XXL: When did King Ice get its start?
Derek Bwlay: It started back in 2007. My business partner and I both saw an opportunity in the market to sell jewelry related to hip-hop culture because we both had a connection with the genre. We then came up with the name King Ice. The name became something organic for us. King represents being a leader in this industry.
What separates King Ice from other jewelry brands?
The thing about our brand is we’re very creative and experimental. We believe in trying different things. In the past, we’ve thrown skateboard and rap contest as well as sponsored different skaters and rappers. We’ve given out $10,000 dollars over the last three years at these contests. I think we’re just an authentic brand. There’s no major brand like ours selling these type of products. You got guys like Ben Baller out there but you don’t really have a company like ours doing it like this.
How many people are involved in the company?
It’s two of us that founded King Ice but there are about 13 people in the company that do various things. Basically, it was my business partner and I who came up with the idea and we’ve grown the brand over time. We met in college as a result of hanging out in the same circles and then became roommates. At first, we were selling African art, but that didn’t work for us. Once we found out there was a jewelry market in L.A., we both decided to quit our jobs to start selling jewelry full time.
Who are some celebrities you guys have worked with in the past?
In the past, we’ve worked with Snoop, Game, Wiz Khalifa and even Mike Tyson. We also worked with different stylists because we supply jewelry for the artists’ music videos. In the Katy Perry music video for “Dark Horse,” all the jewelry you see was supplied by us, including the Allah Pendant which caused a lot controversy in the media. We also worked with Tyler, the Creator, Pusha T and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony. We would love to connect with Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, Future and Childish Gambino in the future if we’re lucky.
How did the process of working with so many different artists begin for you guys?
We started with this one guy named Slim The Mobster, and he invited us to a mansion in Beverly Hills. When we arrived, we met Game, who happened to be there. Once we became cool with him, Game started inviting us to parties, and one night at this particular party, we saw Snoop on stage surrounded by security. We wanted to meet Snoop, so we told his security this jewelry we brought was for him and they let us pass. Snoop took a liking to us and he started inviting my business partner and I to studio sessions and parties to hang out. From there, we just started meeting different people and other celebrities.