In this Brand Focus we are taking a look at BreakawayINK. Originally established back in 2004, BreakawayINK have gone from strength to strength.
With a fan base now reaching many countries worldwide, this indie clothing brand continue to bring us fresh new designs on a range of apparel and accessories.
I recently got a chance to interview BreakawayINK for Brand Focus.
Thanks for taking part in this edition of Brand Focus !
Looking at your “about us” page, it almost seems like it was completely fate that led you to starting your brand. Was 2004 the first time you had thought about starting a clothing brand?
– It was. That journey to Canada really sparked an idea. My mother and father were very good at drawing, therefore growing up, I was always drawing with pencil, charcoal and marker. And I was always interested in keeping it clean and simple. Maybe it’s that Feng Shui that I love… Less is More. So, it just took some time before I discovered that the canvas best suited for my artwork was a tee shirt… or apparel in general for that matter.
How long did it take you to get from the initial idea to having 400 tees made for your homecoming weekend?
It probably took about 4 weeks. I was drawing designs in a notebook as well as jotting marketing ideas, and realized that Homecoming Weekend would be a great way to catch the eye of a large crowd quickly. So, I did some research on local screen printers and submitted the design for print.
Hustle Hard Tee
When you made your first 400 tees, did you start with one initial design or were there many designs?
Well, the original designs I had drawn had nothing to do with homecoming, but once I realized I was going to make a homecoming-related design, I probably had about 6 designs for the front, and 6 for the back as well as numerous color combinations. I had 12 roommates (and we weren’t even in a frat) and I used them as a focus group to bounce ideas off of. This is a very important step for anyone considering printing a design… USE YOUR RESOURCES! It’ll save you headaches, time and money.
When you are creating designs for Breakaway INK, do you still think back to the design on that tee you were wearing in 2004?
I think about how far BreakawayINK has come since then, and I’ll always remember that design. It was monumental and many of my friends still rock that tee and it takes us back to that wild weekend. It’s one of their favorites. Funny, I don’t even have one for myself, that night, I sold it off my back to a student walking down the street. There’s actually a bunch of my own tees that I don’t own (because they were sold, lost, or given away), but it really brings me back when I see pictures, or when I see my friends still wearing those designs from years ago. I forget about many of the designs I printed, it’s cool to see them out in public and in pictures. Those were the days.
Do you find that your main customer base is in the USA or has it spread further around the globe over the years?
The USA by far is my main customer base, however… the Streetwear and hip-hop scene is huge in Canada and also the UK and I’ve come to notice the popularity in Australia as well. So we’re definitely seeing a lot more twitter and instagram followers from Canada and the UK which has led to more orders. We appreciate the support and even have been sponsoring some emcees in those countries to wear on stage during their touring. It’s all happening fast, that’s a good thing.
It has been 9 years since that long car journey to Toronto, how has the business grown in that time?
Ten-fold. 2012 was a big year for the “INK.” I printed shirts from 2004-2008, then took a hiatus. Then I began a ton of research and officially launched BreakawayINK in 2010… so, we had growing pains like any small company. But as the years have gone on, we’ve become more efficient, wiser, we’re learning more about our client base and now expanding our product line beyond tees. This has led to more sales for sure. Like I said, 2012 was great and 2013 has already started off strong. We’ve already shipped more international orders in 2013 than 2010, 2011 and 2012 combined.
Navy “B” Hoodie
Where do you find inspiration for your designs?
My crazy brain. haha. I’m an old school hip hop head. I listen to a ton of A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, Rakim, etc and many lyrics strike up ideas. The skateboarders/surfers have really struck a chord with me as well and we’ve been creating designs more toward their liking. Also inspiring is the grind of city-life and those trying to make their dreams come true in this large dog-eat-dog world. It really pushes us to get better every day.
What plans do you have for the future of Breakaway INK?
2013 – Expand the line to new products, gain more wholesale accounts and exhibit in trade shows like Agenda and others alike. We want to hit NYC hard as well as the west coast. We have some things in store for those locations.
What advice would you give anyone thinking about starting their own clothing brand?
I get this question a lot and I always say the same thing. IF THE PUBLIC DOESN’T KNOW YOUR BRAND, DON’T MAKE YOUR BRAND’S NAME THE FOCUS OF THE SHIRT. People are going to say… WHAT IS _______? Then you spend time explaining, and they don’t purchase. You want to print some creative, memorable designs. Once you get customers on board, then you can start printing your brand’s name on your apparel because it’s now established and they’ll be excited to tell their friends how dope your brand is.
Otherwise… have a plan. Many brands have an idea… but not a plan. What I mean is… you have 3 ideas for some tees… great. Anybody can print 3 designs. Those companies don’t last more than a year.
Have a plan. Have designs laid out carefully. Break it down into seasons: Spring / Summer / Fall / Winter – and have designs/colors that coincide with those seasons. Branch this out over 3+ years with a marketing plan and a finance plan. Now you have a brand and hopefully 3-5+ years down the road, you can look back and have something to be proud of. The people around you will be proud as well.
Thanks for taking the time out to chat to us!