I’ve been reading a few things recently floating around on the internet with regards to brand integrity, supporting new independent start ups and the like, and I thought I’d share my opinion.
A few months back, I was given the opportunity at university to do away with the standard dissertation, and instead follow the course in the way of a business and enterprise module; instead of writing an essay that I’d have no intention on progressing, I was able to put my mind towards ideas and ethics that would change my way of working.
I used this part of my course as a means to start up a project that I had been sitting on for some time; it had always been a pipedream of mine to start up my own clothing brand, but now I saw a way of pushing myself towards achieving this goal, and that’s how Fruitmachine’s evolved. From an idea, a vision that’s now become a reality.
Ben from Bake Designs came in to chat to us about his successes from also participating in the business module a year previous; his work is exceptional. If you’re not already familiar with it, get involved. I found that in listening to Ben’s own experiences in creating his brand, I was slowly changing my opinions of how to develop my own enterprise; his discussion triggered new ways of thinking for me, and new ways to tackle problems that I may face.
After the talk, I got in contact with Ben, and asked whether he’d welcome the possibility of a further discussion into streetwear, Bake, and my own ideas for my brand. My intentions of having a further discussion with Ben were not to be for the purpose of basing my business model upon his own, but rather to learn more from his experiences in the industry so far.
A week or so later, Ben and I met at The Bank in Stokes Croft and what was originally intended to be an hour or so chatting over a casual pint, turned into three pints and pizzas, and three hours of thorough conversation, deliberating other independent brands like The Broken Teeth and Any Forty, and our own respective brands.
I felt as though Ben and I were on the same page; we shared like-minded views upon brand ethos, integrity and values, which was particularly beneficial for me. We also discussed the development of creating a brand image; ways in which to label products in order to raise their value and so on. I appreciated his openness in talking about his own experiences with developing his products, as it allowed me to gain relative insight into where I could potentially go with my own brand, and where to avoid. We considered the issues with referencing popular culture and design in streetwear; there seems to be a fine line between reference and flat out imitation. It’s a line that I hope to stay on the side of reference, rather than imitation. I am sure that I will be meeting up with Ben in the future to further examine the world of streetwear… and I also owe him a pint.
Now a few months on from that meet up, I’ve launched my brand, tracked down manufacturers and stockists, all within the realms of hard work and dedication. There’s no easy way to go about it; you can only learn so much from what other people have told you, and much more is to be gained from going it alone. It’s easy enough to ask people advice of where to get things printed and produced, but much more essential questions are seemingly forgotten; “What’s the quality like? Did you have any problems?”.
I can’t quite put my finger on a way to sum up how I’m feeling about how to start out. All I know is I can understand the frustrations people have had in asking for help and not getting the answers they’ve hoped for, after being in that situation myself. The problem lies within the way in which those questions are communicated; if you just straight up ask someone a question that’s blunt and crass, it’s not subtle that you’re looking for an easy way out. It has to be understood that in asking those sorts of questions, you pose a threat as a potential competitor. Some people obviously don’t want to spill the beans to competitors. Others, on the other hand, will spare you some time, give you some advice and a helping hand if they feel you’ve made your point in a way that offers a hand of friendship before a slap of indignation. You’ve shown respect in what they have to say, rather than pinching a few contacts and running a mile.
What does everybody else think? Let’s talk.