By STACEY MARCUS
Adam Khafif, a graduate of Oaklandvale Elementary School and Belmonte Middle School in Saugus, is making a difference in the world. The 22-year-old street fashion entrepreneur and his clothing line Lisn Up have been featured in Forbes, Huffington Post and other major publications.
His passion for social responsibility also helped him find love, with acclaimed journalist Noor Tagouri. who garnered a great deal of media attention in October 2016 when she posed for Playboy wearing a hijab, leather jacket, Converse sneakers and black pants. They married in Miami in April and live in Washington, D.C.
“My dad (Mohamed Khafif) told me to do something you love that benefits others,” said Khafif, whose business strategy is based on giving back.
Khafif launched his own business at age 16 with a goal to combine his love for music and cool T-shirts. One can see that he joyfully adheres to the sage advice his Moroccan father gave early in life. Khafif has two sisters, Hannah and Sabrina Khafif.
Khafif, who speaks with affection for Kowloon, Border Cafe and the Hilltop sign during a chat at Starbucks in Salem, attended high school at The Newman School, two blocks from Johnny Cupcake’s on Newbury Street in Boston. “I loved their vintage T-shirts and how the store was set up like a bakery,” said Khafif.
Socially conscious hip-hop artist Lupe Fiasco’s message of positivity resonated with the entrepreneurial teen much more than the trendy graphic messages on street fashion that glamorized sex and drugs. Khafif decided to launch his own brand of urban fashion, Lisn Up, a line of vintage T-shirts with positive messages. The brand was centered around music, with collections (albums) of T-shirts (tracks) delivered in boomboxes. In honoring his father’s wishes, Khafif donated 50 percent of the proceeds to charity.
“Growing up Muslim, there are certain values that are an integral part of my life and other things that I know I don’t want to represent,” he notes on his website, lisnupclothing.com.
Khafif spent the first year of his online business creating his brand and website. His first “tour” was to Long Beach, Calif., with later stops in Connecticut, Washington, D.C., and Toronto.
“I flew out to California with my parents (Mohamed and Toni Khafif) and sold out my first event,” he said. It was at that event that Khafif met two brothers who played in the National Football League, Hamza and Husain Abdullah.
“I always wanted to be in the NFL, but I wasn’t 6 foot, 8 inches tall,” joked Khafif. The Abdullah brothers and Khafif collaborated on designs, and then he met Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad who wanted Khafif to create a design to empower women. Next on his dream journey: Khafif tweeted Lupe Fiasco and the two collaborated for three consecutive summers.
A seminal moment in Khafif’s life was when he reached out to journalist Noor Tagouri. The pair collaborated on a collection, “The Noor Effect,” with 100 percent of the proceeds dedicated to combating sex trafficking. Their United States “tour” featured six pop-up shops, with the final gig circling back to Johnny Cupcakes in Boston. Lisn Up’s most recent tour was with Malaysian singer Yuna, whose collaboration supported refugees.
Summer 2017 welcomed a colorful new “album” to the Lisn Up playlist. “We dedicated the album to the ‘90s themes we grew up on,” said Khafif, whose design featured the Lisn Up team (and a lucky fan) as Rugrats characters. The launch was held at an interactive art pop-up shop at Villeside Customs in Somervillle.
Stacey Marcus is a freelance writer. Reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Feature photo: @NWEEMZ16