On Today Interview on “YHP”, I have been Privileged enough to interview the Founders of the Fast growing clothing line, Known as “The Teddy Bear Club”.
As they say on their facebook page,
The line is a new funky, soft, retro.... No scrap that it is what you make it, colourful designs made to suit every individual!!
I think I need to get myself one of them jumpers as soon as possible, I’m jealous that I still haven’t got one.
I’m not just saying it because I am interviewing you guys, but the sky is your limit, and you guys have got some unique brand right here and I believe it’s staying.
I just want you guys to know that you both are an huge influence to young and aspiring entrepreneurs out there, and I want you to keep doing your thing.
Anyways enough of the Chit-Chat, let’s jump straight into it.
How are you both today?
Very well, just been working on the designs for our official launch, due later this year
You need to understand that i’m a very big fan of your clothing line and I have been following it for quite a while now, and I have to say that for a long time, I haven’t seen such a unique brand as this before. I think it is simple, elegant, and classy with the simple touch of youth?
We appreciate the love, everyone have been good to us and we are working hard every day to bring in new ideas and still stay loyal to our self and the people that have supported our simplicity, my Dad always says that simplicity is genius, and that has stuck with me ever since, I personally studied graphics design (Yomi) and as a designer we are taught to keep our designs easy on the eye, there’s a word that my lecturer used to use all the time when he didn’t like something “that’s visually busy, change it” so to avoid him saying that about my work, I tried to make everything simple, but effective
Before we proceed - can you give us a little background information about yourself – your names? Where you live? How old you are?
Name: Yomi Akosile
Location: East London
Background: Graduated 2007 in Graphics Design & Photography, was working freelance for about a year, then God inspired the TBC design, and now working part – time on the clothing line, also working full time for a management company, Starmix Management, check us out @ www.starmixmgt.com, that’s our family there, we organise events and also running a record company, check out the site, but yeah i design all the flyers, logos and anything that we need for our events or our artist, also in charge of the music department, finding new talents etc, and also play football for Newham united, so my weeks are very packed lol
Name: Akin Cole
Location: East London
Background: Graduated 2008 in Business studies, working for Starmix Management as the P.R and also organising different event
When did you start?
Akin rang me about 2 years ago and said, since you do graphics and i do business, i think we should start our own clothing line, we are practically family so i didn’t give it a second thought, we played about with different designs, playing with words, just doing lots of research, different ideas and designs was coming through, but something didn’t click
Then in October 2007 i broke my ankle playing football for my team and was in hospital for 9 days, Akin bought me a sketch pad and pencil and told me to see what i can come up with, but i was more worried about my operation than anything else, to God be the glory the operation went well and i was dis-charged, over the Christmas period i wanted to treat myself, so i got myself a new laptop and started designing and one day i was looking at a teddy bear that a female friend got and decided to try and use that concept to design a logo that everyone can relate to, and since everyone had a teddy bear growing it, that was the click that we was looking for, loaded the logo on to myspace, the comments just kept on rushing in and we decided to print them on a tee, took a few pics in my studio and loaded it up online, and next thing you know people started placing their orders, and this was the black & white logo, then we started adding colours to it, and people started asking to get their bear personalised, and it just blew from there, the amount of people wearing our design is wonderful, and i am like a lil kid when i see someone with the top on, because out of my adversity came a beautiful design that everyone can relate to, and to see the support we are getting, just makes all the hard work pay off
What I want to know is what inspired you to start this business, not to mention the amount of clothing line out there today? Wasn’t there a bit of pressure to succeed?
In everything you do in life you have to believe in your product, we knew that there was nothing like this in the uk and all the other clothing lines out there only played with words, but we had graphics and colour, and that was the prime time when everyone was into their funky colours, and our generation actually take more care about their appearance, we both like to look good and every time you see us, we are always on point, and as you can see that shows in our design.
And the main thing that kept us going was the amount of people messaging us asking how to join the club, and pressure is a useful tool if used in the appropriate way, we didn’t have no pressure because we felt like we had a league of our own
How confident where you when you started, did you think the brand will get so popular so fast?
We know it was going to blow, but the rate in which it did was a surprise; we talk about it all the time and feel very blessed to be in the position and have this opportunity to make a difference in the fashion world
You know what let’s go back into the past a little bit, How did both of you meet each other, even then start a company together?
LOL!! We met in secondary school (Royal Docks Community School) Akin came and sat next to me in year 7 and said, Yomi what’s going on, and i am thinking how did this boy know my name lol, but we are both easy going people and that’s why we have worked so well together and people think that we are family because of how close we are, and we both see each other as family and we are there for each other no matter what, a partnership made from heaven lol
How did the name TBC comes about, who formed the name?
(Yomi) After the logo was designed, i was thinking of a name to match and thought that if we call it with something to do with a group, people will be more interesting in asking about it, and i saw the Chris Browns breakfast club thing, so i decided to call it The Teddy Bear Club, and it got people asking what this club was all about, and the more they ask, the more people knew about the range and the more interest we got and people started calling it TBC and we just decided to go with that as well
I heard friends should not do business together; more or less young adults how do both of you cope?
Like we both stated before, we both came from a hard working background, and loyalty is a big part of our culture (Nigeria) like i said before, we are like brothers and our personality is different which makes it work because we never clash over anything, we both have the same goal and if we ever fall out, our family will get us talking again, so i don’t think there’s any way of us falling out, unless he sleeps with my wife lol.
Young adults can work together, only if success and not money that drives them
How are you coping with the popularity at this moment? Hope you are not encountering too much Paparazzi?
LOOOL, we wish
The popularity is good for the growth of the clothing line and everywhere we go, we get mad love, facebook has done a lot for us and i am surprised about the amount of people that knows about the clothing line, but i wouldn’t mind the paps following me around for a day tho, as long as i got my TBC top on, then i am blessed lol
So have you got any up-coming events and shows that you’re organising or par-taking in, so consumers are able to follow you?
We are currently working on our launch party, set for summer 09, just getting all our collections done, for example Jeans, Polo, Shorts etc
But they can join the group on facebook, type in the group search : The Teddy Bear Club and join the group where we send regular updates about what we are getting up to.
How can people get in touch with you, most importantly, how can they purchase their own pair of TBC.
We have got a temporary shopping cart running, and that can be found @ www.TBCClothing.com or you can e-mail us: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
So at the moment, what you do is just hoodies and shirts right? Are you going to diverse into other designs?
Yes, we are very excited about the collection we have got coming out and that’s going to take us to another level, that’s why you haven’t seen us at no fashion shows because we don’t feel like we have got a collection with just Tee’s, Sweats and Hoody, but with Jeans, Dresses, shorts, Varsity Jackets, Fitted caps, shirts etc coming out, if you love the range we have got out now, you are going to fall in love with our range
I mean it must be intense, you guys must be really busy, and how do you do it?
We both work for the same company, which makes it easier for us to get things done, we both ask for different days off to get what we need doing, and we are getting managed by Starmix that we both work for, so things run really smooth and very professional, its not easy and our social life has gone down the drain, hard work pays off and we know where we are going.
We both go gym twice a week, Akin is my personal trainer and that gives us time to release the stress and talk about our plans for the future
Have you encountered any setbacks or negative experience so far and how did you cope with it?
If you’re not doing something Wright, no one talks about you, and you get negative vibe with everything that you do, us black people find it hard to support each other which is a shame, that’s why we don’t grow as a group because there’s no trust or support, we had a few people bad mouthing our design when things started picking up, and the same people are now wearing our clothes lol, sometimes you just have to ignore any bad vibe you get and prove them wrong, now when i see them i just laugh
What do you do in your spare time? When you’re not in the TBC site?
Pro evolution soccer is an addiction, and we are both Christians so we go to church every Sunday, also play power league football during the week, and Yomi plays for his team on Saturday
I do freelance graphics design and photography (Yomi)
Who are your Role Models/ Influences?
(Yomi) 2pac, and when i say Pac i am not talking about all his gangster west coast thing he was hiding behind, the real Pac, the intelligent Pac, if you read more about his early life you will understand how brilliant this guy is
Kanye West, Nas, Will Smith – Just people that have achieve something out of nothing and still stayed true, Pac drifted abit but he was still a big role model in my life
I can say that music is my main influence because that’s all gets me through any situation in my life
(Akin) My mum really, she taught me the value of life and money from an early age and i have taken that into the business world
Music plays a big part in my life aswell
What are the most important lessons you have learnt so far?
Friendship, and to treat people how you want to be treated and our people skills have improved alot
What has been the best advices you both been given so far?
Don’t think about money, that will always come after the work is done
What has been your greatest achievement so far?
JLS wearing out tee on the X-Factor finals, that was one of the proudest days for our business, and we hope there’s still more to come
What are your advices for Aspiring young entrepreneurs looking to break in the clothing industries or other industries?
Take time to study the market that you are going into, it took us 2 years to come out, you might that’s too long, but look how long we set to be out for, the quicker you rush into things, the quicker people forget about your product
So what’s next for TBC?
The Launch party, get TBC known worldwide and hopefully by this time next year you will see our range in shops all across the UK (Choice, Topshop, Size etc)
So finally, before I leave you both, I need to ask for your secret, come on, why have you been so successful, what’s your secret weapon?
Just having fun with what we do, what i always ask anyone that asks for advice, if they will buy for their own product if it wasn’t them doing it, would they pay for it? If the real answer is yes, then you’re on your way, we are fans of our own product, that’s why we are putting so much time and effort into it.
Our secret weapon is God, with his all things are possible
Thank you very much for your time today, I wish you the Very best in the upcoming future, hopefully on the TV with other top clothing lines in the world.
We would like to thank you for the interest in our clothing, and taking the time to set all this up, which you all the best in the future and God Bless
C.E.O TBC Clothing