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Interview: Rohan Marley, From Fashion to Farming

This interview with Rohan Marley, the son of the great Bob Marley, has been in the works for months. When I contacted him for an interview for Style Pantry, there was no hesitation. He said, “absolutely”.

We went back and forth, as I was thinking of a way to perfect and marry his previous career in fashion with his current position as a farmer. I’m glad we made it happen.

A huge thanks to Rohan for taking time out of his busy schedule on a sunny Saturday afternoon, to sit and have a chat with me about his happenings, projects and love for farming.

Get to know this icon. Enjoy the interview below.

A few years back, you started the Tuff Gong Clothing line which was inspired by your dad’s quite incredible fashion sense. Can you tell us more about the line (details, materials, philosophy)? Well, Ceda Marley started with ‘Catch a Fire” first. Catch A Fire is a couture line that also features a RTW (line). After requests were pouring in for a men’s collection, Ceda gave me the responsibilty of starting a line for guys (which ended up expanding for women as well. ) It was the birth of Zion: Tuff Gong collection, and yes, it was inspired by my dad. It did really well and was in stores such as Fred Segal, Atruim, NY, and a host of other stores. We did amazing graphics on tees and had a full line of jeans, jackets, etc.

With all of the knock-offs and lines inspired by your dad (as well as the ridiculous volume of clothing featuring his image and likeness), how do you separate yourselves as The Official Tuff Gong Clothing Line? Tuff gong is a family entity. Our label “tuff gong” goes out with all of our designs & labels. The label is different. Trust, you can tell the difference. In addition, we only use authentic materials.

Have you ever considered branching out, making this a huge fashion line/brand/household name? What is the future of Tuff Gong? Well, we held back further production due to the economy. We are also looking out for the right partnering. Someone/brand that understands the Marley movement.

What do you think fashion meant to your father? It meant absolutely nothing to him (laugh). He just had good taste. He never put much thought into his style or choice of clothing, when he’d dress up.

Tuff Gong Clothing line was first, but your main project has you farming. We loved writing up a feature on Marley Coffee a few months ago. What made you choose coffee? What was the inspiration? Actually, coffee was my first project. I’ve been in the coffee business since 1999. I bought a land in Jamaica, and to my surprise, I was told the land has coffee.

I had to obtain the proper credentials and certificate (certification to the coffee board) to be qualified to export and sell, which was a somewhat long process.

Further, It took me additional time because I wanted to specialize in organic coffee , so I went on a long journey of research. I traveled to Ethiopia to learn about the origin of coffee. It has been such a positive and rewarding experience. I truly enjoy working in this field. It’s my passion.

What makes Jamaican coffee so distinct? Honestly, the aroma and taste. Can’t beat that.

Do you have any coffee shops open yet? Any plans to do so in the future? We don’t have a shop yet. We are working on it. In the interim you can buy our coffee at wholefoods or on the site at marleycoffee.com.

Does Marley Coffee give back? Yes, we have to. For one, 80% goes to Japan. We brought the prices of the coffee down because of the disaster in Japan. You can see more of our work on onelove.org.

How about locally? We hire people in the community and have been doing so for the past 10 years. We also work with a local foundation, Kicks for a Cause, that provides soccer schools for kids.

Sustainability seems to be a theme that runs through all of the different ventures you’re involved with. Why is that so important to you? Haaa… It’s a passion. We want to protect the/our land. If you use chemicals, it destroys the root system and we don’t want that. I drink the same coffee and eat the same food, I don’t want to consume things that are not good for my body.

Can you tell us more about the amazing goods House of Marley is bringing to the shelves? Yes, we have so many exciting things going on right now. A collection of electronics – sounds that make you feel irie {laugh}. Docket stations for iphones, ipods, etc. We also use all recycled products. It is based in the US, and it is a family business. Everything we do is family.

What’s been the industry response so far? Any big retailers interested in carrying the products? Best reviews ever. Raving responses and people love the taste and quality of Marley Coffee. WholeFoods is currently stocking Marley Coffee, Amazon has a stockist of our products. All is good.

Any other projects coming down the road? We launched a beverage company. Marley Mellow Mood – A non alcoholic relaxation beverage. It’s sold all over United States. We also have passion fruit drinks & much more.

Find out more about Rohan and the Marley family of companies here: Marleybeverages.com, Marleycoffee.com, HouseofMarley.com

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13 comments
Black Sebath
Black Sebath

Fabulous interview! I have had the pleasure to meet and become friends with Donisha - Bob and Rita's grandaughter.  It looks like we have three things in common now; Fashion, Ethiopian Orthodox, and  the Marley's.  I look forwad to adding to this list of commonalities.

Jennifer Lynn Prindle
Jennifer Lynn Prindle

you should consider hemp for your clothing, or organic cotton rather than the polyester :)

Randeen
Randeen

Thank you so much for taking time to do this interview. I am from Jamaica and I love anything that has the MARLEY's name on it!  Bob Marley is one my GREATEST inspirations. His music alone carrys me. I love that his children continues his Legacy and carry's his name well in all that they do. I will continue to support to them in all that they do. The one thing that sticked out in the interview for me is when he said, "Everything we do is family." I love that! Thanks again..

Nikiwe S.
Nikiwe S.

 Thnx to the video, learned something about the Marleys. Good work keep it up!

Cheris Courtney
Cheris Courtney

Awesome interview! I had no idea that he and his family were involved in so many things. I love the fact that they give back and believe in sustainability. Will definitely be looking into their goods. Wishing them great success in their future. 

Yanique
Yanique

Jamaican Coffee!!! the best, and I'm not just saying that because i'm jamaican :) great article. 

Daina T
Daina T

Awesome interview. Great timing too with the anniversary of his death being this week. His kids have done such a great job at preserving and growing his legacy, other big name entertainment/business families get a lot of shine, but the Marley kids are commonly overlooked for all of their great success.

Style Pantry
Style Pantry

Haha, Yanique, you are just saying that. Kidding :)

Style Pantry
Style Pantry

I completely agree with you, Daina. Their good work needs to be recognized and credited. Style Pantry backs the Marley family. Always.

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  1. [...] the couple’s five children), he’s stayed close to extending the Marley brand through clothing and coffee. Get to know more about him and his business in an interview by Folake Kuye Huntoon of  Style [...]