Moving from communication to fashion, Jackson Edwards’ decision to follow his dreams led to more than a changed major.
Edwards, a fourth-year in fashion retail studies, is the founder of Action & Smoak, a clothing line featuring T-shirts, jackets, hats, sweaters and vests.
In 2016, Edwards transferred to Ohio State from Raritan Valley Community College in New Jersey, where he majored in communication. He said that after having a conversation with his father about what he wanted to do in life, he changed his major to fashion retail studies.
“I wasn’t sure about the OSU fashion major, but it turned out to be the best decision of my life,” Edwards said. “Changing my major actually made my life much easier. I found myself more excited to learn, whereas in the past I had a hard time studying because I didn’t have a passion for what I was learning.”
Edwards said his fashion designs are a reaction to current events in the world, meant to inspire people not to fear what they put their mind to.
The clothing line’s logo was designed when Edwards noticed a lack of black animated characters in cartoons, he said. The logo — a smiling black boy with a yellow straw hat, dreadlocks and eyes covered by the letter X — is inspired by “One Piece,” a Japanese anime following the adventures of a boy and his pirate crew.
“I sketched out the design and had a graphic designer complete it,” Edwards said. “I began studying fashion and the history. I was so interested in the industry that I found myself staying up late at night thinking I could really see myself doing this.”
He said his designs symbolize a reaction to modern times, something he said a lot of clothing lines are not doing today.
Edwards said that in October, he launched a new vest collection, which features a black-and-red cotton vest with the words “Action Over Fear” on the back. He said he chose those words to inspire people to take control of their path in life and do what they want to do without being fearful. The vests are currently available for purchase for in-person delivery for $40 or $50 through the mail, Edwards said.
Edwards started selling crew neck sweaters in fall 2018, and they sold out. The black sweater featured two white hands puppeteering the word “Politics” in red, white and blue. He said he wanted to show how in the past there have been different laws placed on black people preventing them from moving forward, which is still a problem in today’s politics.
Simon Asem, a fourth-year in city and regional planning and co-founder of his own clothing line, CA Clothing Group, said he and Edwards connected through their mutual business ventures.
“His politics sweater is a popular and controversial piece. If you can’t make a statement, you can’t captivate people,” Asem said. “During the time when he released the line, there was a lot going on within the government, and I think the design makes you think about the meaning behind it.”
Edwards said he has grossed more than $3,500 from his clothing line and is constantly trying to improve his products.
“I hope to see him enter another realm of clothing. With a logo as interesting as his, he can really find a way to expand in gaming. His logo is not only a logo — it’s a character,” Asem said.
Edwards said he hopes his clothing will resonate with others.
“If you were to ask me my freshman year if I’d be an entrepreneur, I would’ve definitely said no,” Edwards said. “I didn’t know how to design. I did a lot of research, watched a lot of interviews and seen what was missing in my community.”
Action & Smoak products are available for purchase through social media, in person or at actionsmoak.bigcartel.com.