Animal Steele

In the fall of 1994, before the idea of an "urban market" was born, a driven, young visionary and bold tastemaker, Omar "Animal Steele" Barnes exploded into the fashion industry. He was, at that time, the first and only African American buyer on the specialty store scene. S&D; Underground (and Jimmy Jazz), a then budding urban contemporary shop in need of direction, recruited Animal Steele to capture and sustain an affluent customer base. With small yet distinctive locations in Canarsie and Brownsville, Brooklyn, New York, the owners were immediately captivated by his uncanny skill of forecasting and pioneering trends. With his focus on brand building, point-of-sale merchandising and staff productivity, Animal Steele propelled S&D; Underground into the number one specialty store in the country. The store carried once inaccessible brands such as Tommy Hilfiger, Polo, Nicole Miller, Betsy Johnson, Dolce & Gabbana, DKNY, Versace, Moschino, and Iceberg. This, a feat no other specialty store, let alone department store, had accomplished. Animal Steele's understanding of how fashion and entertainment interconnected led to the feature of these super-exclusive items. These items soon attracted elitists and influentials. Before long, celebrities such as Jay-Z, Foxy Brown, Nas and The Notorious B.I.G. frequented the store. Controlling and networking with this demographic would prove to be a key factor in the days to come. Animal Steele was working overtime on a path that would impact the music business. While buying and consulting famous brands of style, design, and fit for these elite and influentials, Animal Steele became a key component in the creation of Tha Supa Group "US". Innovative sounds, creative, yet, strategic branding, and grassroots marketing made sonic and objectively impactful waves on the independent scene. Animal Steele's aggressive concepts propelled the independent label through the filming of digital videos and Electronic Press Kits. This tactic controlled cable access and major video shows,both national and international. Unfortunately BET and MTV wouldn't accept this new digital format but the Source and XXL magazines published feature articles on the unsigned group, which was, at the time unprecedented. The group had major success at the college, mix-show level, and even Howard Stern but not enough funding to take it to commercial heights. The invaluable lessons learned empowered Animal Steele in his comprehensive work at the A&am