Most people know you from being on TV, how does it feel to grow up on camera?
It’s weird to say but it’s been about 10 years. There are parts that were really strange and very abnormal, but to be honest, it’s not like I’m Justin Beiber or One Direction here.
My life is still pretty normal all things considered. It’s fun. The good part about it is that you get to go back and watch a lot of cool, almost like family home videos that are really well formed and edited.
From moving across the US, to venturing into your own line of business, how did you know when the right time is to do those things?
I think my biggest gift and curse is that I’m one of those people that is never satisfied. Even today, I don’t feel like I’ve made it or I can kick back because my dreams came true. I’m always wondering what’s next.
When I moved to Los Angeles from Ohio, that was a huge step for me and that took me at least maybe two years of just settling in. I started working for Rob Dyrdek being his personal assistant.
I’ve always been very ambitious but when I was getting through high school, I knew that I was going to move to Los Angeles even though I didn’t really know why. I wanted a job in the skateboarding industry but I always just knew that there was opportunity here and so I followed that instinct.
It took probably a couple of years of living in Los Angeles when I really just realized that, “Okay, this isn’t it for me. What’s next? How can I leverage what I’m doing now to do something more?” Still to this day, I’m working with that mentality.
Was there something that inspired you to grow your personal brand and businesses?
As soon as I graduated from high school, I moved to Los Angeles. By being here, I saw that it was possible and that’s the single biggest thing that I try to tell kids and people; that it’s possible.
When I moved to LA, I saw that it was very real. I had friends that lived in big houses. I had friends that drove Ferraris and Bentleys. I had friends that, most importantly, ran successful businesses.
It showed me that it was possible and that’s when I really realized, “Okay, if this guy can do it, there’s no reason why I can’t.” So it was really just seeing it and thinking, “Alright, I like that. I like it. How do I do it?”
I’m also very competitive. If I see someone doing something that I wish I would have done or I wish I would have followed, my attitude isn’t defeated or “Man, that sucks.” It’s “How do I do it? How do I do it better or how do I figure it out because he is just a normal person just like I am.”
Over the last few years we’ve seen you launch and grow your clothing brand Young & Reckless. Tell us about why you decided to get in a competitive industry…
It was something that I had interest in. I saw the power. Once again, here is myself taking a good situation and trying to make it better. I love the television stuff and all that was great. That was beyond my wildest dreams but I also saw that it was a platform to market other businesses and I was always into clothing and how clothing fit.
I just thought there was a gap in the marketplace between the cool big city street wear and the mainstream that’s available in Ohio. As competitive as fashion is, I really thought I saw a gap that I could take advantage of and TV was the perfect outlet to do that.
Tell us what it truly means to be Young & Reckless…
It represents the boundaries that you face as a young entrepreneur, a young entertainer, or a young athlete. For example, when you walk into meetings or into a retailer to try to sell your stuff, people don’t necessarily take you seriously or want you to be there, or believe that your ideas are good.
You have to break the mold a bit every day when you’re trying to do things. People will tell you that it just can’t happen because it can’t. That’s just something that I don’t believe in. I believe that the world is yours to make however you want it.
You’ve amassed over a few millions followers on social media. Tell us about the impact around marketing on social…
Social media is 80% of the marketing that we do. Luckily, I was able to come with a pretty large fan base because of television and I was able to take them with me on this journey of creating a clothing line as opposed to the journey of being a reality TV star.
I feel like social media is really becoming everything. Every kid is on their phone all day long on social media. What it does is give you real insight on what’s really going on and that could either be really good for you and your business, or it can be horrible for it because it lets the truth out.
You also have to keep it updated every single day. The days of shooting an ad campaign and that lasting you for 3-4 months are gone. It’s a daily thing now. For us, we’ve really nailed it and it has been a great gift for us.
How does it feel to see tons of people from young kids to celebrities wear your clothing?
It’s amazing. There has not been one moment when I haven’t seen a kid wearing it walking down the street and act like of course he is because my line is huge. It’s still, to this day, a crazy feeling.
There’s nothing like truly creating something in your living room and watching it translate around the world. Celebrities wearing it is cool but to me when you go to a random state and you see a kid walking down the street wearing a Young & Reckless shirt, it’s a pretty powerful thing. It’s still the same feeling.
What steps are you doing to ensure people understand the brand better?
A big thing of mine moving forward is doing a lot of content pieces and mini documentaries on the people that we support, meaning, the people that represent our brand and live the lifestyle that we’re trying to promote.
I think for us, it’s just about showing it and really, the beauty of Young & Reckless is, you can take it however you want. I don’t suggest that you throw on a Young & Reckless shirt and go rob some people and steal cars. I suggest that you use it in a more powerful, positive way obviously.
That’s the message that I’m trying to show. We’re working with a lot of artists, a lot of athletes, and a lot of these people to show their story and what they had to do to get where they are and show the disregard for the rules that they had to have in order to make it where they made it.
For me personally, when I go have dinner with someone like them, that’s one of the most inspiring conversations I can have, so the least I can do is try to tell that to the world. Let the world have that conversation.
What’s the secret to getting so many celebrities to rep Young & Reckless?
I’d say it was more of just being annoying. I think people might trust me a bit more because I’m on TV so they look at me as one of them, but it’s really just being persistent and being annoying.
I’ve seen Jimmy Iovine chase Pharrell down a sidewalk to try to get an iPhone photo of him wearing Beats by Dre headphones. So everyone is doing it and people have too much pride and think, “Oh, no that’s not how you go about it.”
You have to be annoying. You ask them for their addresses and send them clothes over and over. You ask them for pictures. You ask and once you do it for a little bit, you find that the rest of the work does itself.
There have been celebrities and people wearing Young & Reckless that I never even knew, whom I never had contact with. I never even knew who they were. You got to do that initial groundwork, be annoying, get the message out there, and let the rest do it itself.