1. What is the start up story behind Planet Brooklyn Academy?
I first created and launched the brand back in 1997.
The idea comes from my experience from living and being raised in the Borough of Brooklyn.
As a kid growing up, everyone from BK knew it as the Planet – Simply because you can do everything here without leaving it.
Food shopping, movies, museums etc. We were a self-contained area. So fast forward to ’97. Urban fashion is at its height and the Notorious BIG had just past.
I realized that Brooklyn was really bigger than just New York. It’s recognized globally. But other than the usual souvenir Brooklyn tees I noticed there were no brands that catered to building a line specifically to honor the city.
A light went off in my head and the concept of PBA was born.
2. Planet Brooklyn Academy, What are three words that best define it?
Authentic. Creative. Homegrown.
3. What are you working on lately?
Currently, we are developing our Limited Edition 2018 World Cup Soccer jerseys. We are looking to release them Mid Spring. We dropped our first world Cup jerseys during the 2014 event to much acclaim. So we had to do it again.
We are also launching our athletic division this Spring – catering to workout/crossfit individuals.
4. What are some recent achievements you guys would like to share?
We now have a online store front on Amazon. It’s great to be working with them. The goal here is to split our products between our site and Amazon.
Giving some exclusive products to carry that won’t be available on our site.
We are starting to work with a sales team to bring our brand to shops abroad like Japan and Europe.
5. What’s something that’s always running on your minds?
How can I keep evolving my brand. What’s my next big idea.
6. How do you spend your downtime?
I like to watch movies. All types from action to foreign. I get a lot of great inspirations from some of them that I watch. I also enjoy roaming the city people watching. Another great way to get inspired.
7. What would you guys spend a million dollars on?
Hummm… Definitely opening up a new brick and mortar retail shop. Increase our online marketing. Open up an office to house our design team. Launch some of our other initiatives with money left over.
8. What three pieces of advice would you all give to others when it comes to life and business?
Success doesn’t happen overnight. If you believe in what you do wholeheartedly others will too. You have to be dedicated and willing to sacrifice a lot to achieve your dream.
9.What’s one thing you struggle most when building your own brand?
Finding backing. Producing garments isn’t cheap especial if your vision for your brand is big.
10. What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
Well I wouldn’t call them failures. I would say they were set backs. Failures are things that never happen. But for us the only set back I can think of is us having to close our brick and mortar shop a few months ago. That was partly due to having a horrible landlord who was trying to push us out because they knew they could get more money for the space.
We had been at that location for 4 yrs. But we are now looking for another location. Our followers and customer have been asking when are we returning.
The online is cool but everyone loved the experience of being in shop, talking with us and just hanging out.
11. What’s a typical day in your life like?
Well I have to say I don’t have a normal day. Let’s begin with the evening. I normally start working/designing around 11pm and I’ll work till about 6am. I like the night time early morning because it’s totally quiet and I can focus. Plus during that time its afternoon in China. I can talk with the factory via email about things.
I finally go to sleep and wake up at noon. Answer emails and run out to whatever meetings I have. I come home about 7pm.
I eat and chill out for a while till I start the whole process all over again at 11pm.
12. What’s one of the highlighting moment in your career? Why is it so?
The highlight moment in my career is the day we had our store’s grand opening back in 2013. It meant so much because from the day I first sat down and created the first tee shirt I said “I have to open up a store for this in Brooklyn.”
From that day to the opening I went through a lot. Starting it, putting it on hiatus, creating and launching 2 other brands, ending those and finally coming back to relaunch PBA and 3 years after that opening the shop is monumental.
13. What stops you from throwing in the towel and giving up during those frustrating days of being in this industry?
Looking back at all the work I did to get to this point is what keeps me going.
My motto is “I’m to deep in to turn back and to close to give up.”
14. Biggest risk ever taken?
Right before I graduated college I interned for a major Record label in their art department. In college my major was Graphic design.
Before my internship ended the label offered me a job there. I turned it down to open up my own design firm. Literally a week after I graduated I opened up an office in Manhattan (I got a hookup through a friend of my parents).
I had no real clients and the only job I had before was working at Barnes & Noble for a few yr. before and during college. That was a major risk I took.
13. Who has influenced you most and been your greatest inspiration?
There have been many through the years. In the early part of my life definitely my dad. During my college yr. my best friend and brother Walter. I always admired his dedication and focus when it came to art. He worked hard at. He researched, did sketches even mocked up versions if he had to.
I learned to adopt those traits over the yrs. Than finally my Cousin Michelle. She was one of my biggest inspirations once I started fashion. She accomplished so much in her life especially in fashion. She’s just a creative entity. I always looked up to her and worked hard to be as good and recognized as she is.
14. How do you go about marketing your business or yourself?
What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Social Media definitely. More so Instagram. We constantly create curate our page to keep our viewers engaged. We also recently launched a podcast show called “The Homeroom Podcast” that’s on iTunes and Soundcloud.
We interview people who are from or live in Brooklyn. Definitely another way of marketing and spreading the brand message. Next month we relaunch PBA News. Its our version of Complex news but for Brooklyn on Youtube. It’s a weekly drop letting viewers know whats happening and going on in BK from events to new openings.
15.How do you plan to grow your brand/business further?
I think my answer to the last question kind of covers that.
16. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
I admire Undefeated, Johnny Cupcakes & Kith.
17. How do you achieve balance in your life?
I go to my martial arts class.
18. What is the definition of success for you all, and how much of it do you think you guys have achieved?
My definition of success is making it through the day to be able make improvements tomorrow on what we started. I think we’ve been able to achieve that pretty good so far.
19. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
In 5 yrs, being globally distributed. In 10 yrs, retired and working my passion projects.
20. What’s the first thing you guys would say to the world if all attention was on you now?
“We are Planet Brooklyn Academy clothing company. The brand ambassadors to the greatest city in the world.”