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