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.