Why did I start a streetwear apparel brand? The apparel industry is very crowded. Everyone and their grandma is starting an apparel company daily. This became blatantly obvious to me because I started hanging out in online circles that are focused on apparel startups (perhaps this is a confirmation bias!).
I'm part of an online Facebook group where, everyday, somebody new is posting about their clothing brand that they just started and asking for feedback on it. I get hit up every week from someone in Pakistan who owns a factory and does apparel manufacturing, soliciting for my business (they are probably my cousins and uncles, ha!). In addition, a lot of these new startup brands center their message around very similar themes: positivity, faith, mental health, fitness, being yourself, etc. They all start sounding the same to me. The industry is so crowded that it spawned an entire education industry built to offer courses, classes, and ebooks to new entrepreneurs on getting a clothing brand started from scratch. I've invested in much of this education myself.
To be honest, I didn't know how crowded the clothing brand industry was until I started getting knee deep into it myself. I've met thousands of people that are new brand owners talking about how their brand is going to be one of the biggest out there. I've got nothing against it! In fact, to succeed, you have to believe that your brand is one of the best that is out there.
Knowing all this, why did I continue to go down this path? My original intention behind starting Limitless Living was to simply build and brand and a community that stood for the values and principles that I cherished. I asked myself "what is the best way for me to share with others the things that I care about the most?" An online brand that could reach millions of people around the world made the most sense to me. It was the way I could have the most leverage with my influence.
Still, why apparel? I could've started this brand using any number of different business models, products, and services. Surely, my goal wasn't to start a non-profit. The entrepreneur in me knew that I wanted to monetize this brand with something tangible. There had to be something that could provide value to society that would generate a revenue stream that could be used to advance this brand's mission.
Apparel simply made sense to me for a number of reasons:
Streetwear was a part of my upbringing
If you read the blog about my story, I shared that I grew up in the inner city in Queens, New York. Streetwear fashion was a big part of the culture and environment that I grew up in. In my school, people wore brands like Sean John, Baby Phat, FUBU, Rocawear, Starter, LRG etc. My friends and I took pride in wearing our t-shirts, jeans, and jackets with our favorite brand logos proudly on display. Streetwear apparel gave us a certain type of identity; it was a part of who we were.
Experience in the business
My father was in the streetwear clothing business, not as a brand owner, but as an importer and reseller. Given that my family is from Pakistan, my father had relationships with streetwear apparel manufacturers and started to import full, multi-color track suits that he would sell at flea markets and other clothing store owners. He later branched out into jeans, shirts, and jackets. My first job as a teenager was working with him at flea markets and selling his clothes on the streets to the public. I learned a lot about apparel during that time and it became an area of expertise for me after working for him for 6 years.
Liking a good challenge
Strangely, I actually like that the apparel industry is as crowded as it is. Having learned a lot about society and the way people think, I know that it's easy to start a business like this but it's not easy to follow through and stay consistent. I'm aware that most people give up and quit when business gets hard and it's not working out the way they expect it. I know that many of these new clothing brands owners won't be around 6 months from now and even more will drop off a year later. I'm not trying to be negative and discouraging! I'm just simply stating observation.
For me, as long as I continue to persist and push the mission of Limitless Living forward, I know that the momentum built from being in motion for a long period of time will be rewarded with a breakthrough. Personally, I never wanted things to be easy for me because if it's easy, then it means that everyone can do it. I don't want the results of what everyone can do. I want what most people do not have. I want Limitless Living to reach as many people as possible. I want this community to be the biggest that it can be and that is not easy, which is why I want to do it!
Building community was the main reason why I started this brand. I wanted to surround myself with people who cared about the same things that I cared about. I care about growth. I care about becoming the best possible version of myself. To live my life with a sense of purpose and direction. To be healthy in mind and body. To be affluent in my finances because that means I can provide a high quality lifestyle for my family. Financial wealth means that I have the resources to pull the levers in this world that can bring about positive economic, social, and political change. I care about cultivating rich relationships with people that absolutely want to crush it in life and add value to everything around them.
This is what I wanted to build community around. Limitless Living is meant to be a banner that anyone can look at and instantly know what it stands for. Apparel is a way for people to physically see what we stand for. When you and I are wearing Limitless Living in public we know that we can connect on shared values. This is how apparel plays a part in building community.
My vision for Limitless Living is big. It's starting off as an apparel brand right now but because the core of Limitless Living is about growth and abundance, it is meant to evolve over time. What it will end up becoming in 5 years - 10 years from now, no one really knows. However, one thing is for sure is that we will never lose sight of our core mission, which is to empower our generation to become the best possible versions of themselves.