Nando Mandragon's out of jail, back on the block — and making a big impression. On Everly Bustos, aka "DJ Shake," to be precise.
Last month, Bustos organized a moneymaking scheme posted on eBay, in which three local twentysomethings offered themselves as the ultimate billboard, willing to be tattooed with a corporate logo — for a fee. "The way I look at it, corporate advertising is pretty much everywhere, and it was just a matter of time until somebody did it," Bustos told Off Limits at the time. "It doesn't really matter to me much who it is."
But as it turns out, it did matter. Because the person who saw his ad on eBay and bid the minimum of $1,000 was Mondragon, the founder of local clothing company Certified Customs — who had a little detour in his business plan when he was popped in Vegas on a domestic beef ("The Mouth That Roared," January 18). Mondragon was released in June and returned to Denver, and when he and Bustos met, the two young hip-hop entrepreneurs hit it off immediately.
Clothes Encounters of the Denver Kind
"After talking to him, I actually want to get this tattoo," Bustos says. "Originally I wanted to do it because I was hoping I could get some sort of corporate logo, hoping to get something back from a corporation. But after meeting Nando, it's not about the money. I like him and what he does, and he likes me and what I do, plus it's something that fits my lifestyle."
So Bustos is going to go even bigger than the square inch he promised when he puts the Certified Customs crown logo on the inside of his calf — up to six square inches. And Mondragon's excited to make his mark, not just because the tattoo is a great form of advertising, but because it proves that people believe in his business. "It's nice just to have another person on the same level as me, to be connected with them," he says. "That's a big move to go and tattoo somebody else's name, especially when it's a local company."
"It turned out to be a lot different than I had expected," Bustos says. "I originally really wanted a corporation, but I liked what happened a lot more now. I really thought it was about the money, and in this case it's not really like that."
Certified Customs is going more than skin deep, too. After closing up a shop on Colfax Avenue, Mondragon hopes to finalize an agreement for a new Broadway store before the ink on Bustos's skin is dry. Ultimately, he'd like to launch a nationwide clothing line. And in the meantime, although he won't pay $1,000 to just anyone who signs up for a Certified Customs tattoo, Mondragon says he's willing to spring for more company logos if the right people are willing to make a permanent commitment.
Booted out: Santa Fe Drive is changing, from the ground up. Since it opened in 1994 as La Bota de Oro, or "the gold boot," the small shop at 840 Santa Fe now known as Importado de Mexico has specialized in Mexican cowboy boots. Husband-and-wife owners Cirilo Alejandre and Anita Arrieta-Alejandre would take regular trips to Guanajuato and bring back frog-, armadillo- and cow-skin boots. But a few years ago, they realized that their new neighbors in the Santa Fe Arts District didn't share their penchant for intricately patterned roach killers.
"They frown on them," says Arrieta-Alejandre. "They look and they point and they go, 'Oh yeah.' Like, 'That is the last thing in the world I would be wearing.'"
This disdain, coupled with heightened border security making it more difficult to transport goods, convinced the couple to quit carrying boots. Instead, they'll stock more Mexican artisan goods that are available from California warehouses: Oaxacan black clay pottery and Day of the Dead memorabilia are especially popular with their new clientele, Arrieta-Alejandre says.
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And while they last, the remaining boots are 50 percent off.
Scene and herd: Mayor John Hickenlooper looks dashing in the September issue of Esquire, which features a fall fashion special with pictures of 36 U.S. mayors, most decked out in expensive duds. But Hick tells the magazine that his biggest triumph in office is not improving dress standards, but dealing with homelessness. "An issue only stays illuminated in the media for a certain time," says Hickenlooper on page 222. "But more than three hundred mayors have created a ten-point plan to end homelessness. It's a revolution." So is Hickenlooper's outfit: a $1,275 wool Emporio Armani suit, a $575 striped Dolce & Gabbana shirt, and a $160 maroon silk tie by Prada.