- “If a neighbor is killed in a car accident, do you sell your car and stop driving?”Mario AndrettiFirst love. This short soundbite of Mario gets me every time I listen to it. The earnestness, the yearning in his voice. He speaks this prayer as if for the first time, with pleading in his voice, “Please dear God, if there’s one wish you could grant me, to become a race driver someday in my life.” Have you ever whispered such an earnest prayer?I have whispered many honest prayers much like this one. With my head bowed, eyes sullen, and a heavy heart. I have whispered them, and put them into action. My best foot forward, time and time again. Every time it seems to get a little more difficult to begin again. This quote from Andretti seems ordinary but there;s a little more to it. “If a neighbor is killed in a car accident, do you sell your car and stop driving?” It can be applied so many different ways. Do you quit on your dream because your neighbor failed at his? There are so many things that can affect you daily. Some inspire, others detract. However no one can control your actions but yourself. You are the only one that can stop your dream. Other people will act like they can make choices for you. They can’t. It’s your dream, your passion, your adventure. Everything else is sticks and stones.The full video is below.January 6, 2015
Logo’s. A brand’s identity. It is everything your brand stands for, communicates, and resonates in a single icon. Pretty heavy huh? It seems like this is one of the biggest stumbling points of most brands. When they begin, they have to choose a logo. They spend so much time on it that they may never begin. My idea when I began is that I would start with my best one and change it if necessary over time. Today I am announcing my third logo change for Vaughn de Heart. Let’s go over the brief history of my logo’s. Walk with me down memory lane. There is a lot that I learned over the years with these logo’s.
This is the logo that I came out of the gate with. Designed by myself. Man these were good times. For a lot of the time when this was my main logo I printed it on the sleeve of all of my designs. I liked this logo because I felt it embodied a lot of what I wanted my brand to originally be. Artistic, and foreign. I originally designed this logo to be only a, “VH.” However after I started using it people told me that they saw a, “D” within the logo. This was something I didn’t intend, but I was happy when people found something in the design that I didn’t intend. When I stopped printing this logo on the sleeve of my designs some people were saddened. I thought it made my designs better, and cleaner, however people had grown attached. One nice thing about when I had this as a sleeve logo is that whenever I saw something printed on the sleeve of someone’s shirt I would automatically check to see if they were wearing one of my shirts. And to my surprise sometimes they were. The sleeve logo was a big indicator. That part I miss about this logo. The biggest issue with this logo was that it didn’t fit with my cleaner designs. If I had a clean san serif, or even serif text on a shirt this logo didn’t seem to fit. It seemed to detract from the design.
The, “Circle VH logo.” That’s what I called this one. This logo was not designed by me. The biggest thing that this logo has given me is cleanliness. This logo is very clean and can be put alongside most anything. It was much easier to slip this logo into designs and seemed to be a much better representatiton of my brand. However I remember talking with my brother. He was speaking with one of my childhood friends about my brand and they said they missed my original logo. I said, “Why? That logo was so hard to incorporate in so many place.” He said, “Yes I know, but what they missed was how raw the old logo was, how fierce it was.” I remembered scratching my head. How can I accomplish both raw and clean together in one. It’s so hard. The toughest part of this logo is that you may not recognize what it is right away. For a lot of people I had to explain that this was a, “V” and an “H.” They didn’t get it right off the bat.
Here is the latest logo from Vaughn de Heart. This is the logo that will be our main logo going forward. You may recognize it. I’ve been using this logo already on my shipping bags, and I used it a couple of times in the La Mer colleciton. The reason I have chosen to go with this logo is because it is simpler. This logo fits criteria that my previous logos did not.
1. It contains no letters.
My previous logos tried to make you associate to my brand by the letters they represented. This logo does not. This logo associated to my brand by what it stands for. My brand has always been about courage and heart. A lion symbolizes that. Throughout all of literature lions are a symbol of courage, and fighting for what you want. This is what my brand already aligns with.
2. You can sketch it
You can draw this. Bobby Hundreds once said that your logo should be drawable by a 5 year old. This logo I believe fits that criteria. You can draw this, yourself. I remember my friend Greg from southern California talking about how in elementary school all of the kids would draw the Stussy logo in class in their notebooks. One reason is because it was simple enough to draw.
3. It is something we all know of already.
Everyone knows what a lion is. This logo is not of something that is abstract. You already have an association of what a lion is built in your mind. I am building upon that. I am associating my brand with a concept that is already in your head, which is a stronger place to start. I am remind of when Jeff Staple of Staple Design talks about their pigeon logo. He is always saying how whenever anyone sees a pigeon they will immediately think of his brand. While that may not be true in every situation I have caught myself doing that. Also with the brand Supreme, I have seen rental trucks from a completely unrelated rental van company. They say, “Supreme.” on their mud flaps. It always makes me think of the Supreme brand. Also at a Mexican food stand they had a, “Supreme Burrito.” Also made me think of the brand.
I love Batman the animated series. I own two of the three DVD sets of the entire series (The third one is still eluding me). In one of the special features they talk about how in the intro to that iconic cartoon they never say the word, “Batman.” They never say that the show is about Batman in the intro. In fact the name is never shown on the screen until the ending credits. They say, “You already know what this is about.” They know you have an understanding of what Batman is that is so powerful they don’t have to tell you that you are watching it.
What I am hoping to accomplish with this logo is to associate my brand with all lions. Every time someone sees a lion I want them to think of my brand. Even when it is completely unassociated with my actual brand. When they are at the zoo, when they see a cartoon about a lion, anything. I want them to think of Vaughn de Heart. If they see a lion the name, “Vaughn de Heart” will not need to follow it. I hope that the lion alone will already make them think of it.October 20, 2014
We may pass violets looking for roses.
We may pass contentment looking for victory.
The chase. It seems like nothing is ever enough. It is always interesting to me how brand owners/designers are always starting new brands. I write this on the wings of the news that David Obadia of Brooklyn We go Hard (BWGH) announcing that he is beginning another brand called Harmony. Brooklyn we go Hard doesn’t even seem that old yet. BWGH came on the scene in 2010 and took the streetwear startup fashion scene by storm. Their flagship item their “Brooklyn Parle Francais” sweater. They collaborated with everyone on that sweatshirt and it spread the word of the brand wide and far.
So why does David want to start a new brand? Is it because first brand isn’t doing as well anymore? David listed the reason he is making the new brand as this brand being what he really wants to wear.
Hypebeast Q: “How would you describe the approach to style with Harmony?”
David Obadia A: “It is something very personal, it is first and foremost what I wear and what I would see my fiancee wear daily.”
This makes me wonder? So what is Brooklyn We Go Hard? I feel jealous. Like my parents just told me that they like my brother more than me. I feel like you can’t say something like that. Doesn’t it invalidate your other work? I almost feel like I shouldn’t like BWGH. Like, “What’s the point? He doesn’t even like this stuff.”
Does your brand end up owning you? I guess when you start a brand and it works you are kind of stuck in that aesthetic. If your customers responded tho that category of product you have to keep making it. You have to keep giving them what they want. Do you get trapped? Do designers get immobilized by their own success. They have to stay within a certain style because it sells even when it doesn’t necessarily excite them, or push them anymore. They have to keep to that consistency even when their tastes evolve to something else. If your a band it’s your one hit wonder. That thing that everyone keeps going back to even though it only defined a particular period for you, you have to give them what they want.October 13, 2014
Write it down. Write things down. If you want to accomplish something write it down. It’s simple, overlooked. I didn’t really think writing your goals down would have much of an impact, or really do much more than thinking about what I want to accomplish. Since I wrote my post last week about being consistent and what type of person I want to be every day, what things I want to accomplish. I have come much closer to accomplishing them. I have been much more consistent. Right now I am doing what I said I wanted to do. Pumping out content on my lunch break. I don’t know exactly what the difference is. I guess once it’s written down, it’s more real. I feel like I have to be accountable to it. Now I”m not saying that once I wrote all of that stuff down, the heavens opened light fell upon me and everything I’ve been doing since has been blessed. No, it’s not like that. I just feel like I’m doing what I said I should do. That alone is a good feeling.
Recently I feel more in control of my destiny. I’ve taken things a step further. I am currently writing a life goal list. Not a traditional bucket list. It has a list of 10 categories and a list of 10 goals for each. I’ve been filling it out and man is it tough. It’s where the rubber meets the road. How do you do it? It sounds simple. Maybe it is for some, but for me it is a bit of an ordeal. Do you put down what’s practical. What you know you can do? Or do you put down what is out of reach? Do you put down the thing that you have no idea how to accomplish? What road do you take. I’ve struggled with that part. Do I want to be 80 and look at the list and think, “Man I couldn’t accomplish that.” Or do I want to look at the list and say, “I accomplished everything, but there were things that I really wanted that I didn’t put down here.” Should I be passive or aggressive? There is no right or wrong way either. Someone can’t tell me what I should, and shouldn’t put down on the sheet. It’s a conversation, a dialogue within myself. With each item I put down on the sheet I ask myself, “What type of man do I want to be? The one that reaches for the stars. Or the one that keeps his feet planted?”October 6, 2014
So there’s this dude at work. Well not exactly my work. He works in the same building as me. I remember the first day I met him in the elevator. I’ll call him Jim. Jim held the door open for me as I was the last person in. He had a pair of black Toms on, “Nice shoes” I said. In the corporate world anyone that would would wear Toms I have to consider fashionable compared to the atrocities I see that transpire in the American workplace. As my gaze continued upward he was wearing a pair of somewhat fitted Levis’ with a very light wash. Probably something like a 501. On his upper torso a button down shirt covered by a Levis dark denim trucker jacket. Then I reach his face. He kept his hair buzzed and then, bam! It hit me right in the face. A wiley mustache. Like, what? It came out of nowhere, it snuck up on me. Flanked me on my undefended right side. A tactical move worthy of General Robert E. Lee. I was unprepared for its arrival. My gaze went back to his feet, “Where’d you get em?” He went on to tell me about some store somewhere, some neat find tucked away and I kept thinking, “Why do you look like that?” I have since seen Jim again a handful of times. Not in such close proximity but in passing. Every time he is wearing this same outfit and same mustache. Every single time the same denim on denim look that fashion magazines tell you is a “New” look every year. “Come on bro” I think to myself. How have I not ever seen him wearing something else. Then I start thinking. They say that with cockroaches if you see one that means there are 10 more that you have not seen. Then I realized, “If every time that I see him he is dressed in this manor…he must wear this same outfit every day.” I wake up that night in a feverish sweat. Why? Why do this? I tried such stints in my youth only to hear my mother call me things like, “Nasty…Dirty.” In a tone that makes it sound as if she is speaking to herself, but she knows I am within earshot. Normally this would be followed by a disgusted look, followed by another repeated look from over her shoulder as she walks away. “Guy…change your clothes!” I want to say. Someone’s gotta tell him, but he is his own man. He has as much of a right to wearing the same clothes as I have a right to change mine. America, land of the free.October 3, 2014
I’m convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance…. Unless you have a lot of passion about this, you’re not going to survive. You’re going to give it up. So you’ve got to have an idea, or a problem or a wrong that you want to right that you’re passionate about; otherwise, you’re not going to have the perseverance to stick it through.
I have returned to what this brand is about. Designing. For the last 3 months I haven’t done any…any. The longest hiatus I’ve ever had. Between moving to Los Angeles, starting a new job and trying to blog, somehow my designing just stopped. That is so crazy. Last summer (2013) I had a crazy formula going. For a while I was making 2 or 3 designs a day. I was a factory. A machine. I had it down. Naturally not all of those designs would make it into production but I was zooming. I thought to myself, “I have this figured out now.” I was even going back to my designs that I had made in my first year or two of the company and was revamping them. I took a moment to compare my designs from my first couple years to my designs now and thought to myself…wow I’ve come a ways. I’m not comfortable with saying that I am some master designer, but I did feel like my concepts were coming together better, cleaner. And now…well now I feel like I’m starting all over again, haha, even forgot some of my Adobe Illustrator keyboard shortcuts.
I guess you use it or loose it. That’s the way it is with anything. You have to seek out your craft, it won’t seek you out. If I am going to get better at this I have to keep it on my mind and consciously move towards it. You have to put your rudder in the water and move towards your destination. If you fall asleep in the boat you’ll wind up miles off course. Today I feel like I just woke up. Luckily I had my years of plenty to store up for my few months of famine. It took years for me to work up the ability to create something like the La Mer collection and I don’t want to have to start from scratch. I want to stay at this level. Create cohesive collections, have good on location photo shoots.
There are many facets to a brand and I am trying to expand them. For my entire first year of business my brand consisted of 5 shirts and a bag. Now I have a Website, Online Store, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and more. I’ve also recently started blogging with original content. I feel like I am pouring out so much of my mind into the world that I don’t have any left. I am communicating in more mediums than I ever have in my life and at times it seems like there isn’t any more up there to give. There is more to give. There are more stories I want to tell, more passion I want to put into my design, there are other inspirations to find. There is more fuel to this fire.October 1, 2014
I find I’m so excited that I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it’s the excitement only a free man can feel. A free man at a start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.
Red, Shawshank Redemption
I am sitting in my apartment in twilight. The kind of soft light that my mom always told me would ruin my eyes. The gas stove flame blue light of my external hard drive is flashing as I backup everything. Ben Howard plays in the background. Today was one of those days where I did all of the little things. Wrote a few blog posts, posted to Instagram, packed orders. One of those days where you think, “Man if I can just dot all of my I’s and cross all of my T’s this can work.” There is a quote that I read from Kenyatte Nelson who was once Esquire (I’m more of a GQ man) Magazine’s Well Dressed Real Man of The Year
“Man at his best, in fashion or fatherhood, exercises unyielding passion and understands that incremental effort can yield exponential results.”
I like that, “Incremental effort can yield exponential results.” If I could just be somewhat of a robot. Wake up every day and do the same tasks over and over again that will inch me closer and closer to my success. Daily consistency. If only every day I could do this
Wake up without hitting snooze
Make breakfast (A real breakfast, not the same instant oatmeal I eat every day)
Pack a lunch (This one I’ve actually become really consistent at, gold star for me)
Get into work a little bit early to miss traffic (LA…sigh)
Absolutely murder everything at work (As in deadlines…not people)
For lunch go to the ground floor tables and hammer out some content on my laptop
At the end of lunch go back up to my floor and kill some more work
Get off a little bit early to avoid traffic (Los Angeles again)
Get home when it’s still light out (Winter is coming)
Hammer out a couple blog posts
Post on all my media networks
Pop out a couple designs
Go to the gym and lift
Email prospective blogs
Email prospective stores
Read a marketing book (Still trying to finish Punk Marketing…been going on like 3 years now…sigh)
Have devotions (Gotta stay grounded)
Go to bed early enough so that I can wake up
This list isn’t even that bad and I can’t accomplish it all. If only I was consistent like Mr. Rogers. Every time coming inside wearing a cardigan, and always changing to his inside shoes. Man…what a guy. They don’t make em like that anymore. That discipline. I am reminded by that scene from Shawshank Redemption. Where Andy writes a letter every week to the government for six years to get money to help their library. I think about what that kind of dedication can accomplish. I wish I had it. In this world of hare’s I want to be the tortoise. This is one thing that I believe that is standing between where I am now, and where I want to be in this business of fashion.September 29, 2014
Another piece from the brethren over at The Rig Out about the Nike FC Leonards. The video features a group of footballers from East London. Their sect is unique because this particular group is comprised of young creatives who dabble in art, music, and creatives all gather to exercise their other passion, football. This is another example of what I really like about brands and their ability to tell stories. It puts so much focus on the sport, and the people.
Videos like this bring me back to when I was a kid and we all got together in our neighborhood to play soccer. What happens in this video seems largely the same except everyone is much cooler, and has way better clothes than. It is a romanticized version of the sport and to me is very relatable. We all know the kid who doesn’t pass, the squabbles that arise during any heated game, and the one guy who is on a differently level than everyone else.
This video was made for the brand FCRB which stands for Football Club Real Bristol which is a brand under the Nike umbrella that is a collaboration between Nike and the Japanese mysterious cool guy brand Sophnet. I feel like FCRB has to be mostly a passion project. The brand feels like it wasn’t made to make a profit, it feels like it was made for the few who are in the know and are dedicated. I doubt that there are many who don FCRB without knowing a lot about the brand and the origins. Their fan base seems to be true believers even though I have never met or seen anyone actually wearing the brand.
Isn’t that what it’s about creating something that seems so authentic, so real that people think you do it because you love it, not because you want something from them. Maybe that is the real difference that allows you to create an experience with your customers instead of just a transaction. This is what I want to do.September 24, 2014
“Entrepreneurship is living a few years of your life like most people won’t, so that you can spend the rest of your life like most people can’t.”
Warren G. Tracy’s student.
I hate this quote. There is so much of me that hates this quote. I am saddened that there are people I know that love this quote. It’s just so much of what is wrong with entrepreneurs these days in my opinion. When I read this quote I get the feeling that this is the equation that most people expect once they become an entrepreneur.
A couple of years + Entrepreneurship = Riches
People think that they can be an entrepreneur for a few years and take the short track to riches so they don’t have to work anymore. That is what I feel quotes like this reinforce.
When I think of most entrepreneurs I think of my hometown in Michigan. I think of the downtown of that sleepy escape. There is a Chinese restaurant, a hardware store, and a travel agency. All not wildly successful. This is what I think of entrepreneurship. My Dad always says that most people just trade their own business for a job. It hasn’t put you any further ahead. You will probably be just the same financially (Generally worse off) than if you just worked for someone else for the rest of your life. You do it however because you feel called to. You trade the extra stress and complications for the passion of doing something you believe in whether that’s opening a Chinese restaurant, a hot tech company, or a clothing brand. That is why you do these things. Not for the success that you think it will bring. To be able to envision your life to whittle away at this effort and possibly not get anywhere with it. The confidence to know that this could be what you are entering into, and being ok with that.
“No enterprise can exist for itself alone. It ministers to some great need, it performs some great service, not for itself, but for others; or failing therein, it ceases to be profitable and ceases to exist.”
This quote is the opposite of the first. This is why business exists. This is why businesses go on. It is easy to get caught up in the hype of what having your own business may enable you to do. So many people want the supposed lifestyle of an entrepreneur. I have a friend that always tells me he wants to start his own business. He says, “I wish I knew what kind of business to start. I’m jealous of you.” I respond, “You’re jealous of this? You’re one of the few who sees how much I actually stress and how unglamorous a lot of the work I do is.” Despite all of that he still wants the entrepreneur life. I think even though he could see most of what I was doing day in and day out it still couldn’t shake the perfect entrepreneur life image that he had. He still had this picture of how entrepreneurship could lead him to riches and freedom.
At this point I view entrepreneurship as servanthood. You are a servant to the need that you are fulfilling. You make sacrifices for that need. You could be doing something else. You could possibly making more money, or you could have a more stable future. However, you are devoted to that need. You are the knight, and the need is your Lord. You defend serve that need at your cost. To me, that is entrepreneurship.September 23, 2014
I recently watch this Interview of Ray Mate of Mighty Healthy from The Hundreds. I felt like there was a lot of honesty in this interview. Yeah it sounds cool to have a brand, release product, have fans, get into boutiques but when other lives are dependent on the success of the brand, I feel like the game changes.
In the interview Ray says, “Some of the misconceptions of owning and operating a brand is that you don’t work, you just chill.” I feel like this is a common delusion about the world of branding. Most videos of brand owners don’t show or talk about the struggles daily. He talks about putting out fires. I have experienced this, mostly with my website. Sometimes I’ll just be browsing my site and realize something is awry and I Have to drop everything else I was going to do to fix it. It just happens. It is very understandable how when you add more and more pieces to your business, it can be. If you have a store front, a warehouse, dozens of store accounts you are just increasing the amount of places a fire can arise. Introducing new links where the chain can be broken.
The most telling part of the interview is when he talks about the decision he made right before his son was born. He was trying to decide if he should leave his company behind to work for another more established company. This is where the rubber meets the road. This is when you have to put away your cool guy ambitions and think about the lives that are depending on your success. The dreams of internet fame, and obscure Japanese blog write ups start to fade behind these realities. For Ray it worked out by going straight for Mighty Healthy. If you would have asked me a couple years ago what I would have thought if Ray had gone the more stable route to work for someone else instead of continue his brand I would have said that Ray failed. Today I would say that Ray made a choice. To me things were very black and white in this business. Either make your brand a success and live off of it, or know that you were a failure. I don’t think that way anymore. There are choices to be made in this life. Sometimes a brand can just be a stepping stone to something else. Hugh Prather said, “To live for results would be to sentence myself to continuous frustration. My only sure reward is in my actions and not from them.” Sometimes you have to find reward in that you are doing something, not necessarily how that something it is doing. I have to be ok that my brand might just be a transition to to something else.September 16, 2014