metalcore bands like Eighteen Visions and Bleeding Through as an inspiration, and both he and Somers promote a message of self-empowerment and personal growth outside and away from organized religion.
"When Bobby and I met up, we knew that in our world and the demographic we were familiar with, there was nothing like what Blackcraft was, so we knew there was a demand for it," Somers says. "From day one, when we put up our first Instagram post, it just went, and we didn't need to convince anyone of anything. People just felt like they were a part of it straightaway."
Schubenski, a 25-year-old Pennsylvania native, played in a band with Somers' roommate, and met his future partner by crashing on his couch in OC at the end of a tour. The pair kept in touch after Schubenski returned to the East Coast, but when the Pittsburgh tattoo parlor where Schubenski worked started carrying clothes from Aqua-VI - the OC-based brand Somers worked for 3,000 miles away - both men realized that larger forces seemed to be drawing them together.