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ENTMAG: Who came up with the original idea of Billionaires Apparel. How did you end up with that name?
Drew Burdick: Back in college, a couple friends and I were throwing around some ridiculous business ideas while sitting around watching TV. Over the course of the conversation, I came up with the idea to create a beer delivery service--an idea that’s completely unfeasible because of the permits and alcohol laws. However, at the time we thought it to be pretty brilliant and we all emphatically decided that this idea would make us “Billionaires”; dubbing our mock venture, “Billionaires Beer.” This name just kind of stuck with our group and we used it as the production name for a few small EDM events we put on through college. After graduating, I was doing freelance graphic design and working part time as a valet. I hit a point where I was pretty tired of designing things that other people wanted me to make and wanted a creative outlet for myself. I brainstormed some ideas and decided to start a clothing line based around 2 passions of mine: dance music and design. That happened in early 2010 and up until that point, there wasn’t a whole lot of people focusing on this niche. Because of the history I had with my friends and the name “Billionaires”, I decided to name the brand Billionaires Apparel.
ENTMAG: What are some of the bigger shows you get to attend when trying to get your product out to the public?
Drew Burdick:Some of the biggest events we’ve set up at include:
Paul Van Dyk, Longbranch Raleigh
Counterpoint Music Festival, Atlanta ft. Bassnectar, Skrillex, Avicii, & a whole bunch of others.
Ultimate Music Experience, South Padre Island, TX ft Tiesto, Krewella, Major Lazer, Flux Pavillion, & others
We also set up at a lot of individual events around the Southeast including Matt Zo, Mimosa, Adventure Club, Porter Robinson, Zeds Dead, Excision, & a whole bunch of others.
ENTMAG:Explain some of the creative process that you put into making a piece.
Drew Burdick: I have a moleskin notebook that I scribble in constantly. Generally inspiration will hit me while we’re out vending at events or while I’m surfing the Internet and listening to music. Typically, I’ll scribble an idea down or doodle a concept and then come back to it later to clean up in Illustrator. The process for each design typically takes several hours to put together some mock ups I’m happy with, then I shoot it out to a couple trusted individuals for feedback. From there, I’ll see what our street team thinks and then see what our fans think. I’d say we produce probably 1 out of every 3 designs I put out there. It’s hard to decide sometimes and because we’ve bootstrapped this whole business ourselves; being aware of what may or may not sell is extremely important.
ENTMAG: You do some serious traveling to market your product. How fun is it to get to go out and enjoy a night life as part of your job? What are some of the best shows that you always look forward to?
Drew Burdick: ￼It’s pretty exhilarating to be able to travel and experience some huge shows around the Southeast for sure. It is so awesome to meet new people and artists, experience new places & music, and spread the word about the brand. We absolutely love what we do and can’t imagine doing anything else at this point. Also, I personally am a huge fan of trance and house music, so anytime I get to enjoy a set from a big trance or house artist is always a great experience.
Drew Burdick CEO of Billionaires Apparel
ENTMAG: When was the first time you saw a random person with your clothing on?
Drew Burdick: First time that happened, I was at an event here in Charlotte and I saw someone walking around with a shirt that they had bought from us online. It was such a mind blowing thing for me seeing a person I didn’t know at all, walking around with something I made. That is honestly one of the most rewarding things as an artist.
ENTMAG: What is the most fun part about your job? Is there anything you can not get enough of?
Drew Burdick: Creating this thing from nothing & working to grow it each and every day is my absolute favorite part about what I do. Knowing that every drop of blood, sweat, & tears that goes into this will directly affect the brand as a whole & indirectly affect me is so rewarding. Along those same lines, I love interacting with people online & off and sharing my vision for the brand. It’s amazing to have people come alongside me and help push this thing forward. I have so much love & respect for everyone that has helped and is helping me spread the word and build Billionaires.
ENTMAG: Why did you want to get into the apparel industry?
Drew Burdick: Going back to what I mentioned earlier, initially I was just looking for a creative outlet to produce products that I liked and hopefully be able to break even on sales. I’ve followed brands like Johnny Cupcakes and The Hundreds for a while and seeing them pour into their brands and grow them from the ground up is what first motivated me to even consider the clothing business. I have literally zero fashion experience prior to starting Billionaires, so it’s kind of funny to think back and realize how little I knew about this industry before I started.
ENTMAG: Give us an idea of what the process from idea to actually making the product consists of.
Drew Burdick: After deciding on a design, I then have to source the materials I’d like to produce the product on or search for a manufacturer that can produce the product for us. Once I’ve found the materials and the manufacturer I’d like to work with, I put everything into production. Typically designing, sourcing, producing, photographing, and releasing a new product takes 35 weeks. Most of that time is spent in production. Once a product’s finished, we get all of the marketing collateral together and then release it to our street team and finally to the general public.
ENTMAG: Any particular pieces that you thought were going to be a big thing that ended up flopping?
Drew Burdick: Haha, most definitely. We’ve done a handful of girls only pieces that totally flopped. Girls are much more difficult to sell too because they want to be able to try something on and see how they look in it before purchasing. We’re hoping to change this trend around by selling our products in retail stores like Uptown Cheapskate Charlotte, Rage Tees and Xtras, and others. Each release we do is a big learning experience, from finding out which colors people like more to refining our size distribution, so that we’re not left with too many of any specific size. Our best seller by far is our Queen City t-shirt. We’ve released 5 different color ways of that design & have sold out of each one. When we first dropped the design, there was not really any other line that had a design specifically catering to the Charlotte area, which is why we think it took off like it did.
ENTMAG: Any advice to those who might want to start a business? This is not to give away your secrets, but to give some kids an idea of what to expect.
Drew Burdick: Conceptualizing, planning, launching, and running a business is a TON of work. I put it way more hours than most people I know and am constantly told that I work too much. You have to love what you do and be extremely passionate about whatever it is that you’re doing, otherwise you’ll burn out or quit. People say this a lot, but it’s extremely on point. If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I truly believe that and have been and am currently experiencing that first hand. Despite “working” all the time, it really doesn’t feel like work to me because I absolutely love everything that I’m doing.
My mantra is:
Don't make fame your goal.
Don't measure success in numbers.
Be determined to build something bigger than yourself, something that outlasts you. Be better.
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