It’s obvious that the up and coming trend in and around Metro Detroit are clothing lines and i’m sure that it’s not just Detroit. I’m sure if you were to go to any metropolitan area in any state you may find the same to be true but i can only speak for Michigan. What I’m finding is that there are an abundance of clothing lines popping up but every clothing line, though there are some similarities in how they’re ran, there’s always something different that sets them apart from the other clothing lines in the area. Our July Ambitious Men of the Month are three individuals who’d been good friends for years but recently decided to go into business with each other and from the looks of things –it looks to be going great.
2. Team No Bottoms
3. Eve Mada (in development)
Not only does Brother’s Apparel produce the clothing for these three lines but it’s been the consultant and producer for other clothing lines around Metro Detroit. As busy as these three are with their day jobs and their business, they were kind enough to sit down with me to talk about the clothing lines, entrepreneurship and how their ambition plays a big part in how their company is ran.
AM: What is the origin of these multiple clothing lines?
Marcel:The origin started with Chrysler Tees… wait Team No Bottoms was actually first. We started Team No Bottoms about five years ago but we didn’t move Team No Bottoms to the website until after Chrysler Tees launched. If we’d taken it serious then, it’d probably be way bigger than it is.
AM: Whose idea was it to start the Chrysler Tees Brand?
Marcel: It’s kind of like a badge of honor to work at Chrysler. I started working at Chrysler a while ago and I remember this guy use to sell t-shirts. He only sold one style of tees, but had them in every color and I use to buy them because I wanted to wear them so people would know where I worked at. I remember back then his shirts were like $14 and I was like damn…that’s kind of high! Funny thing is, we sell nothing less than $15 now. My original vision was just to undercut him because I felt like “I’m young and I have a lot of fresh ideas,” from there it just took fire!
Will can tell you, at our town house, there were many nights that the whole floor would be full of orders. I’d never really envisioned this for real. I remember i was online and I ordered like 30 shirts and they sat upstairs in my room for like five months just because once I found out how much it cost to really do “this” for real, I was like naw… I gotta wait on that. Once I actually did get started, everyone was on board. I would go into work on my off days and sell t-shirts. First, i only sold them in my area but then it started catching fire throughout the rest of the plant.
Everyone knows someone that works at Chrysler, so then it started taking fire in all the other plants. It grew by word of mouth. I had to get another phone, and then a website and then an assistant. The old guy that i use to buy t-shirts from still walks around and gets orders, but me… I never go in on my off days now because everyone knows how to reach me.
AM: There’s a lot of people that sell T-shirts at Chrysler, do you feel like you rank above them all?
Marcel: I think approach is the biggest thing ever. Sell stuff that people actually like to see. The biggest shirt I ever did said “Imported from Detroit” and on the back it said “Keep Calm, the website is opening up soon.” –That’s something that hasn’t died. People just went through that recently…trying to get through to the website to apply. Another big seller was “Detroit Made me , but Chrysler pays me,” shirt. We also have sports team shirts… so people also buy shirts according to what sports season it is.
During the Christmas season, everyone went crazy and bought a ton of things. When you work with the same people every day, one person will come in with their shirt and now everyone that works around them wants one. So, now that one person that knows how to get in contact with me will take an order for everyone. It’s actually like a monopoly and what we’re working on is going to take over even more.
What goes into running a clothing line/ business?
Will: The Team No Bottoms: FCK Love designs were born out of pure fun. I’d sketch something and send it Marcel, he’ll laugh and then say “let’s do it.” It can be simple or it can be complicated. For instance, when brainstorming for our 4th of July shirts, we sat down at the table, meeting after meeting, trying to figure out the direction that we wanted to go for our holiday theme. Brainstorming is the biggest and most important part of the process.
Armani: I use to erase all my messages but I really can’t now because so much brainstorming happens within these messages. I ‘m the new kid on the block. I saw these guys doing their thing and I wanted to be apart of that and help out in some way. I’m trying to take it to the next level. I have my ideas and they have their ideas so i take that and I turn them into designs.
Will: I’ve known Armani for years so i knew he’d be a perfect fit with Brother’s Apparel.
Marcel: When you talk about the process…last week I was at a dinner at my mom’s house and my cousins were there. They’re always buying things and I’m just thinking while sitting there… and an idea comes to mind so I shoot Armani a message like “yeah design something with this saying on it.”
Armani: I was like cool, OK let me finish watching the game…but then I was like the game didn’t matter, they were getting blew out anyways so I was like , let me go ahead and knock this design out.
Marcel: After he made the design …i probably sent it to like four people and they were like “when is that coming out?”
AM: So.. do you have a select number of people that you send your designs to be judged?
Armani: You have to have an audience of like 4-6 people that you can preview your designs to before you showcase them to the world. People that can say “no not that design” or “yes that’s dope.”
Marcel: Especially people that don’t really have any say-so in the final decision and can’t get it for free. People that pay for it, will be more honest.
Will: By the way, sometimes I’ll be sleep so I have to get caught up on the messaging and I’ll look at the times that they were sent and I’ll be like damn! There would be so many designs that I’d have to review.
Armani: On average, I’ll send 5-10 designs a week, so if I don’t send anything throughout the week… that’s weird to Marcel, he’ll be like..so what’s up?
AM: Most Popular Brand?
Marcel: Chrysler Tees probably because it’s been around the longest. Team No Bottoms is not just a brand in the city. When you say a brand in the city, there are a hundreds of people with a T-shirt line. It’s competition but people will buy what they want regardless. Some of these “T-shirt lines” in and around Detroit, we’ve been involved in. We’ve either made stuff for them or just played the background for them. Team No Bottoms is all about fun. It’s a lot of people doing t-shirts at Chrysler but it ain’t nothing like the people in Detroit doing T-shirts. I have less people to compete with at Chrysler with Chrysler Tees than I do with Team No Bottoms to the general public. When Eve Mada drops that’ll be different… we’re talking about high fashion.
Will: Eve Mada will put you in the mind of things that Kanye West would wear.
Armani: It’s gonna be crazy.
AM: Who came up with the Fck Love design?
Marcel: Will designed it a long time ago.
Armani: Fck Love is a double on-tundra , it could be like “Fck Love” because I hate love or “Fck Love” like I love it so much that I want to make love to it.
AM: Where do you guys see yourself in five years?
Marcel: The funny thing is, honestly, we’ll probably own it but won’t be working it. We didn’t start this with just the sole idea of selling t-shirts. We’ve always had a bigger vision. You talk about five years but I just went through a situation that taught me that you can never really lean on tomorrow. Honestly, I feel like we would have failed if we don’t have a store by next year. What’s the use of staying in one lane and never moving. I don’t see how people are ever content with themselves. If we don’t have a store by next year, then we need to go back to the drawing board and start over.
Will: The way our team is set up is we’re not going to let each other fail.
Marcel: In five years, we need to be breaking ground on what we’re really trying to do.
AM: Eve Mada?
Armani: Eve Mada is Adam and Eve spelled backwards. What people will see is the fig leaf with the “E” and “M” on the fig leaf. It symbolizes the beginning of fashion. When they(Adam and Eve) ate from the tree of knowledge they used the fig leaf to cover themselves up. Eve Mada is super clean. It’s Barney’s and Saks Fifth type of stuff.
Marcel: There’s so much thought that goes into this. Eve Mada is probably what’s going to carry the Brother’s Apparel name.
Will: We’re talking about Paris and fashion shows
Armani: I pay attention to everyone. I see what I like and don’t like and one thing about Detroit, it seems like everyone is on the same street. So I was like, OK, let’s go onto a different street where no one is. We have a clearer path in this lane.
Marcel: I’d shoot a design to Armani and be like this is so sweet …and he’ll be like it’s alright (Laughs)
Armani: Eve Mada is something that’s happening down the line. I’m a perfectionist to a fault so I’m planning to get the idea out sometime next year.
Marcel: It’s like a Dr. Dre album you know its coming and it’s just gonna hit you.
Armani: you are as strong as your team. If you’re crazy ambitious and you’re team is crazy ambitious—then you have one hell of a team. They say a man only uses the left side of his brain and only 10% of that. Well when you add two more people in the mix and you combine that 10% –that 30% is something crazy
AM: What else should Entrepreneurs know?
Marcel: invest in yourself
Armani: and never stop. You never know when the right moment will come and the right door will open. If you believe that there is always someone else out in the world that will also believe in you, you can’t lose.
Marcel: Especially when it comes to clothing lines because that one shirt and one design could be IT. It could go crazy and build your brand. Now it’s up to you to come up with something else.
Will: Marcel tells us every time “Some one is gonna see that fucking shirt and want 10,000 of them.”
Armani: Consistency. Not stopping. Be humble.
Marcel: if you get an order for 500 shirts, know that won’t happen all the time. AND know that you will not make any money at first. People come into this thinking that things will just automatically take off.
Will: They don’t want to put the money in but want all the money.
Marcel: Unless you find someone that will go crazy with purchases, know that the first several months will be a work in progress. When you’re selling something…who do you sell to first? Family , friends… and you will give away a lot. We gave away A LOT.. but Armani don’t play that shit. (Laughs)
Armani: I have to make that clear.. when Eve Mada drops there will be nothing given away for free. Everybody pays .. it goes with the brand. You gotta respect that.
You heard it here first!
for your clothing needs whether you’re just interested in buying or looking to expand your business–they’re the guys!
Stay Ambitious, Stay Motivated!