A Nail Date with VERSUS ATL

Creating a community within the Atlanta creative scene.

Video: IME Multimedia 
Co-author: Kayla Cole

Last year I attended a pop-up shop for an Atlanta-based streetwear brand held at VERSUS ATL in East Atlanta Village and I knew from the moment I walked into the store that this would be the first of many visits. 

VERSUS is one of Atlanta's premier streetwear/vintage storefronts. Not only do they house the stylings of celebrities that roll through the city, but they host pop-up shops for established and up-and-coming brands. The pieces you'll find inside range from the holiest of grails to your everyday essentials. 

Trust me when I say these guys know how to have a good time. I usually wouldn't expose my drinking habits outside of the complementary bottle of wine I bring to every nail date, but it wouldn't be right to leave out that John allowed my team to experience our first ever beer chug. Although the beer tasted like liquified pinto beans, I could see why people are in to it. Thank you for that John.

The day of the nail date, Leo let my team in the building, but kept the store closed to the public. Leo and John were warm and welcoming. They are the yin and yang that bring the store balance. We popped open a bottle of wine and got to work. 

Leo's manicure

 John's manicure

Do you have any nicknames?

Leo and Dad. My real name is Leonard. When I first opened the shop I needed something everyone can remember and call me.

First thing you notice in the opposite/same sex?

I’d say sneakers. It's like what’s on your feet is allways going to create a conversation. My favorite shoe is the Air Jordan 1s. I’ve been wearing these Yeezy’s though, for the comfort.

If you could have any superpower what would it be?

That’s deep. I guess the superpower would be to eliminate fear. You know, where no one has debt. Superpowers that create happiness for everybody. Just erase negative shit. Peace.

If you could have dinner with anyone dead/alive who would it be?

That’s a good question. Dead or alive? That’s a really good question. Warren Buffett! Cool conversation about how he acquired a-lot of the things he acquired. You know like the trust meme.

Who is the kindest person you know?

Damn, I got a lot of kind people around me. My wife, John (my business partner), my mom and dad. I just come across a lot of kind people. Even my customers...they'll invite me into their homes. Everyone I associate myself with has to have that kindness. 

What was your favorite tv show growing up?

I really enjoyed "Martin". I still liked the show "My Brother and Me", but nobody really talked about it. His bedroom was so cool. I enjoyed like "The Fresh Prince" too. I used to like "The Jamie Fox Show". I would like sneak and watch that, me and my brother. Jamie Fox is always lit. I used to like "Texas Ranger". Chuck Norris was a badass. I guess with like cartoons and stuff like that, I liked "Scooby Doo". You know, my boy Shaggy. I’m a 90’s baby as you can see.

Do you have a favorite food?

I’m fake vegan! I actually really like a reuben now and then. 

The owners of VS really breathe life into the store. The store isn't just their passion project, it's their baby. "We sold like tons of personal shit just to get the money for the down payment and shit like that. We just want to be able to give back to the community, and give a place for creatives." - Leo 

Everyone that we encountered inside and all over the entire block greeted them like family. I'm talking like the way you greet your favorite cousin. Even on the scene, its very clear that the team at Versus believes in uniting the community through collaboration. 

Favorite pickup lines?

I’d tell my boy like , “Yo just tell her I’m shy”. Really I wasn’t that guy, because I’d let it be organic.

Have you ever been starstruck?

Would you ever be starstruck by anybody?
I kind of look at everyone as humans. You know? It’s just people I look up to mostly. It would probably have to be someone local. I have a couple homies that have hustles I respect.

Describe your perfect day.

Oh shit. The perfect day? Stress free. Bread rolling in. Traveling, just anywhere I want to go. I’m going to have a nanny, so we can get away. Something problem free would be the best thing.

Describe your style.

Cozy. Vintage. 

How did you get into vintage?

I like history. With my first job, I would buy pieces. I kept it consistent. I used to love hats as well. Tried to see how many I could collect. The whole vintage thing just tied into streetwear. I was like at yard sales and thrift shops. Now I buy in bulk, people bring me stuff. 

What’s your buying process?

We usually buy in bulk. We ask that you clean your product, but if not we clean it and incorporate that into your fee. Everyday we bring in new products so we’re always giving you a new experience. Buy. Sell. Trade. 

***If I may interject here, I'd like to bring to your attention that when the interview was over and the store opened to the public, people came pouring in. The foot traffic was constant. It was cool as hell to see the VS team on active duty during the selling and trade process...especially when it came to buying a pair of kicks and the entire team would go into hyper focus studying the shoe. 

Define success.

I guess success is like....that’s a good question. Success is like a level of happiness. A level of happiness that you’re on a mission to achieve. Success to you is different from success to me. That leaves everyone an opportunity to define it for themselves.

If you could recommend anyone to have a Nail Date with Kim Cao who would it be?

Corey Arvinger and K.O.

When my team and I left the building, we were on a ridiculous high of creative energy...feeling energized, motivated and inspired. The vibe was so authentic and it really felt that they were as excited as we were to have the opportunity to collaborate. Keep your ear to the ground for more collaborations in the near future. 

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