Two-year-old O’Shea Woodhouse II might be playing with toys in the foreground or watching the sewing needle bob, while three-month-old Obi Soul is propped on dad’s lap or swaddled up in a nearby chair. Woodhouse is always cheesing while he works, and his kids are always toddling in and out of the frame.
“If I want to be the best artist, if I want to be the best father, if I want to be the best person, then I have to just be real, and I have to integrate everything I love together,” the 30-year old multidisciplinary artist told CoolxDad. “It's so much easier for me to be able to dive into my music and to dive into my art if I just involve my kids.”
Not only does the Houstonite involve his own kids in the creative process, he’s also teaching other people’s kids video production, sewing, and music skills as a Program Director at Workshop Houston, a project-based arts program in Third Ward.
We caught up with the undeniably CoolxDad to talk about handmade creation, living an authentic life, and being one of a million and one in a million.
CoolxDad: Tell us how you got into fashion and making clothes.
O'Shea: I've always been into clothes because I just think it’s the culture – it’s the hip hop culture and it’s me being raised around parents that always wanted me to be well-dressed. My mom, they call her the ‘Black Madonna.’ Whatever she wants, she puts it together, and I think that's the crazy side of me. And then on my dad’s side, he always had the latest name brand this-and-that on. So you mix those two together you’re just gonna have a kid that’s gonna love fashion.
As a kid growing up, I wore uniforms all throughout school. So that was really tough for me, because I liked fashion. I had to figure out ways to make my uniform look good. That’s what really got me into thinking about: What is fashion? Is it just the shirt, the pants or is it the sneakers, the bracelet, the watch, the hats, the undershirts, the layers?
And then coming into adulthood, I interned for the place that I actually work for now [Workshop Houston]. I was around the sewing machine so much that I just began to take ideas that I had as far as wanting to sew and I just started doing it. I think what really locked me into getting into fashion was I started putting graphics on T-shirts and putting my logo on T-shirts. I started doing the merch and I just noticed that it got oversaturated. Anybody can do merch, anybody can make a mock up, right? How do I differentiate myself and elevate what I consider to be fashion? I said I need to actually be able to make the garments from scratch, pick out the fabrics myself, and just find my voice.
It sounds like your job at Workshop Houston – where you can do music, sewing, and work with kids – is the absolute perfect job for you.
Yes. I went to school at the University of Virginia. So I've always wanted to be an artist, but you know, that's not art school. So for me, I had to always kind of learn to do stuff on my own. And then this nonprofit, I interned for them, and I was introduced to the whole world of nonprofits and the arts education, and just being able to influence the youth. When I graduated college, I became a videographer for the Houston Rockets. I realized how impactful [basketball] is, as far as the culture – I look at it as hip hop culture. You look at the players, they’re nine times out of ten the ones that are breaking these new brands; the players walking in the tunnel, league fits, and just the lifestyles of the fans that are coming to games.
Once I was actually in that world, doing videography, I really realized right now it's like, okay, I actually want to dive deeper into my art, my fashion, because everything is influenced by the culture, right? It's not necessarily a school path that you can take. You kind of just have to go out and do it. This nonprofit made it full circle for me.
Can you talk a little bit more about working for the Rockets?
I met my wife working for the Rockets. We started as part-timers in the events department making minimum wage. It was a beautiful struggle. Our friendship blossomed into a relationship, and now she is the mother of my children. I will always hold the Rockets organization close to my heart because of the people I spent so much time with. Working 70-plus hour weeks really brings you close to your co-workers.
And how do you like working with kids now?
It’s what I’m supposed to be doing. I truly believe it’s my calling. There’s this idea of everybody wants to make it, everybody wants to blow up, everybody wants to be the biggest designer, the biggest musician, but what I found, as a father, and from working with kids every day, is that there's more to life than personal pursuits.
How can I just gain the knowledge and spend the time with young people to help them see what's possible, and then watch them be way better than me? I found my purpose with tapping in and actually investing my time and my skill with my kids and the kids I work for. And now, I don't see it any other way.
In your music videos and the video you made for CoolxDad, your kids are involved. So tell us about integrating your kids into your music and putting them in the video as opposed to this idea that you have to be like a cool guy who's doing his own thing?
I think if you’re not being authentic then you’re living two lives. So when I put my kids in my music videos or when I incorporate them, whenever they’re watching me sew, I kind of just want them to see what their dad does and what is out here so they can decide what they want to do.
When I grew up, I just had my mom in Houston and I had my dad in Virginia. And I cherish the experiences that I have from not even having my parents together, for them being involved with me. I'm like, let me just do what I wish would have been done for me and what was done for me at all times. That’s my philosophy in life I guess.
And that’s definitely in line with the CoolxDad philosophy.
Right. I just turned 30. Before I met people in CoolxDad I thought I was the only person in my circle that’s actively pursuing this art and involving my kids.
How are you thinking about raising boys, specifically, right now?
I think of everything as generational. Generational doesn't have to always be about money, sometimes information is important. It's as simple as, if I give my son a quarter and he puts that in his piggy bank, I want that to be a life lesson. I want to be like, ‘Hey little man, you’re saving money, that's good. It's good you’re saving money!’
That’s what I want to do, consciously, is show my kids that ‘hey, you’re thinking about life even when you’re just organically being a kid, because when you grow up this is gonna be part of your humanity.’ So, what does it mean to raise two boys? I think there's a good balance of being in the progressive era of 2023. But then there's, there's these values that I appreciate, from my grandparents – you know, what does it mean to be a good husband? What does it mean to be a husband and to have a wife and to be a father? If you are living in your truth, and if you are truly embracing these roles that you have, then when you raise two sons, they're gonna grow up to be good men.
What do I think it means to be a good man? To be compassionate. How do I show emotion and how do I be tough on my boys, but not afraid to kiss my boys? How do I hug them but also teach them that when they fall, they shouldn’t feel like this is the worst thing ever, cause I’m like, you’re gonna fall again. How do I set them up for success and failure?
Have you had instances of failure or struggle in your life that you’ve learned from?
I did grow up with a father in my life, and I have the best dad ever, but my mom and my dad weren’t together. So I grew up in a single-parent household in Houston. Me and my mom lived in a one-bedroom apartment and we moved around a lot. So the struggle was growing up and not even having your own room and your mom sacrificing so much so you have everything. Those are instances that built me up to be a man. As soon as I could, I bought a house because I never wanted my kids to experience not having their own room. Things like that are what made me as strong as I am today, because I grew up in underprivileged neighborhoods and I saw what happens when you don’t lock in on your art. Like if I wasn't writing music, who knows what I would have been doing? If I didn't just so happen to be into music and fashion, I could have ended up like a lot of my friends that were running the streets and getting in trouble and some that are not alive now or in jail.
‘They Cloned Tyrone’ is literally the perfect example of what I'm saying. There's a million O'Shea's all over neighborhoods, all over the world that are influenced by the culture and who are influenced by what's happening in the streets. But they just decide they don't want to go down that road.
I've been doing music and fashion for a long time. Everybody's gonna get there as they get there. But that is a common struggle, because most people quit because it's not happening fast enough.
Well, I’ll say this: You look like you’re having fun.
I love that you can see that.
We ask everyone: What’s the most underrated – but necessary – Dad skill?
Communication. Even though babies can't speak, they can listen. Words of affirmation are so essential. You have to speak life into your children. Because if you don't, they will go looking for that in other places and ways.
Are you still doing the Zaddy Show?
I have a small circle of friends and [Alec Duron] is the only other friend that I had as a father. So we literally just did that so we could stay connected and we could experience being dads together. We found ourselves not playing basketball as much together, not going to each other's houses, because we were both parents. So we're like ‘man, let's do this Zaddy Show because at the very minimum we can link up and we can talk about being dads and then that’s another way for us to hang out; for our kids to hang out.’
You gotta get Kevin on there.
We have to!