August - EP21


August Shop Madison

Meet Robert Bowhan. Rob didn’t really get into fashion until after he graduated his master’s in business management. He became close friends with another young man whose family owned factories in Egypt - apparel manufacturing factories. They clicked right away and even talked about becoming business partners in starting a boutique in Geneva, Switzerland, where he was going to school. While that didn’t work out, it did open up the door for Rob to go work for his family as an agent - to come to America and find brands to have their shirts manufactured in Egypt. He was extremely under qualified for the position, but that didn’t stop him from trying.

August Shop Madison

Rob took the job with high aspirations. After spending three months in Alexandria, Egypt, learning about how shirts are made, he moved to America. He landed in New York, New York and was ready to take on the world - get brands like Ralph Lauren, GAP, and Polo. That didn’t happen. He did, however, find a niche in smaller, up and coming brands. After a year and a half, they amicably parted ways and Rob spent the next seven years in jobs ranging from wholesale to brand management (especially brand management). 

After living in Switzerland, Egypt, and New York, I asked Rob what brought him back to his hometown of Madison, Wisconsin to open the shop. During his time as a sales rep, he traveled around the country getting orders, visiting accounts, and doing market research. He visited all of the big cities, of course, but he also did business in the smaller cities too. All of those big cities - oversaturated. While the smaller cities were left open with more potential for growth. If you want to make it in a big city, you probably need more than just a good idea. Something like a celebrity endorsement, or an angel investor to get you off the ground. A good idea, however, could go pretty far in a lot fo these smaller cities. During his travels, Rob befriended a lot of these small-town shop owners, all the while keeping an eye on Madison. 

Next, Rob moved to Detroit to work as an apparel buyer while remaining in touch with his friends and previous coworkers back in New York at The Foundation. An opportunity came up for Rob to work with The Foundation while living in the midwest - an opportunity to represent Under Armor - he had to give it a shot. While working in the corporate world, provided him with a steady stream of income, he soon discovered that it just wasn’t for him. That was the kick he needed to leave and start a shop of his own. 


August Shop Madison

Rob opened August in October of 2017 - a year ago this month! It was definitely a big jump from working in a stable corporate environment. There was a lot of budget balancing for sure. Rob and his wife had to go into this process knowing that the shop wouldn’t bring in a lot of money at first (or in some months, any at all), so they lived mostly off of his wife’s income.


August Shop Madison

Even in the small(er) market that is Madison, where the competition is low and opportunity abounds - this takes sacrifice.

August Shop Madison

And that’s exactly what Rob’s doing at August. 

August Shop Madison

The first thing Rob advised, right off the bat, is to just jump in and learn - learn as much as possible about every aspect of the industry. All of his experience across the fashion industry gave him a more well rounded perspective. Nearly everyone he works with while running his shop does something that he’s had a bit of experience doing, so he knows where they’re coming from and can work better with them. 

August Shop Madison

And it’s that process of paying your dues, of learning, of working with people in the industry that will build your network and prepare you to go in on your own (because you won’t really be on your own). Work for free. Go intern somewhere, swallow your pride, and put in the extra hours. All of that work will build your reputation. 

August Shop Madison

Rob has been in the industry for twelve years working, learning, and growing his skill set and network. He worked a lot of fun jobs and he worked just as many not-as-fun jobs, but every part was a piece to the puzzle. 

Next I asked Rob about building brand equity - something he’s very good at. It really starts in the brick and mortar shop. Rob took great care in getting the space too look and feel inviting. Everyone who works for him has really interesting backgrounds and interesting personalities - they love art, music, pop culture. Next is the extra value he’s providing the customer past simply being a retail space. One way he does this is with August Aux - the performing arts extension of August, giving a platform to local artists to express themselves. 

I recently launched my first mini line of clothes. I don’t think they were retail ready, but I wanted to experience as much of the process as possible, so I approached Rob about putting my clothes in August. He took a look at what I made and gave me some stellar advice. I’m making more clothes now, and am hoping to approach a few more local spots about the possibility of putting my clothes in their stores, so I asked Rob what advice he’d give me after I first met with him. 

August Shop Madison

There’s so much product out there, so there’s got to be a hook. Overall, you need one of three things. Did I create something that no one’s ever created before? Do I have a celebrity endorsement? Or is my product as good as my competitors, but I undercut them in price? You’ve got to find a way to check at least one of those boxes. And for someone like myself (and maybe you too), who’s young and up-and-coming, the most accessible is the first. This could be an event, where your clothes are almost an accessory to the experience.

Rob had a perfect example: only a few weeks ago, August hosted a fashion/performing arts show organized by a young creator. If he had approached Rob simply asking to put his clothes in August, he probably would’ve gotten a “no.” Instead, he came to Rob with an idea for an event that he would organize, promote, and execute. He wasn’t just asking Rob to provide him value, he was providing the value to Rob and that made all of the difference. 

Rob’s final advice was on taking feedback. First off, don’t get discouraged. People will tell you your stuff sucks, whether it’s true or not. Don’t take it personally, but don’t completely disregard it either. Analysis criticism, and learn from it. Don’t take positive feedback too heavily either - especially when it’s coming from friends and family. Don’t let either the criticism or praise fill your head; instead, let them both drive you to be better. 


FOLLOW AUGUST


August Shop Madison

@_augustshop


Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20

The Incorporated - EP20


The Incorporated Clothing

Meet Mark, creator of The INC. Mark started the brand in college. He had always been into clothes, not necessarily fashion, but clothes. At first, the brand was strictly streetwear, such as The Hundreds and Diamond Supply. He did that through and after college on the side. When fashion began making the shift towards high fashion, the brand shifted with it and became a sort of streetwear, high fashion hybrid. That’s when Mark made his first official collection. He was still living in his parent’s basement then, but they made it clear that he needed to get some sales, or try and move onto something else. 

So, he found a couple of models and a photographer and shot a look book. Then he sent a press release out to Highsnobiety… they picked it up! Before long, some German sales agents hit him up asking to sell the brand! He didn’t really know what they meant, but after some back and forth, they had a deal and The Incorporated was put into six stores around the world.  

Also on the phone was TJ, the sales director for The INC. Mark brought TJ on the team right before their first Paris fashion week. Mark needed a team to help. He had met TJ through some artist friends of his - he was a stylish guy, young and excited. When Mark offered TJ a spot on the team, he jumped on it, and they’ve been going strong since.

I asked Mark about the process of going from initial idea, to that first shirt. He had worked at a screen printing shop, but most of his knowledge came from Google. When it came to making his first collection, he had a connection with a factory owner in LA. When he discovered how much it’d cost to work with them, he found a student from the local art institute who knew how to sew and got the clothing made that way instead. 

The Incorporated Clothing

To this day, Mark and TJ have a lot to do with the making of their clothes. It’s cheaper and they have more control. 

Next we spent a bit of time discussing their time at Paris fashion week, how fashion weeks work, and how you can work fashion week for your brand. Their first fashion week was a bit of a whirlwind. They had never been before, and just sort of threw themselves into it. They rented a random spot, ran around Paris trying to find audio equipment, and invited every retailer they could find. DM’s, emails, and whatever else they could do to get the right people in the door looking at their clothes. Some of the best retailers in the world ended up coming through and making orders!

Fashion week isn’t nearly as structured as I, or Mark originally had thought. There’s no “sign up” necessary. You just go. If you can find a room and get people in your doors, you’re officially a part of fashion week. It could be an Airbnb!

Since their first fashion week, Mark and TJ have been to five and things have changed. Historically fashion week was simply a place to connect with retailers. Now, it’s more of a cultural event. A showroom isn’t enough - it has to be an experience for retailers and fashion lovers alike. 

I asked Mark where he thought fashion week belongs on a brand new brand’s priority list and his answer was telling. “If you’re planning on spending $100,000 or more on your first collection, you should definitely go.” But there’s a distinction: going is different than showing. And that’s so important, because, odds are, you’re not planning to spend that much money on your first collection, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go.

Since that transition into a streetwear, high fashion hybrid, things at The INC. have gone really well. Fashion is always changing, so it’s really just a matter of adapting to the times while remaining unique to your brand.

The Incorporated Clothing

The Incorporated Clothing

One change as of late is a drop off in their retail sales. Not only does fashion change, but the way in which people buy fashion changes and is changing fast! Like everything else in our world, the internet is taking over, so Mark and TJ are making a greater effort to create a better presence for their brand on the web. 

Mark also shared a bit about their Hard Work Vacation capsule. For him, it’s really just a mixture of his experience in LA and Seattle - he imagines the beautiful red sunsets of LA setting on the trees of Seattle. He really wanted to put a personal touch on this collection with hand painted imagery. It’s dope - go check it out. 

They’re also looking to make a transition from releasing a big collection every season, to dropping smaller capsules more often. They want to make more and engage their audience more while doing it. I mentioned Chinatown Market - a brand that successfully releases new clothes on a weekly basis. I’d check them out too. 


The Incorporated Clothing

The Incorporated Clothing

For new brands, fashion week can be an important cultural experience to have under your belt - GO! To show, on the other hand, may not be worth it - especially at a low budget. Now a days, Instagram is the new show room with a much larger audience and much lower entrances fee (it’s free). 

As important as Instagram is though, it’s still important to get out there. Maybe going to Fashion Week isn’t even an option - do you have local retail spaces that might be interested in carrying your clothes? There’s no shame in starting small, in fact it’ll give you the experience to grow into larger ventures, and it’s far better than not starting at all! 

The Incorporated Clothing

“There are so many different ways to sell shirts and become successful, and they’re almost always unique.” Mark talked about the urge we can so easily have to do what we see another brand doing to achieve the same result, when in reality - it’s doing your own thing, and doing it well, that works.

The Incorporated Clothing

Money is a lot easier to spend if you have it, and will save you time… but at first Mark didn’t have the option, an odds are you don’t either. So, he spent the TIME necessary to learn how to do things on his own. Need a website? Go learn how to design a website. Hint: when it comes to a lot of things, Google is your friend. 

The Incorporated Clothing

FOLLOW THE INCORPORATED


The Incorporated Clothing

@theinc0p0rated


Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20

Canswer Sock Co. - EP19

I usually start out phone calls by giving the guest a little bit of background on me and how the show’s going to go, I edit that out, and then we start our conversation. I was going to to ask Matt a bit about his work with influencers like John Hill and George Poulos (EP 8) later in the episode, but we sort of jumped right into it naturally. I’ve done a bit less editing on the intro than usual to give you a little peak into what that initial conversation was like before jumping into Matt's story.


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Meet Matt Gresia, creator of Canswer Sock Company. Matt grew up just outside of New York City in a smaller town with a slower pace. He’s always had a desire to have a clothing brand - he can’t really explain why, but he does know that he’s super passionate about it. The idea of seeing people wearing something he’s made really resonated with him. Coming from skate culture himself, he knew that the desire of many skaters is to get sponsored as a sort of right of passage. He had dreams of creating a skate team through his clothing company, so that he could sponsor kids and make their dreams come true. While Canswer Sock Co. doesn’t have a skate team and probably won’t (Matt’s looking to expand beyond only the skate scene), its purpose in helping others remains. 

Cancer had always been something that played a role in Matt’s life. His grandfather was taken by cancer before he was even born. And as he grew older he saw cancer’s effects on the friends and family he loved. Now, he’s no scientist, but he did know that he wanted to start a clothing company, and he could use that to help raise money for cancer research. 

So, that’s exactly what he did! Like there are now, two years ago when Matt began this journey, there were a countless number of clothing brands on Instagram - sometimes it feels like EVERYONE’S got their own brand. How could he distinguish himself right off the bat? Socks. He had that idea in his freshmen year of college (Manhattan College) when he was sixteen.  That same year, Brett Conti, creator of Fortune NY, and alumni of Manhattan college was giving a lecture on how he started his company. Matt had no idea who Brett was, but definitely knew Fortune, so he took a friend and attended the lecture. Matt saw a bit of himself in Brett’s story. He pushed past his shyness to introduce himself after the talk and even got his email, but didn’t yet mention what he has in mind for Canswer. A couple days later he emailed Brett. 

Canswer

That led to their first meeting, and that first meeting led to their friendship. So, with his dad’s help (an entrepreneur himself) and Brett’s experience, Matt spent his summer (and his money) on getting an LLC, trademarking the name, and getting everything else covered on the legal end. Then he found a manufacturer, made a design, put it on his socks, and has been running Canswer Sock Co. ever since!


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Lately Matt’s been super flooded with working on new projects. “It’s like the best busy can be.” Since socks, he’s expanded to hats, hoodies, and shirts! Basically, all he’s doing now is trying to grow. He’s working on getting into a franchise store (a huge source of income for clothing brands). 

He’s also working heavily on his brand. September 15th is the day he opened up his website for Canswer. He wants to make that “Canswer Day.” September 15th 2018 is obviously just around the corner as of the release of this episode, but in 2019, Matt is looking to do a popup! He sees that day being a movement where everyone posts pictures of their Canswer clothes. In the meantime, this year, Matt is dropping a shirt in three different color ways - stay tuned! 


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Matt started skating when he was around eleven or twelve. Unfortunately, he broke both of his ankles… twice. While he’s not skating as intensely as he was before, he’s still very much involved in the culture. When he found skaters on YouTube, he saw himself in what they did and started watching them all! When it came time to send his socks to “influencers,” he knew exactly where his first socks were going. 

Canswer

Now Matt has the relationships, but it wasn’t always that way. He mentioned he was a shy guy. So am I, and maybe you’re shy as well, so I asked Matt how he pushed past the anxiety of stepping out to create those relationships. 

Canswer

It’s that same theme of regret that we explored in our last episode with Gerald and Elena Flores. Are you going to regret it if you don’t [blank]? Or, in other words, how much do you want it? Here’s the bad news: the anxiety usually doesn’t go away until after you take that step. Here’s the good news: it usually goes pretty well once you do. 

Canswer

I always like to ask what my guest would do if a kid walked up to them at one of their pop ups and asked them what advice they’d give in how to start a clothing brand? It’s a question that isn’t looking for a super specific answer, but something simple enough that even a kid could understand and use towards chasing their dream. Funny enough, that exact scenario happened to Matt at John Hill and Brett Conti’s popup. Matt had gone with George Poulos, and for the first time in his life, kids knew who he was - they were asking him to sign their clothes and get pictures with him, and one kid happened to ask how he could start a clothing brand of his own. The answer isn't a short cut, or magic word, or key to success. It's committment, hard work, and love.  

Canswer

FOLLOW CANSWER SOCK CO.


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@canswer


Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20

Sew Taco - EP18


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Meet Elena and Gerald Flores. Elaine owns Sew Bonita, and Gerald, Taco Gear. Together they make up Sew Taco (an amazing podcast). I discovered them on the podcasting app, Anchor, and knew I had to have them on the show - they were kind enough to join me!

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Gerald has a history in graphic design, it’s what he’s done and still does for a living. Of all the work he did in graphic design, he seemed to gravitate most towards simple logo design. One day he thought to himself, “maybe I can make some shirts.” Directly following that thought though, was the thought of how many brands already exist. What did he stand for that was any different than all the rest? He couldn’t think of anything, so he kind of gave up on the idea until he started looking for a taco shirt to wear. He couldn’t find one, so it only made sense to make it himself. He made a super simple design and threw it up on an online store. When he shared it with the small following he had amassed in freelance graphic design, he got a few orders, and that’s when Taco Gear was born.

Elena’s journey began when Gerald bought her a sewing machine. It was the perfect gift, only problem was she had no idea what she was doing - she couldn’t sew! So, she took a local sewing class and just started making things for fun. Soon friends got involved and she began to see some potential in her work. She knew she wanted to tap into the Mexican American culture using a t-shirt brand, so that’s exactly what she did. She launched her first t-shirt and it just blew up! Now she creates accessories and t-shirts to empower latino women under the name Sew Bonita. 

Their podcast’s tagline is “two side hustles and a microphone,” so naturally I asked what Elena and Gerald do full time. Gerald works full time as the creative director for a digital agency on web design, branding, and video production. He loves the work and loves how he’s able to exercise his creative muscles on his side hustle and his main hustle. Elena works full time in social work as a case manager for adults with mental disabilities. There’s a lot of behind-a-desk type paper work involved, so she doesn’t get to use a ton of creativity. It can be draining to do the exact opposite of what you want eight hours a day, but she goes home every night and finds the energy to get it done anyhow.  


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Both Gerald and Elena are focused on being involved in their communities, especially on the local level. Whether it’s supporting local businesses, getting involved in Taco Fest (I want to go), Tacos with Creatives (Gerald’s), or Small Business Saturday (Elena’s), their both heavily invested in their fellow local creators and makers.

Elena is hoping to release a skirt line soon (way cool) and her own custom fabric. Because of the way his business is structured, Gerald is able to release a lot of different designs in a short amount of time. Making the shirt is one half the battle, the other half is figuring out what the people want! He’ll make one design that he’s sure of, that does okay, and another he’s not as excited about, that does amazing. 

For both of them - this takes a lot of time. And because they’re both working full time, it’s taking a lot of their free time. Side hustles take a sacrifice. If you’re thinking about diving into your clothing company, know that the journey is beautiful, but it’s life changing too. Gerald and Elena need to be super selective with how they spend their time. Meetings with friends aren’t impromptu, but scheduled. Weekends aren’t a time to take off, but a time to work extra hard. 

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Don’t be pissed when you don’t finish that project in the hour you had. Set high, but realistic expectations for yourself and patiently work towards your goals with the time you have - you won’t get more time by dwelling on what you don’t have, you’ll only loose more of it!


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Another thing Elena, Gerald, and I have in common (besides our love of side hustles and tacos (duh)), is our love of Gary Vaynerchuck. He’s a big reason why I started this podcast in the first place. Anyhow, a big part of what Elena is talking about here is self awareness. To know that you have a creative gift, and know it young, that’s huge. As Gary says, stop worrying about what you’re bad at, and start doubling down at what you’re good at. 

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After you know you’ve got it, start! I have historically researched myself into oblivion before beginning a venture, only to never actually start (this podcast?). Being prepared is one thing, but there’s a fine line between preparing and over preparing. In my experience, over preparing is a side effect of fear. I’m afraid I’ll fail. Slowly, I’m beginning to understand that failure isn’t all that bad and it’s allowing me to start before being completely prepared. This piece of advice from Gerald is much needed for me, and maybe for you too. We’ve seen this before with other guests too - Noah from Madhappy comes to mind. Him and his friend started their first clothing line without knowing a thing! In fact, it was that first line that taught them what they needed to know to try again. Did they fail along the way, of course, did they let that stop them? No, and you shouldn’t either. Rant over, thanks Gerald. 

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Elena’s next piece of advice actually comes from one of her creative friends in Houston. 

Moral of the story: just do it. And I’m sure, if you’re anything like me, you can think of a million reasons not to “just do it.” Things will never be perfect - the stars won’t align unless you make them. Elena and Gerald were once at a conference with friends when one of those friends had the opportunity to share lunch with some big wigs in the creative scene, but she didn’t want to leave them behind. Gerald stopped her doubt in its tracks with one simple question that we could all consider a bit more often.  

If you don’t start your company, if you don’t ask the girl out, if you don’t take that plane ticket - are you going to regret it if you don’t? If the answer is yes, then I think you know what you have to do. What a beautiful question to fight against the fear that stops us from chasing our goals and dreams. 

Elena’s last two pieces of advice are pretty dang practical, but important nonetheless. Number 1: be nice. Be nice to other creatives (yes, even (especially) your “competition”), and be nice to your customers (yes, even (especially) the haters). Number 2: learn how to run a business. Running a business doesn’t always come naturally to creatively minded people. Maybe painting a picture is the easy part for you, but selling it… well, maybe not so much. Learn sales, learn marketing, and learn finances! 

Geralds last piece of advice: check your ego. Stop worrying about what other people think. It’s a bit of a paradox, because your entire business is often predicated on people liking your product enough to buy it, but on a grander scale, don’t let other people’s opinions stop you from at least trying. Also, don’t let your ego stop you from interacting with your “competition.” When one of us wins, we all win because, as they said, “there’s enough sunshine for everybody”


FOLLOW SEW TACO


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@sewbonita

 

 

@tacogear

 


Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20

Shisty - EP17


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Meet Kenneth, creator of Shisty (rhymes with feisty) clothing. Kenneth’s interest in making clothing began as a hobby. He used to make clothes for friends, “distress jeans and stuff.” In his Freshman year of college, the name Shisty came to mind and he kept it. Under the new name, Kenneth began by making hats. He’d buy patches off of eBay and Amazon and iron them on. That alone began to get people’s attention, and that’s when he thought, “Okay, if people are enjoying the things that I’m doing with these hats, why can’t we translate it into clothes?” 

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Since then, he’s gone all in on Shisty, releasing his first collection just last June. Going into the design process for that first collection, Kenneth knew he wanted to model it after what he liked to wear, but not so much so that it would exclude others. 

Shisty

He calls your individual style your “drip.” 

Shisty

Kenneth really took his first collection as an opportunity to learn everything he could about the process behind making clothes. His story is similar to Noah’s with Madhappy (Episode 15) - when Noah made his first brand (Us by Mason and Noah) it was that first collection that really taught him the most about making clothing. 

Making the clothes, though, is only half the story. 

Kenneth says that his photoshoots are the bread and butter of the brand. The photoshoot is where you define who you want to wear your clothes and how you want it to look. Kenneth’s goal was to display real, relatable people wearing his clothes. He wanted to make it as easy as possible for the consumer to imagine themselves wear his clothes. He did a fantastic job!

Shisty Clothing
Shisty Clothing
Shisty Clothing

Shisty

Kenneth has got a new collection on the way for Shisty. He wants to start doing events and interacting more with the fan base. For the collection coming out, he wants to hold capsule shows - things where people can come to have a good time and experience the brand in person. 


Shisty

Kenneth’s first piece of advice was to invest yourself into your brand and to do it for the right reasons. If you’re not pouring yourself into the brand fully, your brand won’t reach it’s full potential. Not to say going “all in” will bring success overnight, it takes time as you’ve heard on this show so many times before. It’s that patience that tests your “why.” If you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, even if you are “all in,” when you don’t see a return on you efforts, you’re more likely to quit (and probably should until you adjust your "why"). 

A part of that investment is the learning process. This podcast might be apart of that, but it’s definitely not the whole of it. Really learn about your product, know it inside and out, “make it your child.” 

Then you market yourself. You could have the dopest clothes on the block, but if nobody knows about them, everyone looses. 

Shisty

It’s patience. It’s perseverance. It’s belief. 

One big tip Kenneth gives in marketing and community engagement is posting content of people wearing your clothes as much as possible. If you see someone at a party with your shirt, record it. If your see someone at the coffee shop with your hoodie, record it. Ask your community for pictures of them wearing your product and post post post away! 

Shisty

Why? Because people know the difference between contrived and authentic growth. Between attention grabbing and genuine community engagement. 


FOLLOW SHISTY


Shisty Instagram

@shistyclothing


Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20

Stay Cool NYC - EP16


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Meet Amin, creator of Stay Cool NYC, a retro inspired chillwear brand. Amin was always interested in clothing and standing out - being unique. He spent a lot of time looking everywhere for clothes he liked. Sure, he found some, but why look for something you like when you could make it yourself? So about four years ago, with that thought process in mind, Amin went to a website called customink.com and made his first shirt - it said, “stay cool, people.” He ordered one for himself, and then texted his twelve friends and asked them if they wanted to buy one too. They said, “why not?” As his friends lived their lives wearing his shirt, more and more people began to notice. 

So, he found a local screen printer on Google, brought his “stay cool” design in and had them recreate it. After some success with that design, Amin took a second to his screen printer. This time it was a drawing. Without knowing exactly what went into the screen printing process, Amin just showed them the drawing and told them where he wanted the colors. With that they created his second shirt. More and more people found out about the brand, Amin did a photoshoot, and ever since then he’s been building his brand and the lifestyle behind “Stay Cool.” 

I want to make an important note here. I value the process of doing research, obviously, that’s what this show’s all about. If you’re listening to the show, if you’re reading this, then you probably value that knowledge too! Here’s the key: don’t let that desire to know what you’re doing stop you from doing it, because you’ll never be fully prepared. Sometimes you just need to take a drawing into your local screen printer and ask them to make a shirt out of it - that’s where you really learn, when you start to do! 

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He did it himself organically. The result? A authentic brand with a real identity for his customers to latch onto. He didn’t launch it overnight, there’s no one-hit-wonder here; instead, Amin’s slowly built his brand over the course of four years and beyond.

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A lot goes into building a brand like Stay Cool. Amin’s made a playlist of songs that vibe with Stay Cool, he’s created an account @staycoolmagazine where he posts inspiration, and he engages his followers everyday with dynamic new content.

He plans to open a Stay Cool Diner, a Stay Cool Lounge, and a Stay Cool Motel. His plans for the future are lofty, but he’s in no rush. He knows that if he stays true to the brand, and works hard, these things will come in due time. 

Next I asked Amin, “what’s next?” Like, the Diner, Lounge, and Motel are a ways away, but what’s next this summer? His answer was telling of his mindset. What’s next? “To continue to grow.” 

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Finally, I asked Amin for some advice. 

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He did say, however, to think differently. And this happens when you begin to create your own story instead of trying to emulate someone else’s. 

When you begin to think differently as you write your own story, you’ll be able to make something unique, which is of the utmost importance.

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It’s that story, that different way of thinking, and that unique product that will form your brand  and how your followers relate to you. An important note on that: it takes time!

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Last, but not least, I asked Amin how one might bring hospitality into their clothing brand (he studied hospitality at Boston University). He spoke in terms of Instagram, because it’s such a hot place to interact with followers and that’s exactly what he said you should do.

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@staycoolnyc


Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20

Madhappy - EP15


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Meet Noah, cofounder of Madhappy. In high school, Noah wasn’t the best  student, but he was creative due in part to his parents background: his father was an architect and his mother an interior designer. He always dressed a little sharper and cared about what he was wearing. One of his brother’s friends, Mason, took notice, and reached out to Noah asking to meet. That’s when he pitched the idea of starting a clothing line. They knew nothing about the clothing industry at the time - all they knew was that they had a passion for clothing. So, for two years, Noah and Mason went to downtown LA every day with a mission to create a t-shirt, a long sleeve, and a sweater. In the months it took to create those three pieces, they learned everything about fabric, textiles, factories, minimums, and more. By the time he was nineteen years old, Noah had put out his first clothing line with Mason: Us by Mason and Noah. 

At the same time, Noah was interning for Ugo Mozie. He had taken an interest in Ugo’s work when he began following him on social media. He didn’t know exactly what he did at the time, but all of his posts featured creative shoots and way cool clients. So he reached out asking for an internship and he got it. So for two years, Noah worked with Mason and Ugo to develop his knowledge and skill in the world of fashion. Now his clientele boasts of characters from the NBA and 5 Seconds Of Summer. 

I asked Noah how his work with Ugo and as a stylist has affected his work in design. His answer was simple, but practical:

Eventually, Us by Mason and Noah came to an end. They made an amazing product line, but the price points were so high. They realized that, in order to scale, they had to do something different. One day, Mason came up with the name Madhappy and they both loved it. They like to leave the name up to individual interpretation, but it essentially stands for an optimistic outlook on life. If you accept the ups and downs and go with the flow, you’ll be Madhappy! 

So, they started over, only this time with two plus years of experience under their belts and a couple more people on their team: Noah’s brother and another one of their best friends. Needless to say, things are taking off. They’re only fourteen months in and already have five pop ups to their resume. Now they’re just trying to keep up with the pace. Noah and the team are doing their best to keep their e-commerce up while building local love too. 



Right now, Madhappy has a popup store in Williamsburg, New York and one on Melrose Place in Los Angeles. Clothing wise, Noah and the team are working on a small capsule for July and a bigger drop in August. Beyond that, they’ve got two popups planned in December - locations TBA. Stay tuned ;)


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One of Noah’s first piece of advice was patience:

He followed it up with something equally as important: stick to the mission.

Next, Noah got practical. 

Then I asked Noah about collaborating - how to go about it. Before closing in 2017, Colette was the one retail space where Madhappy existed and they had a great relationship, so when they store announced its closing, Noah and the crew knew they needed to do something special. It was organic, and that’s exactly how Noah likes to do things at Madhappy, especially when it comes to collaboration. Pairing your brand up with another shouldn’t be taken lightly, the synergies have to match between the two if you want to stay true to your mission. 


FOLLOW MADHAPPY


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@noahraf


Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20

Alright Co. - EP14


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Meet Daniel “El Papi,” creator of Alright Co. - “bringing you alright designs since 2017.” Daniel, who’s twenty five now, finished high school eight years ago in 2010. Post grad life was spent working in a fruit market until his long time drawing hobby took him to college to study art with the goal of becoming a tattoo artist. It took a bit of time for him to find the right apprenticeship after that, but he did and has been for tattooing six years since. His style favors a strong outline, loads of colors, and is reminiscent of an old cartoon/comic style. 

Born and raised in Australia, Daniel just recently moved to Berlin with his girlfriend as a sort of work holiday. He’s tattooing locally, and together they’re exploring all that Europe has to offer. As an artist, it’s been a super positive and influential experience for Daniel. 

It was when the two of them were out to dinner one night (back in Australia) that they came up with the idea of a perfectly “alright” brand. Nothing to brag about, nothing posh… just alright. Similar to NOTABRAND (EP 5), Alright Co. is a sort of anti-brand brand. His girlfriend, who studies marketing, is the brains behind the operation, while his art is the foundation. 

We actually heard this same line of thought last week during our chat with Adam from The Hounds! It really comes down to the “why” behind what you’re doing. If you don’t love what you make, why are you making it? Yet, at the same time you have to be your own harshest critic. Love your product, and hate your product - it’s a beautiful paradox. 

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Going forward, Daniel is taking things slowly with Alright Co. and he likes it like that. New designs are on their way - he really wants to try and keep it simple, and nice to look at. 

Future plans are to include other artists in his designs - collabs! 


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For Daniel, the process of going from an idea to a product starts with the design. Your first design is really the first building block on top of your brand. Alright Co. is the brand, but what does that really mean? The first design is the answer to that question.

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Or in other words as Daniel coined (you heard it here first folks):

Final words from Daniel “El Papi”...

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Moral of the story - love what you do, and don’t stop. Thanks Daniel :)


FOLLOW ALRIGHT CO.


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@alrightco_


Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20

The Hounds Ltd. - EP13


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Meet Adam Muncy, creator of The Hounds Ltd, a clothing company with a heart for fashion and philanthropy. Adam grew up as a military kid in the small town of Cedarville, Ohio. A talented town, as he described it, where football is big. It's a socially conservative place that isn’t very tolerant of “outliers.” Of his graduating class, he was the only one to go to college outside of Ohio. After some time going to school in Kentucky, he returned to his hometown to continue his college education until he realized that the whole college thing just wasn’t for him - so he left. He was selling sunglasses at the time, sold a pair to the right guy, and was offered a job in banking. Up until a few years ago that’s what he was up to. Originally the plan was for him and his brother to start the company together, but when his brother chose another path Adam was forced to start it himself. It had been an idea of their’s for a long time, and one day Adam finally made the decision to do something about it.

While working his job in banking, Adam was also writing for a locally run blog, The Village Style. While he enjoyed writing content for the blog, and the free clothes that sometimes came along with it, what he really valued most was the people he got to sit down in a room with. Every interview with a retailer, brand owner, or designer was another lesson learned, and another contact to add to his growing rolodex of people that could help him on his own journey. 

Adam’s brother originally wanted The Hounds to be more of a preppy brand - both of them had gone to a private, liberal arts school in Ohio where everyone wore an Oxford to class. Adam had grown up a skater when he was really young. And then he was a scene kid. His brother had always been more all American in style - boat shoes, collared shirts. All of Adam’s siblings have full sized dogs. That’s where he they got the name: The Hounds. Their primary product: a reimagined Oxford. 

Adam began with market research. He did thirty days of Oxfords: a photo journal. That was to build his taste because he didn’t really know what his taste was. Then he tore apart his favorite shirts and brought them to a pattern maker. 

He knew he wanted to do something socially, and was super inspired by Toms. He had interned with organization called Inner City Impact in Chicago, Illinois, and he knew he wanted to do something to help those kids. He gave them a call and they came up with a plan: every Oxford sold would provide a kid with their school uniform. Once he knew the mission, he had his friends over at BadSpark Design create the visual brand, he flew to Honduras to work with his manufacturers, and he built hype all along the way. 

His vision quickly caught a lot of attention, but the Oxford was still on it’s way. He didn’t want to keep people waiting, so he made a T-shirt to test the brand and its mission. In the first week and a half, Adam sold fifty shirts! The money from those shirts went directly towards providing for twenty kids from Chicago to go camping!

In six months alone, Adam took the brand from printables to cut and sew.


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Adam just brought all of The Hound’s marketing in-house. Before last month, they had all of their photography done by contracted photographers. Now Adam is taking their pictures. 

He’ll also be spending a lot of time looking for influencers who’s values match up with those of the brand - people who are working towards the betterment of their own communities. 

On top of those two things, Adam says, they’re just going to keep designing. He has a long sleeve shirt coming out soon that’ll fund camp for kids this year. As he designs and works towards new causes, his main thought process through it all is this: “this doesn’t exist, and I want it to exist, so I’m going to make it exist.” 


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Adam’s first piece of advice is to figure out what your goals are. Whether your goals are philanthropic like Adam’s, or business oriented (or both) - have something to work towards, have a mission however that looks for your company. A mission will help keep your actions in line. As your brand begins to build momentum, more opportunities will arise for you and your company. At first, all of these new opportunities may seem exciting, but it’s the mission that’ll keep you grounded. Does “x” opportunity line up with your mission? If so, you can jump into it wholeheartedly. If not, you can decline knowing in your heart that you did it for the right reason.

Adam’s second piece of advice is something I haven’t heard on the show before:

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It’s important when working with foreign manufacturers to do so respectfully, and knowing how to speak their language is huge! It’s not an absolute necessity, but you might be surprised how far simply trying will get you with the wonderful people who make your product. 

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In other words: start small. This hits home for me personally. My original (uninformed) plan included a big launch with a bunch of products and full blown out marketing, but that just wasn’t and isn’t feasible for me right now as a one man operator. So, instead, I’m building the brand one shirt at a time, keeping it simple all along the way. Starting small allows you to learn the art behind the business with relatively no risk, so that when you are ready to take a leap into something bigger, you’ll be ready to take the risk as it grows with your business. 

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It’s the same principle that we were just talking about, but with marketing. Before you shoot for the stars, make sure you know how to build a spaceship (does that even make sense?). 

Next I asked Adam about working with nonprofit organizations as a business. I’m not quite sure how yet, but I want the SANS END brand to benefit the homeless of Madison, WI. Adam’s advice was straight forward and to the point. “If you’re wanting your brand to help the homeless of Madison, you should already be helping the homeless of Madison.”

And that’s just it, whatever your mission is for your brand, start living it now and your mission will scale with the business as it grows. Practically speaking, if you’re living your mission out today, you’ll be in the right spot to expand it with your business tomorrow. 


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Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20

LAMA? - EP12


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Meet Amit Kanfi, creator of LAMA?, a skate and surf inspired streetwear brand based in Tel Aviv, Israel, that isn’t afraid to ask the question “why?” or, in Hebrew, “LAMA?” During his time serving in Israel’s army, Amit took to drawing to cope with his PTSD.

Whenever he had a chance, he would draw. At first, his illustrations weren’t meant for clothing, they were simply a way to say what he felt without speaking, and what he felt was the question “why?” “Why did this have to happen to me?” 

Every time Amit drew, he developed his message - the message that would become his company’s brand. Soon, his friends caught onto the message and encouraged him to turn his illustrations into clothing. So, three years ago, Amit made his first t-shirt. He sold his first fifty in no time. His friends were asking for more, so he put another design on one hundred more t-shirts and sold those just as quickly. People who weren’t his friends started talking about his shirts and that’s when he finally thought to himself, “maybe I have something in my hands hear, that I’m not aware of.”  

That’s when he had his first popup shop at “some weird bar.” Of the thirty people there, half purchased Amit’s clothes (that’s really good). So, he took it up a notch and started putting on more sales events, while really working on his Instagram account. Soon he began to produce his own t-shirts, instead of printing on blanks, increasing the quality and level of customization. 

In addition to popup shops and Instagram, Amit uses a surprising form of guerrilla marking: street art. Over the years, he has transformed the meaning of “lama” from “why me?” to “why hate?” One of his designs in particular uses the three prominent languages in that region: Hebrew, Arabic, and English to ask “why hate?” It’s a message that resonates with people on both sides of the battle line. Those who have been hurt by the conflict. Amit uses his art to ask this very question all over the streets of Tel Aviv.

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People who see his design on the streets, then find it in their favorite boutique along with his other clothes. Since its start, Amit has been able to place his clothes in a number of local streetwear retailers and is excited to continue to grow as his message grows with him. 


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Best part of all this is: Amit is just getting started. He recently found an investor who’s going to help with budgeting, finding a shop, offices, and warehouses. This means a lot more space and a lot more resources to create new products - things that he couldn’t have even thought about beforehand. 

Most importantly, Amit added, more money for public relations. That means better events and a stronger online presence. 

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We all know this to be true, but often times this principle can be what makes or breaks a new business. Don’t let fear get in the way of a much needed investment to jumpstart your business. Alright, we’ve basically entered the realm of advice, so let’s do that.


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Here’s something I’ve never thought of before:

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It’s something I was aware of - I want as many people wearing my clothes as possible so that people DO see my brand on the streets, but Amit reframed the concept for me. An ad is only as good as its presentation. The same goes for your clothing. Before people see your clothing, before they give your message a chance, they’re going to make a judgment on the person wearing your clothing. If they reject that person, they’ve already rejected your message. Obviously you can’t control who ends up buying your clothes, but you can control who you target beforehand. This is one of the may reasons why marketing is so important, and not only marketing, but putting in the thought necessary beforehand to figure out WHO you want wearing your clothes. 

Before you even delve into the process of creating your clothing, though, Amit emphasizes the importance of brainstorming. 

Brainstorm, not only designs, but concepts and ideas. Some clothing companies, like LAMA?, start with an message, but not all of them. If you’re starting a clothing company without a central idea, or message, or lifestyle in mind, this is when brainstorming is the most important because without a vision there is no direction. 

This next piece of advice will sound familiar if you listened to our last episode with Christina and David from Lost Cruces Clothing Co.

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You need another person with you when there’s a lot going on all at once. Two people means, not only double the budget, but double the brainpower when it comes to brainstorming. It means someone’s there to lend a critical eye to your designs and visa versa. It’s important to note that this second person needs to be someone you can fully trust - someone who will tell you the truth even when it hurts because they know it’s what’s best. 

Amit then talked about how important trade shows are for emerging, somewhat more established brands. Beyond social media, trade shows is what gets your clothing into other countries. Ideally, he explains, you’ll have look books with samples two seasons in advanced to show at trade shows. If a buyer likes your product, they’ll pay up front for their order and all you need to do is deliver. This is Amit's ultimate goal for LAMA? He's already overcome so much and is spreading his message of peace and love all over his city and the world. I'm excited to see him continue to do so as he pursues his goals.


FOLLOW LAMA?


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@thesadlama


Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20

Lost Cruces Clothing Co. - EP11



Meet Christina and David, creators of Lost Cruces Clothing Co. - a new clothing company based out of the small city of Las Cruces, New Mexico. Before Lost Cruces, though, David and Christina started their production company Cut Above The Average, about half a year into their relationship. While they were working on that, they were simultaneously trying to get out of Las Cruces and move to Denver. They quickly realized that a move like that wasn’t realistic in the short term. Soon they began to appreciate, more and more, the beauty of their home city as they understood that they weren’t stuck there - they were choosing to stay. 

As they developed their production company, they decided to make their own merchandise! Only problem was, they didn’t really know how (sound familiar?). A local clothing company Organ Mountain Outfitters, however, took David and Christina under their wing, guiding them, teaching them, and even giving them their first printing press that would carry them from making merchandise for Cut Above The Average to launching Lost Cruces Clothing Co. 

In school, Christina began studying computer programming, which switched to graphic design and filmmaking, while David studied business and marketing on the side. Their experience and knowledge eventually led up to one post - one post to gauge local interest in the idea around Lost Cruces, that you don’t have to leave your small town to chase your dreams. 

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Three weeks from that first Instagram post, Christina and David would officially launch Lost Cruces. I asked what went into the  launch. Their initial response: a lot of tears, and not a lot of sleep. Over the course of two weeks, they grew their Instagram account to over two thousand followers. 

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The rapid growth excited them, and worried them - how many shirts would they have to make for the launch? Subsequent posts featured more designs that would be included in their launch. The more people saw, the more they got excited. One thing David and Christina were intentional about doing was responding to as many messages as possible, even having full conversations with their potential customers. Soon enough, over four hundred people were signed up for their mailing list. Christina and David were, “loosing their minds.” They decided to make two hundred shirts for launch to be safe and upon launching Lost Cruces, two hundred shirts turned out to be just right. There are still, however, a few shirts left and these are the last of them until they release their next collection, so… if you’re interested - go grab one! 



Currently, David and Christina are working on their second clothing line for Lost Cruces! They’re also working towards getting their shirts into local stores. What they’re most excited about is getting a spot at the Lost Cruces Farmer’s Market. They know it will be a great way to get the word out about their brand and its message, and to connect with the community more personally. In addition to physically putting their apparel on the map, they plan to step up their digital game by producing more content for the brand - stay tuned! 



Christina’s first piece of advice is: do your research. Be as prepared as possible before jumping in. In the same breathe: be prepared to make mistakes. 

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Christina then shared something very insightful. Something that, for them, is built in as a couple, but for others is just as necessary. When these mistakes came, one of them would inevitably crumble. The other would pick them up, dust them off, and tell them that’d it be alright. Then the other would crumble, only to be picked up again. If you’re trying to start a clothing company alone (or anything for that matter), don’t. If you don’t have a partner, or a business partner, to push you on towards your full potential, that’s something you need to be seeking out intentionally. Whether it’s a community of creative doers, or simply a friend who knows what you're capable of and can tell you so when you’re feeling doubt - this, this is important.

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David chipped in with a piece of advice that they don’t love giving because it’s so obvious, but really, just as necessary. 

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And this is important for two reasons. One, because people love to strategize and plan and even research themselves into oblivion. 

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And while you're doing it, Christina added, “don’t be afraid to ask for help either.”

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FOLLOW LOST CRUCES CLOTHING CO.


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@lostcrucesco


Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20 

Properfit Clothing Co. - EP10



Meet Andy Parauka, creator of Properfit Clothing Co. - an apparel company, pattern provider, and YouTube channel. Much like I discovered Eric Yelsma and Detroit Denim on YouTube, I discovered Properfit through Andy’s fantastic sewing tutorials (do I spend too much time on YouTube?). 

It all began when Andy moved from Michigan to Lake Tahoe, California to pursue a career in snowboarding. He was studying business at the time and snowboarding everyday. As he delved deeper into the local scene, one thing became clear: it’s kind of like a fashion show at the mountain. Before people see you snowboard, they look at your clothes and judge you by what you’re wearing. It was a weird vibe, but it was cool. Soon, Andy took to making his own clothes. Nothing too involved, more basic modifications and additions than anything else. As he continued creating his own clothes, people took notice and started asking for what he was making. He was just having fun, but knew that there was a lot of potential in what he was doing. 

He began learning to sew and started making his clothes from scratch. As he got deeper and deeper into this new interest, he started to consider a move to LA for school and to build a network in the design world. He got accepted to FIDM, the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, moved to LA, and jumped right in, but it didn’t take long (one semester) for Andy to realize that his money would be better spent on growing a business than at a school where, if he were honest with himself, was behind where he was at in his craft. 

So, he moved back to Grand Rapids where he began making more and more clothing out of his parent’s garage. Soon, he moved to a warehouse space where he could expand his operation with plenty of room for industrial sewing equipment. There was, however, one problem with the space - there was no insulation and winters in Michigan are not kind. When the opportunity arose, he jumped on a storefront property in town where he could work all year round in more reasonable conditions. Foot traffic by his new storefront brought in customers and business began picking up. 

The original idea behind Properfit Clothing was too provide a sort of custom clothing service to his customers. One where you’d be able to choose a design out of a catalogue, and then request certain fabric to be used on different parts of the design. The result would be a garment made just for you based on your specifications - a Properfit piece of clothing. He soon realized that the business model wasn’t sustainable. That’s when he began making patterns, or templates that people could print out and sew on their own.  

His business was growing, but his YouTube channel was growing faster. Soon his YouTube channel brought him more of an audience than the storefront did, and so Andy pivoted accordingly. He closed the store doors to the public and began to focus more heavily on creating content for aspiring designers. Not only was Properfit providing patterns, it was providing the knowledge necessary to create the finished product with those patterns. About two years into his time at the storefront, the property was sold and his new landlord had plans to raise rent. Because he wasn’t using the space as a storefront anymore, Andy moved once again.


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Andy is currently in transition as he searches for a new property to setup shop - preferably a warehouse, only this time with insulation. While Properfit will still be a place for Andy to sell apparel, his main focus will be on creating patterns and YouTube content. 

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Andy has also been serving others in a sort of consulting role. He'll get emails from folks who want to start producing hats, but don’t know where to start. He’s guiding them through the process of sourcing the machinery and materials needed to fulfill their desired output within a budget, and he's really enjoying the process.

Personally, Andy is looking to begin designing clothing for the high fashion scene under, not Properfit, but his last name: Parauka. He’s going for a clean, futuristic, and functional feel. He loves the idea of being able to use your clothing, and not just wear it. 


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My first question to Andy was simple: how in the world do I print out this pattern for a pair of jeans? I hadn’t looked very closely at the document before asking (my bad). Apparently you just print out all of the pages involved and then tape them together! Piece of cake! 

Andy then asked me, “why jeans?” And my response was simple: I’m trying to learn all that I can before deciding what apparel I’d like to create officially for SANS END. He agreed with my philosophy! 

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My next question took a wider approach - what advice would you have for someone who’s looking to start a clothing line? His first thought was an uplifting one - don’t get discouraged by all of the “big guys.” They’ve established their brand already and have the infrastructure to release new clothing every season. This goes back to his thoughts on dabbling in design - don’t rush it, you’re still developing your brand and eye for design, it’s a slow build. 

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The first thing you design just won’t be a home run. It takes time to stand out in a market as saturated as the apparel industry. So take your time! The longer it takes and the harder it is, the better the story, and as well learned last week - your story is your brand. 

His last piece of advice is somewhat at odds with what we’ve been discussing, but equally true.

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There comes a point where you can’t develop any further without taking a leap. You can learn and design and strategize forever, but at some point you need to jump. This, often times, is the hardest part of the process because you don’t feel ready - you never feel truly ready. There’s a balance between the “slow build” and seizing an opportunity. I think the key lies in how you react to the outcome. I say, take the opportunity, even if you're not ready. Worst case scenario: you fail. It’s your reaction to the failure that really matters. You either let it defeat you, or you learn from it and continue building. Are you building? 


FOLLOW PROPERFIT CLOTHING CO.


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Properfit Clothing Co.

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@properfitclothing


Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20 

Detroit Denim Co. - EP9



Meet Eric Yelsma, founder of Detroit Denim Company. Eric has always loved jeans. The idea of making them had entered his mind, but it wasn’t valid - you couldn’t make jeans for a living. And so, Eric spent fifteen years of his life working a corporate job in the chemical industry as a “glorified sales guy.” Well, in 2008/2009, Eric found himself without a job. The chemical industry was going through some substantial changes and the world was falling into financial crisis - millions of people were left without work. 

It’s at that point he realized that what he had been doing wasn’t for personal satisfaction, but because it appeared to be a steady, safe job. That’s when it hit him.

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It took Eric a year to talk himself into following his dreams. In time he understood that if he didn’t do it, he’d regret it, and if he did to it - and it failed - he could always go back to a cooperate job. One thing he did decide was that if he was going to do it, he was going to take it seriously. 

Starting something where there’s no promise of getting paid, that’s tough, but Eric was serious. So serious that he took some of his retirement savings to make it happen. He began simply by learning. Learning to sew, learning about the materials. One thing that struck him about the apparel industry was that not a lot of clothes are made in the US. There are a few pockets of that industry left around the country, but Detroit is not one of them. And jeans, jeans are American - they have to be made in the US. So, for a while it was just Eric, by himself with a bunch of machines figuring it out.

Why denim? Some people love watches, or cars, or golfing, or fishing - Eric just always really liked denim, and jeans, and the history behind them.

But he loved it, so he pressed on and slowly but surely his company grew one by one as he needed more and more help. Eight years later Detroit Denim is made up of a dozen people passionate about jeans. 



Eric is currently looking to move Detroit Denim’s retail space to another location that will bring more foot traffic and exposure while freeing up some space in the factory where everything is made. 

They’re currently making twenty pairs of jeans a day. By comparison, Levi’s is selling (in North America) over 1 million pairs of jeans a day. Long term, Eric is looking to grow Detroit Denim up to two hundred and fifty pairs a day, requiring close to 40/45 people. 

While he’s not really looking for more than one retail space, I asked him if he had thought about putting his jeans in other stores. He was hesitant, and for a good reason - he has no control over the customer’s experience. There’s no customization, no education. He’s open to the idea of wholesaling, but only if they share values and are willing to give the customer, not just the product, but the experience of Detroit Denim Company along with it. 



The are really two routes you can take when it comes to getting into the world of apparel: you can design the product and have someone else make it for you, or you can design the product and make it yourself. Either way, Eric suggests you start simple and start small. Even when someone else is making the product for you, jumping in with the desire to create an entire fashion line will leave you disappointed - it’s too much, and it’s just not sustainable. If your going to make your own product, you need to learn the craft one step at a time. Rushing it will only leave you overwhelmed. 

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I asked Eric about creating a strong brand because, let’s face it, even if you learn the craft and make a great product, if you can’t sell that product, you’re going down. People will always want to offer you suggestions on what to do and how to do it. Eric believes firmly in being authentic. And that’s something that involves a lot of transparency. Over the years, he’s seen a countless number of brands bought by bigger companies only for them to outsource production in return for profit and a subpar product. Transparency is saying, “look, this is who we are, this is what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it.” Out of that transparency comes the foundation of your brand - it’s a story. 


FOLLOW DETROIT DENIM


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Detroit Denim Company


Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20 

Arrow Skate Co. - EP8


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Meet George. George Poulos is a skater, Youtuber, and the creator of Arrow Skate Co, a clothing brand all about following your heart and doing what you love. He started the brand out of his Wesleyan University dorm room last year and has been growing it ever since. 

George started skating in the third grade when he was just eight years old. A couple of his friends were skateboarding, he thought the ollie and kick flip looked cool, so he decided to start skating too. He started his Youtube channel in 2007 two years after the video sharing platform launched, and only one year after Google’s acquisition. It was always skating, he says. At first, he posted videos of himself working on tricks in his basement. It slowly evolved into montages when him and his friends were old enough to go to the local skatepark. George took a break from Youtube in high school until he was a freshman in college when he decided to post a video every three days no matter what. He was watching Youtubers like Josh Katz, John Hill, and Andy Schrock. Seeing their success on the platform inspired George to get back into it. Even as he started uploading again, he says he didn’t become that serious about it until this year when he realized that he could do this “forever.”

Arrow Skate Co. started with Youtube. In the same way that he was inspired by other creators to get serious about his Youtube channel, George was inspired by Brett Conti - owner of Fortune New York and Fortune Skate (George now rides for Fortune Skate) - to start his own clothing company. He saw other Youtubers creating merchandise around their brand, and thought it’d be cool to start a company of his own. 

It started with a whiteboard and a lot of brainstorming. First he had to figure out what he wanted his message to be, and second, how he would communicate that in a name and logo. George would write sentences that spoke to the message behind his brand and draw logos to go along with them. Hearts and skateboards quickly came out of the mix and soon became attached with the message to be yourself regardless of what others think. George always skates with his helmet on, and in high school that wasn’t the coolest thing. 

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He actually decided on the logo and made hats with the logo embroidered on it before he even came up with the name “Arrow Skate Co.” He plugged the hats in his Youtube videos and that was the start. His girlfriend Nora actually came up with the name, and while he didn’t love it at first, the more he looked at it the more he realized it just felt right. 

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From early on, George wanted Arrow Skate Co. to be more than his “merch,” he wanted it to be a company on it’s own. A part of that for him was starting an Arrow Skate Co. team. Just like skate companies have teams of skaters who represent their brand, so George knew he wanted a team to represent his. When he made his first hats he wasn’t exactly sure how he was going to get to that point, he just kind of assumed he would figure it out… and he totally did - today the Arrow Skate Co. team has four skaters including himself, Aron Moloney, Haley Isaak, and Tal Rodkey. 



While he does enjoy his time in college at Wesleyan University and will continue his education through senior year, George is excited to graduate and focus 100% of his efforts on skateboarding, Youtube, and Arrow Skate Co. 

He doesn’t quite know just how he’ll proceed post graduation - besides concentrated effort in what he’s already doing - he does know, however, that when he does have extra time (such as Spring break) it results in new levels of creativity and productivity. George says he needs head space and a clear mind to proceed, and that’s just something he doesn’t have with all of his school work. He’s “planning to plan it” once he finishes college.


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George’s first piece of advice: you really need to decide to do it. 

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This has been a common thread in each episode of the show. If you’re reading this right now because you want to start a clothing brand - make the decision and do it! George agrees :)

I asked George how he’s handling the task of running a company on his own. I think a lot of people looking to get into this space, myself included, start solo or with very small times at most. I was curious how he managed Arrow Skate Co. on top of a Youtube channel and a full time education. Practically speaking, George suggests just writing all of your ideas and tasks down - literally making check boxes. After he figures out everything he needs to do, it’s just a matter of doing it. This gives you a clear course to take. He still often finds himself overwhelmed with all that there is to do - there’s no cheating that, you still need to run the race, but knowing what you need to do to finish is immensely important. 

Here’s some encouragement: George still hasn’t perfected the process; in fact, he’s still figuring things out. The key is this: he hasn’t let that stop him from following his heart. Don’t wait to chase your dreams until you have everything figured out. As many guests to our show will attest, figuring things out is a part of the process, not a prerequisite to start. 

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I asked George about how something such as Arrow Skate Co’s team riders might be replicated outside the skate world. What is really comes down to is finding people passionate about your brand who will help in creating content around it. They could be friends, family, or influencers you meet on Instagram. 

Another practical way to grow your brand is collaborating with other creators. This is common practice in music, on Youtube, and in clothing! George is actually launching Arrow Skate Co’s first collab on Saturday the 21st with Canswer - a fashion brand that donates money to cancer research/awareness. 

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Collaborating with other brands not only connects your with others in the same space, but elevates both brands. Now Arrow Skate Co. is giving love to Canswer and visa versa! 

My last question to George was on how he’s cultivated such a strong community. He says he doesn’t know besides being himself, but I think that’s exactly it. If you have a personal brand, be yourself. It sounds like common sense, but so many miss it. Your audience won’t feel close to you until they get to know you. And when they get to know you they'll begin to care. Next thing you know, you’ve got a team of people rooting for you no matter what your “arrow” is. 

Thanks George :)


FOLLOW ARROW SKATE CO.


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@arrowskateco

@georgepoulos

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George Poulos


Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20 

Foolies Limited Clothing - EP7



Meet Alex, or as many of his friends call him: Nemo. Alex, a native to Miami Florida, graduated from the University of Florida with a degree in Sports Medicine - a degree his family and friends and parents thought would profitable, but one Alex wasn’t passionate about. In a field where eight years of experience is required to get any experience, Alex couldn’t find a job post grad in spots medicine, so he started working at AT&T - just trying to make ends meet. Him and his boss got to talking about his dreams and goals, about Full Sail, when his boss suggested he make the leap while he was young. He did. He jumped ship and changed his career around into something he was passionate about, studying audio engineering at Full Sail University no matter how foolish it seemed to everyone else. While he pursued his audio engineering and music career, him and crew decided that they needed a catch phrase - something in each song to let people know who they were (think DJ Khalid’s “We The Best”). They decided on “Foolies, it’s a movement.” Soon enough, people began latching onto the catch phrase saying, “I’m a Foolie! I'm willing to chase my goals and dreams no matter how crazy it is.”  

For the last seven years now, Alex has been working on his clothing company: Foolies Limited Clothing. Foolies is all about inspiring people to live out their goals and dreams no matter how foolish it may seem. 

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I first discovered the Foolies brand and Alex’s story in Gary Vaynerchuck’s book, Crushing It! 

The name “Foolies,” came from Alex and a friend’s desire to make a career out of music - how “foolish” it was when everyone else was going the classic college route. 


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Alex is back at Full Sail, this time studying Graphic Design. He’s always loved art and design. He’s looking to master his craft, so that he can elevate his clothing brand and himself. 

He’s imagined hosting events in the future for all of the Foolies. Events to bring like-minded individuals together in a place where they can network, chase their dreams together, and have an amazing time doing it. 

He’s also looking to get into a place where he’s speaking to students in the hood to inspire and uplift.  


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First Piece of Advice: If you’re looking to start a brand or a company, you’ve got to be consistent. People, the first time around, won’t understand - won’t get it - even if you make it as plain as day. They have to see it over and over and over again, and they’ve got to see that you’re staying true to whatever you say you’re doing. When you do, people will take note. Alex credits his consistency with Foolies as a key factor to being featured on Essence, Ambition Today, and, of course, Gary Vaynerchuck’s new book: Crushing It! 

Consistency, not only in message, but in activity. Alex shares an illustration of a man digging through the ground in a dirt lot in search of treasure. After shoveling for so long, the man gives up, puts the shovel down, and walks away when under only a few more inches of dirt lay the treasure that he was seeking. 

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Alex sent Gary Vee a message in December of 2016, and Gary’s team interviewed him on June 28th, 2017. His page could’ve not made that book. Had he fallen off, had he stopped creating, had he stopped posting - they could’ve found a better feature for the book, but he was consistent and remains so to this day. 

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Another insight Alex gives into his success thus far is his ability to know and serve his target audience: women of color. He knows his audience, he knows how to talk to them, and he knows what they need. When he puts his target audience first and serves them well, they give all sorts of love back to the brand, which draws attention from others who may not even be in his target demographic (like me). 

Here’s another one: Just because people don’t know what you can do with you craft doesn’t mean you don’t do it. He adds an important caveat, don’t get upset with these people. Take it, let it run off your back like water in the shower, because you know what you're after, so go after it with your whole heart. 

Alex also suggests a shift in thinking - a positive shift. Don’t say, “oh, I can’t afford that.” Instead, ask, “how can I afford that?” Don’t say, “I’ll never make it.” Instead, ask, “what will it take to make it?” 

Finally, he says you’ve got to write your dreams down - not because you’re going to forget, but because you need to remember right now. 


FOLLOW FOOLIES


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@foolies

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Foolies Fridays


Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20 

Basketcase - EP6


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Meet Zach, creator of Basketcase.  Zach is a senior in college at Vanguard University in Costa Mesa, California, studying marketing and psychology. He describes himself as a “frequent connoisseur of tasteful things from photography to clothes to music.” On top of being a full time student, Zach works as an administrative associate for a real estate development firm (to pay the bills), and a resident assistant at an off-campus apartment (to pay living expenses). Yet, he’s still doing what he loves in pursuing Basketcase. It’s funny. When he did have a lot of free time and the desire to start a clothing brand, he couldn’t do it. It’s only when he was working sixty plus hours a week that he took the plunge into starting Basketcase. It was important to him that he begin while he was still in school, surrounded by community.   

He originally got into design because of a tattoo. He couldn’t stand the thought of allowing a tattoo artist to design the tattoo - all he wanted was for the artist to follow a design that he had already picked out. Zach and his buddies had all of these tattoo ideas, so he decided to learn photoshop. 

During his sophomore year of college, The Hundreds held a popup at UCI - just ten minutes away from where Zach went to school. He went, met Bobby Hundreds, and experienced closeup a bit more of this culture that he already had an interest in.

Since he was in high school, Zach would buy and sell clothes, not simply for profit, but to keep his wardrobe up to date, cycling clothes in and out. He started an Instagram account around selling vintage clothing, but he knew he couldn’t keep selling vintage forever, and so he asked himself what he could sell more long term.

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Then came: Basketcase. The name Basketcase stems from this idea that creativity is closer to insanity.

Van Gogh, Edgar Allen Poe, Kurt Cobain - all artists that Zach looks up to, all were creative - no doubt - and perhaps a little crazy too. 

Basketcase acts as a big name that sort of allows him to do a lot of different things creatively. If someone’s willing to accept Basketcase as a title on the frontend, he has a lot of room to work with afterwards. 

Zach pulls a lot of his inspiration from mid 80s magazine work. Just like some people love seeing hair get shaved or a lawn get mowed, something about the placement in those magazines is calming for him. Zach loves architecture and blueprint stuff. Virgil Abloh’s work with Off-White and how blueprint esc it can be has really caught Zach’s eye as well. 

He says that it’s important for him to have influences, while at the same time allowing for a healthy amount of time to just create honestly from who he is. 

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The job Zach is working right now does great at paying the bills, but not much beyond that. He’s about to graduate college and he’s got some money set aside where he could potentially just “jump off the cliff” of purely working for himself. Ideally, he’ll find a job where he’s both paying the bills and growing himself creatively. He’s also looking to find some more creative mentorship. It’s one thing to be surrounded by a creative community at your level, but Zach is looking to find someone more established in their craft.

While he understands that the audience he’s building for Basketcase comes for the clothing, Zach is looking to built the brand out into a sort of creative label where he can work together with creatives from other art forms such as music. 

In clothing, Zach is looking forward to stepping into some more creative garment wear - maybe pants and shorts. Stay tuned. 


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Zach’s first piece of advice: don’t be too critical of yourself, but embrace the fact that nothing is actually original. It’s not pessimistic - it’s freeing. 

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His next piece of advice is practical - if you’re making a t-shirt, you’re making it to be worn two to three times. It’s a seasonal thing and you need to embrace the lifetime of what you are making. The branding of something, he notes, is way more important than what it actually is. Clothing is SO oversaturated. But, if you can find a way to present yourself in a way that is unique, or in a way that is honest, or in a way that is consistent and good - that is so important. 

Another piece of advice: make it a job. Basketcase really became real for Zach once he committed himself to working on it for thirty plus hours a week. It's obvious Zach has and is putting hours of thought and work into his brand. Give his Instagram page a follow and his shop a looksie too. 

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FOLLOW BASKETCASE


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@basketca_se


Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20 

NOTABRAND - EP5



Meet Tamar, creator of NOTABRAND, or NAB - a clothing (not) brand. He had always been into fashion, doing his own thing, being different. It was an “unfollow the masses” sort of mentality. He wanted a clothing line, but never really knew a way to start. Tamar is from Nigeria, and more so than in Texas ((Palacose)), or even my little city of Madison, Wisconsin, Nigeria’s streetwear scene is… well, it’s not really. But still, he had an idea,

“What if we infuse our ideas with some of the western ideologies, and produce something unique for everyone?”

He brought the idea up to some friends, but it didn’t get anywhere, and so it was lost - at least for a couple of years. 

When Tamar moved from Nigeria to Coventry, England to study business he made a few new friends that shared his same desire to do more than the status quo. “Something other than just going to uni, something different.” 

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The idea was back, only this time it stuck. A bunch of them gathered together to form a sort of collective of creatives with a similar goal. Now, NAB is made up of Tamar and his partners Kay, Ebube, and Jason.

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They were giving their friends clothing, but it wasn’t really catching on for anyone else. After a few months of frustration, they decided to take a break. 

NOTABRAND is all about being different - being different from the popular culture. So many people now, he explains, get Supreme, get BAPE, get other popular brands, not because it’s who they are, but because everyone else is doing it. 

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Why not do something that we originally would’ve done by thinking differently, by stepping outside the box. And what if we collaborated with artists who thought the same way. That’s the essence behind NAB. 

While NAB is a business, money isn’t their bottom line. They don’t charge artists for selling on their store. If an artist is featured on their store, it’s because they appreciate what they do. 

In a scene that has quickly become all about the hype and all about the money, NAB is seeking to be about something more. 

In article on thehundreds.com, Bobby Hundreds speaks to this. About the hype: 
“People used to wear streetwear because nobody else wore it. Today, they wear it because everyone wears it.”

About the money:

“Exclusivity was about limited edition (production) and rarity (distribution). Now, it’s about price.” 

And

“Streetwear has prioritized commerce over community.”


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I asked Tamar about the clothing currently on NAB’s store. Their first collection was somewhat of a test to see if people would relate to their message. Their next collection, coming soon, will feature a collaboration with South African artist Kaelik (@tastykakeskaelik) who Tamar actually met over their mutual enjoyment of Fela Kuti, a Nigerian musician. 

In studying business, Tamar is constantly exposed to the “importance” of competition. With NAB, what he’s striving for is not competition, but collaboration with likeminded brands and individuals so that “everyone wins.” Many of his peers think it’s a little crazy, but Tamar recognizes that different isn’t always a bad thing - that change is inevitable. 

They plan on reaching out to more and more artists as they grow as a (not) brand, but first their really focussed on building a solid foundation, so that when they do approach new artists - they have something to stand on. 


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Be prepared to face difficulties - ups and downs. That’s Tamar’s first piece of advice. Secondly, he echos what Chris from Stolen Item mentioned in episode 2: you have to know what you want to tell people, your message, your philosophy. 

His final piece of advice is simply patience. 

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Some people you’d like to work with might not be interested. Some ideas you explore may not have an end. There will be failure, but it’s important that you learn on every step - “just keep on learning.” You can never really (or shouldn’t) stop learning. You can never be so wise not to learn something new, so learn from every mistake that you make and get better. 

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FOLLOW NOTABRAND


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@theofficialnabstore


Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20 

((Palacose)) - EP4



Only three years ago Ezla Lewis moved from Japan to Houston, Texas. He used to play basketball, but when he arrived in Houston he noticed that - while people appreciated fashion - the scene wasn’t nearly as strong as it was in Japan. So, when Ezla was just a senior in high school, he decided to start his own company: Palacose. At the time he was working at Hollister and he just fell in love with retail. He told his friend about the idea, who told his father, who just happened to be a manufacturer in the T-shirt business and was willing to help Ezla start on his brand. His first drop was only 5 T-shirts, but he made a fashion show out of it with 10 models and about 25 attendees. This first show was his way of showing people that he was serious about fashion. High fashion shows - that was his dream, and this show his way of giving Houston a taste of what he had in store. 

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The more he started to do collections and capsules, the more people began to notice. Eight months into this journey, Ezla began attending college. He quickly became uninspired in the classroom, and for a moment thought he’d quick making clothing and go into the Navy as his father had done. During a trip to California however, he made a pair of Old Skool Vans with roses on the side and it went viral! That’s when he realized that he had to continue pursuing his dream. 

In addition to his first fashion show, Ezla took advantage of the hype around Soundcloud rappers and took to rapping himself just to promote his clothing. It went surprisingly well, he says, each song got over 1,000 listens! 

Palacose. Palacose stands for Positivity, Creativity, and Belief. His mission is to bring more positivity into the fashion industry, and more creativity into the people who wear his clothing. Finally his desire is that people would believe in themselves more than anything else - in themselves and their ability to make their dreams come true. 

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I asked Ezla about running a clothing brand in Houston - a place not usually known for its fashion scene. He said Houston just got off its second fashion week ever, and he had a fashion show. In the month of March alone, Palacose is having 3 fashion shows. Ezla’s desire is to set a standard in Houston for other brands to follow. All his work isn’t going unnoticed - Palacose has been named the #1 streetwear brand in all of Texas. That’s pretty cool if you ask me. 

In addition to getting the word out with fashion shows, Ezla is also constantly doing popup shops at local boutiques. His next goal is to have a fashion show tour. Ezla is passionate about making fashion shows more accessible to people who want to, but usually can’t attend them. His plan is to visit places where Palacose already has an audience to host a series of fashion shows. 

Right now, Ezla is 19 years old. From 20-25, his plan is to tour, tour, and tour. By 25, his goal is for Palacose to have its own store. 


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Living in Madison, Wisconsin, I was curious to hear about what Ezla had to say about his own experience in running a brand where fashion isn’t as appreciated as it is elsewhere. He said the key is to give people a reason to care about what you’re putting out. This goes back to advice we heard from Colm and Chris in the last two episodes. Some of the most hype streetwear on the market is - on the surface - nothing special. People are willing to spend top dollar on top brands because of the culture that's been created around those brands. 

You have to always be doing something, Ezla says. Maybe that’s a popup shop, maybe that’s a fashion show with 5 T-shirts, 10 models, and 25 attendees. 

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Practically speaking, Ezla is always telling others about what he does and is doing with Palacose. He engages in conversation with others about their dreams, so that he can inspire with how he is chasing his own dreams. In doing this, his hope is to get others just as excited about Palacose as he is.


FOLLOW ((PALACOSE))


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@palacose

@ezlalewis

palacoseclothing.com


Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20 

KidSuper - EP3



For as long as he can remember, Colm Dillane has been drawing. Drawing, soccer, and school were the pillars of his life. He moved from Beloit, Wisconsin to New York City at a young age and in New York - the easiest way for your art to get seen was by making T-shirts. Him and his friends knew a few people who had already started their own brands, so when they were just fifteen years old, Colm and about seven of his friends decided to give it a try - for fun. They called their brand BOTS - Brick Oven T-shirts. 

The name KidSuper came when Colm and a friend were freestyle rapping on AIM.

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His friend wrote back, “Kid Super.” Colm took the space out and the name just stuck. Well, they stuck with printing T-shirts too, and what began as a few T-shirts slowly grew into what the brand KidSuper is today. Ten years later, through hard work, they’ve grown the brand into a name under which they can literally do anything - clothing, an art gallery, music, and even what’s turning out to be their own television show (hopefully). 

I asked Colm if he’s ever had a “big break." His answer was simple: “no.” 

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Dekel expressed the fact that, while they haven’t had that “aha” moment yet, they experience miniature moments every day. I was one of those moments - when I first discovered the KidSuper brand, I was instantly sucked into the crazy creative world that is KidSuper. I just knew I wanted to have him on the show. I guess you could call this episode an “aha” moment for the show. 

They’ve had many people approach them saying, “you should be ten times bigger than you are.” Which is both encouraging because they’re on their way, and discouraging because they’re not there yet. KidSuper was built around the idea that anything’s possible. If you say it, then you can do it. Built it, and they will come. Long before the KidSuper name was coined in an AIM freestyle rap session, Colm’s embodied those ideas. 

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It's only a matter of time before they catch their "aha" moment.



We got talking about the Misadventures of KidSuper when Colm flipped the interview on me. “Do you think we deserve a television show?” 

I said, “absolutely,” but honestly, you should take 15 minutes to watch and decide for yourself - it’s fantastic. Colm and his friends are in the process of pitching their show to television production companies. 

We also discussed his first art gallery. It began in Gallery 151 on February 17th and was originally scheduled to end on March 8th, but was been extended until March 31st. In an Instagram post, Colm says, “the transition from t-shirts to the gallery world was always something I wanted to do.”

After the gallery show, Colm and his crew will be focussing heavily on getting The Misadventures of KidSuper on television. He’s also working on a handful of claymation projects for others. Finally, he’s putting his attention towards his next collection of clothing and getting into more stores.



Colm’s pet peeve is when people try and start a clothing brand, but can’t draw. He also had a long list of “not so fun” things involved with the process of making and selling clothing: manufacturing, relying on clothing, putting something up for sale that never sells, having to deal with boxes of clothes in your basement that no-one wants, having to deal with rejection, producing, learning the craft when you didn’t go to school for it, trying to get people to work for you when you really can’t make that much money - when it comes to "not so fun" things, “we have a million.” 

One thing that keeps Colm afloat is doing freelance work for others - something other’s aren’t always willing to do. 

Another common theme Colm’s seen in other's is a lack of persistence. 

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Persistence is why KidSuper is still alive. Persistence and brand. Colm and his friends have created such a culture around KidSuper that you don’t even have to know about their clothes to fall in love with the brand. Once people get sucked into the brand, then they just gravitate towards the clothing. One practical tip Colm gives towards creating this “magnetic” sort of brand is getting others involved - create a team, preferably full of friends.

What gets Colm through that long list of "not so fun" things is the bigger picture he has in mind. Clothing is not the “end game” for him - it’s a part for sure - but not the whole.  His favorite part of the process is meeting new people who enrich his life and join him in what has become the crazy world of KidSuper. 

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He said, “as someone who can’t draw, you can easily prove me wrong… if you start now, in five years you could be a super successful clothing brand.”

Thanks for the chat Colm, challenge accepted.


FOLLOW KIDSUPER


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@kidsuper


Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20 

Stolen_Item - EP2


The Story

From early on in the game, Chris, creator of Stolen Item, made a conscious decision to make accessories rather than clothing. 

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He didn’t wanted to get lost in the sea of streetwear, but find his own path. That path was the “Stolen Item” tag. You can put it on any outfit, backpacks, shoes, a ponytail. It always surprises him to see how people use it. Instagram is the perfect platform for finding people with the tag and sharing their creativity with his growing audience. 

Well, how about the name? Stolen Item. Chris wanted the name to have a sense of duality to it. While it’s popular among creators to choose a brand name that’s meaningful to them, when people see it on the streets it doesn’t really leave an impression because people don’t know what it means. Stolen Item is meaningful with no explanation.

It started last summer. Chris is an artist - constantly making things. At the time he was making sculptures out of things he’d stolen from around New York City: a piece of fence, a cone, etc. Needless to say, he was really excited about these sculptures. Then he showed his friends.  

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Soon he began handing them out to his friends. They started putting them on their shoes, and he hadn’t even thought about that. He didn’t really have a vision in terms of what he wanted them to be. Instead he let people create the vision for themselves. People began putting them on backpacks, and he hadn’t even thought of that either. The tag was meant to be the “cherry on top” of his sculptures, but they ended up being the cherry on top of people’s wardrobes. 

Once Chris realized that his tags could really take off, he began thinking of ways to promote it. What he’d do is stand on the street corner and pass his tags out to kids walking by. Kids leaving Supreme, kids leaving Palace would find Chris with a tag in his hand for them. Some kids loved it. Some would throw it away. 



As Stolen Item continues to grow, Chris doesn’t plan on leaving the streets where he gets to meet people face to face - people who are excited about his brand and his product. He plans to stay in the accessory game, finding cool people to collaborate with - people who will elevate his brand as he elevates theirs. 

Stolen Item's first collaboration is with Smoke DZA. At the same time that Chris was handing out his tags on the streets of NYC, he was also sending his tags to influencers. One such influencer was a photographer in the city - a photographer who shot for Smoke DZA. During a photoshoot with the artist, he suggested he collaborate with Stolen Item for his up and coming album “Not For Sale,” thus was created the “Not For Sale” tag by Stolen Item.   



Chris has been looking a lot lately at what Virgil Abloh’s been up to with Off-White. He says it’s not about his clothes - it’s about the culture that he’s created around his products. Shows, free events, and other avenues for people to have a good time. His clothes represent a good time. Chris says you’ve to to figure out what you want to say, what your tone will be, and what you  want people to feel when they put your clothes on before you even start making anything.

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His final words are this: “believe in yourself.” It’s important to be weird and just come out with something that’ll turn heads. Streetwear came from a place of being an outlier, but now people are just copying the top five brands. You've got to find what your accessories, your clothing, and your brand will say when you're not around.   


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Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20