Interview with BRIMS Founders

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Hats off to any and all entrepreneurs who put on their thinking caps and thrive to make a change in the world. For example, one would say these young men have brought in a style and confidence to the forefront. Archie Clay III and Tajh Crutch, creators of BRIMS, a fedora brand that inspires confidence in everyday life, started their company in 2017. From struggles and leaps of faith, once the duo jumped at the chance to make BRIMS, they went through the issues of getting business started ranging from manufacturing to production and marketing. Now, as a powerhouse, we spoke with the team about brand in this day and age of fashion!

Can you define entrepreneurship in your own words for me and what it means to you?

Be passionate what you want to do and be true to yourself with it. Basically, just doing the hard work. That’s why I feel like our entrepreneurship is my definition.

– Archie

Yes, I definitely feel it’s the same thing for me. I think this is all about passion. Everybody’s not able to be entrepreneurs, it’s not for everybody. I think anybody that has an idea or a vision and is able to put that vision and bring it to light, I always have major respect for them because I think it takes a lot to take that idea, especially in society now, because a lot of people support you but don’t really support you. So, I think when you’re able to take that idea and provide a service, I think that’s amazing. Even if it’s not big in your eyes, I believe that’s big in my eyes, so starting the idea and concept, we’re still growing but I think it’s a dream that will enable people to put ideas and concepts and kind of build them and see them grow over time. I think the definition of entrepreneurship is the changes to push forward and make your concept or idea come to life. You should have an overall vision to make sure you want be where you want to be.  

-Tajh

As black entrepreneurs, you have to work twice as hard to inspire. What would be some advice that you’ve received to create the brand for BRIMS?

Don’t be afraid. I don’t even think about it even though that is a part of our journey, but I don’t think about that because at the end of the day, we walk into these big meetings with investors, and they’re white, so you have to stick that stigma aside and try to go hard regardless. The most important thing is don’t be afraid because people have great ideas and are afraid to put it on paper and actually make it a service or product. Don’t say I don’t have funds. I don’t have the manufacturer. All these things are available to us. It’s easy to find manufacturers. It’s easy to find investors. It’s easy to do all these things. It depends on what your goal is, but if you’re able to put that fear aside, go ahead and make it happen.

– Archie

Open your mouth. Ask Questions. Reach out. Network. Don’t be afraid to gain knowledge from others and don’t be afraid to give knowledge. I feel like whatever you push out that’s what you’ll receive. If you hold in and become successful and don’t want to give out your gems, I don’t think that’s going to last long, but people that are coming up under you or people above you that you can learn from and bring up as well. My mom always told me ‘Never die a fool, always die empty’ and when she said that, I didn’t understand what she meant, but when she said that I think she meant, whatever dreams and goals that you want to try and accomplish do it NOW, you’re only going to one life.

 - Tajh

Do you believe your background in Alpha Phi Alpha helped pave way for your entrepreneurial desires?

I think that it gave us the opportunity to connect. I think we’re natural entrepreneurs. I didn’t think I had that in me until I graduated. I had my brothers and friends around me that were entrepreneurs and their spirits gave me the confidence I have where I figured “Hey, I could do that too!”. My girlfriend even told me that “You’re not meant to work for anybody!”. At the end of the day, I think we had it in all of us, it just waited to come out.

- Archie

I agree. I agree. That’s the perfect answer because it connected two men who had a vision – and it was the same vision – Alpha Phi Alpha brought it together. When we first met each other, we could both tell we were both on another level, had the same type of style, had the same type of ideas, and then when Arch brought the idea to me, it all made sense. – Tajh

They say confidence is key and your brand clearly showcases this. Have you always had confidence yourselves or did this come over time?

I’ve had confidence since I was three years old. - Archie

Both Tajh and I laughed at this.

I’ll tell you an interesting story because my mom --- I have so much energy, personality and confidence when I was young that she (Archie’s mother) had to put me in a form of sport to really help me. I was raised to be that confident individual and that’s a natural form for me. I do a better job now because I’m older but now I understand how to use that to my advantage and how to adapt to others, adapt to individuals, adapt to people of that nature, people to be able these conversations, to be in a room with these people you need to be in a room with. I’ve always had it. -Archie

See, mine was different. I had grown into mine. I was always told I was unique and different individual. I had to grow into my confidence with different experiences with life, you know. Joined a fraternity, working as a manager while I was in school, and I had to gain a type of confidence through my experience. You know, you got to be up on stage and present yourself to the environment and help build that self-confidence. I always knew I had it in me, but I feel I still had to go through with college, in life, as I grew up kind of brought it out more and sometimes Archie and I would sit there and be like “Yo, listen, this what we’re doing” and be one hundred percent with what’s going on, because our brand is quality so we got to make sure that we’re on top of our game and his confidence kind of helps me build up as well.

 -Tajh

For Tajh, as a person who loves fashion, which brands would you say influenced the style and swagger that you showcase for BRIMS?

I definitely love passion and go through different Pinterest, around weight and costings. Just the look. It’s not something I wanted to do like style or anything like that. I use it as a hobby of mine. My mom told me to always look nice when you walk out the household. I take initiative to look nice. Sometimes I like to do different stuff, so when it comes to BRIMS, it’s my way into the fashion world. In different styles, I get inspiration to make hats from different outlets. I’m a big Kanye West fan, I don’t just take different hats and go ‘Oh, I want to do that type of hat’. I see somebody out in the street and see how they put the colors together and go ‘Oh, that can make the hat’.  Pharrell was kind of an inspiration as well when I saw him wear that big fedora hat, but for me I wanted to find something that fit my style.

For Archie, coming from a retail background, working at these top name brand stores had to have given you a spark of inspiration. Would you saying being let go gave the necessary push?

Man, yeah!

We all laughed.

I mean, being in a retail environment, it pushed me harder because they don’t want to work with you anymore, secondly, I don’t want to work with you anymore and thirdly, my stuff is better than this stuff.

He chuckled.

And for me, it was all about motivation. I started working as a retail manager when I first graduated at Target. I think Target was that place that helped me hone in on my skills, my managerial skills, operation skills, financial skills and all that. Now, I look back and think it was preparing me for this time. To be able to run my own business. People got to realize you’re running all actions of the business. I’m running a 10-20-million-dollar store, you know. You have to think about how to drive sales, how to drive results, how do we look up time development. All these key things, we’re doing under one roof. It was preparing me for this time. It gave me the confidence to learn and train them and how to maneuver through business on the retail side through brick and mortar. I have worked on the brick and mortar and it motivated me to play harder and want to see our brand on a higher level. Things might not be moving as quickly as you want them to move, you just got stay consistent and be persistent at the end of the day.

The Red Robin feather is a representation of love, support, and encouragement from your families. Did your families have some input on how the style came to be or was it always individual?

I think for me, for us, the vision was how I can really build something, but at the same time remember her (his grandmother) as well. That’s what the The Red Robin represents. It represents her. The entirety together. Our families have all played a role in our success even as going on to college and through our own lives. Our family has played a major role in the support backing. I think it’s only right for us to just go hard and continue to make them proud. Understand this, my mom and his mom, our parents and grandparents, they understand our vision and our purpose and I think their support warrants consent. I think for us, from a design standpoint, we always design to make someone feel special and that’s what we receive from our parents and grandparents. They made us feel special. We want people to especially with the hats on. That’s why our hats were for confidence and own your own crown. Make you feel special. We want you to have your own at the end of the day when you walk into your office or when you walk into an event. Who wants to look at you? People look at you and acknowledge you that makes you feel special. Even if you are confident, when someone says “Hey, I like the hat. I like the style,” you feel confident, you feel extra confident, you feel special. Just taking what we feel as young adults and young children and making our consumers and customers feel the same way. I think that’s the most important thing to me that I’ve received from our family is making people feel special because I know I felt special growing up with my mom and grandparents and my family. They’ve made me feel like I can do anything I want to do, I’m sure but possible to turn away. That’s the most important thing to when it comes to how we design and how we build our brand and how we put our products. ‘How is this possible to make that person feel special?’ and make them want to come back. It’s part of making that person with hair love your hat.

–Archie  

From likes of Omari Hardwick and Lance Gross, the celebrity plugs must have been a great boost for the brand. Are there other celebrities you’d like to see sport a BRIMS fedora?

Yeah, man.   For us, the time to get our product by that, makes us feel good as well because we’d be like ‘Wow, this is crazy! Yes, we got to do the legwork and try to get those celebrities and those influences to where I had some of them reach out to us and it was like ‘This is amazing’.

– Tajh

Fun question: For a brand that “represents the beginning of a journey”, what type of journey do you think other young African-American men hope to experience?

Well, when they’re sporting our hats, the journey we want them to experience is when they wear our BRIMS or any type of hat, they walk in with confidence, but let them know they’re wearing a crown on their head. We’re all kings and queens out there. The hat is just to symbolize your crown when you walk in and that’s a statement piece anyway, so when you walk into a room the first thing people see is what’s on top of your head. If your hat is unique and it stands out, that’s the first thing they’re going to see. They don’t see your shoes or jeans. They see the hat. Being true to yourself when you’re wearing it. Don’t let someone discourage on want you want to wear. Wear your own crown! – Archie

Being featured in GQ must have been amazing, what goals do you hope to accomplish next with BRIMS?

To create. I think that’s our goal. I think my goal now and our goal together, with me and Tajh, is to create. I want to get to the point where I can create without worry about financial, I’m not worrying about trying to sell this product or trying to sell this to make this number or this number. I want to make our brand successful to the point we can keep creating. Many times, we go to the office and say ‘Hey, let’s just create today’. I want to get to the point where we can create seamlessly and effortlessly that its part of the nature of the process. I think our overall goal is to create as much as we can. Find consumers and be more creative and continue to evolve when it comes to creating something. As a designer, you have to evolve, to be different, to figure out how do you tap into a different market. That’s a designer’s true dream. – Archie

I think you hit it on the head. That’s the goal because there’s so many things in our heads and we want to make hats. It’s like ‘Archie, let’s drop this hat with all these different colors and wear them out right now’. We want to design and be creative where that’s out of the box that you would never see if you walk into a store anywhere like one on one. I agree with Archie, that’s the end goal.  

– Tajh

Finally, last question, which fedora is your favorite and why?

I’ll tell you which one is my favorite. The first one we ever made. That’s my favorite. – Archie

That’s a good question (chuckles) I love all our hats. I do have a special bond to the beginning like Archie said, but I feel like my new favorite right now would have to be our hat that’s coming out at the end of this year. I feel like that one will take us to the top. It’s very unique as well and a sidestep to a new beginning and the evolution of where we’re at now. –Tajh

You can find BRIMS products and merchandise here on their website: https://www.wearbrims.com/

Remember, you make the brims, the brims doesn't make you!

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