Thanks so much for having this interview with us, please introduce yourself to our readers and tell us a little about your brand.
Hi everyone, I’m Craig, I’m 27 from South East Kent and I’m the owner of Innercircle – your friendly neighborhood cult. We are a nu-goth/occult themed apparel store and it’s coming up to our one-year anniversary of going live. It’s pretty crazy how quick time has gone, it’s been an adventure!
What was the main inspiration for starting Innercircle? Have you always had a passion for apparel?
So my inspiration comes from media and art that really grabbed my attention as a kid. Horror films, creepy occultist symbolism, generally anything that leaned toward the macabre.
I just gravitated to what I thought was cool as hell. As a kid I was pretty weird, to be honest, most kids wanted to be an astronaut or a fireman when they grow up. I just really wanted my own shop.
Shop keeper doesn’t sound as impressive when your Mum asks about your career aspirations though right? This ambition just naturally morphed into wanting to sell cool apparel that shows how I see the world and feel.
The name for the store originated from an old movie I saw; it was a horror where the main character got sent to a psychiatric hospital that tricked her to into joining a cult – referred to as the ‘Inner Circle.’ I just loved that name, it hit me. I was like “Yeah that’s the one!” It felt like the perfect name for my brand and tagline ‘welcome to the cult’.
What advice would you give to yourself when you first started your clothing line? Do you maybe have a few tips for people that would want to start their own brand?
Honestly, when I started my brand I had nothing but £200 and a box of t-shirts. I didn’t know anything. I was just happy if a couple of my friends bought something. It wasn’t about money, it was seeing something I envision being brought to life and seeing others enjoy it.
Knowing all the struggles I’ve gone through to get to where I am now, I would go back and tell myself to be more prepared. Having more start-up funds behind me would have made the process less stressful for sure.
I don’t regret my journey and I’ve learned so much already about the difficulties of this industry.
I’d tell myself to be more patient! In the beginning, I was so focused on showing more stock and keeping interest in the brand, I would release a new shirt each month. Sometimes you just need to let designs breathe, and this impatience definitely put me in a few sticky situations.
If I could tell any new shop owner anything, I wouldn’t lie and say it’s an easy road – but having your own business is worth the pain.
You will only get out as much as you put in, just keep focused on your goal and ride those highs and lows. Have fun, enjoy it.
What has been your most successful design and why do you think that one specifically did so well?
It’s hard to put my finger on why some designs are more successful than others. If I knew the winning formula, I’d be replicating it! Carpe Noctem was my original t-shirt, and by far my most successful to date – I think it’s a great combo of colours and really took that 1930’s cartoon style that was having a comeback and made it creepy and cool. The Defiled tee was also a big hit for me. This is the most requested from my customer base – it’s a combo of blood, gore, and controversial imagery. All the design elements just clicked with this shirt.
Where do you think the trends are heading in 2020?
They are going to a new style of grunge, baggy t-shirts, shorts, hi-tops, and plaid shirts This style has been creeping back in but with a darker twist – Nirvana but make it goth? Billy Eilish is having a big impact on the fashion world now and I think that’s going to show more in fashion releases in 2020.
They seem to be changing constantly, what do you think was the biggest trend in your niche-market for 2019?
Something I like to call it ‘the witch vibe’. You couldn’t move on Instagram for peter pan collars this year. Generally, these and wide brim hats – total witch vibes fashion was a big theme. I love it.
How has social media influenced your brand and what do you do to make the most out of all the different platforms?
Social media is the life source of any independently owned brand these days – you need to really be on top of it and what’s successful in the industry. You need to post frequently enough to stay relevant and stay on people’s radar. Not too frequently or it becomes obnoxious. It’s a tricky balance.
The first thing you need to do is figure out where your target audience is and how you are going to reach them. I’d say the majority of my customers are on Instagram and this is where I would do a sponsored post. I try not to change the themes or styles of the photos I put out there so I can keep a specific aesthetic for the page and for my brand I recommend this approach to anyone starting up, but that’s just how I envision everything, be as wild and as creative as you want to be.
I do post on Twitter but tend to use this platform for more fun stuff, showing the personality of the brand – engaging in chat with customers and retweeting our mentions. Facebook is still on my radar for posts, but I kind of hate Facebook these days – so it’s about balancing my time accordingly.
Are there any other brands that you would recommend our readers to check out for inspiration?
Absolutely. I take inspiration myself from these guys and would happily say they are friends of mine who’ve been a great support as I’ve been starting up. Dark as Day Apparel, 8-Bit Core and Bones_cult. They’re all quite different aesthetically. Dark as Day appeals to skateboarding culture, 8-Bit Core Japanese gaming, and Bones_cult to the alt tattooed culture. Check them out.
Any motivational words for potential clothing line owners?
You’re going to have ups and downs – ride the highs and beat the lows – don’t be scared to reach out to other brand owners who can give you advice. I get great feedback and support from the community.
Where can our readers go to have a look at your latest range?
We’d love to welcome new members to the cult! You can find us at https://www.innercircleapparel.co/
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