I think it's safe to say that the city is still buzzing from All Star week(end). After attending the Mitchell & Ness Black and Gold collection launch with a performance by Pusha T on the Tuesday, I topped off the weekend at Naskademini's show, 'Hangin' Pictures On My Wall', presented by Shopify. Along with events hosted by Livestock, the Jorban brand pop-up shop and the star-studded events, it was refreshing to close the weekend with a little food for thought.
While there were a number of panels that took place, I was keen on attending Bryan Espiritu's discussion on the topic of finding "you" time, alongside Ronnie Fieg. Creating balance and keeping a level head in the business world can be a challenge for even the most successful entrepreneurs. Listening to both Ronnie and Bryan's stories really put handwork and creative turmoil into perspective.
Five years ago, when retro tech runners were new to the market, brands had gone away and didn't have relevance in the market place, Fieg explains. Working as a buyer for David Z from the age of 13, he was not only aware of the cycle and trends but also the unique products that people wanted. Finding what's missing from the marketplace began to affect Fieg personally, ultimately leading him to work on a product that gained a lot of attention, KITH.
While Espiritu doesn't share the same heavy retail background, he began designing back in 2004 upon being placed on house arrest. Being able to accomplish more creatively by openly writing about situations online, he began to grow a following on Myspace in 2007/2008. People were gravitating and sharing stories before a brand and product translated into what it is today. Once the response was strong enough, Espiritu began by selling 40 t-shirts overnight, utilizing the negativity in a positive way, which lead to pop-up shops, treasure hunts and people camping overnight for releases.
Espiritu, who is also a graphic designer, gained notoriety when he was approached by Gavin from the Remix Project to make a flyer for K-OS back in the day. As his skills developed over time, he went from being paid $60 for a flyer to working on projects for AXE that paid $600 an illustration.
A friend by the name of Marcus Troy made the introduction in 2009-2010.
Ronnie acknowledged his appreciation for Bryan's growth. "I respect what you're doing and lifting people up in this market."
When the Legends League flagship store opened in April 2015, Bryan was walking on Queen and University and recalls the moment Ronnie called to congratulate him. "He said, 'you have to remember this and just take it in'... First dude that called me."
Ronnie gives credit to his parents as his biggest supporters. He explains the risks involved when you leave a position, and after leaving David Z in 2010, one of his biggest sacrifices was his overall health. "There are always things that need to be done - like holding weight and making a certain date."
When work is intertwined with social life, the question arises: How do you find balance? Along with participating in the panel, it can be difficult to find time for yourself. Bryan finds clarity and silence through simple means, like going to the grocery store, and accepting the fact that you can't always put friends and family first.
"If you want to be an exceptional individual, sometimes you have to be a boring friend"