The other day I was lucky enough to have a conversation with two prominent figures in the fashion industry. Shout out to my Uncle Sheen for the assist. His opening remarks were: "I've probably been in the game longer than you have been alive and worked with some brands that are hanging in your closet." My first though was that I'm probably talking to the right person right now. The conversation didn't go exactly how I planned and that is okay. I was even told that my label is a "crapshoot" and that's also okay. See, it was a test to get a reaction. Knock me off my path. I smiled. I was born for this. I didn’t get mad, I got motivated. I’m focusing on the positives and using the knowledge he shared to elevate my brand.
He asked about my brand and I quickly realized that not everybody is as intuitive as me. The "It's not a brand, it's a feeling" approach didn't sell. He wanted a story, not a feeling. He wanted me to sell him my brand. That was Lesson #1: What is your story?
Story time (No, still not that one he was asking for): I explained the concept of the logo as a roman numeral ten with a heart forming from the top. I didn't tell him where it originated from. About 5 years ago, you could say I wasn't the most confident of the bunch. I created an alias for myself that I called JRX (James Royale X) where I would share all my creative endeavors. Oddly enough, this is a source of my renewed confidence today. The J.R. represents my middle and last name. The X represents my birthday, July 10th. Yes, i’m a Cancer, zodiac nerds. One day I was drawing at a friend's house (Hi Cheli) and created a signature where the X formed a heart. She immediately told me that I need to take a picture of that and save it. I started using it as a watermark, made stickers, signed my name with it everywhere and tagged some streets with it. I planted the seed, but didn't act on it. Fast forward, 5 years later, I dropped the initials and redeveloped the X-Heart as a standalone. WALAH, X Stacks was born, but not after I played around with hundreds of different names such as Strozaè, NoMa (North Maple - named after the street I live on) and Soul Sense amongst others.
The name was actually inspired by Andre 3000's intro-verse on UGK's "Int'l Player's Anthem" where he recites in part, "keep your heart three stacks, keep your heart." I simply dropped the three for ten. X Stacks = 100. Therefore, when I say "keep your heart ten stacks," I'm really saying keep your heart full, keep it 100 or simply be real/yourself. The name made sense so I rolled with it, but I like it when people come up with their own interpretation.
See, that story doesn't really sell my brand, it's just the origin. It is authentic and genuine and that is the exactly what I want to portray. I was a dreamer that got tired of dreaming. So, I woke myself up and now I'm finally starting to live my dreams.
So, how am I going to sell X Stacks? What story am I going to tell? Hopefully that comes together as I continue to write here today. TBA. ;)
Lesson #2: Who is your target audience?
This one kind of hurt. How in the world did I prepare for such an important meeting and forget to research the most important detail: Who am I selling to? This should have been my #1 priority. I'm a bit conflicted here. I want to make Men and Women's Clothing and Accessories. I want customers to feel comfortable, fancy and trendy gravitating to street-style pieces that are both unique and rare. I don't want to create the same things over and over again. Sure, I'll have my staple pieces, but I want customers to feel the exclusivity when they buy X Stacks. I want customers to say X Stacks just dropped some new merchandise and I need it because only a certain amount were made, they may sell out and I need it now because I may never have an opportunity to buy it again later. That 1 of 1 feeling. In the future, I'd like to bring back those old styles similar to retros like Jordan Brand. I can bring back the same style, in a different color or a slightly improved version with better quality or tweaks.
I personally gravitate towards brands such as Off-White, Commes de Garcon, A Bathing Ape, Palm Angels, Scotch & Soda and to an extent, Supreme, YEEZY Supply, Vetements and The Kooples. I also admire boutique storefronts such as Maxfield's, Opening Ceremony, 424, Dover Street Market, Bloomingdales, Bodega and BLENDS to name a few.
Upscale, trendy street style.
There I just narrowed down my audience, but there is still a lot of work to do. Who is my audience? I need to create a mood board with pictures of this person. What does he or she look like? Where does he or she like to hang out? What type of watches do they wear? What are their hobbies? Etc. I really need to get to know my audience and become their “buddies” so I am able to create engaging campaigns to target them. It’s a lot more than just making an Instagram or Facebook ad or sending it to celebrities/influencers for promotion. There needs to be a narrow plan of attack. You need to zone in.
Lesson #3: Why your brand oppose to another brand?
This kind of ties into Lesson #1. I think we can all agree that quality is of utmost importance. You want clothes that last countless laundry spin cycles. I also think that an experience is just as important. I want to merge the worlds of art, music and fashion. I want to do things differently. Give you something you may have not seen before. Something different than a pop-up shop with a DJ, arcade games, photobooths and giveaways. Maybe, I'll pull up to the Melrose Flea Market or Abbott Kinney in a X Stacks Ice Cream truck selling clothes and soft-serve ice cream. Maybe, I'll create an art exhibition with paintings, sculptures and my clothing on display where visitors can stroll around, enjoy music and sip on red wine. Maybe, I'll create a street team outside of music venues or sporting events where attendees will be surprised with live music and models wearing my clothes and selling it. Maybe, i’ll throw a festival or carnival. Maybe, i’ll deliver your clothes via drone. Replace the maybes with I will. It's all about the experiences for me. That's really all you remember. Why not sell clothing alongside an experience you can associate it with and remember. Memories are important and I plan on making many with my customers.
This experience can also tie into packaging, website functionality, customer notifications, social media and so much more.
Moreover, I think exclusivity is another key. Do you actually want the new Yeezy's, Virgil Abloh's Off-White collaboration with Nike, the Sean Weatherspoon Nike's or the newest Supreme drop? Or are you attracted to the hype or an illusion that you want something you can't have. Your going to want my clothes one way or another. Believe that I will deliver something you can’t refuse.
These are 3 great lessons I know can help anybody regardless of what field they are in. Some may seem obvious, but it's always good to be reminded. I'm going to continue to fine-tune these things in order to give you the best product possible.
My meeting was not a home-run, but it was still a success. I didn't sweep them off their feet like I wanted or get an investment, but I received tools to improve my brand, a new powerful connection that urged me to keep in touch and even more motivation to keep on grinding.
Are you on X yet?