Mario Roson Samson - Comedian, Owner of Diamond In The Rough Clothing
Mario Roson Samson is a comedian, runner, clothing designer, entrepreneur hailing from Glendale, CA. Having grown up attending school in diverse neighborhoods in Los Angeles, Mario always knew there was a vibrant community of POC and kids of immigrants but noticed their lack of representation in media and pop culture. After college, rising in/learning from the retail industry, and running countless 5k, 10k, 1/2 marathons, and full marathons (most of them being Disney), he began pursuing a t-shirt and clothing line based on his love for Disney, with a nod to underrepresented communities. Making something for himself was a way to fulfill what can be lacking in the clothing industry. It was his motivation, he saw something missing and decided to fill it. When not running around Disney parks on both coasts, you can find Mario drinking iced coffee, making friends laugh, and slinging his shirts.
Please provide a short bio:
I was born in Culver City and went to school in parts of LA that at the time were considered dangerous but are now gentrified and have cool coffee shops in them. After getting really funny in San Francisco thanks to drag queens and the LGBTQ community up there I came back to LA to take the dance world by storm. The storm got downgraded to a light drizzle. After a few years of dicking around in retail and buying clothes from small shops who didn’t share my photos on their Instagram I thought, “yeah never mind I’m going to do this myself.”
How did you create your career path?
I honestly thought about making funny shirts for awhile and told some other companies to make them and they didn’t take the ideas, so I did them myself. I figured, why give them extra coin? It’s like that RuPaul saying “make the money, don’t let the money make you.”
What lead you down entrepreneurship, clothing design?
I had these ideas for a long time and spoke to my designer who said that my ideas were good. He said, “let’s try it and see what happens.” I love doing Disney park themed items with a wink to the lgbtq+ zeitgeist. Honestly, companies love using lgbtq+ people to pander to their audiences but it’s almost always cis-gendered white men who could pass for straight acting. I got so tired of supporting these brands even though they claimed to be allies so I decided to put my brown face on a company and Oprah this shit out.
What is the message behind Diamond In The Rough Clothing Co?
Park bound apparel with a clever twist. Everything we make is cheeky and fun.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
All over the place! Really good sex (sorry Ate), 90’s rap, drag queens, trans women, twitter memes, Filipino food, 90’s/early 2000’s pop music. Stuff that shaped my early life is the stuff that I constantly reference and is now cool again.
How do you get in the creative flow?
Interacting with people in theme parks, listening to music, and videos of people doing stand up comedy.
How important is representation/POC to see themselves in your work?
It’s everything. I didn’t see myself when watching tv and movies grow up unless there was an extra on a rerun of MASH. I never saw myself in ads for clothing brands. So I tried finding small shops that showcased and supported POC/LGBTQ+ people and there really weren’t enough. Some places I found that were run by people who claimed to be allies were still mostly profiling white cis-gendered people. Whether this was a subconscious choice or not it didn’t help with the fact that it normalized the western standard of beauty. So one day I said, “fuck it. I want to see myself in cute clothing so I’ll make it myself.”
What kind of content do you want to create?
Anything I want because it’s my company and not yours. :insert manicure emoji here: I keep getting men (mostly white men) telling me what they want/think I should make and I usually reply with “ok cool. You should make it yourself”
What do you love about the work that you do?
I can post whatever I want and share. If I only want to have women, POC, and LGBTQ+ people in my photos then that’s what I’m going to do. I want little brown boys to look at this and think, “cool I can do that”
Who, what has been instrumental in your personal and creative growth?
Friends who I’ve met through this brand have helped by sharing and posting their favorite items. It’s helped grow the brand quickly and it’s cool to meet new people who love the line, too. I’m excited to see where year two takes me. It’s nice to see so many people down with the brown.
Do you have any designs, events, things coming up this year that you are excited about?
You’re going to see more of a 90’s themed collection coming for Spring into Summer. Then as we get into Fall more fun items timed with several movie releases. Check the Instagram for more since I’m terrible at keeping product releases a secret.
Photos courtesy of Mario R. Samson