April 23, 2019

No Diploma is about finding your path with or without that piece of paper

No Diploma is a Canadian brand looking to contest and re-write the mainstream narrative around the expectations of the diploma, whether you have it or not. It’s a celebration of the outliers and those setting off on their own journey in accordance with a different set of rules they write. We spoke to Ben of No Diploma for his modern thoughts on what it means to choose your own path. Follow No Diploma on Instagram for more updates.

1. What is No Diploma? Why does it need to exist?

No Diploma serves as a community & education platform. From the dropouts, unemployed graduates, self-employed entrepreneurs, to those with several degrees but use none of them in their field, we are here to spark a conversation: Is a Diploma necessary in this day and age? How can we improve the teaching and learning experience? What are some alternative sources of education?

Our clothing line is a way to support this movement, we create clothes and school supplies that tell stories. Our inspiration hails from university apparel but repurposed for students who follow the new curriculum.

Our existence stems from the understanding that other forms of knowledge can be acquired outside of a school setting. Not everyone will find their purpose in life from school, yet No Diploma is not opposing the educational system, but rather taking a critical look while providing an alternative attitude to the mainstream conception that an individual is defined and limited to their diploma. The brand needs to exist because it gives people a sense of belonging, a community where people can learn from each other and provide resources to support ongoing education & personal growth.

2. What’s the intersection of community and education?

I feel like community is what allows education to become a stronger force. Connecting with like-minded individuals who share a close set of values only enriches the experience of education. This virtuous cycle is what No Diploma aims to create, an unspoken means of support with the responsibility to share knowledge and information to better oneself.


3. Do you think friendships introduced during your educational years are necessarily real friendships? Or friendships out of convenience?

Friendships during educational years are and sometimes aren’t real friendships. However, real friendships can be built everywhere. In a school setting, you might meet your best friends or meet people who will only use you for your help on school-related work, but that’s just like any real-world situation. Just have to find the real ones who you resonate with and build from there.

4. What is the most important thing you’ve learned in the last year?

To trust my own voice.

Building myself for that last 4-5 years through life experiences allowed me to grow in ways that I can finally start trusting myself. Once you can listen to your own voice, your life will become much more fulfilling, because you are doing it for yourself and not for anybody else. All the pressure is gone, because you don’t need to meet any more expectations, you’re not allowing others to dictate your path or make decisions for you.

5. What’s the thread that connects all the people you’ve chosen to feature in the lookbook?

The people who believe in the ethos of the brand, we’ve built a web-based classroom in the last year which allowed us to connect with an audience of people who shared some amazing stories and love for the brand. We wanted to give that love back to the community by having them be part of our project, so we decided to do an open casting call and invited a group of 20 Classmates to be featured in our lookbook who had a story to share about their experience in school whether they were positive or negative. Each of their stories serves to unveil the conversation people have regarding the educational system and even sometimes the conversations created by wearing No Diploma. We want to continue to create these projects and experiences in the hopes to empower and inspire more people.

Creative Direction: The Dean – @benoit.brule
Photography: Aldo Ramirez – @1994_rt
Stylist: Alissa Calderone – @alissacalderone
Videographer: Nik Nitro – @Yes_loitering
Video Editor: Nick Berry – @hkgovernment
Music By: Phay – @Phayweather

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