This interview came to me yesterday from a student at Full Sail. He will be using it for a business class. Figured i’d post it as some of you may find interest in it. It will give you a little background into some of the “business” philosophy behind SP. Sweet!
How and why did you start your company? In the basic sense, I started Still Proud Clothing as a creative outlet because I wanted to have something of my own. The idea first took flight after getting laid off from a 9 to 5 in late 2008. I always had the idea to start a line but never really had the time. I’m the type that really focuses on what I’m trying to do before jumping in and being unemployed afforded me the opportunity to investigate the ins and outs of running a clothing company. So I began a little over a year ago and have been working hard to get our name out there as my long term goal is to turn this into a full-time gig. I have a ways to go and a lot to learn but I’m very focused on it and absolutely love what I do. Music and the lifestyle surrounding it is a very big part of what SP is about as I’ve been actively involved (through playing in bands, running a booking agency, and music journalism) in the industry for the better part of the last 10 years of my life, so this is really my swing at staying up to date in the scene.
What do normal day-to-day tasks look like for your job? Well, I also work a day job which goes from 11:30-8 p.m so I’m always hustling before and after work. The majority of my time is devoted to reaching out and interacting with my existing and potential customers via Social Media (Blogging, MySpace, Face book, Twitter) and of course coming up with new design ideas.
What previous education, training or skills would a job with your company entail? It all depends as right now SP is a one man show but as we grow of course I’d be looking for people with specific skills mainly in the graphic design area. This person would need to have a keen eye for music and fashion and a strong understanding of who we are and what we’re trying to accomplish.
Given the state of the economy and where it seems to be heading, how has this affected your business and how have you adjusted accordingly to maintain an edge? We started pretty much at the beginning of this mess so I don’t know any other economic state. With that being said, with half our second release selling within one month and quite consistent orders coming in weekly I’d say were doing pretty good for a small company in dire times. My belief is that if you have something that gives value or an identity to an individual you will succeed regardless of the economic state.
Describe the working relationship you have with your employees/sponsorees? How do you motivate them to keep spreading the word and bring value and new attention to the company? With my sponsorships I work with bands that have the same hustle and drive but it can be tough. Tough in that I understand their number one focus is to promote their music so I try to make sure that they back us 100% before working together as it’s really a reciprocating door. Ultimately, I like to think of the relationship as a family, and thus treat it that way.
What is the most satisfying part about your job and what you do? What gives you the most grief (if anything)? The best part to me is seeing people from different backgrounds and cultures coming together to support the concepts and ideals behind our releases. The independent music and street wear scene is a dynamic culture all its own and to be a part of that is very exciting. I don’t really have any gripes but of course there are areas that I’m working on strengthening such as the business side but it’s all a learning experience. As they say “Rome wasn’t built in a day.”
In my Introduction to Management class we study a lot of different skills such as planning, organizing, leading and controlling, problem solving processes, decision making and delegating as well as motivating, influencing, communication and managing conflicts. What in your opinion is the most important for you and your company? I would say planning as it’s the majority of what I devote my brain power too. Without a clear plan you’re pretty much floating around out there and waiting for things to happen. With SP I know what I want and that’s what I’m working towards. On the product front, I don’t put out low quality, meaningless designs. Quite a bit of thought and planning goes into each design as well as the quality because I don’t want to merely put out clothing, I aim to release durable products with a message. As far as company goals, I hope to take this as far as it can go while still maintaining a DIY ethic so I also focus a lot on how I can keep building on this idea.
What’s the most challenging aspect of your role in your company? The most challenging aspect so far has been with maintaining a consistent release schedule. Being a one man team is tricky especially since I don’t print my own shirts or have graphic design skills so I have to contract this out to others. While that delegating is taking place I’m also busy hustling to get my current line out to potential customers and working a day job that takes up the majority of my day. It’s tough but I manage. Ideally I want to put out 3 releases a year with one offs scattered in between but I know I’ve got to keep hustling our name out there so eventually it will have the notoriety to sell itself. Once this has been established I can focus a majority of my effort towards our seasonal schedule and expansion.
Is there any special advice that you would have for somebody like myself who is attempting to enter this field? I would say know what you want, do your research, and get ready to work hard. It’s as cut and dry as that. Study those who have done it and don’t be afraid to ask questions. One resource that I would suggest any aspiring clothing line to check out (which has been a big help to me) is www.t-shirtforums.com/. That forum can pretty much answer any question you could possibly have in regards to the clothing (or at least t-shirt) world.