Hey, how you doing today?
Great. Im living. Im happy.
Briefly, give some detailed information about your background?
Unknown youth tagger turned semi-famous customiser creates award winning customising collective which evolves into independent tee shirt label worn by Skinnyman, Kano, Chipmunk, Pharrell, Mariah Carey and Cheryl Cole.
Now, one question that has been running through my head the whole time is, Why the name “theuglykidsclub”?
It was joke at first… something to catch people’s attention.
But… there’s always truth in jest and with a little bit of research the founding members of The Ugly Kids Club many who are no longer working with us have been found to be the perfect embodiment of ‘The Ugly Duckling’ story.
That’s why the logo for both the label and the collective is a swan… flying into the sky. (This next bit is cheesy) because we are all beautiful in what we do with our talents or superficially in the way we look now.
The name now sets the tone for our ironic and tongue in cheek sense of humour, where if you check any of our female models… none of them are ugly.
What inspired you to start a business?
When was your first entrepreneur experience?
Customising clothes for one break dancer at my school, shout out to Kenrick Sandy from Boy Blue. Which snowballed into customising clothing for the whole crew and their friends and then their friend’s crews.
Or it would be the numerous Saturdays and Sundays I would go to West End, Oxford St. and Selfridges kitted out top to toe in customised clothing and with a flipbook of my pieces and take orders from random strangers on the street or on the shop floor.
If you could meet any famous entrepreneur dead or alive, who would it be?
What do you do to relax after a hard day’s work?
Paint. Write on theuglykidsclub.com blog. Read blogs. Watch Mock the Week. Watch The Wire.
Do you think that going to college is an important step in becoming a successful entrepreneur?
I never learnt anything worthwhile at university or college that contributed to being a ‘successful’ entrepreneur. Instead it is a specified period of time where you have to time to teach yourself what you need and develop those skills that you already have. You are also given certain projects where you are made to think outside of your comfort zone and widen your train of thought. You are also in buildings, classes and schools where there are a hundred maybe a thousand other people who are all aiming on doing something with themselves, people that you might be working alongside now and then maybe after you finish uni/college.
How has the journey been so far? Have you faced any setbacks and how did you overcome it?
I reckon when I was working independently as a custom artist I had it pretty easy. I was niche service in a market where my services where in demand, hip hop was at its height, missy Elliot and adidas were championing the old school hip hop style and this was way before it turned into its own scene and people started jumping on the bandwagon and then jumping off. Simply, I was one of three maybe four custom artists in London at the time; it wasn’t hard for me to do what I did.
With The Ugly Kids Club label, I’m in a market where its already saturated with other good and not so good labels all trying to fight for the same customer. Anyone with a logo on a tee shirt are classing themselves as a ‘label’ and with the right amount of hype some ‘labels’ can achieve that. It can be a bit of a struggle trying to stay relevant but at the same time it’s also forcing me, my business partner and the business as a whole to think more creatively with what we do.
What are your marketing strategies and which one has proved effective so far?
Social networking is one of our main strategies. Myspace is where I have met many of the early people The Ugly Kids Club started working with. MySpace is now dead. Unless you are aiming at The US market where they still haven’t jumped off the MySpace bandwagon it’s pretty irrelevant to us. But I have to give props where props are due: MySpace did kick started many of our careers off.
But Facebook, facebook groups, facebook events, twitter and twitter updates and then weaving that into our blog posts and then mailing lists is a way of engaging our audience, fans and customers and keeping them updated. Something new is going to come along at some point and The Ugly Kids Club stance would be to embrace it rather than be that complaining Uncle who is stuck in his own ways.
My skills have nothing to do with marketing. I’m a designer and an artist first and foremost so any other ‘marketing strategies’ that I do or seem to be doing are me just winging it and attempting something. They might work, they might not.
What are the impacts of teamwork in a business?
More heads are always better than one. You can achieve more. Your partner(s) are there for support and vice versa. It gives each person space to do what they do best rather than spread themselves thin over a number of areas… my main role with The Ugly Kids Club is the art direction, I might not do all the designs but it is up to me to make sure that the way our tees are presented either through online, photo shoots or in the pop up shop looks good and runs together. My business partner Bomb Foley deals with the products themselves, design, quality control, whole sale online etc.
What would you say to entrepreneurs starting up their business, especially in the fashion industry?
Network. You will find the fashion business is full of directly and indirectly related events where there might
be alcohol and other people doing what you do or something connected to what you do, and would up to you to get in the mix and chat away.
Fashion is all about image and what image you portray. So unlike many other types of industries a lot of time and effort should be spent on your image and the way you appear to others. Because once you set that tone, it will be the tone you will running your business with.
What’s your exit strategy?
Eh? I suppose I haven’t got one if I don’t know what it is!
What should we be expecting next from you and your team?
Our first fashion show since January 2008 on the 29th August. Mark it on the wall. Our two top customizers; Rair and Cee will doing a joint collaboration fashion show under The Ugly Kids Club name… keep posted to theuglykidsclub.com for more details.
Our first step into sweaters.
More shindigs and drinkups at The UKC Pop Up in Camden Stables.
More body painting through UKCX - our new x-rated sub brand.
And generally a lot more good posts, photography and content on theuglykidsclub.com
Where do you see you and your business in the next 5 years?
If you asked me that five years ago I would never have said I have what I have now, work with who I work with and do what I do on a daily basis.
I suppose working in a creative environment anything can happen, and it’s a matter of ‘creating’ it. I would be happy to know that we are still running in five years, and we have constantly pushed what we do in whatever direction we need to go in, regardless of the market, regardless of a recession and regardless of what anyone else doing.
Thanks you for your time.
We wish you the best in the future.
Interviewed and Edited By Joseph Ajilore