Indie Tee Spotlight #17: {miles to go}

This weeks Indie Tee Spotlight features one of the major players in the indie clothing and apparel industry. His name is Greg Kerr and he runs {miles to go} clothing, but he has made quite a name for himself producing cotton and clip metal buckle belts popular amongst the indie apparel and band merchandise scene. He has done belts for Johnny Cupcakes, Linty Fresh, Electric Zombie, Glamour Kills, and 410BC to name a few. Some of the bands that he has made belts for include Fall Out Boy, A Wilhelm Scream, Gym Class Heroes and Less Than Jake. He has an impressive list of clients that  you can see here. 

I was fortunate enough to talk a bit with Greg about {miles to go}, how he got started in the apparel business, his thoughts on Johnny Cupcakes and his plans for 2009 and beyond. And when you done reading this interview be sure to check out the {miles to go} online storeuse the code “friends” to get 20% off your order!

Greg Kerr

Coty: How long have you been running {miles to go} and how did you first get started?

Greg: I’ve been doing miles to go about 6 years now, starting with the belts and moving into doing clothing about a year and a half ago. The belts kind of happened in one of those back against the wall moments where I needed to find a way to pay my bills. I was playing keyboards for Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer at the time and when we would go on tour for a month, I still needed to pay my bills. Everyone else in the band lived with family but me, so if we left for a month, I still needed to find a way to pay rent. I had been using the product I use on the belts in my artwork at the time and just brainstormed about how I could use it to make merch for our band. Started off with selling zolof belts, making $50-60 a night and then bands would ask where we got them and it just kind of picked up from there. I was all word of mouth back then and I still am.

Sirens

Coty: Aside from {miles to go}, you clothing brand, you also run Miles To Go Belts, a custom belt making service in which you specializes in making custom heavy duty cotton belts with the classic sliding clip metal buckle. Which is more difficult, running your own clothing brand or providing a paid service?

Greg: At this point with the belts, I have it down so well that the challenges involved have for the most part passed. The merch industry has changed so much over the years and it has become harder to get belts made for bands. Before, I could contact a band, make a sample, they’d order some and we would start the business relationship. Now, its all fulfillment companies who handle a lot of bands and I’m sorry to say put less into looking for new products. Running the clothing line has been a challenge and a good learning experience. I’ve been printing shirts since I was 16 for my old bands and I was familiar enough with the general aspects of it from working in the industry for so long, but it takes a lot of ground work. There are a lot of new clothing companies popping up all of the time and I wish them all the best and hope they want belts too!

Miles To Go Belts

Coty: If you had to choose one, {miles to go} the clothing brand or Miles To Go the custom belt service, which would you stick with and why? Which is more fun for you, designing your own tees and belts or making belts designed by others?

Greg: To be honest, the belts are how I pay my bills and I’ve been fortunate enough to have it be that way for about 3/4 years. The clothing has a little bit more excitement involved with planning designs and concepts, executing it, etc. If one had to go, it would be the clothing, but I dont plan on disappearing anytime soon. I do really enjoy making belts too and seeing the designs. Sometimes people send me great designs that keep me inspired.

Medusa

Coty: One of your major customers in the past was Johnny Cupcakes. Johnny has been noted as saying: “Miletogobelts; Great guy, awesome business man, has helped me out tons over the years! I decided to part ways because I’m working on a bunch of custom belts overseas. There’s too many clothing lines doing those belts. It is def awesome for Greg, however – I want people to look at my products and be like, “How the heck did he get that made?!” But that’s just me & I’m a weirdo. I’m even losing money because I decided not to make any/many more of those type of belts! I gotta stick with my gut instinct though, it’s what got me to where I am today.” What are your thoughts on losing a major customer because of your increased popularity?

Greg: Johnny is a great guy and it’s one of those situations where the ride has to end at some point. He was getting belts from me for at least 4 years and to carry an accessory for that long is really rare. I was fortunate enough to be along for the ride as he grew into the monster he is today. There were no hard feelings and it wasnt anything that caught me off guard by any means. When your company is evolving, you need to keep moving forward with new products. I forget how I met Johnny. It was maybe either through Vinnie/Less ThanJake or he found me then Vinnie. It’s been a while. It was great to see the progression in his company. The first order I did was I think for 12 each of 3 designs and when we ended it was sometimes a few hundred of each of 6/7 designs. When companies email me saying they want 10 belts, I treat them the same I do as a company who gets 500. We all start somewhere. I have a small company myself, have been on tour sleeping in shady places, broke and I have a ton of respect for people just starting up.

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