A collection of inspiration to kickstart creativity.
Monday, June 25, 2019
Monday, March 18, 2019
Friday, March 15, 2019
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Lessons learned from Bobby Hundreds
First of all, I want to thank you for making the effort to learn. This is a long message, and you took the steps to reach out and be better. If you can make it through and take some of the lessons to heart, you reveal the ambition and hard work you’ll apply towards your own dreams. Second, I apologize for my stock response. I usually get asked the same questions, so I streamlined an auto-reply to serve as many of you as possible (This is not my personal email, so I will not see any replies to this chain).
Finally, I hope this helps, even if to comfort you. Building a brand is a courageous endeavor. There are no rules and that can be scary and even lonely. Just know that there are many of us out here trying to do this, so you’re never alone in the fight! If you like what you read here, please pay it forward by telling your friends to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have any advice for my brand?
I can give you the boilerplate answers: Work hard. Have fun. But, the truth is I don’t have advice for you and your brand, specifically. Of course, I can tell you how we did it – the saga of The Hundreds. But that’s our way, and it won’t work the same for you.
Every brand is different, born of its own special set of circumstances. Every story is unique. Also, my philosophy on brandbuilding is centered on responding – or even fighting against – the brands that came before you. I know this is a confusing way to kick off this FAQ, but if you truly want to stand out, you should be reading my advice and then doing the exact opposite.
What does “The Hundreds” mean?
It does not stand for money. It’s about community: strength in numbers. Our mantra is People over Product.
How do I pick a name for my brand?
Oh, the fun part (Hold onto days like these, they are the most exciting times)! Look, it’s important to pick a good name, but don’t overthink it. Over time, your legacy will ultimately bestow the name with meaning. Up until Steve Jobs, an “apple” was a crunchy fruit and a strange label for a computing machine.
Choose a name that represents you and your perspective on the world. Every brand should have a purpose and a reason. I’m not interested in designers or labels that exist “just because.” Just because you like streetwear. Just because you want to make money. Just because you want clout. So, first, why are you doing this? You’re doing this to be heard.
You should feel like the marketplace is flooded with bad ideas. That everybody else is doing it wrong and you know best. You should feel marginalized, disenfranchised, and counted out by existing brands. If no one is gonna represent you, than you’ll do it yourself!
When we started, Ben and I knew that culture was vital to our project. The blog and web magazine were about bringing our community together and educating them. Same for our stores, events, and social media interaction. Some brands revolve around skateboarding or drugs or food. Others are politically driven. Some are about hometowns. Ours was about people, relationships, and movements (that’s why we called it “The Hundreds”), and these were themes that I felt were missing from the brands of the time.
Once you settle on a few names, do some broad sweeps of the Internet to see if they’re already taken or could be confused with existing brands. Scrub through social networks, search the hashtags. You can also run the name through USPTO.gov to see if the name has been registered as a trademark. Chances are, it’s already been taken, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use it. It’ll just be more of an uphill battle to clear that name the bigger you get. So, I suggest starting clean and making it easy on yourself. Don’t pick obvious and commonplace words. You are unique. So is your brand. Your name should follow accordingly.
How do I start a streetwear brand?
First, you are starting a small business. The rules differ by state, but in general, you have to register as a business structure (DBA, corporation, or LLC), open a bank account (to keep the company’s money separate from your own), and then get a license to do business. These are easily Google-able steps.
More importantly, you should do your research. I know Instagram tells you differently, but streetwear isn’t just hoodies, sneaker re-sellers, and screen-printed graphics. Like rap, skateboarding, or anything worthwhile, you must know the history. This isn’t just about paying your respects; it’s for your benefit. History is there to teach us what did and didn’t work in the past. It’s a cheat sheet of shortcuts. Why repeat someone else’s mistakes or even their successes? I want your brand to be a distinct and extraordinary chapter in streetwear’s history.
Do I need to worry about copyrights and trademarks?
Not now. I’d wait a bit to see if you catch some momentum. Trademarks (Intellectual Property or IP) are costly, can involve lawyers, and take a lot of hours. I know you are ready to marry this brand and only see infinity in the future, but take some time to date and explore the relationship. After the initial rush wears off and you’re in the weeds of your brand development, you may think of a better name. Your partners can drop out. You may lose interest. So, I don’t want you to have sacrificed all this time and expense in registering trademarks for nothing. You’ll know when is the right time to commit.
How much product should I give away to friends, or as a marketing expense?
There’s no right answer here. There are old industry formulas that companies use to calculate an optimal return on investment (like, 10% of your marketing budget should go to giving out free clothes), but I go by gut more than math. It’s nice to take care of the good homies and family who supported your endeavors, but it’s also important for them to show their endorsement by chipping in some dollars, even if you offer the product to them at a discounted price.
As far as promo (sending out free clothes to notable personalities), Ben and I have never quite adopted that program. Some brands are built entirely on influencers while others sponsor athletes and musicians. I agree, it’s important for your brand to have a “face,” so that the customer sees a connection between your clothing and a community. However, I would prefer it be more organic. So, even if you’re not friends with a celebrity, I believe it goes much further for your brand to show up on someone making noise in your own neighborhood, than a YouTube star with millions of subscribers.
How important is social media?
How important is electricity? Critical, yet at the same time, no big deal.
Social media is a tool, so treat it like a hammer or a car. It’s not what makes or breaks your brand, but it can help you to get the job done. Instead of worrying about the tool, think of the person using it: the driver, the artisan, the storyteller. That’s you. Focus on the message most of all and then work on how you’ll get it out there. There will always be another device to help you communicate, amplify your voice, and help you reach your audience. Newspapers, radio, commercials. Today, it’s social media. Tomorrow it’s IGTV, VR, and AR phone games. The technology itself is interchangeable. The people behind it are irreplaceable.
There are also other means of raising brand awareness and marketing that don’t involve social media. Parties and community-based events tie brands to social experiences. Stickers and wheatpaste campaigns can have better results than a Facebook ad – It can be more productive to impact a few people locally than to flash across someone’s feed. For The Hundreds, collaborations are an effective way to cross-pollinate two niche fanbases that would otherwise have nothing to do with each other. For example, we know the Back to the Future (or Mechanix or Fatburger or Modernica) fan is hardcore. So is the The Hundreds fan. 1+1=2, and after a successful collaboration together, we now have double the rabid followers.
How do you do a collaboration?
The objective of any collaboration is to not only better tell your story, but build onto your brand in a meaningful way. Collaborations should enhance your brand, tell another side that people don’t know about. Make you multi-faceted instead of being one-dimensional.
It’s a weird analogy, but collaborating is like hooking up with someone. You will rub off on each other, so choose partners with good standings and strong names that can only benefit your brand. In other words, try to always date UP. We have this unwritten rule that – especially when working with big partners – The Hundreds has to come away looking like we got the upper hand out of the arrangement. A collaboration is also a co-sign, so it will affect your reputation. Be careful of who you vouch for.
The collaboration should also make sense. Even if it might look like an odd pairing at first, make sure that the project is supported by a compelling origins story. This will help layer the brand’s narrative and plant deeper roots with your audience.
As far as contracts and agreements, they vary. There are handshake agreements over drinks and cocktail napkins where everyone splits the baby 50/50. There are heavy duty licensing contracts with entertainment studios where they take a 12% royalty. You can pay a partner a flat fee up front. Every collaboration is different and is strung together with its own deal points.
What’s your favorite collaboration?
This is the most popular question I get asked. Maybe because we’ve done so many impactful collaborations over our 15 years: Casio G-Shock, Warner Bros., Mr. Cartoon, Revelation Records, adidas, CLOT, Kenny Scharf, Reebok, XLARGE, etc. This answer changes constantly, but today, I’d say the two times we’ve worked with Garfield were my favorite co-branded projects to date. There was a lot of meaning and history to collaborating with Garfield, in that I learned how to draw as a kid by reading those comic strips. It was also a fun and easy experience to work with Jim Davis himself. It’s always nice to collab with partners who “get it” and are willing to break some rules, try something new, and get creative. The worst projects are the ones where our partners see the deals as moneymaking plays and care little about innovation. The point of every collaboration should be to create something that’s never existed before.
I can make T-shirts, but I want to make real clothing now.
First of all, why? Is it to make money? Because the hard truth is that many brands go out of business by venturing into cut-n-sew apparel. Designing clothing is a different ballgame from illustrating T-shirt graphics. Production is on an entirely different level, and it consumes so much more capital. Meanwhile, there are plenty of T-shirt labels over the decades that have made hundreds of millions of dollars by selling 1-color screenprints on stock T-shirts made in Mexico.
Is it to get respect? That’s a terrible reason to get into clothing. If you don’t care deeply and passionately about garment design, sewing, construction, and sourcing fabrics, then you will produce subpar clothing that will degrade your brand. The best clothing designers are nerds about the technicalities and process. Otherwise, you will burn out quickly.
If you are that person, however, then cut-n-sew may be your thing. You can make clothes locally and it’s honorable, but it can be prohibitively expensive, time consuming, and surprisingly, of poor quality. If you are considering overseas production, you can walk the floors of a sourcing tradeshow to be connected with factories. If you don’t have personal relationships with anyone in the industry, you can also scour the Internet for leads: Reddit, Alibaba… Don’t be afraid to knock on doors and ask for help. Don’t stop until you get an answer.
Should I quit my day job / school?
No. Ben and I stayed in grad school for the first two years of our brand. Unless you’re a rich kid, you should expect to go for broke, and you’ll need to survive by making money elsewhere. It took us three years before we paid ourselves a dime. Everything we made up until that point just got dumped right back into the company. Pace yourself. It’s a marathon.
Is wholesale dead? Should I sell directly to my customers through my Online Shop?
This is very topical as more retailers slough off and the next crop of brands pledge allegiance to DTC (Direct to Consumer). And, I totally get it. Why sell your brand to someone else’s store, where you reap half the profits and lose control of your image? I’m gonna play devil’s advocate here. The reason why wholesale is just as (if not more) important than selling DTC, is that the store acts as your ambassador in their community. Sure, you can access every neighborhood in the world through the Internet, but we all know that relationships are much deeper when established IRL. The stores have already built a rapport with the locals. They’ve been designated as tastemakers and curators to narrow down a thoughtful range of brands for their customers. So, by stocking your product, they are not only acting as a human face of your brand, they are co-signing you in front of their audience.
Plus – and there’s no way to objectively quantify this – some of the biggest and ,ost profitable Internet brands tend to remain exactly that, obscured from the main stage conversation. You may even prefer to stay underground and niche, but as your dreams get loftier, it helps to have a familiar name aboveground to broaden your opportunities.
I’m from a small town in the middle of nowhere. Can my brand make it?
Yes! In many ways, the Internet has equalized the playing field for smaller markets, giving a voice to the little guys. We are also living in a global economy where culture doesn’t just ripple out from LA, New York, Tokyo, and London anymore. For example, over the last decade, South Korea has become a major player in world music and fashion. Even here in the United States, Seattle has become a tech capital, Houston is a rap hub, and Austin and Las Vegas are ushering in a new wave of talent and industry. Reframe every weakness as a strength. Being from a small town grants you the opportunity to be the big fish in a small pond. You can get an entire city behind you, whereas here in Los Angeles, it’s dog eat dog. And with so many new brands and designers popping up every day, it’s difficult to stand apart in a big city.
Somebody stole my idea. What do I do?
I hate to break it to you (and your ego), but no idea is original. Occasionally, I’ll get a small brand attacking me on the Internet for stealing their T-shirt graphic idea, when in reality, we designed it two years before, and were also parodying the same cultural inspiration (a popular ‘80s movie or a vintage skate logo). As special as your mom tells you that you are, we are all ripping off the same references, drawing from the same pool of inspiration. There are only so many Tumblrs to source from, T-shirt books to photocopy, and album covers to lift.
And let’s say someone did blatantly rip you off. They maliciously jacked your logo or they saw a jacket you were working on and copied it down to the blind seams. Let me remind you that you are bigger than one idea. You are larger than ten ideas. Let them chase you and steal, because that means they’re always one step behind. You can always sue if you believe there are damages. You can handle it on a street level or shame the thieves over social media. But, did you know that fashion designs can’t be patented? Shockingly, the reasoning behind it is to encourage the creative process. That’s why fashion houses are always referencing past seasons and shopping for vintage treasures. They are constantly “being inspired by” or “paying homage to.” This remixing, re-interpreting, and updating of existing ideas is what fashion is based upon. Have enough confidence in yourself and creativity to keep moving forward and letting the biters eat off your scraps.
What do you think about “XYZ” brand?
It’s only unfair when you compare. This is about you and your brand only. If someone is doing better than you, that’s your fault. If a competitor is stealing the spotlight, take back the attention. Be better, smarter, and design something new. The longer you do this, you’ll realize that 99.9% of competitors defeat themselves. Put your head down and keep on going.
How do you deal with the Hate?
I just don’t take myself too seriously. So, someone doesn’t like me and I should be surprised? What – is everyone supposed to love me? Am I a toddler? A wise woman named Dita Von Teese once said, “You can be the ripest, juiciest peach in the world, and there’s still going to be somebody who hates peaches.”
I am comfortable with my value as a person and can divide it from my work. And to be honest, the critics CAN be right. Most of the time, they’re bored or jealous or have some personal vendetta that I don’t know about (I call these “invisible wars”). Once in a while, however, I can stand to be corrected or at least taught something new by a hateful stranger. Be humbled. Remember that it’s just clothing and there are much more important things happening on this beautiful planet; then, nothing can deter you. Same goes for all the praise and sycophancy. Take it with a grain of salt as well. You didn’t do this for anyone’s validation, you did it for yourself.
What do you think about the state of streetwear?
I think the media likes to cast streetwear in a singular light (high fashion, Supreme, re-sellers), but the truth is that streetwear is complex and nuanced. There are so many kinds now, so many degrees, and it’s exciting to see how far it’s come from a few T-shirt designers bucking mainstream fashion. Unfortunately, I don’t think the media and industry limelight will stay on streetwear for much longer, but personally, I believe that’s good for its health. It’ll be nice to scale back, collect ourselves, and watch the cream rise to the top. There’s just so much fat out there, that I think we’ve lost our way. Once the money’s lessened, I hope we can place our emphasis back on the culture.
Are there any good books I can read to help me with my brand?
There are a lot of interesting business books and podcasts (Simon Sinek, How I Built This), but nothing that is along the lines of what I’m writing here in my FAQ. However, you’re in luck! My book is releasing in early 2019. Titled “This is Not a T-shirt,” it will address my personal story, streetwear history, and the rise – and fall – and rise – of The Hundreds.
I’ve been doing this for a few years and haven’t seen much progress. Should I quit?
It’s fundamental to dream. Don’t let anybody tell you that you’re chasing the impossible. You don’t have to listen to anyone, BUT you must be in tune with yourself. Be realistic: Head in the clouds, feet on the ground. If you’ve invested years of your life into a brand and you aren’t achieving the success you’d hoped for, there’s no shame in letting it go. And take the lessons with you! I believe everyone should do a brand whether they think they can build a fashion empire or not. Because it’s not about the destination. It’s about starting the car and seeing where it takes you. I’ve met famous chefs, weed farmers, and wetsuit manufacturers who began their entrepreneurial journey by reading my blog and building a streetwear brand. They never became the next Virgil Abloh, but they did drive their car to the destination that was right for them. But, you gotta get the car started. You can’t steer it unless it’s moving.
Can I collaborate with you?
No(t yet), but don’t stop trying. If you really mean it, you’ll get your work to a point where you’ll be impossible to ignore. Create such a remarkable brand that I’d be an idiot to say No to you. But, of course, by then, you won’t need to work with my brand. The irony.
When did you know you made it?
I don’t know, because it’s never happened. And, I hope I never make it. Because that means it’s over.
Thank you for reading and enjoy the ride,
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Groovy tunes to create!
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
“Compulsive and sincere emotion should exist in all art.”Cai Guo-Qiang
Monday, March 11, 2019
“Fail big. Today’s the beginning of the rest of your life and it can be very frightening. It’s a new world out there, a mean world out there. You only live once, so do what you feel passionate about. Take chances professionally. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to go outside the box. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. Don’t be afraid to fail big, to dream big. But remember, dreams without goals are just dreams, and they ultimately fuel disappointment. So have dreams, but have life goals, yearly goals, daily goals. Understand to achieve these goals, you must apply discipline and consistency.”Denzel Washington
Friday, March 8, 2019
Thursday, March 7, 2019
Wednesday, March 6, 2019
“You can fail at what you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance at doing what you love.”Jim Carrey
Tuesday, March 5, 2019
“Be true to yourself, help others, make each day your masterpiece, make friendship a fine art, drink deeply from good books – especially the Bible, build a shelter against a rainy day, give thanks for your blessings and pray for guidance every day.”John Wooden
Make each day count! You may need to practice your craft daily for many years to become known, but you will forge your own unique path along the way! Live life as if tomorrow isn’t guaranteed, and you will be much happier!
Monday, March 4, 2019
Friday, March 1, 2019
“Slow down and enjoy life. It’s not only the scenery you miss by going to fast – you also miss the sense of where you are going and why.”Eddie Cantor
As a young and enthusiastic artist, there will be periods of time that fly by while honing your craft. However, be sure to find pockets of time to reflect on your journey and double-check the path you are on…this will help ensure you’re navigating towards your ultimate goal!
Thursday, February 28, 2019
Because the truth of the matter is that if you shatter the fishbowl so that everything is possible, you don’t have freedom. You have paralysis. If you shatter this fishbowl so that everything is possible, you decrease satisfaction. You increase paralysis, and you decrease satisfaction. Everybody needs a fishbowl. This one is almost certainly too limited — perhaps even for the fish, certainly for us. But the absence of some metaphorical fishbowl is a recipe for misery, and, I suspect, disaster.Barry Schwartz
Limit your wants and needs to just a few things to find satisfaction in your creative art. Otherwise you’ll end up regretting what you haven’t accomplished, instead of appreciating how far you have come!
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
“One of the characteristics of a leader is that the leader never doubts the capacity of the people he’s leading to realize whatever he’s dreaming”Benjamin Zander
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
“There is no such thing as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.’ There is no recession so great that it precludes possibility, and there is no wealth and power and fame that will protect you from falling into the downward spiral. So it’s available for everybody.”Benjamin Zander
Monday, February 25, 2019
“It’s not about how to achieve your dreams. It’s about how to lead your life. If you lead your life the right way, the karma will take care of itself. The dreams will come to you.”Randy Pausch
Spend 10 minutes dancing to your favorite music today, and give yourself some time to simply enjoy your creativity. Drown out the sea of dispassion for what your life is not, and instead just chill out to appreciate a moment of peace.
February 22, 2019
“Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”Aristotle
One good piece will not define your skill, even it becomes a million dollar headline. Excellence means pouring your heart into your craft everyday. Excellence means staying up till 2 am to work on your craft everyday. Excellence means continually improving your craft, even on your darkest of moments, everyday! The key is to find the source of strength, whether it be your dream or someone special that motivates you to keep pushing!
Thursday, February 21, 2019
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
“Confidence is the feeling you have before you fully understand the situation”Unknown
Creating can sometimes be tough, lonely, and even embarrassing. The key is to believe in the end goal and your creative potential to carry through the difficult days, especially for younger artists. If you’re ever in doubt, come read more of The Daily Juice and our artist interviews!
Tuesday, February 19, 2019
Monday, February 18, 2019
Just a reminder that the world is not ending!
Friday, February 15, 2019
“An artist should never be a prisoner of himself, prisoner of style, prisoner of reputation, prisoner of success.”Henri Matisse
Don’t be afraid to create because of some “box” that you or someone else puts you in! Let your creativity shine in whatever form it wants to express itself!
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Virgil Abloh, “Insert Complicated Title Here”
“Force yourself to do the one project that you believe in, and then it exists. That’s the one that’s going to lead you in your career, not necessarily the practical ones.”Virgil Abloh
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”Albert Einstein
Reminder to take a deep breath and pace yourself for your creative journey ahead! As long as you give your passions time to take shape, everything will happen for you!
Monday, February 11, 2019
“While you are at it, make your art. Do the stuff that only you can do. The urge, starting out, is to copy. And that’s not a bad thing. Most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people. But the one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”Neil Gaiman
Let others inspire you, but be sure to live life and create on your terms!
Friday, February 8, 2019
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”Mark Twain
Take some time today to reflect on your life goals and prioritize your future achievements. By doing this, you’ll help narrow down the one or two goals that you MUST work towards. These will be the biggest sources of disappointment down the road, if you don’t begin actively exploring, dreaming, and discovering the path to your success!
Thursday, February 7, 2019
“Well, when you look into infinity, you realize that there are more important things than what people do all day.”Calvin and Hobbes
Find what really lights the fire inside of you, and chase that energy in spite of all that works against you. Life becomes too dull when we do meaningless things everyday, so turn your days into an adventure as if you’re in a cartoon!