Tote&Carry’s mission statement is to “Travel With Luxury,” and they’re here to change the narrative altogether. The company prides itself in being the go-to, affordable, luxury bag brand specializing in trendy, fashion pieces and travel sets to elevate your look no matter what the occasion. Their most popular product, the Apollo I, unveils eye-catching colors and high quality fabric with a variety of matching colors and sets.
When it comes to celebrities, everyone from Rich Homie Quan to Omarion to T.I. has rocked their bags. “You’ll always stand out when you wear our bags,” says co-founder Tony Rey.
In actuality, Tony is a rapper during his off-days and loves to create music as a hobby (a serious hobby, he clarifies). Having had a huge interest in music since his high school days, it’s this unwavering love and passion that drives him and his success to this day.
“My love for music and Hip Hop is what drives me.” Tony reveals, “There’s a lot of inspiration in the design, the lifestyle. It’s my life.”
Beyond that, Tony has found a way to persevere as a minority in the industry, proving that no dream is too big when it comes to success and doing what you love.
AllHipHop: What artists did you listen to growing up?
Tony: Nas was a very inspirational artist in my life, Lil Wayne was a big inspiration. Biggie Smalls, Tupac. In Asia, Jay Chou. Jay Chou’s a big inspiration in my life. Who else? I wouldn’t say Drake or J. Cole, but Nas was one of the biggest influences in my life.
AllHipHop: What’s your favorite Nas song & why?
Tony: This one’s hard, there’s a few tracks. “Affirmative Action,” “The Message,” “Take It In Blood,” “Halftime.” Just lyrical content, the realness, and life relevance. “Life’s a b####, but God forbid the b#### divorce me. I’ll be flooded with ice, so hell fire can’t scorch me.”
AllHipHop: How does being an Asian rapper influence the American hip hop market?
Tony: Asian rappers, we’re not really on the scene like that. It’s not very influential yet. Overseas in Asia, we do have our own little market. We have our own little shows, our own communities. We’re still finding a way to get our own little fanbase, our own little community, and make our own impact. The Asian hip-hop community isn’t too big in the U.S., but definitely overseas we do a lot of shows. A lot of stuff is happening overseas.
AllHipHop: Who influenced you to become a rapper?
Tony: That’s a deep one. It just happened.
AllHipHop: Where do you see the crossover in music and fashion?
Tony: I see designing fashion like writing a song, recording and producing music. It’s the same thing to be honest, you have to create. The crossover is you always want to look fly when you’re doing music, you always want to have something different. Of course, the lifestyle goes hand in hand.
AllHipHop: What’s the reality of running a fashion brand?
Tony: Hard work, sacrifices, challenging, mind-blowing, exciting, puzzling, lifestyle, risk-taking, leadership, innovation.
AllHipHop: What makes your merchandise appeal to hip-hop culture?
Tony: We love what the rappers do, we love the rapper s###. I’m sure that rappers like the fashion, the “drip”. Of course, the ball players. When we’re doing a Tote&Carry bags, we don’t want to be like the rest, the norm, we want to stand out. That’s where it crosses over, it’s about having something unique and different.
AllHipHop: What sets your bags apart from other designer bags?
Tony: Originality, influence from the streets. The culture, price point, minority-owned, fabric selection, timeless bags.
AllHipHop: You had Omarion and T.I. rock your bags in their music videos organically, how?
Tony: Certain stylists probably put the pieces on them. We didn’t pay for it, I’m sure they paid for it full price, that’s the best part about it. [laughs] They paid full price for it.
AllHipHop: Do you think Tote&Carry is a Hip-Hop brand?
Tony: I wouldn’t say it’s a hip hop brand, because a lot of Tote&Carry customers are really average people. Some of them are older like 40 or 45 years old, some of them have some swag. A lot of them are conservative too, they don’t like the super loud designs. They’re working professionals, they have a nice career. Some of them are lawyers, some of them are nurses. We have doctors that spend $1000 with us, it’s for the consumer that wants a little something “fly”. For the hip-hop culture and community, I’d love for it to have more influence because it drives fashion forward. Tote&Carry is everybody’s bag.
AllHipHop: Has Tote&Carry tapped into the Asian hip-hop community in the States?
Tony: Tote & Carry hasn’t really tapped in there yet, but it will pretty soon. It’s coming up. Personally, I have a lot of relationships with certain celebrities and rappers in Asia. We might do a few music festivals in Asia once it opens up. We might have our own little tour, our own little music festivals, sponsors. On TV shows, we’re getting placements and sponsors. The Asian people want to see somebody out here doing well, I’m sure it’s something they can wear proudly.
AllHipHop: Are you still making music as well?
Tony: Yeah, I was in the studio last night. I had to take a break this whole entire year because it’s been crazy. Now that we’re moving into the holidays towards the end of the year, I felt like it was good therapy for me to get back and do a little bit of music. Get back to doing music in the studio, get ready for some shows in 2021 when things open up.
AllHipHop: Any rappers you’d like to work with?
Tony: Ty Dolla $ign, Justin Bieber, he’s not a hip hop artist though. Chris Brown, but they’re not rappers. J. Cole’s a good rapper, Nav’s been dropping some hot s###. Young Thug, Gunna, the whole ATL been lit.
AllHipHop: Anything else you want to let us know?
Tony: We’re trying to get more rappers involved. We want an upcoming rapper to make a Tote&Carry bag song. We want rappers to put Tote&Carry in their rap music. We want to do a contest too, a Secure The Bag challenge. Tote&Carry wants to put out a mixtape of all the hottest upcoming rappers and put on all major platforms.