Black-Owned Business Helps the Atlanta Hawks Launch Its Most Globally Relevant Uniform Through a Viral Social Media Campaign
This fall the Atlanta Hawks unveiled an historic uniform in tribute to the greatest “Drum Major for Justice”, through an unprecedented partnership with the Estate of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., NBA, NBPA and Nike. The debut of the MLK Nike City Edition Uniform was also a call to action to the community to keep the fight for social justice alive and well. In helping spread the #EarnTheseLetters message throughout social media the Hawks tapped College Park native Mose James, owner of OMGBooth to create the customized campaign. With more than ten years as one of the most inventive physical and virtual photo booth experiences for events large and small across the country, James talks with Cassidy Allen Chubb about his journey and working on this once-in-a-lifetime launch.
CAC: Growing up in Atlanta, were you exposed to black entrepreneurs at a young age?
MJ: Part of the beauty of Atlanta is I’ve always seen Black leadership and Black entrepreneurs and that’s what makes Atlanta so amazing. You don’t go other places and see that. It’s a safe space where it feels like if you have an idea and the passion to pursue it, then you know that here in the city of Atlanta, you'll get a fair shot.
Do you have any special memories of going to Hawks games as a kid?
Without a doubt. We used to go down to the Omni as a kid. My father would take us to games, and he kept us connected to the city’s sports. One of my earliest memories of how amazing the Hawks were and Spud Webb winning the dunk contest.
How did OMGBooth start?
OMGBooth began back in 2010. My fiancé at the time…we were spending way more money on our wedding than we had, and we knew we needed some type of fun element for our guests to do at our wedding. Obviously a photobooth would make sense—problem is, I was a schoolteacher, she was a student and I couldn’t afford a photobooth. So, I got on YouTube university and taught myself how to make a photobooth.
One thing that was really important to us was we wanted to create something that was unique to us and something that really tapped into the culture. We wanted the images to say something and be a little livelier.
What’s been a challenging part about being a black business owner?
The industry I’m in is definitely dominated by people who do not look like me. I was flying all across the country bringing my bag of equipment into a room and people would oftentimes ask me ‘So is Mose coming?’ and obviously it was me standing there.
One thing that I always wanted to do was overperform and overdeliver because there weren’t faces like my faces that they were used to seeing. I just had to show that when you partner with us that we’re going to give you way more than you ever expected.
Do you have any advice to black entrepreneurs who are just getting started?
They have to know that we’re the culture. They want we have, and you have to lean into it heavy.
How do you continue to stay ahead in this industry when companies copy your business model?
That bothered me a lot starting out. I am one of the individuals that brought African Americans into this industry. There just weren’t very many of us at all when I did it. When we enter into different things, we bring a different style, a piece of our culture. Yes, there were definitely people who saw what we were doing, adapted the way that we did it to their own and they became copies of what we do. It bothered me, but early on I understood that whatever they were doing in 2014, that’s what I was doing back in 2010. So you just have to keep on pushing yourself and keep on innovating. We focused on the things that were important to us. People being so interested in the culture, that led the business to us.
What was it like getting that call from the Hawks about working on this major campaign?
The timing couldn’t have been more amazing this year. We talked about how we’ve been leaning into our passion…and to us and the culture, the MLK campaign definitely checked all those boxes for us.
Take me to the moment when you saw the jersey release video and the campaign was live.
We were honored, humbled and overly joyed to be attached and part of this roll out. We heard about the years of planning that went into it, and we were really blessed to be in the right place to make this happen.