Evan Lessler // Ep 63 // Adapt or Perish

Welcome to Episode 63 of the Asian Hustle Network Podcast! We are very excited to have Evan Lessler 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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Evan Lessler is the CEO and Creative Director of Adapt Clothing, Inc. based in San Francisco, California. The brand offers a range of clothing and lifestyle products focused on bay area culture, music, and sports, and have collaborated over the years with the likes of Colin Kaepernick, E-40, Jäegermeister, and many others. He got his start designing at The University of California, Davis, and upon graduating worked as a designer for Apple while also building his fledgling brand. In 2012 he was able to leave the corporate world entirely to focus on Adapt full-time.

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Transcript

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) Hello everyone. Welcome to the Asian hustle network podcast. Today. We have a very special guest. With us, his name is Evan Lesler. Evan is the CEO and creative director of adapt clothing, Inc. Based in San Francisco, California, the brand offers a range of clothing and lifestyle products focused on Bay area, culture, music, and sports, and have collaborated over the years with the likes of Colin Kaepernick,  Yeager, Meister, and many others. He got his start designing at the university of California Davis. And upon graduating worked as a designer for Apple while also building his fledging brand in 2012, he was able to leave the corporate world entirely to focus on adapt full time, and then welcome to the show.

 

Evan: (00:01:07)  Thanks for having me guys.

 

Bryan: (00:01:10) We’re happy to be here. We’re so excited to have you in the show. Evan’s hopper into a man, like tell us like what your upbringing was like and how you got into design as a passion.

Evan: (00:01:18) Yeah. Yeah. So, um, I grew up in a town called Fairfield, which is basically about an hour or so drive, depending on traffic from San Francisco.Um, my family. So we grew up up there and then my parents. So we grew up going to a church in San Francisco’s Chinatown, which was actually where my grandfather was a pastor. Uh, he was there for over 40 years. He was the head pastor. So. Growing up. I kind of split my time between Fairfield and San Francisco. I’d be there on Sundays. And then, you know, I had friends out there, so I would kind of stay there sometimes for a few days and then come back. So it was kind of like this, this shared experience, but, um, yeah, so grew up in, in, in Fairfield at the end, kind of, um, I always, I always. New or from a pretty young age that I wanted to do something in potentially in clothing. Um, I was really, you know, I was one of those kids that I wouldn’t spend my money on video games, girls going out, none of that stuff is all pretty much all them clothes and, and accessories and things like that. So, you know, I, that’s kinda what I was interested in and, um, probably from, yeah, from, from high school. Junior senior year is when I really had solidified that I do want to get into the clothing industry in some capacity, whether that’s working for a company that I liked or trying to do my own thing. So I think from a pretty young age, you know, as it pertains, you know, in, in relation to most other people, I think I was pretty targeted in what I wanted to do from a pretty young age. Um, so, so yeah, I, I did that. Um, and then I kinda. You know, I went to college. I, and that’s kinda when I launched the brand, um, while I was in school and after college, I worked corporate for seven years. Um, Was it a company called CNET and then Apple. Um, and while I was kind of at those companies, I was moonlighting with adapt and kind of just, you know, I get home at six, seven o’clock work at adapt til like one or two.  And that was my daily routine. I really didn’t hang out with any of my friends. I didn’t watch any TV. I didn’t go see movies. I didn’t really do much of anything for a certain period of time just because I was so, um, All of my time was, was monopolized with, with the clothing and with work. So, um, it was a pretty, yeah, it was a pretty interesting kind of time. I don’t know. Do you want me to just give the whole timeline until we are today? Let’s take a little intro for sure. Okay. Okay.

 

Bryan: (00:04:02) You really highlighted the side hustle thing? You know what the cool thing to have?

 

Evan: (00:04:06) Yeah, it was Def I mean, you know, the sign-offs was gray, but it’s. The sacrifice you make is, is your free time. So, um, you know, in, in my case, you know, a lot of people who go into entrepreneurial endeavors, they, you know, they’ll quit the full-time gig and kind of focus on that a hundred percent. Yeah. My story’s a little different because, you know, I ran it in tandem with my full-time job for seven years, uh, which is a pretty conservative approach. I mean, we were. The brand was doing well. I mean, we, the, the reason that I finally left, which was in, I think, 2012 or 13 to do, to do it out full time was that, um, I physically just didn’t have the time anymore. Like I couldn’t the amount of money that I was losing, working at Apple. It just, the math didn’t work out in anymore. And so, you know, I probably should have left. Apple two or three years before I did, but because I was just trying to be totally sure. Cause he always a great job and like, I just wanted to make totally sure I’m making the right decision, but you know, I do think that I probably could have kind of excelled the brand a little bit more had I had I left a little earlier.

 

Bryan: (00:05:19) Yeah. I think your story is it resonates with a lot of us because a lot of us are working on our side haul. So is after our jobs. And then that question, no matter where you are in life will always come out. Like, should I leave my job for my side hustle? Because that feelings never easy, you know, like you, you have your doubts, like we’re all human beings. Like you have a doll, like, can I do this? Can I make it a thing? And sometimes. You know, when things don’t work, it would adapt as a couple months. Oh, thank God I have my job, you know, and that mentality kind of holds you down, but you know, that’s, you, you meet the junk and you never looked back, you know? And that’s the one thing that we want to have renter audience too. It’s like, it may seem uncertain at that point. Let’s say 2020, when you look back, it was going to be the best decision, the best decision that you ever made.

 

Maggie: (00:06:07) Yeah, absolutely agree. I think your, yeah, your story is definitely a little bit different. Like some people just jump right into it. Like I’m just going to quit my job, quit my full-time job and do entrepreneurship full time. But I liked how, you know, because you mentioned, you know, in previous interviews that you had the financial backing from Apple to help you kind of build adapt. So I think that’s really interesting and you know, I’m very curious. How did you come up with the name adapt and what does it mean to you?

 

Evan: (00:06:33) Yeah, so, um, Adapt is. So when I was in high school is in my science class, I was just doodling and I kind of was playing with these shapes. And if you think of like, you know, kind of like on the old play buttons on a DVD player, it’s that triangle kind of thing. So, and then there’s like the pause button. That’s the two vertical lines. So I took the triangle and one of the vertical lines and basically. Turn those shapes to spell out the word adapt. So if you look at a triangle, kind of looks like a kind of looks like an uppercase D you know, the general form. So ADA PT was what I could spell with those shapes. And then the idea was the D kind of looks like the play button. So it was like, adapt as in like, Moving forward advancing. So it’s kind of a play off of that. And really, it was just because that was kind of the only word that I could spell that was to pull from those shapes. But since then, it’s really. I mean, the word adapt has become so important for just life. I mean, look at COVID right. COVID is the epitome of adopting. We’ve all adopted in some way, whether you have a small business, you work for another company that’s, you know, working remote now, or, you know, you’re running a restaurant or whatever the case may be. Everyone really has to adapt to what’s going on right now in particular. Um, But, I mean, just over, you know, the 17 and a half years I’ve been doing this, you know, adapt the word adopt has really come into play in so many different instances, you know, and you know, that was never really the intention with, with the name, but it really just, I’m glad that that’s the name that I picked because it really is applicable to so many things, you know, it’s, it’s a simple thing it’s easy to remember. So it, I think the name has really kind of come into its own over the past. The past decade or so, but, um, yeah, that was kind of the reason it was kind of a random why, why that word was chosen.

 

Bryan: (00:08:31)  So speaking of the name adapt, how have you adapted over the years from post-college into COVID currently?

 

Evan: (00:08:40) Oh, man. So many ways. I mean, every, every component of the brand, I mean, for one just. Well, how do I, where do I run the brands though? Like when we first started, I was at my apartment in UC Davis and I had roommates and, you know, I filled up like her kitchen area with these like clear Sterilite bins of clothes. And I guess people were cool with it. They didn’t really complain, but I kind of felt bad. I was taking up like the general space with my own stuff. So, um, But, you know, even, even just adopting in a, in a space environment. So, you know, and then my, my first place out of college, um, was an apartment in San Francisco when I was working for CNN. So I had to move all my stuff in there. I set up a table, so I could like so labels into the next of the shirts. And then from there we moved to Oakland and I was able to get a warehouse there. And then, so really just the, the adopting to the new. Living spaces. I was in cause pretty much everywhere that I lived, I had to have space for the inventory. So, you know, that, that was one thing, um, adapting to market trends. So, you know, there was a time when this brand, or this, this company called Karmaloop, which is this really big internet retailer in the mid, uh, two thousands to the early two thousands tens. That was kind of like. The mall of all streetwear, which is kind of, you know, the clothing industry that we’re within. Um, and so, you know, eventually they went away. So, you know, they were a huge part of my business. So we had to kind of figure out how to transition from them to, you know, other, other channels for sales, like including our website and other retailers and stuff. So, um, there’s been, yeah, there’s, I think in pretty much every aspect of the business there’s. You have to adapt to, um, you know, the market changes or your own personal financial situations or whatever the case may be. Um, you know, yeah. So like another good example would be a lot of the stuff we do is very sports themed. So, you know, particularly with Bay area sports. So, you know, the giants had incredible runs in the, um, early 2000 tens and, you know, with the warriors more recently the 49ers. So all of these. You know, because we’re so like many of our customers know us for that product. So it’s like when, when certain things happen with certain teams, we have to really adapt to the market because it can go from zero to a hundred, like immediately and people want, you know, everybody’s going to want stuff at the same time. You know, if the super bowl is coming up or whatever the case may be. So we really have to, um, I keep a close eye on what’s happening. You know, in society, in sports, in culture, just whatever whatever’s going on. Cause we, we create products that kind of cater to those markets and, you know, people have certain expectations of what they want us to put out in produce. So, so we, we, we pay a lot of attention to our customers as well. Um, they tell us what they want us to make and things like that. And we, and we try to listen as much as possible. So it’s a lot of, it’s a lot of, um, adapting and adjusting to market environments.

 

Maggie: (00:11:47) Yeah. Yeah. Amazing. I love how, you know, you framed all of that. You definitely have to be kept up to date with like sports, especially because your life is like cater to sports and music and pop culture. And I love how you’re always like up to date with that. And I also wanted to point out, you know, when you talked about how your roommates. Back in Davis didn’t care that you had all these boxes everywhere. If you have ever been to Evan’s like warehouse to all the listeners or his store and that South it’s so organized. Everything is like li it’s boxed in like, organized way. I think that’s why, you know, your roommate didn’t even care because you were so organized.

 

Bryan: (00:12:23) Yeah. Let’s talk a little bit more about your collaboration with different people in different brands. Was this all organic. Did you hustle your way to these connections? Like how the, all these collaborations happen

 

Maggie: (00:12:34) and how did you choose, like which artists and models to work with?

 

Evan: (00:12:37) Yeah, no, that’s that’s. Those are great. Great questions. Um, I think so when I think back on the first one, so, so basically every collaboration that we’ve done and we’ve done. Probably hundreds by now. I mean, all different kinds of like either it’s food companies or brands or artists or entertainers or whatever the case may be. But, um, I think there, I would have to say that the vast majority of them are from direct relationships. So. If are, if I recall correctly, the very first one we ever did was this female rapper named Hopi spits hard. And she, she was based in San Francisco and this was probably in 2007 or eight or something like that. And, um, she had come into to model for, we had just launched our women’s, um, clothing, clothing lines. So, you know, she. We had a mutual friend or something, she came into model and then we were like, Hey, let’s, let’s do some shirts together and stuff. So, you know, and it was super organic. It’s, you know, we, we obviously liked each other and wanted to work together. So, um, and I think from there, it’s all like, It’s all just people, you meet people you work with. And they’re like, Hey, you know, I know the guys that are in this hip hop group or whatever, you know, you guys should do a shirt together kind of thing. And, um, it just kind of snowballs, right? Cause as, as the brand gets more well-known as you meet more people, um, there’s more opportunities to do things. Um, so I think for the most part, they’re, they’re pretty organic. Um, And you know, which is great. Cause I think that’s, that’s the best way to do it. I think it’s, you know, as opposed to just, you know, randomly working with some other entity because you want to, you want to have more reach or something, but, you know, but there is those obvious advantages, advantages as well to collaborating you, you kind of like, you know, you’re, I’m exposed to, you know, for example her, her music, you know, her, her supporters with her music are going to hear about my brand and then they’re going to hit. And then, um, you know, likewise. You know, it kind of works vice versa as well. So, um, there’s a lot of benefits to collaboration and I, and, and there are a lot of fun because it’s just, it kind of gives you something a little bit different that you might not normally think about, uh, you know, from a different angle and, and stuff like that.

So, Yeah,

 

Maggie: (00:15:01)  that’s awesome. I’m very curious. How do you manage to make sure that your brand stands out from the rest of the Bay area clothing companies? Because there’s so many, you know, there’s so many others. How do you make sure that you stand out?  

 

Evan: (00:15:13) Yeah. Um, I think, you know, so when we were first kind of starting and trying to get our name out there, um, we, like, I tried to come from a different angle, so I. You know, I always loved sports logos, and I always loved aesthetics that come with with sports. And then, you know, growing up in the Bay area, I’m fan of the fans of the local teams. So, and I, there were, I guess there was some people doing things like that, I guess. But I think from our angle, we tried to come from a. From a position that I had never seen before where it’s kind of like, Hey, we’re going to reference these, these entities and these teams, but in a way that is new and, you know, without kind of infringing on their, on their trademarks and things like that. And just kind of creating a new Avenue to pique people’s interests, you know, if they’re interested in certain teams and then also streetwear, it’s just kind of like that crossover. So I think. We kind of paved our own little lane there in the sense of like the way that we made the graphics. They’re, they’re kind of, they’re very simple. They’re very, um, they usually have some type of word play or, or. Text type of image that gets a larger message across in a very simple way. And I think we kind of carved our own path in terms of that. And that’s kind of what we became known for, you know, at least locally. Um, and so for me personally, you know, I knew the majority of the designs for the, for the company. So. No. I tried to use my own experience in my own design aesthetic to create something that’s pretty unique. Um, you know, but also within this kind of larger streetwear community that. You know, there’s a certain aesthetic that comes along with that. So, you know, I, I don’t know, as it pertains to what other brands do to differentiate, you know, how they try to do it, but I knew that I needed to stand out from other brands, because like you said, you know, there’s so much competition. There’s so many different people trying to do the same thing. But I do think that we were pretty successful in establishing our own design language that, you know, people, you know, it, it sort of got to the point where people would see other brands doing stuff and they’d be like, Hey, that looks like adapt. You know? So just the fact that somebody says that it lets you know, that. We’ve created our, our sort of own lane in terms of like the way that our stuff looks. And I think that was important, you know, in establishing, you know, who we are as a brand.

 

Bryan: (00:17:44) I love that. I love that people could recognize that design to me, like that’s adapts, that’s Evans design, you know, and just wondering too, like what was a breakthrough collaboration that put adapter, the roof where you were like, wow, like, All of these other, all these other collaborations are now coming in because of this one collaboration that we did.

 

Evan: (00:18:03) Yeah. So, I mean, so there were a couple of really big ones for us. Um, collaborating with Colin Kaepernick was it was a huge one. You know, he, at the time it was through, uh, this DJ DJ, amen. That I, that I worked with on another collaboration. And we ended up becoming friends and stuff and he, he was kind of connected to him and, you know, At the time he had just kind of begun starting for the 49ers. And, um, you know, he had, he had a few incredible seasons with the team and it was like, we, we did these collaborations kind of right when that was popping off and just the timing, everything was crazy. And, you know, we had just released. You know, some, some red and gold themed graphics that were, that were doing really well. And it’s just a lot of things converged, um, at the same time. And so I think in terms of a lot of people’s recognition of us as a brand, or kind of just knowing who we were, that that certainly helped a lot, um, We did a shirt that said 93 till with, uh, this brand hieroglyphics, which is a, which is a hip hop group based in Oakland. Uh, you know, they’re, they’re very well respected within, you know, the hip hop community, kind of a golden era of that, of that, uh, scene. And, you know, the sh the shirt in 93 till which is based on one of their very popular, um, uh, songs with the subgroup souls of mischief, which is kind of an offshoot of hieroglyphics, but that shirt was. Incredibly incredibly popular. Um, we got a lot of, uh, recognition within the hip hop community at large, you know, not just within the Bay area. Um, so that was, that was a big one for us. That was a lot of fun. And we ended up doing a lot of other stuff with those guys. Um, certainly working with , you know, one of the most legendary artists out here in the Bay area love working with him because, you know, A lot of what he speaks to and just kind of his, his fan base. And, you know, there’s a lot of crossover with our customers and, you know, also being fans of adopting being fans of you 40. So there, there are definitely a lot of collaborations that I’ve been really proud of, you know, over the years and a lot of smaller entities as well. It could be like just random. You know, some random restaurant or something that I really like and respect what they, what they do. So it’s it’s yeah. Any, any time that we get to work with other people, especially locally, I think is a lot of fun and it just, it just is our way of, you know, working with the community and kind of being a community-based brand as well. So yeah, there’s, there’s been a lot of, a lot of really great ones over the years.

 

Bryan: (00:20:54) Yeah. I really liked that too. And, you know, hear you talk about gold blood in93 till let’s talk about the trademarks behind that. Like, did you,

 

Evan: (00:21:05) yeah, so trademark, I mean, that’s a big part of, um, it’s funny because it’s, so this industry streetwear, it’s kind of like a lot of. The meat and potatoes of, you know, brands and certain things that they get popular from there, kind of like referencing other logos or like flipping some brand logo or something like that. So, you know, obviously there’s, there’s trademarking things that can come up with those issues. You know, we, we do trademark, you know, certain things like, like gold blooded, for example, that’s kind of our signature, one of our signature products that we sell. So of course that’s trademarked, um, You know, so there’s a lot of, yeah. I mean, issues come up, you know, here and there. Sometimes it could be people infringing on our, you know, we. I would say, you know, 90% of our popular designs, I’ve personally seen like bootlegs of them, whether online or in person, you know, selling stuff at the giant stadium or whatever, but, um, there’s, there’s always. People that are going to, when I kind of capitalize on the stuff that you’re doing and, and, you know, if, if it’s kind of like where they reference it and make it different, that’s one thing. But if they’re just like blatantly ripping something off, it’s a little bit, that’s kind of what I have more of an issue with. Um, but certainly, you know, We get sent letters from companies saying, Hey, you need to stop doing this or that. Um, and then just as much we have to send things to other people. So they’re, you know, trademarking. Yeah. It’s, it’s a big, it’s a big part of the industry. It’s a big part of, I think whenever you’re producing a product, you know, as it pertains to patents and trademarks, there’s always going to be, if you’re at all out there. You’re going to hear from somebody or you going to have to send somebody a letter or something like that. So, yeah, it’s, it’s been like, I always tell people if I, if I ever leave the fashion game, I’m going to go into, you know, I’m going to become like a trademark lawyer or something, because I’ve certainly learned a lot about that industry as well.

 

Maggie: (00:22:58) Wow. That’s awesome. Um, you know, when I was growing up, I heard a lot about adapt and I grew up in the Bay area. I grew up in San Francisco and I was, I grew up in sunset. Perfect. So, you know, I would see a dab to every time I like drove to work and, you know, it was such like a well-known everywhere. It was everywhere. It was such a well-known brand. And I feel like you’ve. Done a lot to build such a good community within adapt and around adapt. How are you able to build such a strong community for your pen?

 

Evan: (00:23:28) Yeah, that’s a, that’s a great question. So for me personally, I, I do attribute a lot of that to, um, the fact that I’m sort of the, the main person that runs the brand. I do the design, um, I’ve never really had like, partners, so. No, it’s you kind of form a little bit more of a special relationship with the customer. So like I’m pretty transparent. Like I kind of, I think, I think a lot of our customers know that I run the company and I do the designs and stuff. So it’s a little bit more accessible, right? Like if you shop at H and M or something, you have no idea who who’s running the company and where are these designs coming from? What is their message? What do they, you know, what are they all about? So, I think because people know that it’s a little bit more personal and I like to incorporate. You know, personal tastes of my and things that I like, even if they’re obscure or whatever, like I’ll actually integrate those into the graphics. And so, you know, for people, if they can relate to that or whatever, it creates an extra connection as well. Um, but I think having a, you know, just being a little bit more like, Hey, I’m running this company and this is who I am kind of thing. It creates that connection. You know, I, about five years ago I got, I got really sick and I was unable to. Really do a lot of designing or running of the company. Thankfully, my aunt she’s she’s our warehouse manager. So she was able to handle all that stuff in, in the meantime. But, you know, I literally just sent, you know, cause we have email lists and we send out blasts, you know, and I just said, Hey, you know, this is Evan, I’m really sick. I got this, this type of sickness and like, Just letting you know that I’m not going to really be, be available for probably the next year or so. Oh, so, you know, if you see that we’re not putting out as much product, or maybe we’re not shipping as fast as we used to, or whatever the case may be like, you know, this is why. And, you know, I got, I got a ton of responses from people that were, you know, just words of encouragement. Um, they understood the situation and just, I think having that transparency is really important for our brand. Um, And I think that it’s something that. Is unique to a small business because you actually have the ability to connect with your customers in that way. Right. I could personally respond if I wanted to, to every single customer inquiry that we get, you know, I mean, it’d be, it’d be difficult, but it could be done. And, you know, with a larger company, you don’t have that ability to have that connection as much. So, um, I think that’s, that’s an important part of the business that I would like to keep kind of that way. Um, so I think that that, that does contribute to the relationship that we do have with our customers.

 

Bryan: (00:26:18) Yeah. I didn’t transparency so important with building any community, you know, because once you lose that trust is really hard to get that trust back. And I think for your brand is for the community always, you know, so I really appreciate it. I appreciate that a lot.

 

Maggie:  (00:26:33) We’re glad to see you’re doing better as well.

 

Evan: (00:26:36) Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. A five-year treatment and all this craziness. I mean, it’s, um, you definitely appreciate, you know, being healthy when you’re not healthy. Yeah. And so like now, you know, my takeaway from that whole experience is like, whenever my friends, you know, they, they talk about going to the doctor or anything. I’m always like, Hey, just if you do anything, just get like a blood panel. Maybe like every six months, if you can, but at least once a year, because, um, You never know. Right. What’s lurking under there. Hopefully it’s nothing bad, but, uh, you don’t want to get caught off guard. So

 

Bryan: (00:27:14) love you’re doing better, Evan.

 

Evan: (00:27:15) No, thank you. I, I really appreciate that.

 

Bryan: (00:27:18) Yeah. And you know, running adapt as a sole entrepreneur. Hats off to you, but I don’t know how you do it. You know,

 

Evan: (00:27:28) like I said, man, there, there are periods where like, I didn’t know what was going on with, I literally didn’t know any show that was on TV. I didn’t know any movie that was out. Like you gotta, you gotta make those trade-offs right. Sometimes. So,

 

Bryan: (00:27:39) I mean, What is it like being like a solo entrepreneurial, especially when you have those huge, huge moments of doubt where you don’t have your whole founder to depend on to kind of push you through these tough times? Like, how do you, how do you push through these tough times as a solo entrepreneur?

 

Evan: (00:27:56) Yeah, it’s, it’s certainly a trade-off. So there were absolutely times, particularly near the beginning when I was thinking, Hey, you know, maybe I should have a partner because. You shoulder, all of the good and the bad. Right, right. But anytime it’s tough, anytime. It’s like, it’s really nice to have, you know, another person to bounce stuff off of, Hey, what should we do in this situation? You know, what do you think about this idea and that idea? So it was, you know, it’s in the end. I think I’m, I’m really glad that I do it solo, but there absolutely. Instances where it would have been very advantageous to have a partner who’s equally invested in the brand. So, so for the pros, I think that as a designer, I’m very picky and I’m very particular. So that was probably the major pusher there for, for why I did it the way I did. I didn’t really want to have to. Get approvals or, you know, Get, uh, you know, people to say what they like or dislike about something like kind of, if I feel like I want to do it, I’m just going to do it. And when it comes to a graphic and having that freedom, I think is really important, particularly as a designer, as a creative person, you don’t really want to have to run everything by somebody who might not have the same aesthetic or might not have the same kind of understanding of what you’re trying to get across. So I didn’t want to run into those roadblocks. So. From a design standpoint. I think it’s very good that I, that I just did it myself. And it got me to do things that I probably wouldn’t have done otherwise. Um, And so, so yeah, but you know, as it pertains to business considerations, um, you know, even financially, right, like I could have, you know, I had to spend all my own money when I was starting. So obviously having a dual, dual income situation would have been certainly helpful in, you know, Hey, we can print more shirts this month because we have more money, you know? So there’s that. And there’s, you know, if legal things do come up, right, it’s you kinda want additional eyes on it or, you know, Not just my own thoughts about what I should do. Like, I, I certainly could have used some support during those types of situations, but, you know, kind of, as I continued on throughout the years, I started meeting more people, you know, working with more people. So I kinda had that support system in place. Um, kind of just through. You know, we, we would ha you know, I would work with all of these different clothing brands that were all from the Bay, and we kind of would knock, you know, Oh, what’s the best, best way. I didn’t know, ship out this amount of shirts, you know, to New York or something. So there’s all these little tips and tricks that you learn from different people. So, um, but yeah, I think there are absolutely pros and cons too. To either being solo or having, having partners. Um, and I, you know, my situation was just, I kind of just made it work and yeah, I’m, I’m pretty happy with how we were able to.To navigate it properly.

 

Bryan: (00:31:09) I’ll see you, man. That’s hard. Sometimes I’m like, Oh, well, Maggie would probably die.

 

Evan: (00:31:14) I know. I mean, well, so you guys are a great example. You’re a, you’re a perfect duo. And you know, there are certain instances where it makes perfect sense to do it, to do it that way, you know? And I don’t know what it would have been like how to, how to partner, how do we, you know, we could have been a bigger company than we are, or we could have just gone in different directions, like who, who really knows, but, um, Yeah. It’s it’s, it’s it’s unknown, but you guys are doing a great job with the duo. So keep that up. Absolutely

 

Maggie:  (00:31:45) Likewise, I know it’s so much harder to do as solo, so

 

Bryan: (00:31:48) that’s why we’re looking at you. Like, damn, how do you do this thing?

 

Evan: (00:31:52) I don’t know, but, but I think, you know, but with you guys, so to, to that point, You know, Ahn might be something really different if it was not both of your minds, you know, working together, figuring out, Hey, what’s the next step we take? You know, how should we pivot in this situation? W what’s the next, you know, goal that we want to reach. And that’s, that’s collectively both of you working together and figuring out what that’s going to be.

 

Maggie:  (00:32:20) Yeah, absolutely agree. Yeah. And so, you know, we know that some of your designs are also Asian and spot on top, on the topic of age.  And, you know, we see on your inspo board behind you, you know, you have some designs that are, you know, in Japanese characters and whatnot. I’d love to know like what your thoughts are on being Asian American in this industry.

 

Bryan: (00:32:37) And you’re also half, right? Yeah. Kevin,

 

Evan: (00:32:39) I am. Yeah. So yes. So half Chinese, half Caucasian. So, um, I. Yeah, I think Asian culture in my, my life and my design sensibilities in particular has definitely it’s kind of permeated the whole thing. So, so like I mentioned at first I grew up going to San Francisco Chinatown every Sunday, literally since I was born. So the, and, and, and it was a, it was a Chinese Baptist church. It’s it’s called FCBC. So I was. You know, Chinese culture was, has always kind of been a part of my life, um, just by default. And so those sensibilities, and as those aesthetics, I kind of are kind of ingrained in me. Um, just being in Chinatown every Sunday, you know, playing with the pigeons. And, and so like, you know, the first, the first, the first kind of logo that we had used back in the day was, was a pigeon. And that was based on. You know, I run up and stamp my feet and all the pitchers would go fly. I just, they, they always represented to me the, um, this urban grittiness, right? Like you can never shake the pigeon. You’ll never catch the pigeon is never scared of you. Like it just hangs out. It does its thing. And it’s just part of the streets themselves, you know? And I always thought it was such an iconic kind of symbol of what we represented as a Bay area brand. Right. So, um, Yeah. So, so growing up in, in, in Chinatown, you know, just kind of playing in those spaces, um, I grew up, you know, in terms of other kinds of Asian inspired stuff. So, you know, I was into anime, you know, as a kid, um, uh, Cura is this animated that came out in the eighties that he was just a huge inspiration for me, graphically. Like I always thought it was. Just the visuals of it. We’re. So ahead of the game, like anything that in any us kind of cartoon company was, was making. So like just the aesthetics of it, you know, and we’ve, we’ve incorporated, um, that into numerous graphics that we’ve done. Um, and, and, and if you think about it, right, a lot of entertainment, a lot of, a lot of the visuals that we have here are from Japan. I mean, Japan really. Is the starting point for a lot of those aesthetics. And so, you know, yeah, we, we probably, within the past couple of years, we kind of did this Katakana version of adapt with, with these Japanese characters that, you know, people really, really liked. It’s very aesthetically kind of pleasing. So we we’ve been. We’ve been integrating that as well, more and more. Um, we’ve had designs that I’ve I’ve, um, we’ve kind of used Chinese characters and different, different things. Um, so I think it’s just kind of, it’s kind of interwoven itself through, um, throughout the history of the brand. Um, Alphanumeric, which is this, this clothing brand. That was one of the main inspirations for me to start my brand. Um, they were there from the late nineties and one of their big things was like, they had a lot of, um, So, like there were a skateboard company, but they had a lot of minorities like Asians and blacks and, and pretty much everything that were part of the team, which is very unusual at the time for, you know, when we think of like skating in general, it’s a little bit more of like a, like a white sport you could say. So I always found that very interesting. And, um, I liked the diversity element. And so I think that probably had some type of subliminal. No effects on me over the years, as well as I, as I kind of, um, you know, grew the brand.

 

Maggie:  (00:36:38) Awesome. Yeah. Amazing. And, um, I have to ask this question because, you know, for the longest time we saw the billboard at Oracle of Ashley V and I’d love to know, like, how did that happen? And did you see any like, changes with adapt in terms of like marketing and then like more traffic coming in after you

 

Bryan: (00:36:56) the backstory of that first? Yeah, yeah.

 

Evan: (00:36:59) Yeah, no. So Ashley V is this awesome model that one of the first people we ever worked with, you know, with our, our women’s clothing and we’ve been working with her ever since. And, uh, we, yeah, we have the opportunity to do some billboards. Um, I don’t, we don’t do traditional marketing in the sense that like, You know, as, uh, as it pertained to print marketing, you know, prior to Instagram, Facebook, all that stuff. But, you know, I always thought a billboard would be really cool because, and just growing up, like I always would look at these billboards. Yeah. They’re just, they’re just so interesting to me. And it’s just such a huge canvas. You can’t escape it and you know, there’s so much potential with what you can put on such a big canvas. And given that opportunity, you know, I just wanted to do something that would really stand out. And Ashley, you know, we, we had, uh, Mari who’s, this photographer I’ve been working with for years, that just does amazing photography for pretty much all of our collaborations and stuff. And he, you know, he came out and we shot some photos with Ashley that were, you know, the intention was to be for the billboard. And, um, yeah, we, we just put it up and, you know, We, we typically do billboards when there’s, you know, it’s maybe like the holidays are coming up or there’s some sports team that’s doing well. So in terms of like what impact it had, I don’t. Really ever no, like there’s no way to get metrics on that. But what I do know is like tons of people would message us, email us, like just say, Oh, you know, we, we heard about you because we saw this billboard, um, and stuff. So it absolutely has positive effects. I just don’t know really how to quantify that. But it absolutely, you know, creates a lot of Goodwill it’s, you know, Certainly Ashley loved seeing herself up there. And we were just talking to other day. Hopefully we can do another one at some point relatively soon, but yeah, I mean, I absolutely love billboards. I think that. They’re just awesome. Like they’re just big and huge and you can put whatever message you want on it. It’s just kind of a lot of fun.

 

Bryan: (00:39:13) Yeah. I like that. I think it used to be dry by layer almost and

 

Evan: (00:39:17) take it down by now. Cause I would probably been charging me, but, uh, maybe it is hopefully, hopefully, yeah, I forgot about that. I just leave that alone. Yeah, you got to worry about that.  to take that down.

 

Maggie:  (00:39:37) So, and then what are your goals for 2021 for adapt and for yourself?

 

Evan: (00:39:41) Yeah. Yeah. Um, so, you know, 2020 of course was insane for everyone. We, uh, being an online based business, you know, thankfully we were. Kind of shielded from a lot of the negative aspects as it pertains to, you know, physical retail and things. You know, obviously our stores were closed. Um, during a lot of that time, we, we technically could open. I, I, you know, I thought it was in our best interest to maybe just focus on the web store during this kind of volatile time. Um, And so, you know, the web store, thankfully, thankfully was solid. Um, in 2021, I would absolutely, you know, like to reopen our stores, our physical stores, I really miss, you know, interacting with our customers. I love, you know, one of my favorite parts of running the business is just. You know, talking to the people that come into the store or, you know, like, I, I want to hear what they’re all about and, you know, kind of what, what designs they like give, you know, what they would like us to maybe do in the future and just, you know, it’s just, it’s just a lot of fun. And, uh, you know, particularly now when we’re so socially distanced, it’s like, I’m just going stir crazy. You know, like I would love to get back to some of that normal that we used to have. Um, And then, yeah, so, you know, we have a lot of, a lot of fun stuff planned to where it’s actually the ten-year anniversary of gold blooded. So we’re working with a bunch of different entities that we’ve worked with over the years on some cool new collaborations. So I’m super excited for that. We just locked her in, in this morning. So like, yeah, just, um, Absolutely looking forward to that project. Cause we haven’t done anything of that scope. We’re doing so many different collaborations for one purpose. Uh, so I’m pretty excited about that. And um, you know, but in general I don’t really forecast much of, you know, Oh, here’s, here’s our plan for 2021. Here’s what we’re going to do for 2022. I, I literally don’t don’t know. And again, you know, that goes back to, for me, the beauty of. Not having to run stuff by other people because, you know, if some VC was backing or something and they said, Hey, you know, we, we need to see what your forecast are for the next eight quarters or something. It’s like, I don’t, I don’t know. I’m just playing it by ear or whatever inspires me, whatever I decide to do, you know, from. From month to month is, is very malleable. So I like, I like that freedom for sure, but yeah, a lot, a lot of fun stuff planned for the year.

 

Maggie:  (00:42:11) Awesome. Well, happy 10 years to gold blooded and we’re super easy to see the new collaborations coming out for adapt. Uh, we have one last question for you. I’ve been, and that’s what one advice could you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?

 

Evan: (00:42:24) Yeah. Um, always a great question. So plenty of advice, but for one thing I would say, um, to, you know, so in 2021, you know, we’ve never been in a time where. There has been as much opportunity as the entrepreneur to become successful, right? Like there’s so many venues and channels and ways that you can be successful from your living room, from your bedroom, right. You don’t even have to leave your house. Um, but there are so many opportunities. So I would say that, you know, anyone who is thinking about doing something a little bit non traditionally, um, To absolutely pursue it. Right. And don’t like, I mean, certainly don’t just jump into it Willy nilly, but absolutely, you know, try it because, you know, I believe that if, if you really try it, you know, try doing what you want to do and it does, don’t work out, like that’s fine. Right. And now, you know, that, that thing is maybe not the best for you. And then you can try something else because, and because of the amount of different ways that you can be successful. You know, doing ostensibly what you love to do, that you should try to do those things. So I think that people shouldn’t be afraid of failure and afraid of leaving that corporate gig, you know, um, because there’s just because we’re just, it’s an unprecedented time of opportunities and. So, yeah, I would say that, you know, because every time I hear that somebody, you know, Hey, they, they started their own, you know, cooking thing or they’re selling stuff through Instagram. Like, that’s, that’s great. Like, I love to hear all that stuff and I just think more people should pursue it. Right. If you feel like you have a skill or you feel really passionate about something, try it. And if it doesn’t work, at least, you know that you tried it and you can make me try the next thing. So I guess succinctly, that would just be. Go for it. Go for the Gusto. You know, I try to and try to make it work.

 

Maggie:  (00:42:11) Yeah, love it. Very sound advice. And helping our listeners find out more about you and adapt the clothing online.

 

Evan: (00:44:43) Yeah. So adopt clothing.com is the website. Um, Instagram is adapt. Twitter is adapt. And then I think it’s facebook.com/adapt clothing. Uh, yeah. So those are the main channels that we’re in. We, we do most of our sales online and then hopefully. You know, by maybe year we’ll get our, uh, we have a location here in San Francisco in the sunset, um, a physical store as well as one in San Leandro in the East Bay. So yeah, hopefully we’ll get those opened up early.

 

Bryan: (00:45:13) I do want to mention that Evan is our episode. One of agent spotlights on YouTube. Please check that out as well for insights too.

 

Maggie:  (00:45:20) Yes. That was the only one that we got to do in person.

 

Evan: (00:45:24) Oh, wow. Yeah. You know, I think we just missed the cutoff on that one, I think back on that.

 

Maggie:  (00:45:29) Yeah. So go ahead and just cut out. Thank you so much, Evan, for being on the show was awesome. Hearing your story.

 

Evan: (00:45:34) Thank you guys so much. I always love, always love chat with you guys. So likewise, great.

 

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