Cameron Eichenbaum started interning with us as a teenager and like most things we jump into, we had no idea what we were doing. Thanks to Cameron’s incredible drive and character we were the ones that ended up learning a thing or two. Fast forward to seven years later and he’s in college and running his own brand on the side. He continues to inspire us to this day, and by the looks of things, there is no limit to what his future holds.
Okay, for all the people out there, and for me too quite frankly, cause it seems like I’ve known you forever. How far does your history go back with Deluxe? How old were you when you first started interning here and where are you from?
I was born and raised in East Oakland, CA, but am currently residing in the LA area, I first got involved with Deluxe when I was 14 years young, back in 2009. I’m 21 now, so it’s been about 7 going on 8 years now.
How did you end up getting the internship?
Well, I lived right around the corner from The East Oakland Skate Park and would be at the park all day as a teen. This is where I met Jim T. and started skating with him. So, after a few sessions with Jim, he came back and I was looking for an internship to fulfill one of my school requirements. I remember being scared as hell to ask Jim about an internship, not knowing how he would react, I was so young and full of energy I didn’t think he would take me seriously. After growing some balls, I went over to him and explained the internship program that my high school was doing, and at first he wasn’t completely down. He gave me his email and wanted me to follow up with him throughout the summer and he would consider it once school time came back around. So, throughout the summer I was on it, emailing him, texting him to let him know I was serious. Once school did come back around, Jim gave me an interview and a shadow day and it’s been lit ever since.
When did you start your brand Abstract Habit? What do you think some of the early influences and inspirations for it were?
I started my brand back in my senior year of high school in 2012, and I believe being around you, Jim and everyone at DLX was my biggest inspiration. The opportunities you guys gave me influenced me to create something I could call my own, and someway, somehow I manifested that. With you guys backing me, it made me that more motivated to go for it.
Where does the name Abstract Habit come from?
So the name Abstract Habit came from me and my friend Sonny. One day I told him about the vision I had and we started brainstorming ideas. I basically wanted to create something that represented me and my friends. We weren’t a regular group of kids, we were very different and through being different, we did different shit than the other kids our age at the time. Being around skateboarding, graffiti and honestly just being in the streets of Oakland we had all these different influences and we wanted to tie them all together in a way that represented us. We are what we repeatedly do, and what we do is abstract, and through this came Abstract Habit.
What is your current set up today? Are you going to School?
Well, I am currently in my fourth year of College, but have about year or so left. I don’t have a job right now; so all my free time goes to studying and working on Ab Hab stuff if I have anytime left from studying. School has been my main priority the last few years so I haven’t gotten to put the time in to my company that I want to, but I haven’t let that hold me back.
How do you balance going to school and trying to run your own brand? Is it hard to balance?
Yeah man finding balance is so hard sometimes. I do most of all the Abstract Habit stuff on my own, so sometimes it can become overwhelming while trying to studying for a midterm. So, I just try my best to prioritize and set goals, that way I am most productive in the time that I dedicate to school, and my business. It takes a lot to do both, so sometimes I have to let my company take the backseat in order to get my schoolwork done.
When you first started interning here at DLX I remember you being super young and going through your teenage years here with us. As most teenagers, you did a few questionable things growing up. What do you look back on now and think, “Damn how the fuck did I do that?” Did you learn anything from it?
Oh man, hahaha. I was in a lot of sticky situations in high school and I always learned from my mistakes. I never try to let them get the most of me. I try to think of my life as a book and I’m the author, and everyday is a new page in my book. I just try to learn from everything so I can continue to grow. I made many mistakes, but never have I faulted myself on those mistakes. I feel like we have to learn from trial and error, and making some wrong decisions then, made it easier to make better decisions today.
One thing that has always stuck out to me about you is that you’ve continually overcome a lot of challenges in your life and always get through them. Whether it was losing friends to violence, family members passing, or just keeping yourself out of some tough situations you were surrounded with. Is there any advice you would give to kids facing similar situations growing up? What worked for you?
Growing up in Oakland or anywhere where you’re surrounded by violence you have to be able to separate yourself. I could have easily been influenced by the things I was surrounded by and the things that were happening in my life, but I always reminded myself that I do not have to be a product of my environment and that I can be more. My advice would be, to never let the situation you are in now control where you want to be in the future. Have tunnel vision when it comes to success and be determined to get to the end of the tunnel no matter what.
What are your hopes for the future after finishing school?
Once I finish school, I am hoping to take my brand to the next level and travel the world. I want to go experience different cultures and get inspired by a different way of living in other countries. I’ve always been passionate about traveling so hopefully after college I can.
With your experience running a small brand, is it something you can see pursuing as a full time career and growing it in the future?
That is the plan. Finish school, dedicate my life to my company, and continue to push my creativity. Nothing more to it, but to do it.
Seeing so many different brands out there these days, what do you think the key is to setting yourself apart?
I think the key to setting myself apart is not caring too much about what others are doing and just focus on the message I am trying to send, if I can do that, I will be all good in my eyes.
Any last thoughts?
Yep, RIP Terrence and Adrian, two young men who inspired me to never give up. I’m going to make sure to keep this shit lit for my brothers.
Photos by: Ritt Pong @ritt_faced