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
The separation of talent and skill is one of the greatest misunderstood concepts for people who are trying to excel, who have dreams, who want to do things. Talent you have naturally. Skill is only developed by hours and hours and hours of beating on your craft.
How do you make your brand have a mass effect by having mass appeal? Today my brand was sent out in an email along with other products to over 600,000 email subscribers. I’ve been able to manage marketing efforts like this a few times during the history of my brand. I remember the first time it happened, “My products are going to be sent to hundreds of thousands of people?” I waited with baited breath. You see I’d thought like most people I imagine that what my brand lacked was exposure. If only I could get my products in front of more people’s eyes. Surely they would want it. If only 2% of the people who received the email opened it, of those few individuals some would purchase my product and I would see a large uptick in sales for that week. It didn’t happen leaving me to scratch my head as to why.
Consumer behavior isn’t that simple. It’s not simply enough that the product that they see is good. It isn’t enough for them to see something they like on the internet. How many times have I seen cool things on the net and not purchased them? Isn’t that the whole purpose of Tumblr and Pinterest? Their very existence is for you post all of these pictures of things you like, without actually buying any of it. The ultimate poser move, “These are all of the things I would buy if I were actually into buying things.” People don’t just buy things they like, the formula is so much more complex than that, it is so much more complex than I want it to be.
The hardest question that experiences like this make me ask myself is, “If I get my brand in front of a few thousands eyes and nothing significant happens where do I go from there?” It is a very defeating question. What’s the point? Just stop now. The world doesn’t care about these products. They have their loyalties already, how exactly will you steal theirs? There are no shortcuts I’ve found. I haven’t been able to go from 0 to 100 like the success stories of a lot of other brands. However nothing in my life happens that way. What did I expect? I didn’t get to where I am overnight and it is going to take more than a few mass emails to get me where I want to be. Despite the fact that I feel my pictures are better, my collection more cohesive, my website more appealing. It’s time to put my head down and just try to be incrementally better next time. To quote Big Willie, (Will Smith) “You don’t set out to build a wall. You don’t say ‘I’m going to build the biggest, baddest, greatest wall that’s ever been built.’ You don’t start there. You say, ‘I’m going to lay this brick as perfectly as a brick can be laid. You do that every single day. And soon you have a wall.” Tomorrow it’s time to get my head out of the clouds and lay another brick.September 10, 2014
History will be kind to me for I intend to write it.
This is what I like about fashion. The storytelling. Reebok is behind this one in particular. They teamed up with The Rig Out which is a creative agency that has a biannual publication as well. I am not a large fan of Reebok. When I was a kid there was the big three. Nike, Adidas, and Reebok for athletics. Then sometime during my childhood Reebok disappeared. Not sure what happened to them, and then out of nowhere one day, they returned. However during their absence I lost all fondness for the brand. When people in my high school started wearing the all white Reebok classics lows I wanted no part of them. Like an estranged father they abandoned me during my time of need, and when they returned I wanted no part of them. My affections were no more. I do really like this video from my once absent parental. From the title I knew it was going to be good. A play on words of their staple collection Reebok Classics, ‘Give Me Your Classics And I’ll Show You The Future.’
The are telling the history of the UK. How things used to be. How it used to be a nation of industry, and a nation of music frontrunners. It is a great parallel. Showing how things have changed, how times have changed in the nation. The youth are different, their ways are different however no matter how divergent the youth’s product is, it has to be built on the foundation of the classics. Whether they run from their history or imitate it, it is characterized by what once was.
I love using fashion and media as a medium to tell stories like this. Don’t make it about the clothes, make it about something more. In this video they made the shoes, the culture to be the story of England. Engrained in it’s roots. Whether the brand or the products are or not is irrelevant. The are bridging the gap between the company, and the consumer. There are so many lines of this video that resonate with me and I am not British, nor have I ever owned a pair of Reebok classics. They were able to capture a mindset. The rebellious youth who have always been told how things were. How things were better, how they should have been there. Then they give the challenge that we can make things better, we can make our own story.
This is what I try to do myself with every collection. Make it about more than the clothes, more than product, I feel inspired.September 8, 2014
If there’s a bright center to the universe, you’re on the planet that it’s farthest from.
Luke Skywalker, A New Hope
The man, the myth, the legend. Foster Huntington. I first learned of him from this article feature on The Hundreds (Basically where I hear about everything). Foster is the man behind such blogs as A Restless Transplant and The Burning House. Foster is a male in his mid twenties who figured out how to get paid for documenting his dream life. As the story goes he want to college in Maine and afterward he landed a job at Polo. While there he started the blog The Burning House and landed a book deal for the blog that paid him more money than an entire years salary at Polo. He quit his job, bought a van and started traveling around the country surfing, and living out of his van. He also started documenting other vans and release a Kickstarter funded book called Home is Where you Park it. Currently he is working for Patagonia which makes perfect sense. He travels around the coast surfing and camping wherever he can which is exactly the Patagonia lifestyle.
I can’t recall another individual who is able to wield the power of the internet so effectively. To begin all of these projects organically and have them be successful is no small feat. It’s crazy to me how some people can use that formula so well and leave the rest of us scratching our heads. When I hear his story I start to think, “Oh, I can do that too.” But, I’ve tried. He is the Luke Skywalker of the internet and the force is with him, it has been proven more than once. If you have ever tried to market anything using the internet you will know. I’ve gotten blog posts, a Kickstarter, videos, none of them were anything close to reaching the scale of his projects.
So what can we learn from him?. It reminds me of how when the United States was being founded people would move out west just to explore and the chart their own course. They wanted the freedom, the unknown. How many of us would love to be able to do the same. Maybe some of the people reading this right now will. This is the goal, this is what modern culture has taught us to do. If you do choose to step out and create the life that you want, it may just be so different from everyone else’s life that they will want to pay attention. Make your job, don’t find it.September 3, 2014
You buy furniture. You tell yourself, this is the last sofa I will ever need in my life. Buy the sofa, then for a couple years you’re satisfied that no matter what goes wrong, at least you’ve got your sofa issue handled.
Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
I sent in my submission to The Burning House blog. The burning house is a blog began by Foster Huntington where people send in submissions to answer this question, “If your house was burning, what would you take with you?” This was a very interesting question to answer. Basically how I tried to answer the question was to show the few possessions that I own he tell the most about myself. It was an interesting exercise. The majority of the things that I show in the picture are things that are actually replaceable, however the stories behind them aren’t.
I am not the biggest proponent of owning things. Possessions have not always been that important to me (Haha, I moved to Los Angeles over 3 months ago and my apartment is still mainly unfurnished). Up until January of this year everything I owned could fit in my car. What is the purpose of owning lots of things? The purpose of this has been mainly lost on me. I lived the life of a college student a while after I finished college, maybe too long. I thought, “I want to be mobile. I don’t want all of this stuff weighing me down, trapping me, consuming me.” So I traveled light.
Then in December of last year (Christmas time is when I always reflect on the state of my life) I was like. How much of my life am I going to live without sleeping on an actual bed. Not that you can’t have a fulfilling life without owning a bed, but I started to wonder what was the purpose of this. I have reached a place in my life where I can enjoy some comforts. A bed should probably be one of them. Do I really want to have had not owned a bed for over a third of my life for no reason? It started to sound a little absurd.
Doing this exercise let me take things a step further. What this exercise taught me is that is the most important thing I think about the things that you own is not the item itself, it is the story behind it. It isn’t what you own, it is why you own it. What you did with it. I am kicking myself that I didn’t put in a different hockey stick that I own. It is one that my teammate bought. When I was in one of my beer league championship games (Silver south Championship at Icetown in Riverside California). We were the Ducks vs the dastardly Canadiens. We rallied at our bench before the game like we were straight out of an Emilio Estevez film. I scored two goals then broke my stick on the side of the net while diving towards the goal. I immediately dropped the pieces of my shattered Excalibur and rushed to the bench (It’s a penalty if you don’t drop your broken stick in hockey. Found that out the hard way in a previous game that season). Just then one of my teammates John (Half my team was named John) handed me his backup stick in a gesture of ultimate kinship. I felt like we were the Knights of the Round table when I brandished his blue blade. John was a lot shorter than me, but we were both right handed. I went on to score two more goals (Shorthanded as well) with this stick that was too short for me. We defended our homes and our realm. I ate, they drank. We hoisted the trophy and the rest is history.
That is what I want. I want to own items like those. The ones that got me out of a bind. Lead me to greatness. Thwarted evil. I would rather have my brand new top of the line Warrior Dt1 hockey stick shown in the picture above burn in a blaze than John’s short blue stick with the wrong curve. I don’t want to impress people with how expensive my things are. I want to be able to know what my things mean to me. I want them to know that I use them, and that I use them well. Now I’m off to my hockey game tonight to hopefully make a legend of another stick.September 3, 2014
“The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough. They’re there to stop the other people.”
Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
The Rise of Brixton. A company that I never really understood. I never understood how Fedora’s and old style headwear fit in the world of skateboarding. Maybe it’s because I’m not a skateboarder (Despite that I still own a couple pairs of OG Chad Muska Supra Skytops). What I do understand is progression and an entrepreneurial spirit, and that’s what I appreciated most about this feature from The Hundreds on the brand Brixton. I never really understood what the brand was about. Out of all of the startup skate/independent brands that have come up over the years I wouldn’t have chosen them to have made it to this much success. The formula makes sense however. The founder David Stoddard was working for the Transworld magazine when he conceptualized the idea for Brixton. Then he left the company with 2 other partners who also had worked for the magazine and started Brixton. They pooled together $10,000 from each of them and formed the brand. This interview gave me much more respect for them. The article touched on something that I have been wondering about. To be successful in startup fashion, do you have to have had prior experience in the fashion industry?
Should I quit my day job to pick up another one working for another brand so that I can learn what it takes, and make connections with the right people to further my own brand? Should I shoot off a resume to Bobby Hundreds to see if I can intern for them. If I have some skill that they could use? It seems like a good formula for success. You get yourself in the trenches and you gleam all you can from your position until you can spread your own wings and fly. It worked for Brixon. Although he was mainly more in advertising it connected him with the right people who also had similar passions and they combined their dream into something. Why am I not taking this path
Why am I afraid to do this? Why don’t I want to take this step. Ideally I would love to make a clean jump from working my current full time job straight into working for myself. No, not ideally, in my mind that’s the only way it will happen. I don’t want to have to deal with the middle ground. I don’t want to have to give up the traction I have made in my current industry (Which isn’t fashion) to work for someone else again. I want to give this job up only to go work for myself. The day I hopefully leave my day job I want to step out into the abyss only to be caught by the loving embrace of my own pursuits. It may be my pride, it might be my stubbornness, but that’s how I want to do it. This also could be why I never make it.August 29, 2014
I’m still the law around, clean it up… and brush your teeth.
Carter, Rush Hour
This afternoon my friend Google Analytics informed me that apparently the La Mer Collection was featured on the Chinese blog Kidulty today. As a startup clothing brand, after you release a collection there is always the waiting. You’ve been sitting on the product for weeks. The designs you’ve probably been sitting on for months. You post everything and then you wait. You wait for the world to come to you. The world to herald you in your accomplishments. During the wait time you conjure up visions of greatness. How the world will just burst into tears of joy at the gift of your imagination interpreted through plush garments for all to enjoy. It doesn’t always happen that way. You check your Google Analytics and your bounce rate is still over 50%. Half of the bloggers you wrote to show your collection haven’t posted about it, and you didn’t get a bunch of reblogs on Tumblr You wonder why more people haven’t taken just a little more out of their day to view what you made for them. What you poured out for them.
The internal struggle of an entrepreneur. To stay even keeled. To anticipate, but not to over anticipate. To leave yourself room for growth. Room to do it again. Room to do it better. You have to manage your expectations. To be just real enough with yourself to identify where you could have done better and improve upon them, but not too real. To be optimistic, but not so optimistic as to ignore the pitfalls of business. You don’t want to be so depressed that things didn’t go exactly the way that you planned that you give up, but not so overly optimistic that you forgo your data and keep making products that won’t stubbornly keep making the same products without adapting to the market. You consciously manage your outlook to control how you feel coming out of things. It’s like you survey the scene. You learn the path ahead, and then you cover your eyes and immediately try to walk through it. You know what you are covering your eyes to avoid seeing.
Years ago I would’ve been ecstatic about this blog post, but now I’ve been around for a while. I know that it is going to take more than a few blog posts overseas to take my brand where I want to go. I won’t get overly excited. I’m going to do what all of us entrepreneurs are used to doing. I’ll put it in my cap and get back to my daily business, my daily grind. Hopefully one day all of these little events will build upon themselves and transpire into one big event. Until then, it’s just about the daily.August 26, 2014