Seventy Five North Partner Spotlight – Steve Gordon, Founder and Creative Director at RDQLUS CREATIVE.
From the perspective of Steve Gordon, Creative Director and Owner at RDQLUS Creative, every experience is an idea worth sharing, a story waiting to be told. As a world traveler, seeker of the scenic route and an eye for beauty and authenticity, Steve has the benefit of curiosity and the gift to recognize the genuine character of an idea. Which makes it no surprise that he created the name, 75 North to help highlight the true mission of the organization.
“Othello and I were sitting down one day trying to come up with a name that actually described what the org does,” Steve explains. “When he started showing me the map of the project, he was very passionate about it. We both grew up in North Omaha. So when we looked at the map, I said, ‘Wait a second. You realize that everything you are describing has only one way to get there. And that’s 75 North freeway.’”
“By owning that name, they could reclaim the name of the
interstate that used eminent domain and ran straight through North Omaha when it was built,” Steve said. “My thought was why not own the name of the tributary that runs through the corridor. Now we can own the idea that 75 North is the way to get to our neighborhood.”
While the Highlander project became the first development, they wanted to stick with the name 75 North because of its significance toward making an impact on the entire neighborhood. The goal was to truly exemplify a revitalization project, so the name naturally stuck.
Recalling that the Highlander project is only half a block away from the street he grew up on, Steve speaks very fondly of his experiences growing up in this corridor.
“What they’re about as a revitalization company is neighborhood-focused, even down to the streets that I walked growing up, that’s immense! That’s a huge validation to now be able to drive down those streets. The same streets where I may have had a fight or played ball. I know those streets! So seeing the development now that bears a name, a brand and the identification artwork that I did for them is amazing.”
The initial introduction to the project came through his contacts at Howard Kennedy Elementary and now Steve is proud to be part of a project that can help influence how the current younger generation can feel about the neighborhood they grew up in. Steve’s own childhood was not void of a positive influence which came from his mother who taught him to pursue his passions into his adult life.
“My mom had a very unique way of telling me that I could achieve,” Steve explains. “She said ‘whatever it is that you decide to do, you have to do it to your full ability. And if it is not for you or you’re not achieving something the way that you want, then you have every right to find out what else you’re good at.’ So
growing up she held my feet to the fire on things but she knew when I did my best. My mother trained me to be good at being good. And the trick is that by giving your all at something you will actually achieve.”
Achievements are many in Steve’s book from not only being recognized as an award winning designer, but he is a world class track & field athlete, business owner, Father and husband and dedicated to showing others how to empower themselves through their creativity. As he frequently shares on his blog, Steve finds the most joy recently through his creative endeavors as a co-host for Omaha’s newest chapter of Creative Mornings owning a retail company for athletic casual wear called HVYCRWN. and working on future projects to change how other business owners collaborate with each other in Omaha.
However, those moments of success did not come without obstacles and roadblocks. Steve talks of various setbacks he’s dealt with including issues of race and perception.
“I’m a six-foot-tall Black man and former athlete,” Steve says. “I’m not supposed to be doing Art. I’m supposed to be breaking bricks somewhere or transitioning into the high rise tower with a three-piece suit. As much as we claim not to want to want these stereotypes, we follow stereotypes. So someone like me is not typically doing art or anything creative. This perception often works against me and that’s a major roadblock. Sometimes I have to fight the perceptions before I even start doing any work.”
As a creative professional for the past 18 years and a solo business owner for a decade, Steve says he has still yet to see more business owners that look like him at creative functions and meetings. This has also proven to be a roadblock as he has to be more assertive about his success in the field. Having said that, Steve does feel that his contribution is one of the best and he has proven so on his work with 75 North.
Regardless of the brands he’s created and the clients he pursues, Steve wants others to remember that he is about authenticity above all else. He is enthusiastic about the progress of creative business ownership within Omaha now representing as a board member at the Greater Omaha Chamber. Even as the projects at 75 North continue to grow, Steve will stay connected and in partnership with them in hopes of witnessing the fruits of his labor further influence positive change for North Omaha.