Could you please state your name & occupation?
Daniel Sears, owner of The Czar Agency (http://www.wholesaleczar.com).
How did you get into the industry?
I grew up skating & surfing, and I was always blown away by brands like Stussy, Fresh Jive, SMP, Fuct, and especially Powell Peralta. I studied quite a bit of art & design, both independently and in school. About twelve years ago, a friend of mine Adam Donahue got me a job at a very small t-shirt company called High Fidelity Dis Co. in Philly. We’d bang out heat transfers all night, while I was at Villanova University. It was a fun job. One of the dudes from that company, a cat by the name of Dave Wurtzel A.K.A. Words, teamed up with Andy Hurwitz of Ropeadope Records. Ropeadope was a small little record label started by Andy, ?uestlove and some other music industry OG’s. They wanted to start a clothing line that was actually about something, and not just crap on a shirt. So I submitted some designs. After that a friend and I started our own t-shirt line called Flavor Country (you Simpson’s fans will get it) but it never really took off. Then at one point Ropeadope Industries teamed up with a company called Banzai Apparel, an apparel company with roots in the tye-dye scene from WAY back. Banzai came on the scene to help Ropeadope tackle the apparel industry. So that’s when things really started picking up for me. Banzai really dove into the music inspired scene, bringin’ on Ninja Tune, Blue Note Records, Duck Down Records, Definitive Jux, Daptone, The Roots’ brand Okayplayer, and of course Ropeadope. Fortunately I was lucky to be at the right place at the right time. That’s the beginning of the story.
What is the most memorable moment in your career to date?
That’s a tough question. I guess it wasn’t really one big moment per say. There wasn’t a day where Jay-Z walked in and threw me a briefcase of hundreds, and Slick Rick never asked me to make him a new eye patch of anything like that. The most memorable time would probably when I saw my concept/idea of a Digital Showroom taking off. I had this idea, born out of necessity of course, where I could have a site that acts as a digital showroom for buyers & shop owners from all over the world. I was just trying to reach those guys who don’t or can’t make it to the trade shows. Quickly I realized, “what is the point of doing tradeshows if it’s not cut/sew?” I know apparel decoration pretty well, and if I see samples and evaluate the product, then there’s no risk for the shop. Obviously I liked my idea, but when I created a blog to experiment, almost immediately I received great feedback. Shops love not having to travel if they don’t want. So that was really cool. It wasn’t like the idea all occurred to me at once, it was a progression that took a great deal of time, an evolution. That’s my most memorable moment, getting to see my idea not only pan out, but having it received with open arms was great.
What is your favourite part of your job?
Probably two parts really. The collaborative part where I get to put in my two cents with brands on what I think will help them grow. The real favorite is when we’re in the middle of a sales push for this order date or that. When I check my inbox and it’s just order, after order, after order. It’s such a good feeling. Not because of money or greed. But because it’s proof. When you don’t work with your hands, you run the risk of not getting to actually see the value of your work. Those emails in the inbox are tangible proof of hard work, and being on the right track. Love it.
What are your plans for the future?
Always gotta keep thinking about the future particularly how to adapt and try to have an edge. First priority is upgrading our site. It’s pretty “rootsy” right now but it has been so easy, useful and very good to us. In addition we’re branching out to offer more services such as product placement, brand strategy/identity, market research, and PR. These services are going to be available on a consulting basis, and tailored for each brands needs. One of the things I believe in is letting experts be experts. In this industry, there are so many brands who have made it on their own. I applaud brands that get far enough to create quality products to sell in fine retailers. But when you want to grow and take it to the next level, you definitely want to work with people who’ve been down this road before. So, we’re teaming up with some industry vets in those respective fields, look for an announcement by the end of the year. The result will be an ability to not only open accounts for our brands but also assist with some of those services I mentioned. After these changes occur we’ll be a little more polished, and as always looking to help our brands grow organically.
Thanks for taking the time Peter.