This week’s Indie Tee Spotlight is a treat! I had the opportunity to chat with the ladies (and fellas as I learned) that run 410 BC. It’s such an awesome milestone since this marks the first time I’ve actually got to interview women for Indie Tee Spotlight and actually get the female perspective on the t-shirt business. Mike from 410 BC also gets to add in his two cents here and there!
If you’re not familiar with 410 BC then you should be. This indie brand based out of New York is a clothing brand that is truly an artist collective, having collaborated with many talented artists and sponsored some amazing musicians.
Interestingly, the 410 BC brand name refers to monumental date in which Democracy was restored in Athens. 410 BC strives to stray from the norm and produce quality garments with ethical consumerism in mind. For more information on 410 BC, be sure to check out this video review I did of Skate Wolf, a tee from one of 410 BC’s older lines.Â
Coty: What’s the story behind 410 BC, when and how did you ladies hook up? What prompted you to start your own clothing brand?
Nicole: We started 410 BC in our first year of college, but initially we were just designing and screen printing shirts by hand. It was something we did completely for fun, just to make unique clothes for our friends and ourselves. A lot of people loved what we were doing and that’s when the business really took root.
Victoria: What prompted me to get involved with the brand was that I really loved the fact that 410 BC is an artist collective. I saw right away what a unique opportunity it was. I think that 410 BC is very different from a lot of what is out there and that’s why it couldn’t just stay a hobby.
Coty: 410 BC seems to be a dominating force in the primarily male driven indie clothing industry. What were some of the earlier challenges that you all encountered during the early days of 410BC?
Nicole: The biggest challenge we faced was definitely being in college full time and running a business. When 410 BC started to grow and a lot of people showed an interest in what we were doing, it got really tough balancing everything. I’d have a 30-page paper due and Rachel would be studying for some crazy econ exam and then we’d get all these orders. Luckily we had other people to help out, people who are an integral part of 410 BC today.
Rachel: Just what Nicole said, that was definitely the hardest obstacle we faced in the beginning. Without the help from our friend Jillian, Victoria, Nicole’s brother Mike, my sister, and all our friends who helped 410 BC grow and make it what it is, I don’t know where we’d be. But that’s one of my favorite things, is that we are a group. There’s nothing better than working with your family and friends. I do want to add though that in a lot of ways being in college helped 410 BC more than anything, especially in terms of networking. In terms of being a brand that was started by women, that has only helped us as well. Women have a great deal of influence in the economy as consumers, especially in retail. We have a large female customer base that appreciates the fact that 410 BC isn’t completely run by men. I think we’re very balanced because we work with an equal amount of men and women and we’re not just catering to one gender.
Coty: You’ve just released the new 410 BC Spring 2009 Collection. What is it about this new collection that has got you excited?
Mike: I like this collection because it’s very cohesive and I just dig all the designs in general.
Nicole: I like how these designs are more simple and classic. We kind of went back to our roots with this. Also having more color options!
Coty: What’s your favorite piece from the new collection?
Nicole: Either the Loose Lips Sink Ships tee or the mythical beast Unicorn tee.
Mike: Save Me From Technology and all the script logo tees.
Rachel: I really like everything, but I’m mostly excited for the “Polis” line that’s coming out on April 10th.
Coty: You’ve mentioned Ray Frenden as being one of 410 BC’s designers. What has it been like working with Ray? What is it about his style that makes him a good fit with 410BC’s branding efforts? What other designers would 410BC like to work with in the future?
Victoria: Ray is amazing to work with! He’s very talented; he always comes up with such awesome designs and knows exactly what we’re looking for. He’s especially great with concepts and making them come to life. His style is very whimsical, which is also how I would describe 410 BC. In the future, we just want to continue to work with designers who make unique work and push the envelope.
Coty: I really dig the new 410 BC website redesign that you unveiled back in October. Despite having a custom store built into the new website, you decided to revive and reopen the 410BC Big Cartel store earlier this month. Was there a big outcry from 410 BC fans? What prompted the reopening?
Nicole: We had a bunch of people asking us to re-open our Big Cartel shop, mostly just because we had it for so long and they missed it. I always wanted to have more than one webstore that people could go to, so I was happy to revive it.
Coty: 410 BC sponsors a lot of different bands. Have you met any of theÂ bands that you sponsor? If so, what has those experiences been like? Any memorable encounters?
Nicole: Working with Uh Huh Her was definitely my favorite experience. At first we just gave them a bunch of shirts because they liked our designs and what 410 BC was doing. Then we stayed in contact and ended up designing for their spring and summer tours last year. I’d been a fan of Leisha Hailey (one of the singers in Uh Huh Her) for years and talking to her and working with her and Camila Grey was surreal.
Rachel: My most memorable encounter was with Tegan and Sara. I went to see them at a show in Boston and Tegan came on wearing a 410 BC shirt. The thing was, I had no idea how she got it. Then I found out from my friend Guy, who owns this store Unite, that they came in and bought a bunch of our shirts. It was completely unexpected, but really awesome.
Victoria: Meeting M.I.A! That was the best.
Coty: I love Bruisey and Ruby, do they really get along? Can we expect to see doggie tees coming from 410BC anytime soon?
Nicole: Yup, they do! It’s so funny. Ruby weighs about 85 pounds and Bruisey is only 6 pounds! I would definitely make doggieÂ tees. Ruby could probably fit into a human tee though haha.
I’d like to thanks the entire gang over at 410 BC, Nicole, Victoria, Rachel and Mike, for taking the time to chat with me. I wish you the best of luck with the new line and hope that your brand will see continued growth!