Local Streetwear Entrepreneurs Shirk Convention, Do It Their Way

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Photos by Keith Luter, Jr.
It was a beautiful Sunday morning and the guys of men's streetwear boutique Urban Assault, Daniel Gonzales, 32, and David Ruiz, 26, opened their doors for me to see their pride and joy.

"I guess you can say that we are a specialty boutique that caters to the young man that prides himself on being different and wearing clothes that are stylish, modern and are not mass-produced," Gonzalez said when asked to explain what set the shop apart from the mountain of retailers in Houston.

The two have been best friends for 16 years growing up in Pasadena, and for the past two years have built a name for themselves in Houston streetwear.

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Daniel Gonzales of Urban Assault

In 2006 Gonzalez found himself incarcerated and looking to make a change through his inherent design talent. With help from his mother and Ruiz, he was able to produce a T-shirt line and begin marketing it to various stores.

But no one wanted his designs.

The initial rejections served only to strengthen both Gonzalez and Ruiz's resolve. If others didn't want their work, then they would create their own space for themselves.

"We took a shot when no one else would give us one," said Ruiz.

Leasing a store in the more populated southwest area of Houston was considered, but Ruiz and Gonzalez wanted to keep their vision in their backyard. Southeast Houston isn't known for a robust retail industry, but that served to set Urban Assault apart, in their minds.

Store renovations in the space at 12260 Gulf Freeway were a DIY job and were completed without any traditional funding sources. Everything in the store, from the rack installations to the paint on the walls, was done by Ruiz and Gonzalez, with the help of their community of support. Well-known graffiti artist Eric Delrio, a.k.a. Color, a friend of the two owners, created an impressive wall mural as a finishing touch.

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This story continues on the next page.

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