Alan King (Cheung) // Ep 44 // The Gen Z Fashion Designer Behind AKINGS
Welcome to Episode 44 of the Asian Hustle Network Podcast! We are very excited to have Alan King (Cheung) on this week's episode.
We interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals. We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.
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Alan King (Cheung) is the founder and creative director behind luxury brand AKINGS. His brand is recognized for its signature J shape cut, a cut that allows his denim to be worn by everyone from 4’11” to 7’0” – it’s a denim for all heights.
Alan’s designs include skinny stacked jeans, everyday tops/jackets, and essential accessories and masks. The label can best be described as “Clothing that makes you feel like A KING” and his brand can be seen on artists such as Lil Baby, Lil Nas X, Steve Aoki, Tyga, and many more. His work and industry opinions are featured by major publications like Entrepreneur, Esquire, Forbes, GQ, and Vogue to name a few.
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Intro: (00:00:00) Hey guys, welcome to Asian Hustle Network Podcast, My name is Bryan.
And my name is Maggie
And we interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals.
We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.
Maggie: (00:00:23) Hi, everyone. Welcome to the Asian hustle network podcast. Today, we have a very special guest with us. His name is Alan Chung, also known as Alan King. And he is the founder and creative director behind a luxury brand. A Kings. His brand is recognized for its signature J shaped. Cut it. Cut. That allows his denim to be worn by everyone from four 11 to seven feet. It’s a denim for all Heights. All of us designs include skinny stack to jeans, everyday tops and jackets and essential accessories and masks. The label can best be described as clothing that makes you feel like a King and his brand can be seen on artists such as little baby lowness Steve Aoki, Tyga, and many more. His work and industry opinions are featured by a major publications like entrepreneur, Esquire, Forbes, GQ, and Vogue. To name a few. Alan, welcome to the show.
Alan: (00:01:18) Oh, man. Thank you guys for having me. That was quite an introduction. Yeah.
Bryan: (00:01:23) Pretty glad to have you on Alan. So let’s hop right into it. Tell us about your upbringing. What led you down the entrepreneurial path?
Alan: (00:01:31) Yeah, so, um, I come from, so I, I come from like an early, um, It’s that entrepreneurial kind of family, you know, we’re, uh, we’re immigrant family, I’m first generation. Um, but, uh, entrepreneur in a sense, you know, my family came to the U S wanting a better life. And, um, they essentially started, uh, in the restaurant industry, you know, some, um, Fujianese. So it was very common in the Fujianese immigrant, uh, New York story. Um, we had a restaurant in New Jersey, um, I kind of watched him, I think that seeing them kind of sh um, hustle and, uh, put that work and sacrifice in, um, now looking back on it, it’s really inspiring and I really hammered in like a work ethic. Um, and I think, you know, just growing up, I, I felt like, um, earliest, like my earliest member memories have always been. Um, kind of like solving problems and then finding ways to, um, Kind of make some money on it. And so, in a way, like, for example, I remember in second grade, a kid once asked me for my homework cause he broke his leg and I sold him. I sold him my homework. Yeah. So, so it was kind of like random, like little bits like that. And then, you know, like things that I kind of liked, like I was collecting cards, like, you know, like Yu-Gi-Oh cards, Pokemon cards, things like that. And then that, um, that eventually led to things like. Oh, wow. Like I can, you know, growing up in New York, like, wow, like I can wear or buy on Supreme or like the sneaker and, um, I can wear it and sell it and for even higher than retail. Right. So it just naturally, um, seemed to be something that started to make sense. And I started attaching, you know, value into fashion because of those things. And, um, So, uh, for me, I made a lot of sense because I was just so tired of wearing hand-me-downs and I was just like, okay, like it that’s like one really cool way for me to have nice clothes. Um, and that led to me kind of wanting to make, um, something, you know, for myself, like something that I felt was missing and, um, picking better fabrics and things like that for what I’m wearing and people around me.
Maggie: (00:03:43) Wow. Wow. Wow. So while you were growing up in New York, it sounds like we know that you didn’t even come from like a fashion background. Right? I think that you were working at a medical malpractice firm when you were in college, but you ended up quitting that job and dropping out of college. Can you talk about your experience of like dropping out of college and. What made you make that jump?
Alan: (00:04:04) Yeah, so actually I think I was, so it was in high school. I was, uh, so it was an opportunity in high school where, um, I went to a high school that was on wall street. So literally across the street there’s are there often like an internship slash job? And, um, I took it and I ended up working like 40 hours a week, you know, during the summers with them. And I was just like, man, I hate this job. Like, um, it was honestly a really well-paid job for a high school kid. I was just like, wow, like. Looking back at it. I was like, wow. Like the benefits were really nice for a high school kid, but, um, It just definitely made me realize, like, I don’t want to be, um, this is not what I want to do. You know, I was offered kind of like an apprenticeship where I could shadow this lawyer. And I saw this guy who settled, you know, like millions of dollars in the time that I was with him, um, for medical malpractice. But, and so we really opened up my eyes of like, wow, like this is, this is possible. And there’s other opportunities in the world. And, um, but it definitely was like, Hey, this is not what I wanted to do and pursue, um, So, uh, when I got to college, I was already kind of, um, working on, you know, um, fashion. I was always creating things in high, even in high school. Like, I mean, I made hoodies, I actually did cut and sewn hoodies when I was in high school. And, um, I was prototyping my first jeans and like senior year of high school. So, um, when I got to like freshman year of college, I just kind of, you know, um, It’s like every year of school I increasingly just was like, okay, this is not for me. And I think freshman year of college was kind of that trigger. You know, I grew up with that, um, that model, like Asian, where, uh, my sister’s like NYU grad and, um, you know, like my, my younger brother just graduated NYU and, you know, we’re, we’re kind of like reverie academic focus, but, um, for me it was just like, man, like as like. Shy to climb the college, uh, college educated patient ladder. I just was like, I’m not really learning things that, um, I want to, um, or I feel like it would apply to me. And, um, So when I dropped out, I remember actually texting my sister about this um, the like literally last week where, um, so I was at a fork road where I was doing, um, I had to go to London fashion week, do in New York fashion week runway, um, do a Las Vegas trade show and then do a New York trade show. And this was right after, um, this is literally right after like the winter breaks. I think it was like the February, January period. Um, and so I do all of those things. I’m like, you know what, like, I’ve been gone from school for basically this entire semester. What is the w if I come back now, I’m probably going to fail. Chances are right. And, um, so I, it was kind of like, okay, like what if I just wrote out this semester or just gave it a shot and try it. And I remember like having this conversation with my sister, you know, and, and I’m so grateful for the kind of like, Her words, because I look back at a lot of different advice that people give, um, in different points in their lives. And, you know, and, um, I feel like, you know, what she kind of told me really helped me, um, make that shift faster. You know, maybe it maybe if, um, so what she kind of said, you know, when, when I had the conversation with her was like, Hey, you know, college is always going to be here. Um, if you really feel like this is the right time for you to give it a try, like just do it for a semester a year, see what happens, you know? Um, Because it seems like you’re, you’re already doing it and you know, you can always, college would not change, you know, it’s going to, but this opportunity is here for you now. Um, So I think that really shifted it. And, and I banked her the other day because I just hear so much advice now where, you know, some people are like, Hey, you know, it could have gone so differently. Like maybe you should have said, Hey, like you have one more year left for your associates. Or like all like, you know, right out your two more years, three more years, see identity, then figure it out. Right. So, um, I I’m really grateful for like what she said and, um, as, especially with like our upbringing and like everything like that, culturally, um, I feel like. Probably most people would have suggested that. Yeah.
Bryan: (00:07:54) Yeah. That’s so powerful to hear because you know, the similarity is back when I was 19, I had a business venture that was starting to take off. It’s like around Boba. And then I was told by my parents, my sister, to stop doing that and focus on school. So as a result, I started my first company 10 years later, you know? So I’m just looking at you as an example of man, I should’ve just gone for it and just hustle a lot harder and we’re proud of what you achieved so far. You know, like you read your story and Asian cluster network. We see like you live, breathe and. And, and so passionate about what you do, like you’re the deaf or the hustler. So, whereas a hunger and mentality come from, was it from the top by your parents, or was it something that you sort of just realized at a young age that you wanted to do this, he wants you to do it really, really badly?
Alan: (00:08:46) Yeah. Um, I think from a young age, I, I, um, I wanted, I wanted something better, not just for myself, but also for like my family and things like that. So, um, that I think that started and kind of stemmed at, um, That’s where a lot of the hunger kind of STEM from. And, um, I think just growing up in New York, I think there was a lot of polarity between, you know, like, um, even in public schools and stuff like that of, um, people’s upbringings and things like that. So, Um, it, it really made me realize, like there there’s a lot of opportunity that, um, and me being so grateful, like just, you know, I got a chance to go to food, Joe, and, you know, kind of see where my mom and my grandma and my dad was raised and things like that. And I was just like, wow, like for them to get to, even to New York, uh, it was a huge step. Right. So I just kind of looked at it now, like it’s, you know, it’s kind of like, they’ve gotten me to a point a, which is like maybe New York for me. And then, um, it’s my kind of, um, It’s kind of like part of my life to carry that. Right. So, um, I think there’s a little bit of that, um, in there. And, uh, now a lot of my hunger too is just like being cautious of, um, we have a really, we have like a fairly young team, you know, like everybody’s roughly around my age and, um, Everybody’s in their twenties and we’re, um, as everybody’s growing, you know, and, um, the company is growing and things like that. I’m really aware of like, everybody’s life is going to be changing as well. And, um, I want to make sure that everybody is also growing with us. And, uh, so I think it’s as the hunger has actually like grown to like serving more people for that.
Maggie: (00:10:26) Wow. That’s amazing. You know, we were, we were all reading the Ahn story, um, that you had interviewed for, and we know that you actually taught yourself to so right. And everything, everything you know about fashion and designing, you actually learned from YouTube and Google university. And I remember distinctively this one tech talk where you were talking about how. You didn’t actually imagine Tik TOK would be one of your avenues to, you know, for marketing, but it actually, you actually blew up on there and you were actually doing Instagram only. Right. But you blew up on take talk. Um, but yeah, you taught yourself how to, so you learned everything through YouTube and Google university. I feel like a lot of people who look up stuff online, let’s say if they want to go into fashion, right. And they look up stuff online. I feel like oftentimes they get so paralyzed because there’s so much information on the internet. They don’t know where to start. So can you talk about your experience starting, you know, just learning fashion and designing on online? Like what your experience was like there.
Alan: (00:11:31) Yeah, that’s actually a really good question. So on what I found is kind of like, Google is really good for information and YouTube as well. Um, but also in life, it’s, it’s kind of like asking the right questions, like asking intelligently is one of the best ways to put it. So, um, I’ve always, you know, when I Google something, I kind of ask like, what am I trying to achieve in that? And, and, um, You know, if it is literally just learning how to sell, then, you know, I’m, I’m asking really specific questions like, Hey, am I trying to solve button down or hoodie? Um, instead of like a broad, um, specific thing, right? So for me, um, whatever it was, I took it step by step and I asked questions directly for whatever that result was. Um, and I think one thing I learned though, like really early on, um, I did teach myself how to sew, but I also, um, actually took like a menswear sewing class at fit, um, in high school. So. Um, but the one thing I learned from that semester was just like, man, I’m not a seamstress. And, um, I, I do not want to be a seamstress for the rest of my life. And, um, there, if there’s people out there that have been doing it for 20 plus years, I need to find them, I need to partner with them. I need to work with them, hire them, do something to, um, because this is not what I want to spend my time on. Um, and I mean that, because I really respect, you know, like the work and, um, for, for a person that starting a brand to sew a button down, right. Like. Of course, like somebody puts in, Oh my God, I put in one semester, 40, 40 hours a week. And so this button down, but it really doesn’t make sense for you to charge for your time in that sense. Right. Because it’s like, somebody goes kind of sold it and probably have sold a straight line versus whatever you did it out of a home machine or just like one machine, because a lot of garments, you know, take like five different machines to sell, especially denim. So I learned that like really quickly. Um, that while it was a skill that like, I’m happy that I was like, okay, I got to experiment with it. It definitely was not something. I was like, Hey, I’m going to continue this on forever. Um, and I think on the self-education process, um, I just took it step by step of like every single thing that I wanted to learn. I just asked, um, what I was trying to do, you know, like, let’s say it was. I’m making a garment, but it was like, okay, if I don’t know how to, so like how can I communicate this through somebody that can, so it’s like making a tech packet, like how do I make a tech packet? Like, what does it look like? Right. And just getting like Google image, references of that. And, um, you know, just, um, not being overwhelmed by it. Like, of course, there’s, there’s like this overall goal, but Hey, like taking those things and making them, um, bringing those closer to you, you know, bringing those steps closer to you is really, really important because if you get lost in how big that goal is, or, you know, you’re never going to achieve it because it just seems so far away. Right. But if you can bring that close, like closer and closer and closer, and you just take one, step one, step, one step, it’s kind of like stacking a confidence. And as you stack the confidence up, then you kind of look at the, the larger target and you’re like, Oh, I can get there.
Bryan: (00:14:25) I guess this is a good segue. Do you kind of talk about your second post in Ahn, where you talked about DME, celebrities, you know, what kind of preparation did you have before the DM them to make sure that you can left the best impression?
Alan: (00:14:39) Oh man. Uh, honestly I had no preparation. I think, I think it was just kind of like, um, This is, you know, this, like there was no real like, Hey, I’m going to prepare. And there was just kind of like, Hey, like, this is, this is what I’m doing. I’m posting everything. I’m sharing everything already. Um, let me shoot my shot. I didn’t really expect anybody to reply to, you know, so I think there was a little bit of that. Um, but I didn’t really overthink it. I just figured, Hey, like if, if somebody replied and gave me the chances to open, the worst thing that would happen is I spent 30 minutes and nothing happened. Yeah. So I just approached it like that without, um, but of course, like we had our website, we have like, our social media is up and we had, um, things going on already, but, um, it was no real, like direct preparation for, um, specific celebrities to reach out to we’ll get it to
Bryan: (0015:32) you a lot of props too, because that takes a lot of courage, you know? And a lot of people, I realize who’s just starting out. How did that mental blockage of like, I don’t know if I’m good enough to do these types of things, you know, um, have thoughts you for her hustling the heart. We love it. We love those types of stories.
Maggie: (00:15:49) Yeah. I think one thing to know also is like, you mentioned that you didn’t really prepare and I think that’s what makes us so special because you came out authentically. Right. And it was, it just came out naturally. But if you like prepare too much, it might come off like really salesy to some of these celebrities. So I think because you didn’t prepare for it, it was just like, well, just shoot my shot and see what happens. And they thought, you know what? This guy seems really authentic.Like I’m going to respond.
Bryan: (00:16:12) Yeah. So this is a topic that you brought up earlier too, and it’s something that we’ve kind of been curious about. Do you believe, do you personally believe college is important? Is college for everyone or no? College is better.
Alan: (00:16:26) Um, correct. Totally. I think there specific things that college is still good for. Uh, and I, I also think there’s specific people that are, um, that, where they are in life, like college, I should make sense. Um, but for some people like college definitely doesn’t make sense for me. It didn’t make sense. Um, for me, part of the reasons that it makes sense was actually like I looked at, um, I remember Googling. When I was applying to college, like average designer salary in New York or something like that. And it was something like 40 grand a year. And then I lived up like Parsons Parsons, like tuition costs And it was like 40 grand a year. And I was, Oh, I’m going to get nowhere at this point. Yeah. So, so it was a little bit of that for me, where I was like, I’m going to take on that debt. Um, If I’m going to take on that debt, then it doesn’t make sense. Right? Like the ROI would take like forever. And I calculated that and I was like, man, like I just don’t see that happening. I’d rather invest that into myself and try it. Like, Hey, if I, if I was able to, because I was like, you know, reselling and doing all these other things, I have like some money saved up where I was like, Oh, I’d rather take this money and invest it. And, uh, try and make that my education, like the real world is my education in a sense. Um, And, uh, but at the same time, like I think, I think there’s things that, um, college is really, really good. And I think that, um, growing up in New York made it a really, really special scenario where college wasn’t super big for me. Like, you know, I still got to meet a lot of college kids. I got to, you know, I got to know like some of my good friends that graduated, um, schools like NYU and Parsons and all of that too. And, um, but it just was like, So I got to kind of lean on some of the resources in that way of people and, and you know, what they’re learning, but, um, at the same time, I think like, um, You know, so I, I didn’t like college puts, uh, bills like that college time that I’m kind of noticing is it does build certain different experiences and life experiences. Right. For a lot of people. Um, and a lot of people lean on that for like their professional careers and things like that. Um, so I think if you’re going to, let’s say like, if you’re in college now and you’re watching this and you’re going to drop out and things like that, then, um, you have to factor that into account and you’re like, Hey, like what are you going to do for the other, you know, like 365 days of the next year? Um, to build those life experiences with people, like, are you meeting new people? Are you building new relationships, even when you’re out of school, are you, or are you just going to like, uh, cram yourself in your basement and you know, not, not come out and try to work on something? Um, because I, I do think that, um, building the life experiences and building the people, like having the people around you is really important. And, um, when, like it’s definitely something I wouldn’t. A discount, you know, and as long as people continue kind of putting more of their kids in colleges, then I feel like that will keep happening. But, um, there’s definitely, you know, like there’s definitely certain things I don’t think Yeah.
Bryan: (00:19:20) Yeah. That’s a really, really good perspective to hear too. I feel like. College is not for everyone. Some of the most successful. I know my life did not go to college. Some of the most suspenseful I did go to college and it’s depends on where you are in life. You know, if you come into, come into college feeling kind of lost, then yeah. Or college helps you meet new people, build connections, figure out more about yourself. If you go to college, knowing who you are and what do you want to do in life, if it’s a different thing, we’ll hustle, you know, that’s my perspective, at least.
Maggie: (00:19:47) Yeah. Yeah. I think like also a lot of people that we met, like, so testable people, they actually think, you know, like similar to what you said, they would rather use their time and money and invest in their selves and their passion rather than, you know, spend four years in college. And in that timeframe in four years, they could have been working on their business. Right. So it’s like, they feel like they missed their train if they spend four years in college, but everyone’s different, you know, some people use college for, you know, the professional career. So we know that at age 21, you started achings. So let’s talk a little bit about achings and I guess this is like a two part question as a young entrepreneur at that time at age 21. What was your experience like starting achings and how did the J shape co come to be?
Alan: (00:20:32) Um, yeah, so, um, I started, I stopped. So before a Kings, I had a. I have tried launching a few different brands. Like, and when I say that, I mean, like in high school where I had little to no capital, I was kind of like, you know, like if I just made mock-ups on the computer, like I Googled like free sweater mock-ups right. And I just put my little things like, and, um, I tried to sell it. So this was before a drop shipping and everything like that. So I tried to do like print on demand, but, um, just like do a local screen printer or I tried to like, see if anybody would buy it and then I would make it, um, And, uh, so I, I always, like, I kept trying different things and I think, um, leading up to that, you know, meeting up to, um, the J shape when, when I was making the J shape, um, and prototyping it. It was something that really, um, was a little bit of by accident. You know, I had a design mentor who was, uh, you know, I was sketching things and I was not really, uh, that, that nice of an artist. So I drew a little bit of a curve pant and I was kind of like, Hey, like, you know, and, and I, when I sent it back, I think I still have the email. I know something, she said something along the lines of like, Hey, you know, this is going to be like a curve. And if you send us to the factory and, um, I just like, you know, like maybe we should just try really Curt and, and see what happens. And so I, I made this curve pan prototype and I just put it on the floor and I remember taking a photo of it on Reddit and it w it blew up on Reddit. Like I put it on Facebook, somebody re posted on Reddit. So we were like on slash off denim, we suddenly became like the top of vote. And, um, somebody magically found like my, I think it was like a big cartel website or something at the time. Yeah. And, um, Just like magically found that link. Right. And then they, they, um, I was like, always shit. So all of my traffic started becoming, um, this Jean is blue Jean. That, that was a J shaven. And it was a photo of it out of floor, which, which evolved after all that traffic, I like took photos of my laundromat. It was like me standing on my bench. On a trip with the tripod people bought it. I mean, like, I think that’s what makes like, e-commerce so amazing where it was like, people, people trusted this like big cartel website, fucking bitches, but yeah, it was something, you know, where I think like, That process. So in that process, like, I don’t want to make it seem like, Hey, like this was only like, you know, me being 23 now, like, Oh, like it’s like two years. It really exploded. Like it took me a long time. Honestly, it took me like a long time to develop, try, fail at a lot of things. Like there was definitely a lot of product that I would, I would, um, mock up and I thought were really nice and they definitely didn’t sell. And maybe we would get like two orders on, um, when I was in high school. And I just remember like refunding people like, Oh, I’m sorry, you can’t make this. Because nobody knew I didn’t have stock. And, um, so, you know, there was a lot of like, uh, failures behind like previous things beforehand. And, um, so it taught me a lot of things. And, um, what really helped us though, was definitely like the Reddit pre-orders like, like having, um, the proof that while like this J shape is something that people would buy. Then, then I was just like, okay, I’m going to go all in on this.
Maggie: (00:23:40) Oh, wow. That’s amazing. Yeah. And when you were kind of starting the school, Jason, thank you. You self-funded everything, right?
Alan: (00:23:50) Yeah. So, um, a lot of it was bootstrapped. Like you try to do as much pre-order as possible. And then we also, um, we also try to kind of like, you know, we were like, like around like friends, family, stuff like that. Um, Also, I got like some, some, uh, I went to a New York city, like city, city, college, like community so,
Maggie: (00:24:08) So challenges, um, like when you decided to move from sewing, your own pieces to manufacturing, what were the challenges that you had to go through?
Jay: (00:24:16) Um, fast challenges in terms of like finding manufacturers is definitely one, um, finding the right manufacturers and finding, um, I worked, I remember like my first manufacturer, actually, it was like this, he was like, had no idea what he was doing.I had no idea what he’s doing and, and like, it was like his first startup too. And, um, we’re on good terms. We’re cool. You know, we’re Facebook friends at all. Um, it was just like, he had no idea what he was doing and, uh, we kind of like, you know, like I, to be fair, you know, I, I put, I put, um, We decided to trust him on it.And, uh, but essentially this Bangladesh and they were sort of, and fall winter can be a challenge starting out. And I think also, um, challenges would definitely include like hitting the minimums, you know, because I think at the time when, when I was younger, it definitely seemed like man, like, um, even a hundred, 300 pieces is a lot of pieces, um, to kind of start out. But, um, And, you know, you need capital to funded and, um, things like that and a younger founder and stuff like that has to go through and, um, or, or any person that’s kind of like trying to start a new business has to go through. And, um, I think a lot of the, the challenges were more like psychological in a sense of, uh, mindset and where like, you know, where your business is going to grow is really factored into where the entrepreneur’s mind is.
Maggie: (00:25:40) Yeah. Cool. Awesome. Yeah. And so, When you were going, um, when, you know, the pandemic happened, did you go through any struggles with achings or were you able to kind of stay afloat?
Alan: (00:25:51) Yeah. Um, so we definitely, we went, we like, during the pandemic, like January to March, we definitely experienced like a 90%, um, loss in sales, like in terms of. So in terms of like overall business, um, not just like a King’s, but, um, you know, I, I have a manufacturing business as well, and that manufacturing businesses is completely in a hole. And, um, so it definitely was something like super, you know, it was definitely something that, um, I’m really grateful for in terms of, um, you know, having gone through that, but also, you know, finding ways to, to grow through it. And then also, um, like my, my psycho psychological mind. You could get through, like in terms of there’s a lot of rollercoasters and they’re in there for me, for sure. Um, but, um, I think February I’m really great. One thing I was really grateful for was that, um, during February actually, um, went on a, a kind of like a financial summit and, but we went snowboarding during that summit and, um, one of the things. That snowboarding really, really taught me for was kind of carving that mountain and going in and out, um, going weaving in and out and kind of controlling the momentum. Right. And, um, I just remember like the first two days of going snowboarding, me kind of coming to a complete stop falling. And, um, it really put a lot of things into perspective in my head where, you know, every time that I felt like, uh, maybe I’m going to crash, uh, even in life and like business and stuff like that, I would just come to a complete halt. Um, But I it’s just like, you know, while you’re going snowboarding, you kind of realize like, Hey, like at least for me, I was like, wow, like this takes forever to build a momentum again. So, um, one of the things like snowboarding really taught me and, and kind of like, um, put in perspective for me on the business side for that year as well. You know, if I’m, am I going to come to a complete stop, right. Like, you know, that, that on loss of businesses is there, but Hey, like even if there’s, there’s some sort of income coming in, um, you know, am I going to choose to come to a complete stop and just let the world, uh, pick back up and open up or like, you know, is there something else I can pivot and try to pick up momentum because, um, it’s a lot harder to pick up momentum when, you know, when you come to that complete stop. So, um, that was something that, you know, really, uh, That was a really big lesson for me in terms of like 20, 20.
Bryan: (00:28:07) Yeah. Oh, that’s awesome to hear. And kind of curious to how you grown as a person throughout the years. Let’s say from age 18 to where you are today at 23, how has your mentality and you as a person been changing growing per year,
Alan: (00:28:27) man? Um, I think. I think 18 to 20 ones, maybe twenties or 20 ones. It was very much like, um, super, super focused on not the brand and also almost like survival mode, survival mode in a sense of like, um, trying to, trying to get things off the ground in a sense. Right. So, um, so I think like, Now, one thing that’s definitely changed for me has been, as I’m getting older, I’m kind of, um, much, I’m way more aware of the people around me in terms of, um, the time that I spend with people. So I think like, you know, when you’re 18, at least for me, it was just almost like. Still in high school, kind of where you see a person in a hallway, you’re like, okay, cool. I’ll see you later. Um, and now I think, you know, I’m just way more aware, like, wow, I see this photographer. I’m going to work with them for this one month for the shoot. Um, if I was to work on the same photographer of one time a year, um, for the next 10 years, that’s 10 times, I’m going to see this person. And, um, I just been way more aware of like how much time I’m spending with each person now. Um, and I think. That’s been something like, especially this year, um, 2020, and then going on to 2021 that’s um, evolved. And then also, um, I think as, um, the business is growing, I’m thinking a lot more about other people and, and, um, Like not, not just like customers, but also like my team and things like that too. And, um, I think in the very beginning, like when you’re, when you’re younger and you’re starting, you’re kind of like, you’re kind of taking care of yourself and you’re trying to make sure like everything within you is as good in a sense, like within your immediate. Um, so I feel like that’s definitely something that, um, has changed and I think, um, That evolution is very, it’s very interesting. It’s a very exciting thing. It, it, it gives, uh, it gives a bigger perspective in terms of like what, what else can be done. Yeah.
Bryan: (00:30:37) Yeah. I can relate to that respect perspective as well. I mean, when you’re first starting out, you just want to survive. Has you just don’t know the uncertainty? Like you don’t know if this is a possible idea, but as it becomes more possible, you realize that you couldn’t, you cannot do it alone. And that the people around you. We’ll leave inside your mission that works so hard with you to achieve this goal or more important than the business itself. So you change your mindset to survival, to, okay. We’re going to supply to, wow. These people believe in me. I got to take care of them and that’s exactly. Yeah. I feel like that’s a full entrepreneurial circle. How we feel, you know, it doesn’t matter if you’re starting your company 18 or 29. Like I did, I went through that journey too, is like right now I’m like, Oh crap. I just gotta make sure all my team gets paid before I do, because they believe in this mission that, that we created, you know? And they believe in my crazy idea. They believe in me, what the hell? So you just showed it a responsibility. And I feel like the next evolution is like, After you take care of yourself and your business, your team, how can I make the world a better place? And I feel that’s the next evolution or a lot of entrepreneurs.
Maggie: (00:31:45) Yeah. I love how you’re kind of evolving into the stage where you’re just thinking about your team and thinking about, you know, your relationships with your customers on that note, you know, I think one thing that is really noticeable about eight Kings is like, you built a community around your brand and you have a really good relationship with like all your customers and your team and everything like that. What are the, some of, some of the things that you do to maintain that relationship?
Bryan: (00:32:11) Just to add on to that too, like. We haven’t talked to anyone and it didn’t like you, everyone loved you.
Alan: (00:32:21) Yeah. Wow. Thanks. Thank you. Re I love all Asian communities. I love everybody too, but that’s the place for Asians too. Uh, in terms of, um, I mean, I think, you know, my life wouldn’t be possible without that without, um, everybody’s support. And I do, you know, and, and it’s like, um, I’m really conscious of that too. And it’s like, um, you know, me being able to do what I do every day is like, it really wouldn’t be possible without the support of like so many people. So, um, you know, I, I think I’m just, I just wake up really grateful about that because, um, in the beginning, starting out, when you have like, no platform is just super fucking lonely. Yeah. It’s just like, it’s honestly like the worst, like the worst, um, the worst part for me, because it was like just when you put out things and it doesn’t work. Um, but you’re just not sure if it doesn’t work because your design Sug or if it’s like, because you don’t have no people to watching it. And that part, I’m like very grateful that at least now, like if my design suck, you know, um, you know, and, and I think I just wake up really grateful for that.So, um, even when I’m tired, like I was, I was telling my team there’s too, because I know even when I’m tired and it’s like 12:00 AM and I haven’t been, um, On lies or like commenting and like looking through people, asking questions or things like that. I just, um, I like, that’s actually where I kind of dig into and I remember like, um, and you know, that’s where like, you know, um, go on live at like 12:30 AM. You’ve been no, I just, you know, I’ve been up since like 6:00 AM and, um, and I’ll spend that extra 30 minutes an hour just talking to everybody on there. Umso, um, I think that’s, that’s like definitely part of it and yeah. On the, um, community side. I also think, you know, like with social media, one thing that, um, I can’t really take credit for is, you know, like the algorithm of, of ways social media works. And I think it was just super amazing and just, um, people being willing to share and like, you know, um, tag people and, um, and you know, it’s just the way like Facebook TechTalk and all these platforms work. And they’re kind of showing yourself to people that are like-minded and liked you and have similar interests. And, um, I don’t think, you know, Without the algorithms and the way they’re doing on whatever they’re doing on the backend that, um, it would have been possible to. So, um, I think, you know, we definitely take a lot of consideration into, you know, like our, like, um, our customers and like people that are following us and supporting us. And I also think, um, I think I also try to find different, um, things that resonate with me and, um, kind of like opportunities or things that I. I would want to, um, have, if I wasn’t in the shoes I am right now. So like, one of the things for example recently was, um, for our modeling, our modeling campaign. So, you know, we’ve been kind of doing the traditional, like, Hey, like we we’ve had like agencies in New York that email us all the time. Like, Hey, here’s some new faces. Um, from our, our modeling agency, you can use them. And, you know, it’s usually calm too, because there are new faces. They need the experience and we’re like somewhat of a reputable brand and stuff like that. But, um, That, that was really cool. And I was like, Hey, we’ve been doing this traditional model for some time. But, um, when I think about it, like, Like, how can we get more people involved? Like, you know, our community, we have people like customers, even that are like, Hey, I want to, I want to take my shot into modeling and things like that. And, um, so, uh, that’s when I actually made that tick-tock post and it was kind of just, you know, not really thinking like how big this would maybe blow up and stuff like that, but it was just like, this is an opportunity that while like, as a creative, I wish I could have. And you know, with social media, you don’t need to go through an agency or try to apply to [00:36:00] an agency. You can just work with us directly and apply in a sense. And, um, So I think just. Um, as I think about more of those things and, and, um, I’m, I’m always listening to customers and things like that too. So, um, I start picking up on those things and as I see patterns, I kind of like make mental notes of them and as a stacks, um, that’s when I kind of build. So, you know, my team knows this too, and I know a lot of our customers noticed too. It’s like, you know, I’ll literally, I’m the type of person where, you know, even like once a week or once a month, I’ll, I’ll literally go through our, um, our website chats to see like, Um, what people are asking us, um, even though we have a team to do it and you know, I’ll go through the info, email reply and just scan through like different questions, just check a couple of them randomly. Um, you know, I’ll, I’ll look at all our comments if you know, which is, which has recently gotten like a little bit insane, but, you know, I’ll spend at least X amount of time on it. Um, just to listen and see like where, and, you know, even on DNS and things like that, like just, just to listen. And I think that’s where, um, a lot of it comes from.
Maggie: (00:37:07) Wow. Wow. That is amazing. I think one thing to know is like, you don’t let anything stop you and you know exactly what you want and when you want something, like you find a way to get it. And like, you know, for example, you posting your first picture on Reddit, like just making that first step and taking those risks shows what kind of person you are. Right. And like posting on tech talk, like just taking those risks and, you know, bringing your audience to take talk as well, make making mental notes. All of those things are like stepping stones to get used to where
Bryan: (00:37:37) onto the type of content you’ve been creating too. It’s been very vulnerable and we really enjoy watching every one of those videos. You make them take talk prior to this podcast. So we spent some time watching all your videos. You’re like, wow, like I am so open and vulnerable. So the public, and we really appreciate that because there’s more to just nowadays, you know, the brand has to have a soul and you are the soul. We see the soul within your company and that’s, that’s so important and we want to make sure you get the recognition for that. You know, and we also did some research too. We looked through all the reviews on your brand. Everyone says, great quality, love it. Sweatshop, Scott, you all out there that, you know, all these quality stuff.
Maggie: (00:38:19) Yeah, exactly. So I’m very curious. Um, what was your experience like doing your first fashion show? Like how did you even get into that?
Alan: (00:38:29) So, actually my first fashion show was an opportunity. Um, it was a partnership with a nonprofit and it was, um, We raised money. We raised money essentially for, um, to where the tickets would go to, um, fight against child trafficking. So, uh, they essentially sponsored, you know, the, um, the, essentially it was called the non-profit is called, uh, the set NYC and, um, they essentially sponsored the church venue and then they provided us like X number of seats for like our friends and family press and, you know, like maybe like customers and things like that. Um, And then we opened it up to like people that were just willing to buy tickets and, um, also like customers as well and people like that. And, um, so I think it was also, um, just being a New York brand and the fact that, um, we were, you know, I was always trying to put myself in the brand out there. So, um, Um, PIM is a guy’s name. He was super nice and he, he just saw like the brand reached out. And, um, I just felt like, you know, even though we were super early, I think I made, I had to make like six to eight of the pieces really? Last minute I just said yes, I just said yes. And I was like, yeah, I’m going to do it. Um, And I, I think, um, a lot of the opportunities are things that have happened in my life has just been like, even if I don’t feel like I’m ready for it and it’s like coming up next month, I’m just like, yeah, I’m doing it. Um, and that’s helped me, you know, kind of accelerate my timeline. Right. Because now I put like a, a date in front of it and it’s like, okay, like I have to get this done by this date anyways. Um, get this, um, end result and, um, That has really helped in our growth.
Maggie: (00:40:14) Amazing. Yeah. What’s your goal for 2021 for yourself or achings yeah.
Alan: (00:40:19) Um, for, for Akins and, and myself, I think, you know, we’re, um, We’re definitely, I’m definitely a lot more aware now of like what’s, you know, before we were always ready. Are you aware of like, what is possible with social media, but I think even now more so than ever, like, especially with, I know, um, like we talked a little bit about Tik TOK throughout this, um, like we’ll take document, we’ve been on take dog for about maybe 45 days. I’m close closing in on two months now. And, um, to go, I think in the first month we hit like a hundred K or something on it and, um, You know, just like, like, I just feel like the opportunity of, um, getting yourself and your business and everything out there now is just way [00:41:00] more accessible than ever. And, um, I think one of the goals now is just, is just like, You know, kind of doubling and tripling down on that because, uh, this opportunity or this window is really short, you know, and I, and I almost, um, I don’t think I necessarily missed it for example, for Instagram. Like, you know, I, I, we built a, uh, a following on Instagram, but I, it reminds me of like early Instagram, um, where you can post something and distinct can hit like 10,000 likes or something like that. Right. And, um, Tik TOK is really like that platform right now. So, um, One of my goals and the company. We’re definitely trying to grow our social presence a lot more heavily, you know, we, um, we’re, we’re starting to track that more, especially, especially on Tik TOK. And, um, I also think I want to share and, um, I want to share a little bit more about, um, like my process, my journey also to, um, people like there’s like, um, certain customers, a lot of our customers are creatives and they’re, you know, I know a lot of them, um, have different aspirations and dreams and stuff like that too. So, um, I really want to, uh, start, you know, getting a little bit more narrow on some of the content we’re making. Um, so, um, that’s why, for example, like on a YouTube now, we’re, um, I’m doing those podcasts and stuff like that for people that are interested in maybe like entrepreneurship or, um, for like starting their own brand, things like that. Um, and you know, I also like, you know, started sharing a lot more even, especially on Tik TOK, kind of like personal finance stuff where, um, because it’s, it’s, you know, as, um, I’m growing. I’m also aware like our customers and people that are following me are growing too. And, um, I look at it like while, like I wish, um, these are some of the things I wish I, you say like 18 or 17, 16 and so on. And, um, so I feel like if it can help even, you know, a small percentage of those people, then it’s worth it. You know, it doesn’t have to be like relevant to everybody, honestly. Um, uh, to me, at least where I feel like, um, I’m just do putting out stuff that I feel like I wish, um, Somebody else had done, you know, in a sense. Yeah.
Maggie: (00:43:03) Yeah. Awesome. And Alan, we have a one last question for you and w that’s what advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Alan: (00:43:14) I think, um, so I think there’s, this is one thing that, um, I’m, I’m like cautious of the other podcasts, because I’m trying to not repeat some of the things. That’s why. Yeah. So, um, I think though, like one thing that, um, we touched on like throughout this entire process, right. Is like that big goal, like that big goal idea or like, um, and I think one thing that’s like really important for entrepreneurs, especially as, you know, everybody has like a really big goal or where, where they want to, um, wherever they want to get to is, is always going to be a really big goal. And, um, Like making sure that you set that goal closer and closer and closer to you is one of the most important things I think, um, in my life, in terms of realizations and, um, one of the realizations I’ve had about that was really, um, you know, when I went skydiving. So like in that skydiving, um, process. You know, it’s kind of like the night before, the day off as you’re climbing up in the sky, you’re just like, fuck, like, this is why know. Right. I don’t know if I want to jump on a plane right now. Um, this is not really like this, like, Holy shit. I don’t know if I can do this. Right. And, um, there’s a couple of things in skydiving though. Like that are really, really interesting to me where it’s like, you know, they have you sign this waiver and go, Hey, like you may die in this process. And so this is like, what you’re signing. Are you right before you do that right before you go. And, um, for does tandem jump and. It tells you like no parachute is perfect. No, no, don’t no jumpers. Uh, no tandem jumper is perfect, right? Yeah. Like, um, you may die. She would hit her like 50 times. And, um, so, but in this process, like while you’re doing that, you know, it’s kind of like, you know, um, uh, you’re, you’re, you’re also going to be noticing there’s other skydivers that are jumping and landing, you know, there’s 10 of them jumpers. I’ve been doing this like 15 different times, um, that throughout the entire day already, they, they probably jumped like a thousand times throughout the year. Um, So in this process, you know, when you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur, I would kind of look at it in that life lessons like that. Like, you know, look for those people that have already done it, like look for those role models that have survived, that, that are weathering that storm, that I’ve gone through multiple jumps in a sense, and, and might, you know, try to find those people, right. And, and those role models. And, um, and if they’ve done it, you know, then you have a proof that. You know, you have proof in a sense that it’s possible for you. Like, I think I’m a perfect example of this is, you know, like, uh, I remember the, uh, the first man who ran the, um, six-minute mile, right? Like before then everybody thought that was impossible. Like they thought if you ran a 600 mile, um, humans would just die. Like you would just die as a person, your legs would give out. And, um, it’s just over. Right. Um, but the moment that that person ran that six-minute mile, I think the next Olympic, uh, maybe literally like three or four people all did six minute miles. Um, And now, you know, like a normal high school kid, I think can run like a six-minute mile if they’re consistently running. So it’s just like the, the, the psychology and the belief is super important. And just knowing that it’s possible and finding those role models or those people, um, that is like one of the most important things, especially if you’re an entrepreneur starting out and you’re kind of like scared or you’re like, I don’t know if I’m going to start. Um, and it doesn’t have to be in your industry, you know, like just. Hearing hearing those stories. I think, you know, like even, um, like that’s where I think is like finding those role models, hearing those stories, it’s really going to help. Um, just get your head into that. Uh, psychological state of this is possible because if you don’t believe it, then, you know, you’re already dead at that point.
Maggie: (00:46:42) Oh, my gosh, Alan, that was like the first time I ever heard that advice. That’s so amazing. I love that analogy.
Bryan: (00:46:50) She be for now. I’m just sitting here. Well, that’s good.
Maggie: (00:46:54) I feel fear. I’m going to think of myself falling out of a plane going skydiving. Awesome. And how can our listeners learn more about you online?
Alan: (00:47:04) Yeah. So, um, I have, uh, we have a YouTube channel set up it’s it should be, um, Alan King and why I don’t have the actual link I don’t, but, uh, we can, we can have Denise send it over as well. And, um, The Instagram is Alan King, a L E N K I N G. Um, Tik TOK is Alan King. And why we do have to get our usernames in order is a little bit of a mess right now. Um, but, uh, I will be, and then, you know, we, we also share, I share a lot on Instagram and take talk and yeah. Um, I’m starting to do YouTube. One of the goals for 2021 actually is to really get more involved into YouTube. And, um, especially as more people are interested in, in, um, in what I’m sharing and stuff like that. And like, it’s definitely something that I’m going to be doing.
Bryan: (00:47:51) Awesome. We’re looking forward to all your continued success and thank you so much, Alan, for being on the podcast today.
Maggie: (00:47:57) It was awesome having you on the show is great. Hearing your story. Thank you all Allen. Right, right.
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