Meet David Ben-David: The Mastermind Behind Sprayground
Sprayground has been a moving force in streetwear, particularly when it comes to travel, for just a bit over a decade. Some years ago, they shook the bookbag game with their “Hello My Name Is” bag, and fast forward today, they’re “always launching things like once a week or every two weeks” according to founder David Ben-David. Always a creative at heart, he found himself getting lost in his imagination and by the time he got older, attended a visual arts school which further fed the artistic beast inside of him. It wasn’t until after some years after he graduated that Sprayground came to fruition and merged the worlds of travel and art.
Amongst various collaborations, Sprayground has worked with tons of other entities such as the NBA, Spongebob, Bruce Lee, Marvel, and many more. Notable names like Young Thug, Megan Thee Stallion, Shaquille O’Neal, and Spike Lee are just a few who’ve been spotted in the brand before. Fast forward to today, Sprayground is sold in 30 different countries with over 20 distributors and several pop-up locations international. Although, where do you go as a company when you’ve seemingly have done it all? Only time will tell, but watching Sprayground come this far has been none short of an exciting journey.
We had a chat with Sprayground founder David Ben-David about sustainability, the importance of collaboration, and navigating through the pandemic amongst other topics! Read below.
Walk me through your childhood, what was it like growing up, and did you always have a creative flair?
I was born in the Bronx, New York; it wasn’t the friendliest of places to grow up. I had to use my imagination to escape those weird scenarios, but I was blessed to always have inspiration and get lost in my imagination. Thank God that it stuck with me because I infused it into my bags. I wasn’t a good student, regular school doesn’t like creative kids it seems, but I was always creating something. All of those things I did when I was young that helped me get into art school, they helped me fine-tune what I wanted to. I wanted to do something with product design and fashion, and I guess now with fashion accessories, you have the best of both worlds.
I read that you went to a school of visual arts in NYC some years back, what’s your take on school especially with a lot of creatives being self-taught these days?
School is very important! I have four kids and I was always against homework because it takes away from the experience of home time. I guess in school, there aren’t enough art and creative classes; it’s cut and dry with just science and math classes. I wish there was more painting, wood sowing, or even fashion.
Sprayground has been around for a bit over a decade and considering that only a few businesses make it to the ten-year mark, what do you think has been the primary reason that the company has thrived as much as it did?
I think it’s blessings from the good Lord. Everyone in the company has good positive energy and they work really hard, everyone internally loves the products and when they travel and go home, they wear the product. Also, it’s the idea of creating fun new stories. Like I did a recent collaboration with Formula 1; I was hesitant in the beginning because many kids might not know of them. I took a risk, I created a story, and I put it out there and because the content was exciting, people ate it up. I think doing those unique things has attracted people to the brand.
Even with working with Spongebob, when I worked with him they would normally give their style guide and you would have to fall under their rules. Although, I told them that I wouldn’t use it and that I wanted to put Spongebob in the world of Sprayground and that really resonates with the fans and customers. They see that this brand breaks boundaries and tests new things, and also everything is good and positive which I’m a firm believer of.
What would you say has been one of the biggest challenges that Sprayground had to overcome businesses-wise?
We sell a lot to people that travel and go to school or work, everyone is commuting. The bag is literally the trunk to our body so when everyone was stuck at home, we were scared we wouldn’t have a back-to-school season. No one was going back to school and literally, no one was traveling and I had a big collection of bags and luggage. It was very nerve-racking but luckily everything is limited edition and unique. We had this slogan, “prepare for your future arrival,” and I definitely think that helped push the line. It was really cool to see it sell out within minutes when no one was traveling.
Collaboration is obviously a big part of what keeps driving new and even long-time fans of the company, do you have a collab that you’ve done over the past few years that really stuck out in comparison to the others?
We’re always launching things like once a week or every two weeks, but the Bruce Lee collaboration was cool. When the foundation contacted us to collaborate, I thought that was very special so we did apparel and bags. A few months ago I got an opportunity to collaborate with a gaming chair company and I was really excited when I did my research, the gaming chair industry was very bland. My thing since day one has been turning the mundane into the insane and I thought it was really cool because I put a crazy design on it using this vegan leather fabric. I use the chair every day so I’m happy that I can sit on a chair that I made.
What are your thoughts on sustainability these days in the fashion market?
I make bags that are 100% polyester and bags that are 100% PVC. There are those two elements to the brand and in 2021 back-to-school, I converted all the polyester bags to recycled polyester. It takes ten bottles scooped up from the ocean and turned into the fabric. Also, you can see in the history of the brand, I do a lot of art with animals and nature to educate people on these things that exist outside of the zoo. If we don’t care more, these things are only going to exist in the zoo because the jungle and forests are being destroyed too quickly. I like to show things of that nature and currently, we’re trying to develop the vegan leather and make it recyclable.
Do you ever think about where you’d be right now if you didn’t start the company?
Yeah, I’d be behind a cubicle somewhere and that’s my greatest fear.
When you’ve come this far and made your mark in music, sports, and so forth, where do you go next with Sprayground?
I think footwear could be cool, I got a lot of requests organically. I’ve been seeing a lot of people trying to match their bag with their shoes colorway-wise. I would like to do that next!
If you enjoyed our chat with Sprayground, check out our interview with Black-owned womenswear label LYNZI!