Doug Evans tapped into his love of art at a young age. As a child, the New Orleans native was accepted into the highly competitive New Orleans Center for Creative Arts (NOCCA) and continued his educational track in visual arts throughout his formative years. For higher education, he landed at Atlanta College of Art (ACA). Eventually, Evans embarked on a career journey that included telling stories through art while tapping into his talents for advertising, marketing, fashion, and business.
Today, the Atlanta-based entrepreneur boasts over 25 years of experience as a dot connector and brand architect instrumental in shaping the visions of a variety of brands. He has worked in high ranking positions with Outkast Clothing, 8732/Rocawear, Matlock, a Black owned ad agency, and more on culture defining campaigns from US Marine commercials to fashion trends that dominated hip-hop in the early to mid 2000s.
“Remember the whole rhinestone craze that Sean John and them were doing? That was us, we were doing that before them and selling those shirts for like $100,” Evans tells American Urban Radio Networks. “Nobody was doing that before us.”
In 2011, Evans founded Born to Skate Co, an e-commerce apparel and accessories experience that fuses art and skateboarding culture, and features gear with the company’s signature rabbit logo on it. The rabbit, named Ash, was inspired by his actual pet rabbit.
“I called her Ash, or Ashley, because I like to smoke cigars and she had a gray color,” says Douglas. “People really liked the logo when it would be printed on shirts and jackets so I decided that I needed something for a skateboard. Fast forward, I have a friend named Pedro, he’s a prominent illustrator from the Dominican Republic, so I asked him to come up with something creative.”
Pedro Josue Caravajal, known creatively as MadKobra, and Evans teamed up to expand on Ash’s visual concept. Pedro’s rendering for the skateboard added more depth to the original logo with more color and more character features, turning Ash into a street samurai. Eventually, this became the prototype for the core of Magnetic Toys.
“I’m an artist, but I also look at things from a business aspect. So, I got all the artwork and saw how everybody responded, and figured, ‘what can I do with this next?’ I had already started the toy company, and the initial concept that I came up with was cool but we were able to build on the concept that I already had,” explains Evans. “All of the things, all of the companies that I have, they’re all based around the things that I love, apparel, toys and shoes.”
Doug tapped into his connections who were familiar with the manufacturing industry and got 100 collectible rabbits made in two colorways: one in a yellow sweatsuit, and the other in red. At the time of AURN’s interview, Evans was down to 20, and named Pusha T as one of the notable avid collectors who was a fan of Ash.
The next phase of Evans’ journey is to develop Ash into a graphic novel and eventually a TV show. Through a friend, he connected with David Crownson, creator of the graphic novel series Harriet Tubman Demon Slayer, which is currently being developed into a TV series. Together they are going to build out Ash’s backstory and turn it into a graphic novel, and one day, hopefully, a TV show.
“[David] just finished ComicCon so he did a whole book tour. Once we develop the graphic novel, I’ll be able to tour with him, and cross your fingers that someone will want to make it a series because that’s ultimately the end game for me,” says Evans. “I’m a 70s/80s baby. I grew up on Saturday Morning Cartoons, Hanna-Barbera, and all of that. That’s the stuff that I liked so to see my stuff on TV as a series is the end goal, so I’m looking at what I have to do to get there.”
So far, Evans has relied on his own creativity and business savvy but he also understands the importance of teaming up with fellow creatives. In his world, these are people he has met on his journey that have helped him realize some of his visions. Among some of the most crucial business lessons Evans has learned are not to overthink ideas and to never go it alone.
“It’s cool to meet smart people who are like, ‘Tell me what you want,’ and then you have them make it happen,” says Evans. “But you have to start. I think a lot of people get caught up in the minutiae of things. You can start a company with $100. If you want to create a character, create a character, make it into a toy. The information is free, you can go on youtube, talk to people you know. Create something that you own, that no one can take from you.”