On Thursday night, Pharrell celebrated the launch of a limited-edition back-to-school collection created in collaboration with his i am OTHER creative collective and school-supply company Yoobi. In the spirit of the artist’s i am OTHER message, 50 of the collection's school supplies were designed by kids.
“When you are other, that sort of denotes that you’re one of many, and that’s the beginning of people coming together, galvanizing,” Pharrell told Billboard at the event. “There’s a lot going on in the world right now. There is a wind going around the world not just in America, but in the U.K., when you look at Brexit, or when you look at Poland, or when you look at what’s going on in Germany, what’s going on in France, what’s going on in Austria. There is a divisive wind in the air, and there are certain people who know how to fly their kites brilliantly in that wind.”
Pharrell’s i am OTHER celebrates everyone's individuality and pushes for the creativity that spawns from that individuality as a way to “find a reason to respect our differences and find our similarities and become a unit again.”
“For us, we’re betting on the future, and Yoobi is giving us a really good opportunity to do that by not only giving them school supplies, but making sure these school supplies also have a really good and powerful message of individuality, the importance of individuality, the importance of creativity, the importance of homing in on being curious,” Pharrell said.
With the new Yoobi x i am OTHER collection, for every school supply purchased, an item will be donated to a classroom in need in the U.S. “We’re just living in a generation where things are changing and we need to make sure the right minds are doing the changing," he added. "This was the quickest way to ensure that the odds are in our favor in our future: was to talk to the future, and that’s the kids.”
In addition to Pharrell’s whirlwind of projects this year -- including the artist’s adidas Originals collection -- Pharrell spent time working with students himself as a guest professor at New York University. The artist told Billboard the backbone behind his teachings were the importance of individuality, curiosity and creativity: “There are the pillars of sustenance of one’s growth.”
The artist’s mother, who is a teacher, gave Pharrell pillars to live by himself. When asked the greatest thing he was taught, Pharrell simply said, “Keep God first.”
In terms of music, the artist said new music is on the way. “But I think music is always better discovered than marketed.”