“Why be a cheerleader for something when you’re not getting paid?” Suraj Melwani (Sifr/KIN)

I started packing goods to make extra money and that’s when I was looking around for fabric at the factory to make tube tops for women. I just wired up a sewing machine and started sewing for fun. Quite unsexy but it sparked off my interest to make bigger and better garments.
It is not easy to run a label. Travel is a killer, money management is tough and doing the nitty gritty is really time consuming. Some people also don’t understand how the business works in terms of product development and meeting minimums.
Getting the team to gel and look out for one another is just as important as cooking up new ideas.
I love making clothing, but the manufacturing industry is a far cry from the bright lights of the fashion industry.
Jakarta influenced me to see way beneath the surface of this industry. Working at a factory and seeing a garment materialize will give you clearer vision to understand the entire industry. It’s a better perspective on fashion that focuses on the core of the industry. Going back to what it’s all about. It’s a solid education that you can’t really buy.
I like the Black Keys because it’s a great soundtrack to muffle the sound of 650 sewing machines in the factory. When I’m at home with my wife it’s all Jose James. That guy’s got a voice that would make any lady melt (and most men, too).
I have this terrible habit that I still haven’t given up. I am severely addicted to candy, gummies and jelly beans. It is quite alarming. But it keeps me at peace so I don’t think I am ready to give it up.
I love making clothes for the masses but if Charlie Sheen liked our gear, I wouldn’t mind him wearing it. He’s tearing it up right now with his whole self-destructive frenzy he’s got going. That would be fun and much needed press. Although on a more somber note, I think Jose James would be a solid spokesperson for our brand. Classy, cool and supremely talented.
I tend to read a few fashion magazines and I always see a lot of people vouching for all of these world famous brands that don’t really need any endorsement. In their quest to be unique by endorsing a highly sought after product (Chanel 2.55), they’re actually falling into that category of “cheerleaders.” Why be a cheerleader for something or someone when you’re not getting paid? Why endorse something that’s already so successful? If you want to be unique, why not endorse something that people have never seen?
I don’t really have any personal heroes. I’m not so big on idolizing. I bet they wouldn’t be too happy about us idolizing them in the first place.
I do however look up to my father: A great combo of street-savvy, downright toughness and brains; he is a real man. He was never formally trained in garment manufacturing but ran a factory nevertheless, despite all the pressures of running one.
I spend a lot of time with my wife. She is a great person to be around with. There are not many people who will always have your back.