Designer, Entrepreneur and Philanthropist Hamid Johannes Mahmood
Hamid Johannes Mahmood started his clothing line, Operations, in 2004, along with lifelong friends Matteo Gittardi, Michael Leen. Fascinated by the bright colors, durable fabrics, and pocket details of the work wear they saw at construction sites while travelling Europe, they returned to the United States and began importing the work wear and selling it in New York City. Over time, they decided to pool their creative resources and design their own clothes, drawing inspiration from work wear but adapting the designs to the needs of modern city life. They created more tailored silhouettes, using finer fabrics to create a full line of work-inspired fashion for both men and women. Their flagship store is located at 60 Mercer Street in New York's SoHo district.
Hamid Johannes Mahmood was born in Queens, New York and spent his formative years in suburban New Jersey as one of five children, three brothers and two sisters. His mother is Indonesian and Dutch of South African descent and his father is Indian, born in India and raised in Pakistan.
He attended Pennsylvania State University studying business and communications. Growing up with a test cricketer for a father is enough to encourage any young boy to pursue athletics. When your father is known as the first man from Pakistan to take all ten wickets in a first class innings and your childhood home is filled with his trophies, you pursue athletics aggressively.
"My mother was a strong influence on me as a child," says Mahmood. "She was an avid practitioner of yoga throughout my childhood and she encouraged me to 'eat my vegetables'."
Earlier this year Operations opened a second retail location in the Meatpacking District of New York City. The three partners divide their time between the two locations.
With a purity of intention and an undeniable certainty about who he is and where he is coming from, Johannes Mahmood is committed to being someone who provides a positive influence to kids in schools and communities around the country. His non-profit organization, budyt, was created by Johannes out of his pure passion for the arts and his strong belief that physical fitness should be more than just an after thought. Johannes believes that we do better when we feel better, so he’s doing his part in making sure that every kid is set up to do their very best.
DR: Tell me about your life and your work.
HJM: On a typical day I usually wake up and start off doing some kind of physical activity. It just gets my mind ready for the day. Boxing or yoga - I like a wide range of activity. I'll surf in the mornings sometimes, if the waves are good (I just got a wet suit), then I go to work.
I design and do production for a clothing company that I founded in 2005 with two friends. I have also started this non-profit project called budyt.
The target of budyt is to come up with creative ideas that combine physical activities for kids. I am targeting kids specifically because I am interested in helping young people to establish good health and fitness habits early.
A lot of the habits that we have today, good or bad, we developed when we were kids Obesity is an epidemic that is rising in young people. In the past decade it has doubled. If it's double in youth then that just means that as kids get older they are just going to continue to have health problems at an increased rate which will eventually over burden our health care system.
I believe that I can help in promoting wellness and activity.
budyt is really about healthy, happy living. It's about making people feel good. Some people may wonder "Why fitness when there are all these other causes?" The reason is that I am passionate about fitness and wellness. I believe that a physically fit body is my vehicle to carry out my personal mission. We all have a personal mission whether it's me or the next President of the United States and we have to be well and feel good to carry out our personal missions.
DR: So you are saying that for anybody to be able to fulfill a mission, they have to be at their physical best?
HJM: Exactly. There is no way that you can operate at your full potential if you aren't fit. Imagine that, if you are somebody who loves life now and is not taking care of yourself, what life would be like if you did take care of yourself.
DR: Are you someone who wonders what contributions we could make overall if we were more fit as a nation.
HJM: Oh, completely. It has to do with mindset as well. It is much more difficult to think positively and have a positive influence on anything if you don't feel good at the most fundamental level.
Again, it's all habit. Once it becomes a habit then it's simple and as routine as brushing your teeth.
DR: How do you think that what you are doing will impact the future of our ailing health care system? You talked about the impending obesity epidemic, for instance.
HJM: budyt is a drop in the pond but ultimately I feel that if we can touch one classroom or even one kid, it's a drop in the pond that will make a difference because it will encourage someone else to do what they can do. It's about putting your message out there. Eventually that message will be heard.
DR: Where does your passion for this come from? I mean, you don't have to do this so why do you?
HJM: My father was an athlete but he had a heart attack at a young age.
DR: How old was he when he had a heart attack?
HJM: He was thirty five. In spite of the fact that he took care of himself, he still had one and that taught me that it could happen to anyone.
My father had to have two triple bypass surgeries. He was my hero and to see him, my dad, this strong man who I looked up to, in the bed hooked up to all of this machinery, shook me up a little bit. Well, it shook me up a lot.
My personal belief is that we are all here for a purpose and we all know inside what that purpose is. I am grateful for whatever gifts God has given me and I feel it is my duty to share, starting with selling t-shirts.
Any amount that I can raise is great because it's for a cause that I really believe in.
DR: What else do you really believe in?
Budy T was created by a group of New York friends who wanted to start a business not only doing something they loved, but also doing something that helped give back to the community in which they were proud to call home. What they all found in common among their group was that they all had people who at some point or another had made an impact in their life regarding good health and fitness. "I was a shy kid, and I didn't think I could ever learn how to play sports," recalls Naeem Mahmood. "My brother was my mentor, and taught me that physical fitness could be fun. He taught me how to play basketball; a sport I thought I would never be able to learn how to play well."
And just like that, the idea behind Budy T bloomed. For every T we sell, 15% of the proceeds go toward fitness & mentoring programs for kids in our community. When it started, we were the only mentors. Now, customers buy our T's and ask how they can get involved. And to us, there's no better feeling of success than hearing that.
HJM: I believe in goodness.
My father is Muslim and my mother is Catholic. That was confusing to me at first but ultimately I was able to appreciate the two messages and see the goodness in both. God is in both.
I also believe that it is important for people to be true to themselves.
DR: What are the qualities that you value most in other people?
HJM: Truth and being genuine.
When people are genuine and earnest, it's easy to overlook mistakes or forgive them when they mess up. I believe in God and he is very merciful. I believe in showing mercy and I value the ability in other people to show mercy.
There is a quote that my brother gave to me when I was in elementary school:
"Never judge a man until you have walked in his moccasins".
It was elementary school, but I never forgot that...
DR: What are the qualities that you value most in yourself?
HJM: I am a very loyal person.
I can not see that a person could enter my life, move me in some way and then, they're gone. I can't do that. We all have friends that we might fight with or disagree with from time to time but it is important to understand each other's side.
I value that I am a very loyal friend.
DR: What is the wisest thing that you have ever said to yourself?
HJM: "If you can imagine it, you can get there."
If you can imagine something there is a way to get there...
DR: So what do you imagine and how do you imagine you will get there?
HJM: I imagine everyone happy and that people are feeling a sense of closeness or a feeling of brotherhood. It's not so specific but:
I imagine overall happiness and peace.
If I can impact that happening in some way, I'd like to do that.
I don't know if or how I will get there but that is what I imagine.
DR: I like the loftiness and the bigness of that. Someone's got to imagine those kinds of things and then not dismiss their "little" part because we each have a part to play...
HJM: Exactly. We've all got to work our corner. Just do your thing, whatever that thing is and it will all add up.
I am going to do my part and other people will do their part. I have a vision that budyt can have an impact on gang violence or kids getting involved with the wrong crowd, for instance.
DR: What would you say to somebody who has an idea that they think is either too big or too small?
HJM: I don't think any idea is too big or too small.
Thoughts are things we share with other people and even if you tell just one person, you'll get them thinking too. You sharing an idea with someone might have more people thinking that way. With my best intention, I am going to go into schools and try to spread what I think. Maybe two kids will remember what I shared and maybe they will carry what they learn from me with them.
You have to think with an open mind and believe that any step that you take will cause a reaction.
DR: What would you change right now if you could?
HJM: Nothing. There is nothing I would change. I am very happy with the way things are right now. I like hot weather though and it is getting a little bit cold...
DR: If you could wake up with a new ability tomorrow morning, what would it be?
HJM: I think the kid in me would like to fly.
DR: I think the impatient adult in me would like to be able to "Beam me up, Scotty."
What is the source of your inspiration?
HJM: Physical activity and the arts. They are both so pure in their form. Both you do out of pure drive and passion. You have people playing basketball on West 4th street just because they love it and then you have people stopping to watch them because they are just appreciating the art of the sport. When you see things that are created out of passion and love, you know that only good can come from that.
DR: A hundred years from now what do you want to be remembered for?
HJM: I want to be remembered for being a happy guy who had the best intentions and for being someone who wanted to make the people around him happy too.
In 2004, college friends, Johannes Mahmood, Matteo Gottardi, and Michael Leen opened their first shop in New York's SoHo district where they imported and sold authentic global work wear to a small but loyal group of customers. Like the founding trio of Operations, these customers were drawn to the inherent beauty that lay in the functional details and task-specific design of each uniform and garment. Whether it was the reinforced seasm of a contractor's jacket, the bright colors of a fireman's coat, or the unique pockets on a Marine's dress shirt, people wanted the clothes that were born of necessity and whose design served a purpose greater than sheer aesthetic beauty.
Using those original pieces as blueprints, the brand and its aesthetic grew: Operations began designing full collections for both men and women that no only maintained the integrity of those authentic and purpose-serving details, but reinterpreted the fits and fabrics into fashionable pieces that could be worn daily. Raw wools gave way to Italian tweeds, combat fatigues became blazers and blouses, starched cottons were replaced with washed linen, yet the lineage of the original pieces remained evident in every new style.
Entering our fourt year, the Operations brand is now carried in boutiques across the US, Europe, and Asia. We design an exclusive and co-branded line for Levis Strauss, have reently opened our second store in New York's Meatpacking district, and have comfortably grown into our role as an international brand that continues to design, produce and throw bi-weekly barbeques right here in New York City.
From the cold-proof construction of the Russian Trench coat, the oversize pockets of a Carpenter's favorite pair of denim, to the powerful silhouette of the industrialist's best suit, the stories of the working men and women that originally inspired the line are kept alive in every garment we create.
Operations was born and breeds at 60 Mercer, on the corner of Broome Street, right in the heart of Soho.
To learn more about Operations, visit http://Operationsny.com/