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.
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.
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.
George’s first piece of advice: you really need to decide to do it.
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.
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.
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 :)
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Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20