Soul Society: Thanks for speaking with us today! Where do your currently reside and what do you do for a living?
D Jones: Thanks for taking the time. I live in the District of Columbia (DC). I call it “District of Columbia” because you’ll be surprised how many people look at me with a glazed-over look when I say it all out. That’s just how I am though; Corky, Weird, Different… ME! I got here by-way of the Marine Corps. After being stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina for five years, I was coming off a deployment from Iraq. I told my commander: “I HAVE TO GO!” I was more so asking him could I go. When asked where, I basically had three choices: Okinawa, Japan, Camp Pendleton, Cali, or the National Capital Region (DMV: DC, Virginia, and Maryland). I choose the District. Camp Lejeune already felt like I was in a foreign nation. I wanted to be grounded, and being stationed in the District, it’s unlikely that you’ll get deployed. I was stationed at the Pentagon for approximately four years and decided not to re-enlist at the end of my contract, so now I call the District of Columbia my permanent home.
I was a Tactical Data Network Communication specialist for the Marine Corps. Essentially the way computers and mobile devices are interconnected in a business environment; I was configuring, maintaining, and decommissioning them in a BATTLE ZONE. I loved it! If there was a regret I have, it would be not taking the offer to stay in North Carolina for one more year to deploy to Afghanistan with my Marines.
D Jones: Thankfully my tactical IT skills translate very well into corporate and government jobs. I now work for the Federal Government doing the same job I did in the Marine Corps, but in a much more relaxed environment.
Shout out to the current and former military people, especially the Marines.
Soul Society: Nice! What inspired the company Battle District? What has it been like starting your own company?
D Jones: Ahhh, BATTLE DISTRICT! Let me start with this: I walk to a further metro stop to catch the train home from work versus the one that’s closer. It gives me time to think, decompress, and relax. The other day, it was drizzling and there was a bad overcast, I knew in my mind it was going to rain. I looked at the metro stop near me and thought of the one further that I usually take. I choose to take the further one because I don’t mind being a little wet, I figured I’d make it there before the heavy rain. I didn’t make it and it started to pour. I was soaked, but I still didn’t mind. I always keep gym clothes with me, so I went to this little burger spot’s restroom to change into my gym clothes. It was still raining out, so I sat down and started working meticulously on details needed to launch Battle District apparel. I looked up an hour later the rain had passed. Through the dark clouds the sun was shining bright and beautifully, so I decided to keep working! I stayed in the burger spot and continued to work on Battle District for a couple more hours. That’s how bad I want it!
D Jones: What inspired me to start Battle District was a simple thought. I was under the influence and cliff jumping in Negril, Jamaica. While I was surfacing from the depths of the ocean, I had a moment of clarity or maybe it was just a really great adrenaline rush. I thought “I should start an apparel company.”
D Jones: On the boat ride home from the cliffs I was hesitant to share my thoughts with my two friends because “If they [people] don’t know your dreams, then they can’t shot ‘em down.” but I have great friends, so I told them eventually. Nothing but 100% supports. They are still rooting for Battle District and me.
D Jones: What keeps a person inspired is more important than what got them inspired, and what keeps me in inspired is admiring people from afar. Trust me, I see everyone who is doing anything even if it’s minor to them, it’s an inspiration to me. I wish them the best.
D Jones: Word to the wise: You have to hate not having it more than the love to obtain it.
Starting Battle District has been great. It’s invigorating as you battle through all stressful, frustrating, complex situations. I want Battle District to be a legitimate, professional, serious apparel company. This means Learning is continuous. It’s easy to start a for-fun apparel company, I want more. I had and have to do tons of research about the vision I have for Battle District apparel and products. Any vision can be made; it just takes your mind to engineer it and then getting the right people and pieces to create it.
D Jones: Time has been the biggest stress point starting Battle District. I’m talking about all aspects of time; personal and professional timing to vendor and artist timing to shipment and unforeseen detail requirement timing. I started Battle District April 28th and the official launch date is August 1st. The reason I allotted three months is because I know greatness takes time. Again, I could have easily launched Battle District as a for-fun venture, but I want to be great. I’ve learned to create time. I work on Battle District while I’m flying or on layover when traveling. I also wake-up super early before work to go the gym to maintain my health. While doing independent task at work, I’ll be on the phone talking to vendors or during those “why am I here?” conference calls; I’ll be design artwork or respond to emails for Battle District. I don’t mind having long days, as long as they’re productive.
The number one lesson I’ve learned is: Throwing money at a problem (or anything) will not fix it. I burnt through thousands of dollars on [graphic] artists. Unsatisfied, I learned how to utilize Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop myself and now I create my own art. I’m personally in completely uncharted territory with Battle District, and I love it! I knew nothing about Fabrics, Inks, Graphic Design, Wholesale Suppliers, Various Corporate structures, Federal Trade Commission policies, etc. Now I have the knowledge and that alone has been worth enduring all of the sleepless nights.
Soul Society: What inspired your interest in travel?
D Jones: Getting in trouble for traveling inspired my interest in traveling. When I first joined the Marine Corps I was stationed in Twenty-Nine Palms, California. It’s in the middle of the Mohave Desert…nothing is there. Marines have limitations on how far we could travel on weekends without permission. My two friends and I were new Marines and definitely not going to get permission to travel to Los Angeles, so we went without it. Everything was too perfect not to take the chance, plus I had never been [to Los Angeles]. One of my friend’s grandmothers that lived in Downtown LA said we could stay [with her] and his cousin was heading past Twenty-Nine Palms to go to LA for the weekend, so we could hitch a ride.
D Jones: My friend was Mexican and the 1st generation of his family to live in the United States. Everything from the food I ate, TV I watched, side-stores I visited, to the stories told of Mexico in broken English by my friend’s grandmother was completely different from my black and white life. I was intrigued. HELL, I wanted to be Mexican. In all seriousness, I wanted to know more about their culture, but there wasn’t enough time. From that point on I wanted to meet everyone from anywhere and hear their stories, and live a little of their life.
We got back to Twenty-nine Palms extremely late almost missing formation. Everyone knew we were out-of-limits in Los Angeles and told the squad leader. We all got punished and had cleaning duty for two weeks, I didn’t care we had fun, my eyes were open, my life had just begun.
Soul Society: Does your travel have to do with your career, or is it mostly personal? If it has to do with your work, how so? How have you made travel work for you?
D Jones: I do not travel for work anymore, but I have learned how to continue my personal travel without using vacation hours. I telework; you’ll be surprised how free space and a relaxed environment can make work better. For my former job in the Marine Corps I traveled everywhere across the United States; Overseas: Haiti, Iraq, and Germany.
Ultimately with Battle District I want to quit my job and live in various countries for a couple months at a time, while working on building the brand. It sound far-fetched, even for me, but I know anything possible.
Soul Society: What was the first stamp in your passport?
D Jones: Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo to be exact. It was basically solo travel too. My friend whom I had gone there with was Dominican and spends a majority of time with his family. He was with me for about a day and half before I woke up one morning to a note that said “I’m with family. Be back soon.” Soon was days later. I didn’t know Spanish at all, but a Tigre (Street Hustler) did, so I befriended the Tigre. Typically they’re seen as shady because they try to get over on tourist, but it all worked in my favor. I’ve always treated people as I wanted to be treated, and that was the case between me and my new Dominican friend. Due to my amazing experience with the hustler I continue to travel to more gritty, rugged areas of the world. I feel that I learn more about a culture’s day-to-day life this way. It’s more thrilling.
Soul Society: What are your top 3 travel experiences to date and what did you love about each of them?
D Jones: Continuing from the previous question; Dominican Republic was great and I had what typically is viewed as horrible travel experience there. My laptop and couple pair of Jordan’s were stolen. It was an inside job, because they left some really nice stuff and only took what they wanted. I didn’t really care too much though; everything is replaceable, but life. I had my house broken into when I was in high school. They stole my Xbox and videogames, and when I moved to DC my motorcycle was stolen. Shit happens *shrugs*. It taught me a valuable lesson when traveling though; “Drop the American dress to impress, just fit in with the locals.” I now typically travel with only carry-on luggage. I make due with whatever I have.
My second favorite travel experience was my first trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico. This was during the Daddy Yankee reggaeton explosion years. With Daddy Yankee being Puerto Rican they went hard for him. He happened to have a concert the week I went there.You could feel the hype all around Puerto Rico. Posters everywhere and they even had a Redbull type drink called “Gasolina” named after one of his more popular songs.
The locals showed my friend and me so much love. We would be chilling around the Condado area and people would just talk to us randomly, like we were all best friends. This one Puerto Rican insisted we go to Old San Juan, so we went with him. Everything in Old San Juan was great, we stopped by a couple of block parties, bars, and clubs, but my favorite part was going to the “forbidden” LaPerla. It’s supposedly the hood of San Juan. It was gritty and a tad scary, but I felt comfortable there. LaPerla was where we had the most fun. It was the cool, chill, free-spirited crowd. My crowd!
D Jones: I’ve been to Puerto Rico more than most places in the United States, so now I called Puerto Rico my second home. If you look at my picture I put two fingers in the air, it’s what the LaPerla natives taught me when I tried to throw up the peace sign.
The third experience was climbing Morro Dois Irmaos (Two Brother Mountains) In Rio de Janeiro. The whole experience was an explosion of joy. The journey was more rewarding than the beautiful view of Ipanema atop the mountain.
D Jones: To get to the top of Morro Dois Irmaos you have to travel though Favela Vigil. The favelas are the “slums” of Brazil. We decided we wanted to take a detour in the favelas to this hostel that had a beautiful view and to the best frozen Acai (berry) shop. I’ll admit, I was nervous because I was wearing all blue Nike Airmax, NY fitted Hat and a pair of nice basketball shorts,which I typically don’t do. I was clearly out of place. These two young kids started following me and I got more nervous, but they were just enamored by my flashiness. I took a shirt out of my backpack and gave it to one of them, and the other I gave my NY fitted. Then we all went to the Acai shop and I bought them each a large Frozen Acai. On the way back down we stopped at the bottom of Favela Vigil for the obligatory beer. We chilled there, drank, and watched the younger Brazilians practice Capoeira. It’s was dope.
Soul Society: What is on your travel list for 2015/2016?
D Jones: I turn 30 in April of 2016! I will be traveling somewhere major for it, I just don’t know where! I’m extremely spontaneous, so my travel list is usually wide open. If someone invites me, I’ll go; if I find an inexpensive flight, I’m there. I go to carnival every year, so I know Brazil is happening next. If any of the readers have trips planned please let me know, I’m down. I travel very randomly, my friends ask “How do you know them” I reply “I don’t!”
Soul Society: What's your dream location to visit within your lifetime? Or have you already been there?
D Jones: Bogotá, Colombia. I was going to leave the military five years before I actually did. I was offered a job with the Drug Enforcement Administration for a location in Bogotá, Colombia. I’m not stupid! Colombia is the Cocaine capital of the world. I would be a huge target. I still did my research though and I read everything about Bogotá to see if I would enjoy [there]. The more I read, the more I was intrigued. I never took the job offer because of the danger it might have placed me in, even though the Marine Corps offered me a large tax-free bonus to re-enlist. However, the excitement of going after reading about it never left me. I would probably do a solo mission (solo travel) there, because It seems like a place with some grit I would like to get into, and I don’t like subjecting my friends to my adventurous persona too much.
Soul Society: If you could live a parallel life anywhere in the US or around the world, at the same time as your current life in your current city, where would it be and why?
D Jones: This is tough. I would live a life in parallel on a Next-Generation Boeing 373.
Soul Society: What has your biggest learning experience from traveling been?
D Jones: As you can see I enjoy the gritty, rugged areas when traveling. It’s been nothing short of amazing and this is complete outside of the culture’s acknowledgement of my American race. I say that because some cultures will change to accommodate Americans, I don’t like that. I actually make it a point to find the cautionary, slums, hood, ghetto, or shady areas when traveling and go there. Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it, I’ve met some really good people. I’m also extremely humble in there uncharted territory. My type of traveling isn’t for the faint of heart. Throughout my “off the grid” travels I’ve learn to not judge anything until I experience it myself.
Soul Society: What are some travel tips that you can share to help novice travelers create the best deals/experiences possible?
D Jones: Know yourself. Learn how to travel for you and to avoid over packing. When I travel I know that I’m going to running around the city and engage in adventurous activities, so I know what not to bring and what to bring to accommodate that. I can make a week trip to just about anywhere with just a carry-on. If you're traveling outside of the United State, especially south, most likely no one cares what you’re wearing and whatever you do wear is fashionable enough. Plus, you’ll find American style of dressing is uncomfortable in environments outside America. Last note: Many cultures do not judge people by their clothing, as you shouldn’t either. I’ve dressed top-notch in many places thinking I would turn heads just to get blind eyes. I appreciated the blind eyes though, because it taught me that looks aren’t everything. Challenge yourself to travel with just a carry-on and one personal bag.
D Jones: Know your friends. Learn whom you can travel with. You may not be able to travel with someone you consider your best friend. People’s character will show clearly when they travel. I believe this is because traveling puts people in a new territory and you get a chance to see how people act in unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations. Let this determine who you can and can’t travel with. I find that judgmental people are the worst: STAY AWAY! I can’t travel with certain people; if our travel styles and activities [of interest] don’t mesh well. That’s perfectly fine; I just don’t invite those people! If I do, I don’t let them interfere with my fun. “Sit your ass right in this room.” I’m going to have a great time! That’s the attitude you have to take sometimes, you have to lookout for your own best interest, especially when traveling because you never know when you’ll get a chance to return. Overtime, you will find the perfect travel companions and these people will turn into your greatest friends.
Soul Society: What are some of your favorite places to visit (restaurants, bars, lounges, sites) in your home town and your current town?
D Jones: I love the District of Columbia in general! U St. (14th & U St. North West area) is my favorite area. Lounge of III (3) is my absolute favorite bar. It’s a small bar with a loyal following and great staff. The DJ plays vibe-out laid back music! They once had a Neptunes vs. Timberland music mash-up night; my mind was blown, it was simply amazing. I discovered Lounge of III when I was living on U St. during the winter. It was snowing badly, so work was cancelled for a couple days. I needed to get out of the house; I can’t be in one place for too long (i.e. why I travel so much and stay active). So, I trekked through the snow around U St. by myself until I came to Lounge of III, one of the few bars that were open. The bartender and I drank until closing, then I headed home tipsy, with a new favorite bar.
I very rarely go back to my hometown, if I do it’s only to see my family. They always see me traveling via social media and love to hear my stories. Recently I’ve been tired of sharing my stories. I want them to experience it for themselves, so I’m taking them on a trip to San Juan, Puerto Rico. I, and most people reading this, live in a traveler’s world; where everyone has a passport and travel freely. The reality is that few people have their passports and the means to travel. With that being said, stay humble in your travels, you're experiencing something most people only can dream of, cherish it.