That’s the logos! Now designs. This part was easy at the start. I found a dope font, took a line from a Notorious BIG track “GIMME THE LOOT” and that was our first tees and long sleeve tees, got the badge logo on some snapbacks and boom! I was a legit brand……Or so I thought. Then again nothing sold! I had not learned my lesson! This shit won’t sell by itself! Lucky for me I had somehow become somewhat of a student of people such as , Gary Vaynerchuck and Rob Prsa (Kay bahd apparel) to know I had to learn more, I had to immerse myself in learning what made a brand of any sort become known and grow an engaged following.
While learning as much as i could I was on twitter (don’t ask me why because for a clothing brand twitter is mostly dead, but I somehow got followed by a guy by the name of Ruckus Garvey who was ½ the nz rap duo Misfits of science who I was big fan of their track “Fools love” which still is one of the dopest music videos I have seen check it out below.
After being followed I threw a half-court shot and messaged him saying” Hey bro if you want some free stuff hit me up” Ruckus being the absolute down to earth legend he is took me up on the offer! Now I can tell you I was feeling myself! I was pumped. I sent of the clothes and not only did he post them on his socials he wore it in his video for “Chip on my shoulder” check the video below, He is wearing our very first item released on the BMX scenes.
To this day this exposure while wasnt to thousands of people and didn’t really equate to sales it gave the name ZEROFUX credibility and it gave me the realization that you can make shit happen!
Now at this point we didn’t even have a website it was all on Instagram and Facebook so no looking back no wonder we didn’t sell anything. jumping forward I had no money for more clothing! This was a real dilemma! Because in my mind if We couldn’t bring out fresh stuff all the time, we wouldn’t make it and while this is kind of true I also at the time didn’t realize that the aim is to sell to your day ones but also reach new customers in fact your marketing budget should be 70-80% new customer reach, so your current stock is fresh to that audience anyway.
So, in this time my fiancée at the time (now wife) went to The USA and got married and while there we visited a tourist t shirt store in Los Angeles, and i noticed they had a heat press which looked like all their clothing was made using that with vunyl and transfers. This to me was the way forward for Zerofux! A heat press and a vinyl cutter and just print up the clothing as it sold! So when we got back in NZ I spent time watching videos on heatpresses and vinyl and took the leap. Luckily for me these items are not that expensive…If you buy the absolute cheapest like I did (about $1000 all up) and that was it! I was able to print basic designs on clothing. I set up a Shopify website, figured that out and chucked up a basic, ugly but usable website and away we went! Now after working with Ruckus, I realized I needed to get the clothing on people to be seen so again I "sky hooked" my shots amd reached out to a few people i thought might say yes via Instagram and Facebook and didn’t hear back from many . The first guy who said yes was a young "rapper" from wellington who i won't name and I soon found out he was selling the clothing to his mates 😂 so another lesson learnt! people will use you quick to get what they want!
Then somehow and I know it was via Instagram but cant remember who reached out first but i linked up with Camo MC! I had never heard of Camo before even being from the same city but we messaged back and forth and I sent some clothing…probably pretty shit clothing looking back but I kept telling myself “everyone starts somewhere” and that friendship was born, 6 years later we still taking names and cashing cheques…..Not real cheques as its 2021. But in all seriousness I need to put a huge emphasis on what Camo has done for ZF and I put a huge chunk of the first real exposure that equaled true business down to Camo because it gave the brand exposure to not just his fans but to a lot of other people in the music scene in NZ such as Ryan lovins and Jarred Leversedge from PHD, Dlar from 1outsz Auckland , Dilz and Mike peritini.
Moving on I teamed up with Ryan on his “Broke artist” podcast and Dlar with his battle rap events and all these small moves get people seeing the name, the brand the story and slowly…..Very slowly starts to build a small following and loyal fans and customers.
Here is a funny story on how getting a message that you think will change the trajectory of your business and turns out to be a waste of time and money.
Randomly one day I get t a message from a verified Instagram page and the message said “Yo whats good Zerofux? You got the hook ups for Capadonna from Wu Tang? I look at the message…. I go back to the profile….I look some more…OH SHIT! This is for real! Of course, I said yes! I put a box of clothes together and spent $80 on shipping to New York and waited…. I waited and I waited I think it was about 3 months I finally got a blurry photo mention in his stories that accumulated in about 3 follows. It was at this time I realized there’s no shortcuts! There probably won’t be that moment were shit just blows up and it will take time and effort and resilience to make this work.
The next massive jump in exposure for Zerofux is without a doubt randomly linking with Jon Hood from the Hood brothers. I don’t know how this happened and they had a small following at the time but shit they had and still have a loyal following. We decided to do some merch for them and I came up with some design, again pretty basic but they were still pretty cool (in pic below) and I popped them up on the website…..Jon posted on his stories and within minutes the sales were coming in…When you get an order on Shopify your phone makes a “Cha Ching” noise and it was literally going off over and over and over again. I can’t remember exactly how many orders came through but I sure as hell remember the late nights cutting vinyl, heat pressing and my wife helping pack and send the orders its was madness! Made worse by the fact that I had no processes in place, no shipping logistics, just hundreds of hoodies and a work ethic. Now if you go check out the hood brothers, they have a massive range of merch and I can guarantee its sells like hotcakes! The amount of people that came to the website because of doing the hood brothers merch was huge and so many stayed and to this day are fans and customers of Zerofux. Also through Jon I have met and sent clothing to lou Pac infact we did his first merch shirts which sold like crack, Linked with Just the norms, wet whistle (Rewiti) who does the hood bros merch now and many many more!
PART 3 OF 3 coming soon