Meet the Creatives Behind the Miami Snapchat Filter

Shabaz Mallick (left), Kelvin Hodge, and Chidlet Pierre are the guys behind the Community Goods brand and creators of the Miami Snapchat filter.
Shabaz Mallick (left), Kelvin Hodge, and Chidlet Pierre are the guys behind the Community Goods brand and creators of the Miami Snapchat filter.
Photo by Sana Ullah

Everyone from Kim Kardashian to DJ Khaled and probably your own abuelita has used the Miami geo filter on Snapchat. The letters drawn in the form of a vintage postcard individually represent the Magic City in all its glory. Each letter is colored in pink-and-white, and within the frames are city staples such as the University of Miami's ibis mascot, the Miami Heat's Burnie, palm trees, dolphins, and a swimmer.

Although tons of people use the filter on a daily basis, few stop to think about its creators and the concept behind it.

Friends Shabaz Mallick, Kelvin Hodge, and Chidlet Pierre — the trio behind the design company Community Goods — have kept the secret to their success on the down-low. The group's popular creation was accepted as a Snapchat community filter within a week of submission. It shows no sign of expiring anytime soon. 

The guys say the idea stemmed from their weekly critical-thinking meeting they call “idea hour,” which rarely runs less than 60 minutes and can sometimes lead to all-nighters. Currently, Community Goods is in the fetal stage. They recently released a T-shirt and hat design that reads "No Discounts." 

“For me, ['No Discounts'] means no half-assing in terms of my business, my music, my life — you can’t get a break,” Pierre says. “Everything you do, you have to go hard at it. Nothing is going to come to you without putting in a lot of work first.”

“Success is never on sale,” co-creator and business partner Hodge adds. “We talked about putting that saying on a shirt, actually. It’s something that applies to all of us. Like James Brown said, 'It pays the cost to be the boss.'”

Like a tripod, the three depend upon one another as vital parts of the company. Mallick acts like the metronome keeping them all on time, Hodge is the creative director and artist, and Pierre is the self-proclaimed AOD, or “angel of despair,” the one who shuts down ideas that may not be successful on their platform.

They all equally share the credit for their conceptions and plan to expand their Community Goods brand to other platforms, such as charity events and creative networking talks. The basis of the company and its name is to contribute to Miami's culture. Aside from selling apparel, they aim to encourage people to engage. Their Snapchat filter is a way for users to represent their city — though it's not totally clear how far it reaches. 

The photo-sharing app uses a grid system unknown to designers where the filter should work geographically. Artists can draw a fence where they want it to be active, and then the company allows for it to work where they see fit.

Meet the Creatives Behind the Miami Snapchat Filter (3)
Photo by Sana Ullah

The look of the filter was conceptualized by Mallick, Hodge, and Pierre at Community Goods, but it was drawn by artist Johnny Draco from Atlanta. Draco's style incorporates cartoon-like sketches, bold letters, and pops of color. “Initially, they presented me with the idea of using the classic postcard-style typography for an only-in-Miami graphic," the artist says. "Some of the things that really caught my eye were the sunshine, palm trees, women, and various mascots that represented Miami. I knew the blues and pinks would really catch the attention of the local Miami community and give them a bit of nostalgia while presenting something new.” 

The graphic designers have had friends send them photos outside of the approved grid and noticed other areas have high usage, such as the American Airlines Arena or Miami International Airport. When they received their approval from Snapchat, the three friends jumped into a car and drove all over Miami to test it. 

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“We geeked out for hours," Mallick recalls. "We are still surprised when friends Snap us from somewhere we didn’t know it worked. It's always fun to see where people are and watch random snaps of them using it.”

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