It all started with two little boys from East Detroit and Highland Park who felt they had nothing. Growing up, they watched those with what seemed like the ideal life and says it was their inspiration to get to where they wanted to be in life.
“My inspiration comes from growing up with nothing..Me and my partner grew up together. When you grow up with nothing …and you see everybody with something you want that something! I wanted that something for so long…”
Meet 24 -year -old Push and 23-year-old Tea, both attended Eastern Michigan University where Push studied Business Administration and Tea studied Nursing but like most of the people I’ve interviewed, what they’re doing now has nothing to do with either subject. These two ambitious men are the owners of FSCL (Fresh Shit Clothing Line) , an up-and-coming Detroit based clothing line that’s been around for a year and seems to be here to stay. FSCL is celebrating its one-year anniversary. Born on October 27, 2012, a year later the clothing brand is alive, well and celebrating its birthday all month long. The clothing line has almost 1200 followers on Instagram ( @FSCL_Clothes) and almost 150 on Twitter (@FSCL_Clothes). Aside from its website which can be found at www. Fsclclothes.com, clothing can also be purchased at The Woodworkz clothing store located at 19131 Livernois in Detroit, MI. (see post: August Ambitious Man of the Month)
I sat down with the two busy entrepreneurs recently and was able to get some insight on what it’s like to be a fashion designer. The two was able to squeeze me into their hectic schedules and answered some question for the Ambitious Mix readers. I hope you enjoy reading about their journey as much as I enjoyed listening to it!
What does FSCL stand for and how did it come about?
Push: We came up with the concept “Fresh Shit Clothing Line” while sitting at the kitchen table months prior to October 27, 2012. We eventually put pen to paper and would finally design our first symbol—the power symbol; this is the hand and eye design. Both have specific meanings, for instance: the eye represents “the all seeing eye.”
Where did you get the idea to go with the Egyptian-style design?
Tea: As you know, Egyptians are known as “the first blacks” so it was only right. Gold is at an all time value right now and it’s like the only thing that doesn’t depreciate. So, we said “OK, this is what we’ll do, we’re going to brand it in gold.” We might do a yellow shirt but it has to have our gold symbol on it. Gold and Egyptians go hand in hand so we said “OK… let’s brand it like that.” If you notice, it’s not a regular “all seeing eye” the eyebrow is chopped off and the eye is turned the other way –which is saying that we see things from a different perspective than everyone else. If you haven’t noticed, our clothes are different… real different. We try to make clothes with unique fabrics … and mix fabrics that no one would typically put together.
Push: We have the “all seeing eye” and we have these hands…these hands symbolize a rebirth. It’s like you’re” born” and “power.” So.. we took that last word “power” and created a brand from that. We then added the date that we were born which is October 27, 2012 at the top and here we are a year later. My partner said it best; we have a different view of what we consider “fresh.”
Who creates the designs?
Both: We do everything.
Tea: A lot of my inspiration comes from outdoors. I like to “people watch” like you.
Push: My inspiration comes from growing up with nothing. When you grow up with nothing …and you see everybody with something…you want that something. I wanted that something for so long… and i had visions in my head like when I get to this plateau..I’ll be “this” and I’ll be looking like “this.” When I actually got there, I studied the trends and the people following them. What I noticed is a lot of people are individualized in comparison to when I was growing up. Nowadays people want to be themselves and that’s what we specialize in. We specialize in “Individuality.”
We’ve always received a lot of compliments on the way we dress so the brand sort of took itself from that and we added a face to the brand which is the “power” symbol. We have three other symbols as well: We have the “active life” symbol, which is what we’re wearing today. It’s the king of the jungle with wings, which has its own meaning attached to it. Another symbol we’ve created is “I pray, I never die broke.” We kind of gravitated towards that sentence because as humans… while we’re here on this earth and money is kind of like “the end all be all” to everything. It represents a better life and everyone tries to strive to put something or someone in the position that’s better than where they came from…it’s motivation. Finally yet importantly, we have our LIVE PAID symbol. Many saw “PAID” with the symbol that we use under it and for a long time most people didn’t know what it meant. It stands for “Pro-active in Detroit.” We dropped our power symbol first and that’s our brand symbol. When we dropped PAID, it seemed like everyone wanted it but had no idea why we dropped it or the story behind it. We said OK, this is a good marketing and branding strategy. We figured if we can get everyone to wear this, then everyone will start to notice like oh, that’s those FSCL guys. So, we figured we won’t let everyone know about this right now. We’ll just let everyone buy it… and they did. We set a revenue goal, and once we got to a set revenue (after selling a certain amount of PAID units) then we’d tell everyone what it means. Once we got past 150 sales in PAID hoodies, crew necks and sweaters. We posted a photo on Instagram to let everyone know what it meant. It got a lot of attention and it made people want it more. We try not to promote it too much because we don’t want people to think that this is all we do. We’re like Jay Z and Dame Dash but without the fakeness.
Does FSCL style its customers?
Push: I just like for people to look good, that’s our main thing. You look good…
Both: You feel good.
Tea: I was just telling my partner that clothes don’t make the man.. and a part of that is true. However, in order to be the man, you have to have confidence. What gives you confidence? Clothes!but they don’t tell you that part. I’m quite sure Warren Buffet or Mark Cuban had to have confidence to get to where they are at now. At some point, they had to meet with people who had more than them. You have to look presentable to the public eye. No one likes to look at an ugly face. It sounds mean but that’s just the truth…its just how it is. It’s all about how you present yourself and that’s what FSCL clothing is all about.We’re going put you in clothes and we guarantee that you’ll get at least five compliments.
Push: We definitely guarantee that. If you don’t get five compliments, we’ll give you five dollars back.
Tea: I don’t know if we should start saying that… I can see people now like “I didn’t get five compliments I only got four.”
Push: My mindset is like let’s give the people what they want but at a cheaper price. It’s looks like a $300 shirt but it’s actually way cheaper than that…but you look like a million dollars in it!
How do you get your clothes from idea to creation?
Tea: oh that’s all him…that’s push
Push: Me personally, I love logistics. The tiny details that people don’t pay attention to could actually expedite a process and people don’t even realize it. I really like the details in things. The more attention you pay to detail … the better a product will become. The customer may not know that we went through all these lengths but we know.
Tea: it’s also hard to try to find a competitor for the right price. You have to think about things like who’ll do these 15 shirts for this amount of money. Every manufacturer whether in or outside the US has a set price of what they’ll sell their products for and we have to find the best price. We have to actually go into a market place to find cheaper prices for everything so we won’t have to charge upkeep.
Push: We really want to make sure we maintain our quality, that’s our main priority. We don’t want our customers to have thin or flimsy products. We try to create something that– we ourselves– would wear and we really like to look good so if we like to look good—YOU WILL LOOK GOOD. You can guarantee that.
How many hours in a day do you have to work?
Push: We go non-stop. People say “hey ya’ll are too busy, when do you ever stop?” …WE DON’T, there is no such thing as “good” our book.
Tea: Last night we stayed up until three o’clock in the morning just sewing and sketching because we’re getting ready for another fashion show. I would probably devote 24 hours out of the day if we could but obviously we have to meet with customers and etcetera. The more designs you push to the streets the better. One may not like the purple hoodie but they might like the blue one… but you have to get the blue one out there first.
Push: Our first fashion show was October 10, 2013, I’ll never forget that day. It took place at EMU. We put in a lot of hard work while battling personal issues that we had going on at the time. It’s a fashion show so there’s going to be havoc but all you can try to do is minimize that as much as possible by working closely with the director of the show as well as the models.
Tea: We were doing a lot of dinner table fashion shows but thanks to the president of Fashionality at EMU –she reached out to us and said “you know we want you to be in our Fashion show. We were like “alright cool” but after that it was straight grind mode. It was just amazing and things took off from there. Once we did the one fashion show it opened up a lot of doors for us and others started to invite us to their fashion shows and events, so that’s kind of how that took off. Our second fashion show is going to be in Flint and it will be an “invite only” fashion show.
Are you compensated?
Tea: No. It’s all promotional. At the end of the day, we’re still in Michigan. We’re just local and the goal is to get out of Michigan and have people both in and out of MI buying our clothes.
Are you working any else?
Tea: This is it for me.
Push: This is our baby and we have to make sure that our baby has the best things that we can give to it.
Tea: now don’t get me wrong… when those sales go down, I’m going be looking for a job.
Push: You gotta do what you gotta do. I think one thing that my partner and I can both agree on is when you come from nothing.. You don’t have no problem working ANYWHERE.
What’s your five year plan?
Push: We actually just had a vision meeting not too long ago. Every eight and a half weeks we have one. That’s the perfect time to watch and measure trends. Every eight and a half weeks we’re planning new goals. If we accomplish something…so what? As my partner said… “we’re still in Michigan… we haven’t made it yet.” You’re not anything until you get your family out.
Tea: With fashion, it’s tricky because it’s so up and down. To me it doesn’t matter if FSCL doesn’t pop and no one buys it. It doesn’t matter… what actually matters is we had a dream and we fought it. To be honest I don’t know what FSCL clothing is going to do… if it fails– it fails…but I’ll still be happy because we chased our dreams and that’s all that matters.
Advice to fashion designers?
Push: Always believe in yourself. Have confidence. Do your research. You have to know what people like. You can’t just throw horse shit together and expect people to buy it.
Tea: If you have a dream follow it… even if it fails, at least you can say you did it.
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Stay Ambitious! Stay motivated!