Young Guns: Our Block Clothing’s Nicolas Budisa draws streetwear inspiration from neighbourhoods in B.C.

Budisa started sketching out the premise of his clothing brand at 19 years old.

Nicolas Budisa Our Block Clothing

Credit: Our Block Clothing. Founder Nicolas Budisa 

Budisa started sketching out the premise of his clothing brand at 19 years old

In proper Gen Z fashion, Nicolas Budisa started working on the concept for his clothing brand at the ungodly hour of 1 a.m.

It was peak 2020, COVID lockdown, and Budisa was scrolling through YouTube when he came across a video about the late American rapper Nipsey Hussle’s clothing company, The Marathon, which the artist had launched a few years before his passing.

“The brand has designs around the L.A. neighbourhood Crenshaw, and then also designs around the meaning of The Marathon,” says Budisa, referring to Hussle’s drive to open a brick-and-mortar shop in his childhood hometown.

Although he never imagined going into streetwear himself, Budisa thought about what was missing in the local industry. “Cherry blossoms are classic, but I never saw a design around that in Vancouver,” he says. “I wanted to add concepts to Vancouver clothing that people will feel familiar with already.”

So, he transformed his parents’ Champlain Heights basement into a workstation, starting with a heat press that he found, a foldable table from Canadian Tire, a clothing rack and some shipping supplies. At 19 years old, he started drawing inspiration from neighbourhoods in Vancouver and Burnaby to sketch out the premise of Our Block Clothing.

“Everything with the brand I’ve had to learn myself through experience or talking to people or just doing research online,” Budisa maintains. “It takes a lot of time to learn different things from scratch, because when you don’t have any employees or mentors and you’re learning a whole new business by yourself and there are so many hats to wear, it’s definitely a long journey to be successful. Especially in streetwear, because there’s so much competition.”

The now-21-year-old credits the growth of his business to his love for design, photography, videography and content creation. It all culminated in the first major win for Budisa— when he saw someone wearing an OBC hoodie at Pacific Centre.

Of course, a deal with Foot Locker now represents the biggest milestone yet as his streetwear became available at many of the American retailer’s B.C. stores.

Budisa prides himself on implementing sustainability and community efforts into his business. To that end, OBC uses Oeko-Tex certified materials and donates $1 from every item sold to Canadian Tire Jumpstart, a charity that helps youth access sport and recreation.

“I always had a passion for fashion growing up, but I just couldn’t afford the clothes,” he says.

7 a.m.

On weekdays, Budisa is at the gym by 7:30 a.m. After an hour there, he heads straight into soccer training.

Growing up, Budisa’s priorities always remained on the pitch. He was playing youth soccer in Portugal and was close to pro tryouts when the COVID lockdown hit. A month later, Our Block was born.

Now, he splits his time between business and soccer. “I’ve worked a few different 9-to-5 jobs and it’s great, it pays bills, but it’s just not for me,” he says. “I’d rather work on my own time.”

11 a.m.

While the sun’s still shining, Budisa is busy with logistics. That means checking stock, working on new purchase orders and communicating with stores. On days with a photo shoot, hours go into editing and content creation for social media and the website. His fuel? Usually pasta and salad.

7 p.m.

“As an entrepreneur of a clothing brand, it’s kind of hard to have a set schedule,” Budisa notes. “It’s quite chaotic, to be honest.” That translates to a lot of time shared between his workstation (the basement) and the field.

After another soccer practice in the evening, Budisa gets a small window of time to work on new designs that he’d been thinking about during the day. But he says the balance between work and social life isn’t hard: “I wouldn’t be doing this clothing brand and playing soccer if I didn’t enjoy it.”