We caught up with Harky, owner of StayClose Clothing, on how he started out, the impact and influence of social media on clothing labels as well as some helpful tips for future and beginner clothing label owners. He is such a sincere and honest person and we cannot be more honored to print for a clothing line like his!
Can you introduce yourself to our readers and tell them how you came about starting your clothing line?
My name is Harky, I own and run StayClose Clothing. It had been an idea in the back of my mind for a while before it started. I grew up playing in bands and always enjoyed the process of designing the merch or the logos. After deciding to leave my current band at the time I still needed some creative output. I had a few designs that wouldn’t work as band merch or tattoos but thought they could still be used in some way. Took a few of my favourites, had them printed on t-shirts and it all started from there…
What was your motivation to get StayClose Clothing off the ground?
Once I’d put out the first few t-shirts I had no idea the potential of them so all I hoped was maybe my friends might like them and buy some. After a while I put them online and we started getting orders from all over and a really positive response. It was at that moment I realised maybe I was onto something and should take it all more seriously and see how far I go could go with it.
What is something you wish you knew when you first started your brand?
To be honest when I first started I knew nothing – nothing about the independent industry, nothing about the business world and I had very little knowledge of who to go to actually get products made. What I learnt very quickly was to just ask. I’d send out emails to other clothing companies asking who they print with, then email the printing companies asking how to go about getting my ideas on products. Everything was a learning curve to begin with!
What has been your most successful designs and why do you think they specifically did so well?
It would have to be our first “Animals Over People” shirt we did. It was the first time I’d put my opinions into a design and started to push my views into the company. We got such a positive response to the shirt! That was what spurred me to push more of my views into the company and in a way it was the start of us turning from an un-opinionated company to the activist company it is now. I wouldn’t call it “successful” in terms of the money we made because 50% went to the National Fox Welfare Society but it was definitely a pivotal moment for the company.
How has social media impacted upon the way in which you work and promote your brand?
Social media is a tricky one because it’s changed so much in the short time we’ve been a company and I’m sure plenty of other companies and bands will agree with what I’m about to say. When we started out roughly 3 years ago social media was brilliant! We quickly gained large followings on all platforms, our posts would reach pretty much all our followers, we’d get likes and comments daily but over time it all changed. Social media has started changing their algorithms and started restricting how many people saw your posts – unless you paid. We saw all our social media pages quickly slow down and visits to our pages and website decreased.
I understand times change and places like Facebook and Instagram are where almost every company big or small go to advertise their products. It’s the same as if you want to advertise in a magazine – you pay so why should it be different on social media, but it’s such a shame the way these social media pages did it so quickly and brutally. I personally know of bands and companies who shut down simply because they couldn’t reach their following or afford to pay to advertise. It’s such a shame the way it’s turned out! I hope someday social media can maybe go back a few steps and at least give the smaller bands and companies a chance to at least reach their following and grow over time!
Any tips on social media for aspiring clothing line owners?
Don’t be afraid to share and promote other companies! When we first started it seemed that people would only promote themselves. As we discovered new clothing brands or bands we’d give them a share telling people to check them out and from that started making friends with several clothing brands and from there doing collaborations with them and the same with bands. One of our earliest projects was creating an album full of bands we’d discovered through being a company. The only way we can all survive and thrive in the independent industry is to help each other and not view each other as “competition”!
Other advice would be moderate your posts (which I’m not good at!). If people follow your page they don’t want to be bombarded with hundreds of posts a day. Try to share a couple of posts a day with a good few hours between them. If you have a spare few quid it’s always worth the risk of “boosting” post, I don’t like giving money to Facebook but have to admit we’ve had success when we have.
Finally, don’t give up with social media, unfortunately it’s necessary! All we can hope is they maybe change back to their old algorithms.
Are there any other brands that you would recommend our readers to check out for inspiration?
So many! The first few brands we discovered were “Death Marks UK” and “Wanderlust” who we’ve done collaborations with! Whenever these guys release new stuff I’m always sat thinking….” damn… that’s well nice”. A really close friend of mine runs “Alibi Clothing” who I recommend checking for sure! When we started out Matt from “Deth Kult” was awesome with giving me advice and eventually did some artwork for us! The guys from “Lost World” have always been cool to us.
If you’re looking for more activism brands check out our friends from “Heartcure Apparel” or our friends from Australia “Wild Minds”. There are so many great independent brands out there! Really hope I haven’t missed any of our friends out!
Any motivational words for potential clothing line owners?
Just don’t give up! The independent industry is tough and getting started takes time, money and above all determination! We didn’t get to where we are by luck, it’s taken years of constant work! It’s tough running an independent clothing company but the rewards you get are worth it.
I’ve now got friends all over the country as well as other countries who run companies and are in bands. I get to take my company to music festivals and tattoo conventions and that’s something I’d never get to do previously.
Above all don’t give up and as I’ve said before, don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Where can our readers go to buy your clothes?
Our full range as well as our collaborations with Sea Shepherd, The Hunt Sabs and various UK bands and charities and can found on: www.staycloseclothing.com
Also, please visit our Facebook page where we have just released a mini documentary which has even more information on how we got started which could be useful to anyone wanting to start a brand or learn more about how we went about it!
Harky StayClose Clothing
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