Updated: Mar 16, 2020
OK, hear tea hear tea. Did you like that I know you did, wow so cordial, so fun, so fresh?
I am going to be talking about the brand I founded with my partner Shehroz Asad. Its called 90sKids (NO SPACE, CAPTIAL K.) Our PR team didn't even get that right when sending out our press release... Thanks...
Over the last year, it has been rough. Im not gonna lie to your computer screens and be like "OMG IM LIVING THE LIFE". I think I can do that on my own, no branding needed. The thing about this is the people I have had to work with and the sacrifices I have to make, it has been a lot. Guys... I'm not mad at it, but I have had to struggle too much and it's taking its sweet time to come into fruition (cut to me in two years, talking about how it was all worth it). People calling you dumb, your money disappearing, and it feels like your life is ending becuase if it wasn't for what seems to be a money pit, you would be financially stable...
Honestly, it is really hard. But I think there is something really powerful about investing in your passions, becuase without passion, success is holo.
ANYWAYS... back to the regularly scheduled program. Growing a business is hard, emotionally, financially and mentally. Especially in fashion and ESPECIALLY in Toronto. Toronto though being seen as a growing city has a lack of networks and connections needed to succeed, at least for those that want to pursue a career in fashion. Afterall fashion week was cancelled this season... (MORE ON THAT IN THE NEXT POST). But for now, I am going to focus on the Journey I have gone through and what I would have done differently for those looking to do business in Toronto.
I WOULD HAVE MOVED TO AMERICA...
JKJK, no but seriously... I would if I could, I plan on moving to New York next year. Let me know if you like to help me fund that!
We started off with no idea what to do. I know in retrospect starting a clothing brand doesn't seem that hard. Besides the fact that you have to have the talent and the right resources. Super easy...
Here is why it is hard to do it in Toronto though. All of the factories that you can find locally only make sweats and basics nothing avant-garde or fashion worthy tbh. You might be asking how other brands that don't do that make it in Toronto, it is becuase they have really good connections abroad, or make very few pieces. Then you look at what it takes to build a brand, we had no idea. We had knowledge of personal branding, none of which we learned in school. So we went to find the right people to help us. We wanted a mentor. We found one that owns his own brand and on paper seemed amazing. But we had to pay him to mentor us... A lot of money later we still don't have anything to show for it. HEY! We opened Toronto Fashion Week, but that's all we have thus far. We invested so much money into having a show that we didn't invest enough money into production costs... Do not get me wrong, we learned a lot along the way. But we were not well prepared, that says a lot about said mentor... huh. People will charge you the absolute most, to do the absolute least. Sometimes I just want to yell in their face and go:
"WE DON'T [FUCKING] DO SLOW"
This in no way is here as a way of self-hate but I wanted to share this journey as I am on this path and I have made mistakes, and I could ask for money to share this knowledge, but I feel like in the pursuit of growth. You, the readers deserve to see what its like and transparency to me is everything.
So put all of that aside, working on designs, not being able to make some designs because they are to create for the factories we were able to contact. Not to mention the ones we could find could not produce it in mass quantity, nor do it for an affordable cost. That put us back to square one, re-analyzing what our next move will be, who can we contact, not to mention wanting to create ART on a self-funded budget. It was and is hard. We didn't think about how much it truly would cost to start a fashion brand. We didn't want it to be another basic Instagram store. We are building it to be amongst that of Off-White and Palm Angels.
We had our show to let you know, that 90sKids is going to be that brand to put Toronto on the map. It is off to a rough start, but give us a year to catch up.
Here we are talking to factories in China to produce our collection. Then Corona happens, and the political stance of the country is in sway. So factories are closing and withholding production. That completely derails what we already had going for us, we have to shift countries of production delaying our launch. Then in this new country, they are not cooperating or simply cost too much for the line we would like to create. We want to create an ethically conscious streetwear brand, that fills the needs and hearts of people. Bridging that gap between New York and Toronto fashion. Basically you have to find the right market and have the resources to fill the market.
I realized and recommend to anyone that wants to start a successful brand. Start off with $10,000. We personally started with a lot less and are making it work, but there is a lot less headache when you do so. That should be enough to start your brands, and maybe develop a few pieces. That's hard to do in this capitalist age, but as they say, money makes money. If you are rich, good for you, use that money. If you are like me, well... Working full-time, going to school, and really doing the most is the flex.
I want to end this very bumpy post. Bumpy because it was pretty all over, that's just where my brain is at right now. With the quote, I have been living by the past couple of months.
"Do not give up, one day you will look back and be glad you didn't"
Running this brand and solving the constant flow of problems. I have grown a lot, a lot of ups and downs. But one thing I will say, that I am sure you have heard a lot. Which I don't think people fully understand. BE PERSISTENT, BE PASSIONATE. Build a team, know who you can trust, invest money, and know that what you are doing is what you want. Most importantly don't be afraid of failure. If you do fail, at least it'll be a great story. Maybe you can tell me about it, and ill share it here!