San Francisco, CA — The older young people become, the more career opportunities actualize for us. You are either going to college to be a professional in corporate America, or you try to follow the road your parents laid. Today, with every inch of the world at our fingertips, the avenues to be successful are never-ending. Social media has made all things possible.
Instagram and TikTok alone allow you to create a world and audience around your personality — that wouldn’t have happened 20 years ago. The next generation is carving out careers for themselves using online platforms. They’re becoming more creative. They create products, release music and tell stories through their creations, all from their phones.
Nineteen-year-old designer Josh Tonga created his clothing brand BOMBS, short for Back on My Bulls–t, when he was a high school freshman in Holly Springs, North Carolina. Tonga decided to take the bet on himself and give life to a new dream. In addition, Tonga wanted a way to strengthen and build community through one of the things he loves — streetwear.
As a freshman, Tonga would play around with the idea of putting work onto hoodies and T-shirts online through platforms like custom ink. It was until he received one of his designs as a Christmas gift.
Four years after starting BOMBS, he moved to the Bay Area in the name of education and experienced some major life differences. He was no longer living in a small small town and he noticed the contrasts in clothing. Securing an internship with 11Wrkshop allowed him to become immersed in his new surroundings and put that into his work.
“I came to California, where more people are into streetwear and workwear. I really implemented that into my designs,” Tonga said.
Like Tonga, Mikey Poster decided to go out on a whim and manufacture his dream career from scratch. The 24-year-old is the mastermind behind the San Francisco-based multimedia experience, Poster. His success came after giving the electronic artist Vegyn a hoodie after one of his concerts.
“When I first started Poster, he (Vegyn) was someone I looked up to,” Poster started. “Having to end up with him reaching out to me and creating art with him, it’s crazy.”
Venturing into an independent career is a jarring adventure, the triumphs in the journey often come along with struggles. Luckily for Poster and Tonga, their obstacles didn’t come from the people around them or feelings of self-doubt.
Poster credits social media platforms with keeping him in good spirits early in his artistic career.
“Twitter was a big thing for me early on,” Poster started. “At the time, it was really community-based, like a lot of the indie artists were all hyping each other up, and I kind of needed that because my initial stuff was kind of trash. And I think all these people were lying to me, but it ended up growing into something I really like and other people really like.”
As time passes, more people will continue to show up on our feeds on TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and whatever the next social media platform. In the future, Poster wishes to inspire more people with his work because that was the initial goal. With BOMBS, Tonga recently celebrated its five-year anniversary with a magazine and shirts commemorating the brand’s milestone.