Hip hop has come a long way since it’s birth and the first parties in the South Bronx. Nowadays hip hop is a powerful phenomenon which empowers and connects people all around the world. Many have even been able to build a career around it. And not only the rap stars but also people working within the community including dj’s, graphic designers, event organizers, people working with the youth and so on.
But what does it take to start your own company?
Being an entrepreneur is not always easy and it brings a lot of responsibilities. When it comes to the amount of work only the tip of the iceberg can be seen from outside. But at the same time a lot of great things can happen if you work hard for your dreams.
To open up the path of having an own hip hop related company we interviewed MexOne of the Bboy Spot, MG of the Legits and Intact of the Funk And Furious. Hopefully some of you get inspired to start your own business! Here is what they answered:
1. Where did the idea to start your own company come from?
The Bboy Spot idea came to me early in the 2000's. I used to break into my stepdads business for my crew and I to practice at night.
I was always scared he would catch us and go crazy. It was then I promised to one day open up my own center for bboys/bgirls to come and practice for free. Biggest&Baddest came about because I was always around clothing. My mom is a seamstress so it was natural for me to want to do something with clothing.
The idea about a clothing brand started accidentally. I didn’t plan it on purpose. We organized hip hop party in Kiev by the name Funk And Furious and made t-shirts with the name of the party. That was basically the beginning of the production. After this we started to produce different t-shirts for every party. That was the end of 2008 and early 2009. The party was existing for couple years, but not a serious brand or business.
Around 2010-2011 I started to go deeper into this production process, looking for good factories that can make our ideas to come true, cause the level of production in Ukraine was not good during that time. Step by step we made something like a collection for spring and summer, not just t-shirts but more like a real collection with different items. I think 2012-2013 it started to become more serious as a brand than just producing t-shirts for selling at bboy events.
After I finished university in Miami in 2009, I was wondering what to do next whether to work for a big corporation or be my own boss and start something on my own. Well, Mex One (USA) pushed me to be an entrepreneur and I decided to move back to Europe and started my company together with one of my best friends MK. In other words, I got adviced by someone more experienced and already successful at that time.
2. Tell about the starting process. What did it take to make it possible? What were the biggest challenges and obstacles?
The biggest challenge was not having anyone to "reference" or really learn from. No true mentors. Everything was trial and error. I was also young and ambitions. It took a lot of work and sacrifice. In some ways it was "pioneering" in our community.
The biggest challenges were:
- No startup budget. We couldn’t start on the high level straight, so we started step by step with the order of 25 t-shirts.
- No good factories on the territory of Ukraine, so we tried to work with people outside of the country which was very hard.
- Not enough of knowledge how the whole process works and how to organize it.
- Not enough of fabrics (materials) to create new ideas. There was a very limited variety of colors and styles.
To start our own business, we had to collect lot of funding thru our friends and families and deal with the bureaucracy and really hard business environment in Slovakia (compared to lets say Florida, where I lived before and where Mex successfully operated).
3. Is being an entrepreneur what you thought it would be? Has there been more or less work than you thought? Have you ever considered quitting?
Yes and no. Yes because its creative freedom, its hit or miss. its taking risk. No. I don't quit. I mean, I closed down The Spot but not because I quit but because I achieved everything I wanted. An entrepreneur is who I am. My thinking process seems to be different than most.
The main thing I understood in this kind of activity is that it really depends on u. No boss who is controlling you and saying what you have to do, nobody but you. Self organization is very important, need to go serious and responsible or you will lose it.
I’m thinking about quitting it couple times every year! But at the end of the day I’m still doing this, sometimes it is stressful, but b-boying helps me to relax. :)
I’ve considered quitting many times. However, if your work is your passion anything is possible. You must find a balance between work or as I call it my world/passion and personal life. It took me some years and I am still not the best with this balance . As an entrepreneur, your mind is occupied all the time, always thinking about new ideas, improvements, opportunities and it is very hard to turn off your brain. Nonetheless, I guess I would never switch for a corporate job. I want to be my own boss and most importantly, continue creating my own world with our team.
4. Did the scene welcome your company well and support? What kind of things give you motivation to push forward?
Yes for sure. I had done so much for the community already. I had earned their trust. They still do. Due to having my son I took steps back so I can devote to him but the community always shows love. Its amazing. My son keeps me going in all aspects of life.
Community was and still is our platform and our foundation. We have started with the people in our community and for the people of our community and we are always supporting them even now, when we are selling a lot of clothing for people outside our community. Community is number one for us!
Yes, either with Biggest & Baddest Europe or with our own clothing brand The Legits, bboys and bgirls worldwide have been showing us enormous support. As for Outbreak Europe, we got 31 countries supporting at the first edition. That says it all. The deepest feeling ever is to see now 72 countries coming to our small hometown, the place where MK and I used to grow up. For us it means the most and that is why we work hard trying to make the festival better with every edition. We want people to have the best time ever.
With our clothing brand, the motivation is, when we see bboys and bgirls rocking the brand all around the world. This pushes us work harder, trying to provide fresh, original stuff and collabos.
5. What would be your advice for b-boys and b-girls thinking about starting their own company?
Study what it is you want to do 1st. If you can go to school for business or fiance do it. It will help you. Take your time and pace yourself, its not a race.
My advice is to start to do something that you like, can and want to do everyday. Think good, find out what you really love, organize your ideas first of all.
Surround yourself with talented, positive and dedicated people. Be patient and never give up. Try to find motivation daily and realize how lucky you are creating your own world. Never stop growing, especially inside your mind. If you turn your work into passion, you can achieve anything. Trust me on this one.
Don’t forget to check out their websites and what they are about:
MG’s: www.thelegits.com and www.thelegitsblast.com
Have a great week!
-AT / bboydojo.com