The Culture of 2048.c
By Amanda Harth
We spoke with the owners of the new clothing store 2048.C about their individual brands, Chicago fashion, and running a brick and mortar in 2019. They’re making it their business to feature emerging brands based in Chicago and we couldn’t be more happy to speak with them about their plans for the next wave of Chicago designers.
How did you both meet?
Robby: We met back in like 2014 or so at this local restaurant I used to go to in the south loop where Ray used to work. I like supporting local exclusive brands from Chicago, and I was introduced to Ray and his brand, & I’ve been a customer of his since season 1 of IMPAVID.
Ray: I was introduced to Robby by my manager Roberto at the time at The Scout. Robby was one of my biggest customers and was always supportive of every drop I had. Starting off, I wasn't very confident in my work but it was people like Robby that kept me afloat and sane.
Can you both tell us about your brands Impavid and Hundreds Only Crew?
Hundreds Only Crew: My brand Hundreds Only Crew is a brand I put together back in early 2017. The brand outlines the exclusivity around streetwear culture as I only produce and release 100 pieces per design, numbered 01-100.
Impavid: Impavid went through a lot of different names and concepts before it became what it is today. As I got older I was introduced to different mediums of art and the vision for my brand started to shift. Growing up my mom worked in the fashion industry and had a work studio at home, so I was always around fashion. I was more into graphics and prints. Going to the Illinois Institute of Art Chicago for graphic design opened up my mind to a lot of different things. Impavid started as a school project. We had to start and design a brand from the ground up and come up with a business plan for it. I designed a 5 piece collection that never made it to its physical state as it was just a project for school in my eyes at the time. I decided to dropout of college with an associate's degree in graphic design to search for a job in that field. The struggle of trying to find that job led me back to my school project IMPAVID. My first collection took about one year to curate. I flew to L.A., stayed at hostels near the fashion district, and walked around with a duffle bag to collect samples of fabrics from factories. Then I went to local fabric shops in Chicago and Impavid began to grow from every collection produced. Fast forward to today and I can still say IMPAVID isn't fully evolved yet I'm still learning and still applying that knowledge as I grow!
You both have two separate brands that you’ve established with unique concepts. Why did you decide to open a storefront?
Robby / Ray: The whole idea around opening a storefront came from the challenges that come along with being a newly established brand and trying to get into retail spaces, or put together pop-ups at spaces that have a high rental charge. We wanted to not only be an open door for those newly established local brands like ourselves, but we also wanted to be as affordable as possible for pop up events so that these brands have an opportunity to grow.
Who is your customer?
Robby / Ray: In our opinion our customer is anyone who admires the culture and simply enjoys being a part of it, we don't believe in this idea of having a specific demographic and only serving people that fit that specifically. I like the idea of anyone and everyone from all walks of life being able to feel as though they can be apart of the culture. I think our customer base is very diverse and I love seeing the space filled with that diversity. That's really important to us, being able to see a customer base from all walks of life, we all don't have to look the same.
What are your thoughts on the current state of retail?
Robby / Ray: Our thoughts on the current state of retail are that as times change and the online market progresses and gets stronger, retail doesn't necessarily have to be looked at as dead. I think it's important to make the retail experience an experience, whether you're throwing an event, or pop up or an art installation, I think making the moment someone steps into the door an experience people can talk about is important, as opposed to just displaying clothes to sell to the customer. I think that's what will keep it alive, also making sure that whenever we open our doors we provide the customer with the best customer service that we can.
How many people do you have on your team now?
Robby / Ray: We currently have two in house people on our team right now, both Ray and I, but as our business grows we will bring on employees and start building our team. Unfortunately, since the business is self-funded we simply can't afford to have employees on payroll at the moment. Which is why we pretty much work the store ourselves when I'm not in school and when Ray is not working his 9-5.
What resources do you use to market your products?
Robby / Ray: Currently we use Instagram to mainly market our products as well as Facebook, Instagram is currently our go to at the moment. We’ve been getting a lot of engagement on Instagram as of lately.
Do either of you have any mentors that coach you regularly?
Robby: I currently don't have any mentors that coach me regularly.
Ray: My mom continues to teach me new things all the time.
What is the most challenging thing about running your company?
Robby: In my opinion, the most challenging thing about running the company would have to be making sure we keep our finances in order when running the business. Since the business is self-funded knowing what we need to take care of financially and executing responsibly is really important. There isn't too much room to make mistakes on that part, making sure everyone gets paid while managing the finances and building the business, to me that's probably the most challenging.
Ray: Having to still work these odd jobs and be at the store is my biggest challenge. While I want to give the company 200% of my attention im only able to give it 100%. Being self funded we both have a lot of other expenses that need to be paid on top of everything for the store.
What have been some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned as an entrepreneur?
Robby: “ Inch by inch life's a cinch, yard by yard life is hard” for me it's pretty much understanding that I can't rush the process, trusting the process and enjoying the journey and not trying to cut corners or rush things has been something I've been thinking about lately. Taking it slow and being patient and managing the details has been a lesson for me, especially since we get so excited when we talk about our next capsule concepts. Like we just want to get it out there, but then we realize to put out good work we have to sit back and really take our time, so we can pay attention to all the details.
Ray: Being an artist and entrepreneur is a heavy weight on your shoulder i've learned that one can’t do it all and be as successful. Knowing when you need help is crucial.
What plans do you have for 2019?
Robby / Ray: Working on bringing in the best local and emerging brands that we can is a major focus for 2019. Also putting out creative capsules for the store we design collectively, expressing ourselves creatively and putting out these capsules of work from the stores brand TWENTYFORTYEIGHT is also a main focus for this year. Getting our name out there, and building our brand to be able to show Chicago who we are and what we're all about.
What is the ultimate goal for your company?
Robby: To me, the ultimate goal for our company would have to be showcasing as much creativity from the city as possible, being able to utilize our platform to showcase that is really important to me. Growing up on Chicago's southwest side my entire life I didn't grow up in the best circumstances but I was still surrounded by creative people who might not have had the resources to express themselves, so they took the wrong paths. I think that really took a toll on me seeing my friends who had talent get sucked into a certain lifestyle and not be able to help them. So opening this space I think the ultimate goal for me is being able to help the youth and creatives of Chicago understand that they can make it out here. Because I do believe one day Chicago isn't going to be known for the violence we hear about all the time. I think that we have a lot of talent here, and we just really want to utilize our platform to showcase that however we can and help the locals grow, and inspire the future generations to create and believe in themselves.
Ray: The ultimate goal for the company in my eyes is taking this startup and building onto it and creating a lifestyle for all creatives here in Chicago. I want to bring us all together and spread the love. There is to much hate in out city to stand apart as creatives.