On Oct. 8, LeBron James’ revealed his first Wheaties box to the world when he posted a photo of himself holding up the iconic orange cereal box from his residence in the NBA’s Orlando bubble—this was just days before capturing his fourth NBA title. The box itself showcases a snapshot of LeBron skying for a dunk in his Lakers uniform along with students from his iPromise school in Akron, Ohio. You might think for such a momentous occasion that he would be wearing some special Nike threads, but instead he had on a graphic T-shirt paying homage to the boxing legend Muhammad Ali designed by Ferris, who founded his Atlanta brand Do Not Disturb only 10 months ago.
While this was an amazing promotion for the young brand, it’s not the first big cosign. His first big customer was Young Thug, who still rocks Do Not Disturb logo hoodies in the studio with Megan Thee Stallion or performing on stage overseas. By association, some of his close friends and collaborators like Gunna and Lil Keed have also become supporters. Ferris says that it all started when he connected with Thugger’s stylist Zoe Dupree ahead of a European tour in Summer 2019. He reached out to Dupree who was leaving from Atlanta that afternoon. Ferris caught him right before he hopped in an Uber and gave him an assortment of his T-shirts and hoodies. There was no guarantee that Thugger would rock the pieces, but he knew giving Dupree his clothes would make it a possibility.
“I just wanted to get it in front of them because even before I started this whole brand the biggest person I wanted in my clothes was Young Thug,” Ferris tells Complex. “I think I told my girlfriend that the only way that people will actually respect my brand is if a person like Young Thug wears it. So, I was on Instagram everyday trying to reach out to his circle. Sometimes you don't hear back, sometimes you hear back. Somebody sends you to this or that person. So, I was just staying on it everyday.”
Dupree was actually the first person from Thug’s camp to wear the brand and told Ferris that Thug has liked it. It wasn’t immediate, but Ferris says he still remembers the day he found out that Thug decided to wear one of his hoodies. He came across a photo on his Instagram page and began meticulously inspecting it to confirm. The next day, the rapper wore the same raspberry-colored hoodie on stage to perform at the Sumol Summer Fest in Portugal.
"I'm always shocked [when he wears my stuff]. It's weird because it's like he doesn't understand how big of an influence he is to me. I grew up listening to him,” says Ferris. “Really, Young Thug started all this. I kind of owe him. I'm sure he probably has no idea. But that's always been my dream, my goal was hopefully one day get him to do like a lookbook or something.”
Since sending product to Thug, Ferris has since gotten a chance to meet the So Much Fun rapper in person. He recalls the first meeting saying, “It was very short. Five, seven minutes. He was just being very thankful, humble, and I was kind of shocked by that. This is somebody everybody throws their clothes at. He's who you want your clothes on. So, I was very humbled by how calm and nice he was."
Something similar happened with LeBron. Ferris connected with Rajon Rondo's stylist Dex Robinson, who ordered some DND T-shirts and face masks for him to wear in the NBA Bubble. LeBron liked them and his associate Ernie Ramos would end up reaching out to Ferris about the brand. First, LeBron wore an orange “I Can’t Breathe” trucker hat that Ferris says he made as a statement to support the ongoing protests against racism and police brutality around the country. A few days later, he wore the Ali T-shirt. But Miami Heat rookie Tyler Herro, was the first NBA player to sport the brand in the tunnel—he wore bleached sweatpants and logo T-shirt back in January. Jayson Tatum has also rocked Do Not Disturb shirts in the bubble. More recently, Ferris says NFL star Saquon Barkley supported him by ordering some items on his web store. As a former basketball player himself, Ferris says the brand’s current ties to the basketball world just make sense.
“Even my brothers told me, ‘You didn't make it to the league. But guess what? Your brand is out there.’ And I'm like, ‘Hey, you know, that's one way to look at it.’ It's been humbling to say the least, for real.”
Ferris started Do Not Disturb back in June 2019. Items, which range from $350 tie-dyed hoodies to $500 bleached sweatsuits, are created by hand and no two are alike. He prints graphic T-shirts, which usually cost between $55 and $75 on sustainable bamboo cotton T-shirts. While many assume the name means "leave me alone," is it actually more inspired by Ferris' love for meditation. He says the tendency to use a bright color palette is a nod to the seven Chakras. His passion for passion for fashion has been with him since he was a kid and was inspired by how his parents dresssed.
Before starting his own brand, he was often his friends' go-to for fashion advice when they would visit Atlanta. He initially worked an office job for a staffing company in Marietta, Georgia for three years after graduating from Western Carolina with a degree in communications before deciding to go full time with Do Not Disturb. Before that, he says the job was a way to fund his brand, which he would work on in his spare time.
He recalls reaching out to 60 to 80 people a day in the beginning to try and get the brand off the ground. At first, his goal wasn’t even to make money. The first step was making sure he could get his product in the hands of as many people as he could to push it further.
A growing selection of graphic T-shirts is one of the newest additions to DND’s product lineup. He hopes highlighting historical Black figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks can help educate young Black kids and make them feel just as cool wearing their faces stamped on a T-shirt as they would a famous rapper.
“It's also cool to know some of the people that made things possible for us today. And I think that's the biggest thing that I've been trying to do with the brand,” says Ferris. “Myself too, man. I'm just learning more about the culture, learning more about my culture, being Black.”
As for the future, Ferris says he is just getting started. He hopes to add more products from puffer jackets to basketball shorts, even tapping into the home goods space with clocks and rugs. While the items are currently only available via the brand’s web store, working with retail partners is a goal. Ferris specifically names Atlanta’s own A Ma Maniere as a destination he would love to see stocking his pieces.
“The brand is a year old, but we've only been online for eight, nine months. So, it's humbling, the pace that we're going,” says Ferris. “I hope that it just keeps growing. And I hope that all my favorite athletes wear it. That's like the vision, the goal in the next year and a half or so, just to grow the brand mad big to where we're just doing collabs with everybody, expanding, and staying true to the people.”