Death Precision Design Club founder Jakobi McLemore sat down with us to answer a few questions about his journey in the fashion industry. While still in High School, Kobi started a streetwear brand called Death Precision and immediately caught the attention of international press outlets. Over the years Kobi has turned his experience and knowledge into a full-service design studio, as well as become a mentor to a whole new generation of young kids wanting to follow his footsteps.
My name is Jakobi McLemore. I’m a father, a son, a brother, a friend and a graphic designer lol. I am also the owner of The Precision Design Group, Precision World, and DPI.
You’ve worked with some great musicians like the Migos and Earl Sweatshirt, how did those two specifically come about?
My first official design project was actually for the "I Don’t Like Shit I Don’t Go Outside" tour merch and album covers in 2013 by Earl Sweatshirt. I was listening to Earl back in like 2010 when I started to first make clothes. Back then we were both the same age. I remember I would reach out to him and Tyler on Facebook to send them clothes and they would fuck with the clothes heavy. Earl ended up going away and Tyler started to come to New York and I had moved back to Jersey from Houston . I started to link with Tyler and we all got closer. Soon as Earl got back it was like we picked up where we left off and always grew closer since then. He called me in 2013 and told me he needed me to come to LA and help him with him album artwork and merchandise. Rest was history lol.
You work closely with the brand Carrots. How did that relationship start? And is there a different approach when designing for a brand or an artist?
I’ve been working with Carrots as graphic designer, for about 5 years now. I’ve known Anwar since i was 16 though. Back then I'd collaborate with his brand at the time called "Peas and Carrots" and from there we began that relationship. Honesty I treat the process of brands & artist the same. I've always gravitated towards learning the most about the artist, or the owners of the brands as much as possible. Their background, where they're from, what they experienced growing up. Most of the people I’ve worked with I actually know though. I think that’s why Carrots and PDG works. I’ve known Anwar so long and looked up to him. I used to study bro. I still do.
You've been in the game for sometime now, sorta like a young vet. How has creating your own brand at such a young age gotten you prepared for running Precision Design ?
Having a brand taught me things that I didn’t even really realize until I had to think about this question. Having a brand taught me about longevity the most I would say though. I only want to last, which is becoming harder and harder these days. Like how do you really last forever? I’m glad I started young because it let me fall on my ass a lot of times. I’d rather have had that happen young than old. Having the design company has taught me to take my time with every business decision. And it’s defiantly taught me I need a team, and the customer is first. Your support is where it starts.
Since you’ve been in streetwear over the years you’ve seen things change and evolve. What are some things that you wished you had back the, that a lot of kids have now when making a brand?
Screen-printing is a huge one! When I first started it was so hard to find a reliable printing course. My boy Philip been designing since he was 13, so when I first linked with him he already had a printer and got me started from there. These kids now have so many printing options, but I love how they're taking advantage of the accessibility they have now in printing and production. But I do appreciate the fact we had to really work with what we had back then & really present ourselves as a big brand but working with such a small in-house team, mostly just being us.
Back in the day when you were just coming up with Death Precision the media called you & Phil (Dertbag) the next generation of streetwear. Is there a younger generation that excites to follow this footsteps?
You know I always felt like them giving us that name put a lot of responsibility on us that we never really wanted. I could say that’s one reason why my journey is so satisfying, because I’ve always moved at my own pace. Never had the desire to be the best or the next generation. I just wanted to make it possible for kids our age to channel our art through clothes and whatever that tuned into I was always fine with it and I think that always kept me grounded.
As far as brands that excite me there are so many. Carrots, Absent, FTP, BadFriend, Circulate, FishScale, Felt, FoulPlay, Neighbors, Cult Gloria, STX, Fullcourt Press, Freedom Man, Can’t Buy Respect are brands that I really follow and love. There are many more but I would go all day. I think all of those brands will be here for a long time.
What encouraged you to make a streetwear brand at such a young age ? And how was that learning curve?
I’m one of those people that’s going to always feel like if you tell me I can’t do something, i’m going to do it. So once I knew basketball wasn’t going to work out, I knew I needed something else I had a passion for because school was out of the question. I was always passionate about putting that shit on and having nice clothes so that’s what I gravitated towards. Starting a company at 16 was kind of unheard of, but I didn’t think it would be hard to present something that looked like the big brands. I remember at first people would crack lil jokes and it wasn’t received how I wanted to be but it only gave me fuel to go crazy. But you have to understand even when I’m getting featured popular post on hypebeast multiple times sitting in class looking at it thinking folks would see it. Bro nobody knew about Hypebeast lmao my momma don’t know about no damn Hypebeast. So I really just had endless fuel.
Where do you draw your inspiration from when designing for your self or for a client ?
I’ve always been heavy into archiving and dwelling deep into different books and archives and of course the main inspiration would be brands that I like and past released clothes. We have a five step process that everyone of our clients goes through.
1. Mood Board / Asana Processing
2. Rough Draft One
3. Rough Draft Two
4. Rough Draft Three
5. Final / HQ Send Out
This seamless five step process was made to cut down the revision process and make it so the client can see every step of the project while also engaging with our team.
How many people work with you at precision design and how did you get the team together?
Currently I have an amazing team of six (including me) which includes five designers, and a project manager. I got most of the team together from the internet just combing through resumes and portfolios for months. PDG is considered a multi-faceted consulting agency that can take care of the designing, but also production, creative direction, blanks, website, brand direction, package design, and logos.
Is there any advice to young graphic designers or even to anybody making a brand anything you wished someone told you ?
Never work towards being the best out of everybody. You will always lose that battle because there will always be someone better. Work towards being the best you can and work to impress yourself every day. The progression of being in competition with yourself and being in competition with others is night and day. Focus on you and your family and you will see longevity.
Thank you Kobi for taking the time out and answering these questions any last words about anything you think people should know ?
Thank you for the time, thank you for having me on your platform. I would like to say to all the young black kids out there that may feel like there is only one way out. There are many ways. Just think, plan, and execute. If it don’t work how you want. Do it again, and again until you figure it out. But don’t stop or let nobody tell you you can’t.