5 (actually 3) things I learned in 10 months

We recently debuted the brand at the Agenda Tradeshow in Long Beach last week, and I’ll get into our experience there in a bit but first I wanted to talk about the panel I went to after the tradeshow. Agenda Emerge was the first of it’s kind (that I know of) where we had industry leaders come in to share their experiences within their own business careers. The Hundreds just celebrated their 10th year in business and that really is an incredible achievement, and to hear Bobby reflect on the 5 things he learned through the 10 years was awesome to hear. I’ve been following their brand closely from 2003 and it’s been a journey to watch even from the sidelines. We’ll be celebrating our first birthday in two months and I already feel that we’ve seen so much. Statistics say that at least 25% of start-ups fail within their first year and I can say firsthand that it’s a very likely road to be facing.

Agenda was a rollercoaster of a tradeshow with the excitement that builds up to the first day, it’s like waiting in line at magic mountain to get on a ride. However we started the show off with a few speed bumps, starting from our booth not being set up with shelves and racks, no signage for the brand and us missing a few appointments to show the line…it was not the ideal start and a huge downer from all the excitement that was built up to it. After getting things squared away (and letting our first early morning appointments know what was going on..it was a good thing btw that our first appointment was Elvin from The Attic who is a good dude) we finally started our show and not too soon after we had a surge of buyers waiting to check out the line. It was great to see all the positive responses from the buyers, the props and encouragement that came from the other brands that’s been around for years, our heads were flying in the clouds. After the show, it was so great to hear Jeff Staple, Bobby Hundreds, Johnny Cupcakes, and most of all Marc Ecko speak on the hardships of owning a brand. It really brought us down to reality and an instant reminder that we’re still such a young brand with so much more to prove and so much more road to cover.

The first thing I learned within the 10 months in business is humility. We’ve had our really good days like Agenda or when a customer shouts the brand out proudly on their facebooks/instagrams, but we always seem to find obstacles and just F*cked up situations to push us down. Just today we had a cargo truck full of our merchandise robbed and looted from. That’s not a minivan of merchandise mind you, it was over $20K of merchandise just stolen. I choose to look at it as a positive and know that our sh*t is literally like crack where crackheads will find their way to get their hands on it using whatever measures possible, but reality is that it’s a huge blow to our small company. Mis haps like this just forces humility in your face and if not humility it’s a huge reality check that anything in business can happen. It’s moments like this I’m glad I paid some attention in bible school where only there you can find true comfort. The only verse that comes to mind that gives me sanity is:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised.”  JOB 1:21

Which brings me to the second thing I learned in the last 10 months: You always got to keep on it, stay on point and never lose sight of the goal. I find that with the crazy things that happen to a business it’s easy to find a breaking point where you just say “F*CK IT! I’m getting a 9-5 job at costco where they have benefits and probably good discounts on bulk amounts of cereal and beer” and of course I’m not trying to put down a job at costco, that’s still respectable work. But working a shift at costco is a choice someone makes where as if you chose to do business, things will get ill and my point is that you always have to try and keep your eyes on the goal to take another step towards it to move on. Jeff Staple said it best as one of his bullet points: “Be the best slave you can be” This can’t be a job. That’s the difference. You could work a job at the zoo get bit by a zebra and then quit cause it’s just better to find another job where you’re not looking over your shoulder for Simba, or you could be that zoologist that loves that zebra sh*t so much you don’t mind getting bit in the ass once in a while. It makes perfect sense to hear Jeff Staple say that in the 15+ years he’s been in the industry, he hasn’t worked a day in his life. It has to be that way. If you feel that you’re working, your brand is going to just fall short. Just another digit to add for the statistician. I thank God everyday to be where we are and to be able to do what I do.

The third thing and the most important thing I took away from the lectures at Agenda Emerge, is to be the best at being you. I find it now so easy to turn into something you never wanted, and we’re only on our second season. I chose this as a career, and that’s not in any way just a means to getting paid like it is a job. Kennedy is a baby, our baby and I wish to look at it as raising one. What food we give, what television programs we expose our kid to, the decision on what school we should send him to, Private or public? In a lot of ways it’s harder than raising a kid because you’re relying on it for income so the decisions are a lot harder to judge, but they are still decision that need to be considered rather than going for the easy pay outs. I had a few buyers come to me asking whether or not I was going to be keeping the brand more on the boutique side or more making it available to the masses. First of all, we provide a quality product at a HIGHLY competitive price point. That means, we can’t feed ourselves a week of taco bell if we decide to keep it exclusive. I believe that our brand is for the masses, for everyone to share and to enjoy. Quality shouldn’t be kept a secret, and I want to quote one of the former greats of our industry Jonas Bevacqua of LRG,

“First off, it’s an honor to be in all of our wide-reaching, diverse accounts. We started this company not to keep it from people but because we were so proud of our designs and messages that we wanted to share it with the world.”

We at The Kennedy Denim Brand hope to be able to provide our quality, our hearts, blood, sweat and tears to all of you. Denim for the people, for anyone and everyone.

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Kennedy Status Report

So it’s been a few months since the last time I’ve posted anything here…It’s mainly because I haven’t been allowing myself to think about anything else but our plans for this year. A lot has happened in just a few months, and even more is planned to come this year. This blog is going to get more interesting, I promise.

I feel that Kennedy Denim Company is a bomb and we’re on the brink of explosion as a brand/company in the industry, yet I feel skeptical at the same time. I see the fuse winding down and I see the momentum we have…all the careful planning, along with the good team of people we have beside us yet I have a knot of doubt in my head that the fuse will wind down to a dud. I blame it on the years I’ve been in this industry. On one side of me I feel that we deserve some success, cause we paid our dues. For the past decade, we were the kid locked away in our room looking out the window to see all the other kids playing kickball while we were studying for our spelling test. Now that it’s time to take the test, I’m feeling ready and confident…and really it’s because we’ve taken the test so many times we basically know what’s going to be on it. Being in this industry as long as I have, you’ve seen your share of mistakes and hopefully learned from them. But along with the mistakes your skepticism level goes up…meanwhile your hopes and excitement level goes down. All the years in the industry, it’s been purely for the money, to simply make a living…and really, that might be the biggest mistake of all.

Kennedy Denim Company has the freedom to be whatever kind of company we want. We have the opportunity to build something from nothing, and I feel that the opportunity to make money (especially in our country) comes more often than not…but the chance to build a legacy really doesn’t come too often. I really hope that our company grows to being something more than a company that just makes jeans. What that is, I really don’t know yet. I know what I want it to look like, and I’ll figure out along the way as long as I keep that vision.  I don’t know what will happen, I’m not going to lie and tell you Kennedy Denim Company is going to be a huge successful company, because I really don’t know. What I can tell you is that we treat this as more than just a job. We’re not going to hold anything back. We’re not going to make any more excuses. We’re going to break all the rules.  This is our life, our legacy and we’re going to do whatever it takes to see it through. This is the year that it is going to happen, not next.

It’s our turn up at bat. Are we going to strike out? Maybe. But we’re swinging for the fences.


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My 1st T-Shirt

I went to Fairfax HS in LA every summer and we’d do nothing but hang out at the Starbucks on Melrose every day playing cards, spitting on the floor, and basically anything but go to class. The only store around at the time that was worth checking out was Workmens, and later on came Brooklyn Projects. Shout out to Vlade (Workmens), thanks for NOT giving me a summer job…it’s ok I’m not mad at you and thanks Dom for selling me those Chad Muska’s (Circa, not SUPRA) even though I was short, which I bought from you with a pocket full of quarters and dimes. Anyway, growing up my dream was to have a t-shirt company and to just have a shirt displayed in any of these two stores (Dom, where you at bro??).

It was an interesting period in street wear for all of us because there were no brands that embodied everything we were about. T-shirts were nothing more than a stamp on your chest that said “I like skateboarding” or “I like graffiti”. It prompted a friend and I to try and start a t-shirt company called “Kardia” which meant “heart” in greek. We wanted a company that didn’t shove you into any one category, but one that lifted those passionately doing whatever it was they loved to pay the rent. It was so pure…beyond grassroots. We had absolutely no idea in how to start, or how much it was going to cost us, but nevertheless it was exciting. I stayed up til’ the sun rose coming up with designs (all the while teaching myself Adobe) but being 17 at the time with homework and school, our plans were forced to be pushed away.

As of now (3 weeks in) we still only have a handful of customers. We’re still working hard in planning for the upcoming year, trying hard to be super careful in every investment and decision we make. We just finished shooting our first photoshoot, and we are on the way of developing a full website with our first look book (no, that info page isn’t our full website). I’m  praying on every step forward we take, and for humility knowing that everything can disappear in a blink of an eye. Kennedy is really more than a company that makes jeans, it’s really special. It’s definitely not my last project, but I really do look at it like it’s my first. For those of you reading this, I want to thank you for your support. We’re your hometeam and I acknowledge that you share with us all of our wins, as well as our losses. I’m trying hard to do whatever I can to make all of you proud.

“Treat my first like my last, and my last like my first and my thirst is the same as when I came. It’s my joy and my tears and the laughter it brings to me, it’s my everything”

- Jay-Z (My 1st Song)


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Keep a look out for our fall/winter lookbook that’s going to be put up soon. Shot in the beautiful Northwest, it’s our very first lookbook…and it’s ground breaking.
Shout out to Dorothy Huynh, HelloMonster and the boys up in Seattle for helping us out. Dicks deluxe, cheese and fry with extra tartar sauce on me when I come up to visit.

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C’mon Beverly Hills, “Love Me”!

A couple weeks ago I had a post entry about a mural of CoCo Chanel by David Flores on the U.S. Alterations shop on Wilshire. Apparently, the neighbors on the street and the city of Beverly Hills aren’t much fans for art cause they’ve locked the store down. C’mon Beverly Hills, it’s the Holidays.

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Oh, Sandy

Our hearts and prayers go out to all that were a victim to Hurricane Sandy. We hope for a speedy recovery. 

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“About Us”

I realize now as an adult (or post-teen) more than when I was a teenager that being able to communicate to other people through words, is truly an artform. Anyway, I guess it’s a good thing I do Jeans for a living and not books, but it would help some if I knew how to write now that I have to do an “About Us” for our retailers and website.

In the streetwear game I know you need to have a strong image and direction to lead your audience in order to captivate their interests but you know what, I decided we’re not a company that has a profound mission statement to bring to the streetwear industry.  We’re not an ultra cool company that “gives the industry the middle finger” or have a deep philosophy on nature and skateboarding…In no way am I trying to knock on other brands mind you, I love streetwear. Actually, I’m hugely inspired by a lot of the brands out there:  Johnny Cupcakes, Stussy, Blackbox Distribution, Vans, The Hundreds, 10 Deep, Obey, Diamond, 3Sixteen, Mighty Healthy, Carhartt, Upper Playground, Supreme, Seventh Letter, In4mation, Signal Snowboards, Crooks & Castles, Creative Recreation, Staple, LRG etc etc…I love all of these brands, and I love what they did and what they continue to do.

But “About Us”… we’re about denim first and foremost. That’s what we’re passionate about, and that’s what we’re here to offer you. I’m sure over the years (God willing) you’ll get to know us a bit more and what we’re “about” but as far as what YOU need to know about us is this: We’re denim makers. Our goal is simply to create the best jeans HANDS DOWN for your hard earned money. We focus on every stitch and rivet that is placed on your jeans. We focus on things you don’t even notice or look at when buying jeans, but things that definitely shouldn’t be ignored. We pay both money and attention to it. We fight and argue about it. We lie awake at night thinking about it. We text message each other about it while on the toilet. We work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to make your jeans worth what you pay and more so that when you are out doing what you love to do, you feel ahead of the game. Denim runs deep in our blood, and we’ll keep pushing to do what we love to do better. We don’t dilute the jeans cost and quality with cheap sewing, hardware or even pocket lining. Know that when you buy Kennedy Denim, you get the best possible quality for the price. We stand behind it, we guarantee it. Know that before you know more “About Us”.

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“What the hell are you complaining about, it’s $45…just hurry up and buy”

So yesterday I got a chance to sit down with James (Co-Founder/General Manager) of Attic in Buena Park yesterday and I had an interesting conversation with him about denim and the general perception of jeans in general.

He mentioned to me that a lot of people these days pick up a pair of jeans, try it on and pretty much just buy it if it’s under $50 bucks. Seems like pretty standard shopping habits, especially with the given economy, it’s not a surprise why Forever 21 and H&M are the biggest and most crowded retail stores in your mall. We’ve come to the conclusion though that it’s because at such a low price people are thinking to themselves “what the hell are you complaining about dipsh*t, it’s $45…just hurry up and buy”

When you pick up a pair of jeans with a price tag of over $200, chances are they were sewn and washed in factories here in Los Angeles. Having the same resources available to us, I started making Kennedy Denim with one objective: Affordable. Not Ben Baller affordable, (His car door shoots out an umbrella…) but hopefully for the rest of you. Yes, our jeans start under $45, but believe me, our jeans are not worth that. We’ll take the sewing pepsi challenge with our jeans, and any jean you can find at Barney’s or your neighborhood “denim head” boutique. We use YKK zippers, various stitch-per-inch ratios throughout the jean for optimal comfortability and quality, and million dollar machines that are used to cut & sew your back pockets to keep them perfectly consistent in quality and shape.

We focus on details you wouldn’t even look for when buying jeans (down to the pocket lining) and for what?

To give you the very best for your (or your mom’s) hard earned cash.

Don’t believe me? I drive a Subaru and I get my umbrella from the trunk when it rains only after looking like I ran through lawn sprinklers. Lucky for me Cali doesn’t rain much, but my point is this: the money saved stays in your pockets, not ours.

Please “hurry up and buy” some Kennedy jeans so I can repair a huge indent on my car bumper that some jerk left. I get laughed at every time I’m forced to valet my car at Pho-Citi.

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Kennedy + Attic

When your company is the size of ours, you’ve got to work multiple jobs. It’s just the way you have to start. To even see a sliver of success in the horizon, you have try to do all of those jobs better than a larger company would that employs a person to do each of those jobs. That goes for design, marketing, quality control, production management, all the way down to mopping the floor and handling shipping. Today I got to put on my salesman hat, and I probably look more like Willy Loman than a guy selling Jeans. I lug around jeans in a beat up vintage suitcase that’s too sad to post a picture of. Good thing for me, the product sells itself.

I met James and the crew over at Attic today and they’re really a stand-up group of guys. They really know their denim (ask for Iggy if you have some questions) and they seem like they’d have way more fun at parties than I normally do with my friends (btw who stiffed that karaoke bill last week sucka??). Surprises me because I’ve always thought that people in this industry could be a bunch of name-dropping, stuck up, “Trust me, I’m infinity times cooler than you” pricks.

Anyway, Attic’s about to take our full Fall ’12 denim collection. Go and check out one of their locations next week or their online store

They truly have one of the best shops around. This Saturday Paul Rodriguez will be at their Buena Park location for a meet & greet. There’s supposed to be a bunch of giveaways, hot chicks and teriyaki bowls. See ya’there!

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Made in L.A.

Colby Printing Co. is a family owned printing company that has been operating out of Los Angeles since 1946. From posters for Colette Paris, political campaign posters all over S. California, The Agenda Tradeshow, small concerts in local venues in LA, they’ve been putting up posters for over 60 years! Very humbling to just read about them and definitely worthy of respect.

They currently have an exhibition being held at KK Outlet in London, showcasing some of the posters they’ve made over the years. If you’re in the area or you have a G6 readily available you should definitely stop by and check it out.

“Made in L.A.” runs – October 5-27.
KK Outlet 42 Hoxton Square, London, N1 6PB

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