HEADACHE — The universal experience
Living > HEADACHE — The universal experience

HEADACHE — The universal experience

An inside look at the clothing brand that is taking off at UP

by Alexly Campos Martinez / The Beacon

In an instant, you feel a rush of pressure rise to your head. The aching pain tingles across the front of your scalp as the pressure tightens. It sharply calls for your attention, hands meeting your head to try and relieve the throbbing pain: a headache. 

For most, the relief comes in the form of medicine or rest. For sophomore Isaac Ajayi, the relief comes in the form of a pencil and paper, scribbling until the pain transforms into art.

“I was in a space where I wished I was making more art,” Ajayi said. “Once I had the headache, I told myself ‘let me let me start drawing.’ It hurt, it was a really bad headache. So, I just started scribbling and drawing. I made sure I didn't erase anything that I was drawing.”

by Alexly Campos Martinez / The Beacon

At the time he didn’t think these doodles were anything. However, these drawings would later become the blueprint and the main inspiration for his clothing brand: HEADACHE.

Featuring t-shirts with Ajayi’s hand drawn designs, HEADACHE shows his eye-catching and captivating art that all started with an aching head. Made in the comfort of his dorm room, Ajayi has transformed his pain into his own clothing brand. 

Since his childhood, Ajayi has always had a deep connection with art. Experimenting with different mediums and styles, his relationship with art has served as an outlet for emotions and the things he feels most connected to. 

“Art to me is like a push and pull type of relationship,” Ajayi said. “There were definitely times where I wouldn't do art. Other times I wanted to be better, and I’d do it all the time. I knew there was more that I could do to develop my skills.”

Currently taking commissions via Instagram, Ajayi sells his t-shirts from anywhere between $20-$25 depending on the design. However, the process of creating a brand didn’t come simply.

It took months of thinking, imagining and creating for Ajayi to first get his start. 

The journey starts back in 2020 with a friend of Ajayi pushing him to do more with his art — a conversation he describes as the starting point for discovering HEADACHE. 

“I didn't really know what direction I was gonna go,” Ajayi said. “I was just drawing everything and as time went on, the idea became more real. I had another friend who started his own brand and that’s when I was like okay, this is actually possible for me.”

Ajayi started HEADACHE making everything by hand, with nothing but his vinyl cutter and heat press. Being a full time student, he recalls the early stages of making HEADACHE come to life as time consuming.

“It was a lot of work,” Ajayi said. “I’d finish my homework at 8 p.m. and I'd use the rest of the time, until 10 or 11 to create the designs or make the actual physical shirts. It is a lot harder this semester with my classes.”

After a period of trial and error, eventually he was able to get his start selling his handmade t-shirts. This included tabling at UP events like Our Canvas, Our Campus and BSU’s Night of Excellence

Sophomore Karel Farfan, Ajayi’s girlfriend, also played an integral role in giving Ajayi the confidence to start selling his products at these UP events.

“I just encouraged him, pushed him to do these events or put himself out there,” Farfan said. “In a way, I think he was kind of shy to put his art out there.”

This sentiment is shared by Ajayi as well. 

“My girlfriend Karel was a big support during the debut,” Ajayi said. “She was next to me at every table, helping me with the orders and helping me process all the orders. She was a great support.”

by Alexly Campos Martinez / The Beacon

While many of the designs Ajayi used to start HEADACHE were inspired by that initial headache he got, he now seeks inspiration from the things that hold a close significance to him. His Christian faith — a motif that is littered throughout his HEADACHE designs — is a reflection of his identity as a person. 

“I was raised Christian,” Ajayi said. “That's one of the main parts of my identity. I can't really separate myself from that. You don't have to be religious to enjoy the shirts I make or anything, but that's just where I kind of gravitate towards.”

This isn’t the only thing inspiring him, as well. He often looks to see what other clothing brands are doing and how he can make their ideas his own. Some days, it’s a burst of creativity that ignites him to start designing. 

“Most of the designs I make are late at night when I'm not really doing anything,” Ajayi said. “Just getting ready to go to sleep and then something comes in my head.”

While HEADACHE is still taking off, Ajayi see’s a bright future for the brand as a whole. Now working with a manufacturer to create his products, he has a lot more time to think about how he wants to expand his business beyond the UP campus.

by Alexly Campos Martinez / The Beacon

“I eventually want to make a website for HEADACHE,” Ajayi said. “I want to be bigger, you know, get a larger following on Instagram. I think that always helps. Hopefully I can go to more night markets or something like that. I want to reach a broader audience that’s not just this school.”

One thing that Ajayi hopes people take away from HEADACHE are his words.
by Alexly Campos Martinez / The Beacon

HEADACHE is a visual demonstration of emotion through art, but Ajayi hopes people take away his words more than anything. His journey of discovering and creating the brand, he hopes, will inspire others to take action. 

“The journey that HEADACHE has taken has been a long one,” Ajayi said. “It's been filled with a lot of unnecessary obstacles that I've set up for myself. I want people to know that they can just take the first step for whatever ambitions that they have. As long as you take that first step, the next one will come. There's never a perfect time. There's only the time that you have right now.”

Kimberly Cortez is the Community Engagement Editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at cortez25@up.edu.