In a tucked away room stockpiled with clothes and creations, Sliv Life designer and creator Cameron Connolly sits on a twisting chair. A pair of black-handle scissors loop around his fingers and bounce from hand to hand as he reflects on his life thus far. The black handle contrasts against his pale skin, just as the black ink that wraps up his arms does.
A beanie hugs his head, covering up grown out, dyed hair. The beanie leaves his head every five minutes or so as he runs his hands through his black hair, streaks of purple appearing as he pushes it back.
His personality lacks comparison to any character described before. If there was an x-ray panel that showed through his graffitied exterior, there would be a radiant buzz of humility and passion.
The Beginning of Cameron Connolly
Born and raised in Denver, Colorado, Connolly possesses a mind that runs a million miles per minute. It ran from the past, where a cancer diagnosis and drugs hovered over like a dark cloud. Now, his mind runs to catch up with the creative ideas that flow through him and the business that is only at the beginning.
At age nine, his father showed up to football practice with a purple and green kid’s motorbike. The Kawasaki Kx 60cc sparked his love for a sport that took him over hills and through ravines. He ardently committed himself to motocross until a broken ankle halted the natural freedom of life on two wheels.
“I’ve always been an adrenaline junkie chasing a high,” said Connolly. “That’s why I ended up doing cocaine.”
Kicked out of high school and held back from racing — his life began to shift as he increasingly hung around his half-brother and music producer, Jay Jaramillo.
The Brotherly Bond
Connolly attended one of Jaramillo’s shows for the first time inside the basement of Herman’s Hideaway. Standing in the dark and grungy room, the bass of electronics pulsed through him as he watched his brother perform. Taking in the lively atmosphere, Connolly became engulfed by the world of artistry.
“I remember seeing him have the biggest smile on his face and realizing that he found this new scene and feeling through music, art and creativity,” said Jaramillo. “I could see his brain running, and I could tell that he was getting inspired right away.”
Connolly and Jaramillo grew up together, separated by split households. Sundered but never truly apart, the brotherly bond persisted through the years.
Memories hold them together: enraged three-year-old Connolly throwing a hard plastic dinosaur at Jaramillo’s head after he accidentally tripped over him, skateboarding downtown at Fox 31 studios, partying late into the night after Jaramillo’s shows.
The uncomfortable memories hold them together, too.
The End to the Beginning
Jaramillo received the call sitting in the back of his van in Baltimore after a show. When he picked up, Connolly’s voice spoke the heart-dropping news of a cancer diagnosis.
“I wanted to think the best and be optimistic, but hearing something like that is never settling,” continued Jaramillo. “I immediately hopped out of the car and felt like I was going to puke. The worst part about it was the fact that I couldn’t be there for him.”
Connolly’s life changed in an instant. The fear that came with potentially looking death in the face made him run away from it all — he continued to use drugs and alcohol to cope with the unknown.
The cancer inevitably spread to his stomach, but for Connolly, the months that followed allowed it to leave as fast as it had appeared. He took the cancer by its devilish horns and knocked it down with two large surgeries. The removed masses left scars on his body but reminded him to live his life to the fullest.
Following his healing, Connolly jumped right back into what he knew — partying. There came a point, though, where white snow wasn’t something that satisfied him.
“You punish yourself when you’re addicted to something. It’s just a terrible cycle that you’re in,” continued Connolly. “You come to a day where you’re like, ‘I can’t do this shit anymore; I have to make a change.’”
The Start of a New Era
Sliv Life came to be on a night in 2017 when Connolly and his brother chatted away in his apartment after a show. It started as slang — a saying that bounced between them, reminding each other to “just live life to the fullest,” and to “take life one sliv at a time.”
That next day, Connolly sent himself to detox and locked in on a mission to sober up and grow into his true potential.
The road to recovery was rocky, but Connolly’s dedication to bettering himself is stronger than the addiction itself. He spent the whole next year working on himself and rewiring his brain through hypnosis and meditation practices.
Inspired by Rob Dyrdek’s story of how he changed his life through Hypnotherapy, Connolly decided to try it for himself. That year, alone on New Year’s Eve, Connolly looked up a ‘hypnosis for success video’ on YouTube and hypnotized himself to be successful and to quit doing cocaine. A week later — he quit.
“I was in a really dark, negative place, so it took a lot to flip the script,” said Connolly. “You have to want to better your life. If you just keep doing the same thing, expecting a different result, you know, that’s the definition of insanity.”
With a new, positive mindset, hard drugs failed to have a hold on him. But the drug of creativity remains — making his mind run faster than ever. So far, Connolly has created over 2,000 pieces.
“I get a thrill, a high, of finishing pieces,” said Connolly. “That’s definitely why I create so much.”
Each piece expresses the emotions he experiences at the time of creation. Words of affirmation fill various designs, showcasing his optimistic mindset.
The Rise of Sliv Life
Connolly sold his clothes as a vendor at Jaramillo’s shows when he started. Time progressed and his business grew into something that demanded more. In a state of financial insecurity and creative block, Connolly decided to put on his first fashion show.
In 60 days, he put together four designers, a handful of models he knew from his previous modeling days and withdrew money from his already tight budget to book the venue.
Connolly wanted to show up and show out for his first show. He brought a drone, a smoke machine for the set and held a canned food drive. His brother performed the music and still does to this day.
“I found designers who had never been in fashion shows before,” said Connolly. “It’s hard to get into Denver Fashion Week, and I wanted to give other people a chance to help get their foot in the door with other things.”
Connolly’s desire to help other people continues to show to this day, where he and his brand, Sliv Life, confidently stand as a guiding light and inspiration for other designers in the industry.
The First Ever Sliv Life Streetwear Market
With this in mind, Connolly organized the first ever Sliv Life Streetwear Market in Denver, which took place on February 4, at Mile High Spirits. The event served to bring creators together and push Denver streetwear fashion toward an epidemic of success.
Young and motivated designers continue to fill the Denver streetwear community and Connolly is at the forefront, ready to take them under his wing. He inspires them to go after what they truly want and “Sliv Life” to the fullest.
The purple and green motocross bike Connolly loved so dearly at age nine transformed into a purple and green life-saving brand. His love for the craft and the people will take him over hills and through ravines as he ventures further into the world of streetwear and sobriety.