This was an interview I did back in Oct 2010 with Dan Dejos. How fast time has come, yet all the insights and wisdom still hold more weight than ever.
1. What is the start-up story behind VXRSI collective? How did you guys meet?
We started VXRSI as an apparel and sportswear label inspired by mixed martial arts, martial sports/fight culture, and most importantly the athletes. We aim at championing an aesthetic-minded and culture-conscious approach to sports/lifestyle driven apparel.
Vxrsi became official May 2009 but has actually been in development since 2006. Karlo and I have both working in fashion/apparel/action sports for over 6 years, and started working together for other labels back in 2006.
I’ve been looking at combining my passion for MMA, art, culture, and fashion was something I’d wanted to do since I was a kid, so creating Vxrsi was a pretty natural progression.
2. VXRSI, What are three words that best define it?
Art, Sport, Culture
3. What is the definition of success for you all, and how much of it do you think you guys have achieved?
Success? I suppose would be a point where we have established Vxrsi as the premiere brand within our sport and culture, where we are seen as the constant innovators and are able to consistently push the brand further and further.
Also, building and maintaining a strong relationship with fans, athletes, teams, and organizations as well as retailers and stores is something that we hold paramount to our success.
We wouldn’t be anything without them, so definitely a huge thanks to them! As far as how much success we’ve achieved, we feel its barely a sliver of what we want and are aiming for.
We’re definitely excited bout the response we’ve gotten from everyone from fans to fighters to retailers, and really use that as fuel to keep on pushing and furthering the brand.
4. What are some recent achievements you guys would like to share?
Well, we just wrapped up the Grappler’s Quest (Las Vegas) & UFC Fan Expo (Boston) and both were amazing as are realizing how much we resonate within fight culture and are being embraced by the community.
Vxrsi’s Fall 2010 is hitting stores in the coming week or two, including MMAWarehouse.com which is one of the biggest online MMA retailers in the world, so that was pretty awesome!
Also, we’re collaborating with some great people in and out of the industry including Dan Herbertson, Middleasy, and most recently Rogue Status on upcoming projects, so stay tuned for that!
5. What’s something that’s always running on your minds?
Trying to answering the question of “how can we be as innovative, creative, and effective as the athletes and artists within the sport?”.
6. What would you guys spend a million dollars on?
Helping expand the brand and also expanding the sport, with youth programs/sports charities, not only here in the states but also abroad. Martial arts is all over the world, so expanding mixed martial arts culture beyond the established countries is definitely something we’d support.
7. What three pieces of advice would you all give to others when it comes to life and business?
Be passionate, work hard, and enjoy the ride!
8. What have been some of your failures, and what have you learned from them?
We haven’t had to accept failure at any point so far with Vxrsi. We’ve learned a lot from a lot mistakes from previous ventures and other companies.
Sure, we’ve made some mistakes or minor misjudgments that come with a growing a business, but you learn from all those things and try to use them to help guide and direct the brand in a positive direction.
9. What’s a typical day in your life like?
That’s simple, eat sometimes, sleep sometimes, and work all the time.
10. What’s one of the highlighting moment in your career? Why is it so?
No specific single moment really stands out yet. But something that does highlight our work is seeing someone random wearing our products and also hearing their passion and enthusiasm for them is extremely rewarding.
11. What stops you from throwing in the towel and giving up during those frustrating days of being in this industry?
We didnt get into this to quit. Of course it gets frustrating as hell, but were confident in ourselves and believe in what we are doing. Nothing truly worthwhile comes easy, otherwise you don’t appreciate it.
12. Biggest risk ever taken?
This business. hahahahahaha. But it is tough to build a company from the ground up.
13. Who has influenced you most and been your greatest inspiration?
We draw from a variety of different sources that are relevant to fight sports and the influential cultures that really inspire sports and therefore us.
There are thousands of years of art and philosophies throughout history to draw from like classical Greek sculptures, Japanese paintings and motifs, to modern art and contemporary design.
We’re also heavily inspired by the modern artistic perception of sports and athletics, the intertwining of the culture associated with sports, as well as it’s constantly evolving state.
14. How do you go about marketing your business or yourself? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
Social and grass roots marketing. The idea of a staying true to the sport, culture, and fans is something that has been ingrained in other sports environments, so that very roots-first mentality, we value to our very core when it comes to our approach as a brand.
From the gyms, to the smaller regional shows, those places have all led to the larger shows and venues, and that path something we will never lose site of and I think that our audience will both respect and admire that.
15. Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
There’s a number of companies and businesses that we admire, brands like Nike, Burton, DC, are easy to be inspired by as they stand in the forefront of respective sports and cultures.
But some other brand or company stories that we admire that maybe aren’t directly related are ones of Zappos, Facebook, and Apple, as far as building something from the ground up and focusing internally as well as externally.
16. How do you achieve balance in your life?
The gym is kind of a saving grace. Not only is a release for the stresses brought on at the desk or computer or meeting room, but also its direct research and practice.
So it works out for us! As hard as we work, we also do things as friends and a team that also remind us what and why we are doing what we’re doing.
17. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
I try and not to set particular timelines on where I or the company should be. Not that we don’t have goals or an idea of where we want to be, but those typical 5 or 10 year goals don’t necessarily have to be reached in that time.
They could come sooner, they could come later. I think of the bigger picture and focus on what it is as whole what we are trying to achieve with Vxrsi. Shaping the brand in the right way is more important that the quickest or biggest way and its a hell of a lot more gratifying that way.
18. What’s the first thing you guys would say to the world if all attention was on you now?
Hopefully, we wouldnt have to say anything. We want the world to know who we are by what we’ve done or what we’ve established and accomplished through Vxrsi, and shouldn’t have to tell them again.
Actually, if it gets to that point where we can have that level of notoriety, respect, and admiration, something we will say is “THANK YOU” because we’d be there because of the them.