FOB Lifestyle & Apparel
Class: 2013 Winter Accelerator
FOB ("fresh off the boat") is often used as a term to mock migrants -- but to us, FOB is about adapting to change while holding on to your roots. FOB is an urban-alternative street apparel brand inspired by immigration and of being an outsider. Co-founded by starving artists hungry for social change, FOB sells apparel and in doing so, provokes cultural perceptions within communities of diasporas. Drawn from our own Southeast Asian roots where war and genocide has left a cultural black hole, FOB aims to ignite a sense of pride, promise, and empowerment one t-shirt at a time.
SOCIAL MISSION IMPACT | ( a cut and paste moment)
(photo from greenjobs.com)
FOB was given an assignment to define our social impacts of our business. Luckily our company is a socially-responsible brand, but even then we still haven't disect and explore our impacts with attention to detail. Here is our list:
1. Outsource regional suppliers and printing, and offer 100% organic fair labor certified cotton and 50/50 organic cotton-recycled polyester products to limit harmful environmental impact.
2. Buy raw materials that were fairly produced and manufactured (using resources such as FLA - Fair Labor Association) to ensure our supplier is fair labor certified to combat the exploitation of sweatshop and child labor in the developing world
3. Partner and work directly with IINE (International Institute of New England) and Bridge Built to provide workforce development training and
job placement for FOB in the areas of screen-printing, production, manufacturing, and designing.
- Ricky & Sopheak
#foblog #fobapparel #fob
LIFE IS LIKE A PITCH
Two week ago we meet with our Mentors to practice our mid-way pitch. Actually, it was the first time all of our mentors met in person. So the FOB SQUAD met at our mentor, Tai Kien, workplace, Innovative Medical Designs, inc. It was a fun trip up to Acton -- to his new building his company moved into about 10 months ago. We trench through the sidewalkful snow and slippery-iced walkways. When we made way to the conference room, we were welcomed with a table brimmed with chairs and a potluck brunch centerpiece. It was show and tell with past t-shirt designs. I was glad that our mentors liked the quirky designs, who usually seem stern and really professional.
We broke down the Problem, Opportunity, Customer Market, Sustainability and how we will be using the prize money. Then our mentors gave us a challenge. We were give only ten minutes alone to make sense of it all -- to create a two and half minute pitch -- and decide what to say, what order, and who will say what! Very scary. Very very scary, especially when you have three partners picking and choosing statements. We welcome critiques. It must be the nerves but Sopheak and I finished our pitch well under the two minute mark.
That following Tuesday we presented and I would like to say that we did well! We just need to watch that recorded video to confirm that!
-Ricky & Sopheak
#foblog #fobapparel @fob
HAPPY NEW YEARS
2013, it was swell, but we are looking forward to moving to the new year. 2013 will be full of experiments, launches, and hopefully success. The last few days of the year had us moving office supplies, heavy publications, and clumsy ikea furnitures to our temporary downtown Lowell office. Its been great to have a break from all the hard work, Sopheak is off in Brooklyn, and I am indulging in some red velvet hot chocolate in a small cozy cafe in Salem, MA. But what are we coming back to after our break? What are the next steps?
This is where we announce our New Year Goals.
Goals for the Sandbox Accelerator Program.
1) Launch our KICK-ASS Website.
this website will be pretty, sleek, user friendly. We are going to introduce our "Progress Bar" or "Incentive Barometer" or "FOB-O-Meter". We want to have our customers to feel that they have control over what they are buying, Final Price is determine on how many sales our product gets. The more purchases the move you save, or less you spend. This will encourage our fans to tell their friends, which leads us to our second feature, sharing via facebook, twitter, and pintrest. This overall plan is to create and increase our market. A few great examples of these progress bars and sharing capabilities are Kickstarter, Sevenly, and Send the Trend.
2) Create a BOMB-ASS line.
FOB just had our first Concept Meeting for our March designs, so yes!, we are planning to launch some new apparel this Spring. Having socially driven design, eco-materials, in states production, and a cool marketing campaign. We are researching suppliers and printers, several which are local! Also creating a list of celebrities that would fit our Brand is on our to-do list. Youtube stars, dancers, skateboarders, Raj...
(Gabe Bondoc, Jerry Hsu, and Gwen Stefani)
3) (last but not least) SELL, SELL, SELL
We want to sell 20 goods by the end of March. Elizabeth, our third partner, has created an events list. So far we know the Lowell Southeast Asian Water Festival to be our best selling time. Now lets look at Cali, Philly, and Providence!
- Ricky & Sopheak
@fobapparel #fobapparel #foblog
Doomsday Eve: 25 Things FOB Learned This Week
It's Doomsday Eve. As I reflect on what's happened thus far in this accelerator, I had a somewhat epiphanic moment. So, if the world truly ends tomorrow (as grim as a prospect that may be) - what was all that hard work for? What really are my longterm goals - I definitely want this to be a salary paid job, but at the end of my career, or my life even, what is the meaning of starting this business? To be famous? No. To be rich? Maybe. To help others? Hopefully.
Right now, I can only answer this within a 5-year time spectrum. As an artist (mind you I hate referring to myself as that, but for the context of this blog I accede to it) -- As an artist, I'm such a variable of self-identity. I change constantly. Yeah, I'll commit to this for 10+ years, but in a broader perspective of why we do things... Seriously why? My answer: because life is short, but the journey is long and fulfilling.
As a refugee escaping a genocide, I don't take my life for granted. As an artist, I need to do more. During the Khmer Rouge reign, artists and intellectuals were the first to go. Yeah. So if I was born just a few decades before and I was doing things similiar to what I do now - I'd be dead. I don't take this freedom for granted, and as more and more refugees are fleeing countries of conflict and coming to America and to Lowell, I'm hoping FOB can somehow be a strong and welcoming brand that ignites empowerment. How? I don't know. And maybe right now, I can start thinking about it but before I can help others, maybe I need this ship to stay afloat first! I get to be alive and be an artist. How awesome is that? AND I have an opportunity to inspire others.
Sorry for being a Somber Sally! Different from that cheeky post, huh? You didn't think us FOBs can be self-reflective did you? Well, writing this has been cathartic and hopefully a good read.
Well, the days have been long. The nights even longer. And before I go to sleep and sustain a peace of mind in order to keep pushing myself, here are 25 things I learned this week at the Sandbox Accelerator. Cheeky mode commence!
- We have too many assumptions and not enough verified testing. (Thank you everyone for today's feedback. We value your big brains...which by tomorrow, as zombies we will devour. Muwahaha.)
- "MY LIFE IS ABOUT MAKING LISTS" - Joyce Dostale, our lead mentor. I'm following her footsteps :-)
- There's no clear answer on what works. Recognizing pivots and reacting to them is crucial to business, so calculate our risks before we take them, and do what Guy Kawasaki would do.
- Real numbers equal real expections equal "we need to bust our asses off!"
- I hate bureaucracy but like networking, I just have to deal with it
- I tend to look down when I talk. Need to change that.
- Alexander Wang, an Asian-American designer is now creative director of Balenciaga. He's the first Asian designer to lead a major French Fashion House. I will be the second... (in my dreams)
- UTUTC is really hard to say
- I already want to start another business with my mom and establish a catoring service. Her last name's Mom, so think about it - "Mom's Asian Cuisine"!!! -- Ugh. Must. Resist. From. Overcommitting.
- A player hire A+ players and they hire A++ players, because if you hire B players, they'll hire C players, and it'll just get dumber and dumber
- I'm officially addicted to K-Pop (Korean Pop) I use it for marketing purposes ;-) ...Psy's Gangnam Style? C'mon! Genius!
- Branding doesn't mean abusing cattles
- Spreadsheets are my soon-to-be bestfriends...
- Every conversation counts
- A handshake agreement means, "Hey I can sue you in 10 years!"
- I am funny (but only in writing)
- My parents still don't know what I'm doing, but they're supportive.
- Assumption 1: Seattle and Australia are great places for business opportunities and I hear their coffee is totes cray cray
- Assumption 2: Wearing a FOB t-shirt will give you a 40% increased chance in being approached by a modeling agent
- Assumption 3: Everyone in the Accelerator will have one of our shirts before the end of March :-)
- David is good at pointing out big picture scheme of things (We know what to get him for Christmas: a 50" x 50" frame photo of us)
- Sarah Jessica Parker who? The movie "I Don't Know How She Does It" should've starred Keo Rattana!
- Lydia and Francey are twins who were separated at birth and founded each other in the hit film "The Parent Trap" - oh wait...
- We're rooting for everyone at the Accelerator! Go Winter class 2013!
- Ricky and I are over-over-achievers... we need to remember if things go wrong, it's not the end of the world. Or is it?!!!! Dun, dun, dun!
Good night everyone. Happy Apocalypse!
We have nothing to be scared of, after all...
-Sopheak and Ricky
So Social | Brand Identity + Calendar
FOB recently had our Facebook page name changed from F.O.B's Clothing Line to FOB Lifestyle & Apparel. An ongoing ordeal that many brands face with miscommunication, rebranding and brand identity.
The updated 2009 name had its time, but now under our new and refreshing title we can begin to execute our strategic social marketing.
Since then, last Monday, FOB has gain 30+ fans, all new followers and potential costumers! A big argument is the relationship to "likes" and customers . It doesn't seem to equate one another at times. More of one thing (social visibility) doesn't mean more for the other (sales).
It's driven more by "fan engagement" as opposed to sales. And we are assuming engagement leads to potential sales -- Here's a chart of recent fan activity.
Here is a rough example of a weekly social media calendar.
Based around peak times of acticity. However it all depends on our audience and content. FOB is going to test these times and see how engaging our "fans and followers" are -- and if we can lead them to, and spark interest in our brand which funnels to sales of our products and offerings.
- Ricky & Sopheak
@fobapparel #fobapparel #foblog