Photo credit: Ryan Ng, IG: @dinoooo.r
Hey Koven, great having you here today. Can you give us a short intro about you?
My name is Koven Wei and I am 18 years old. I recently graduated early from high school in order to pursue my ventures and I am currently running my own clothing brand and various marketing operations.
Tell me more about the clothing ventures that you have going on.
I am currently working on two clothing ventures one which is self owned and another which collaborates with Jason Wong. The focus of each brand is on different spectrums which involve different material and consideration for the design aspects. Mainly focusing on my clothing brand: Toronto Boarding Club, I have started this venture since I was 16 and carry it forward to grow and thrive in teenagers and as an essential part of Toronto’s streetwear.
How did this clothing company come about?
The spark of my project was teaching. My clothing brand was not a brand to begin with. I initially created it in order to teach others how to longboard as I was already teaching various people. Surprisingly, the clothing I made to differentiate and make us unique to others became popular in itself and jump started my passion for clothing.
What makes your clothes stand out?
What I find as a persevering dilemma in new clothing brands is that they thematically lack an idea or individuality. What makes my clothing brand unique is not just the clothing but the media that we provide which captures unique features of our skateboarders and an extremely active aesthetic. The coordination and work it takes to create a photoshoot is astonishing and my team constantly creates refreshing content. I believe in using the connections you currently have in order to aid you in any venture and without my connection to photographers, I would be absolutely nothing. To summarize, what makes us unique is the way we project skateboarding as a medium in our clothing.
Who’s in your niche? How do you find such customers?
Some might say that I made too specific of a niche when I decided to name my clothing brand Toronto Boarding Club. To be honest, I believe that the name is what has created success because I have pride in my city and everyone in Toronto shares the same values. I find these customers by targeting high schoolers and connecting with different representatives to market the brand’s values and aesthetics. Other solutions is through social media marketing (Instagram, Facebook) in order to display our unique content to audiences in Toronto.
What has shaped you into the person that you are today?
The biggest factors that have lead to my growth as an entrepreneur are the early habits instilled by my family. They are extremely open to my choices and have accepted my current lifestyle which is very unique due to their cultural differences. If my parents were not open to my lifestyle and refused to let me chase my passion, then I would have simply stagnated. My parents enforced various healthy habits which involve my organization as well as commitment to work. I believe that learning is exponential from a younger age and as one learns more from the beginning, it results in a greater yield of benefits in their future.
Has someone influenced you greatly?
To be honest, I believe that everyone around me has influenced my progression in some way. I am extremely grateful for all the support everyone has provided me as well as various criticism because without any of that, I could never improve. If I were to hone in on specifically two it would most likely be an influencer namely Jason Wong and my girlfriend Cara Mu. Jason has helped me fully actualize my potential by providing me materials in marketing as well as ideas that I would never know being closed off in my community. He helped open a world in entrepreneurship where I never thought I could belong to and his belief in me is a strong catalyst in my values to succeed. I also couldn’t have been more thankful for Cara as well because she inspires creative ideas I could not have produced myself. Her aesthetic is incredible and every design she makes to aid my venture perfectly complements my thoughts. I couldn’t be more thankful for both of them as they remain as strong pillars in my life.
The golden nuggets: What’s your entrepreneurial best tip?
You’re not far from the greatest entrepreneurs. Many people believe that the dream of achieving distinction or recognition on the level of millionaires is infeasible. This is the biggest misconception one can have.
In the age of information, the best money comes from learning and finding unique and esoteric ways to make money.
The best money never comes readily available, you have to dig deep and look for it. Do not undermine yourself and understand that albeit cliché, you can achieve if you believe.
Which tools do you use to work?
Facebook Ads Manager, Instagram, Facebook, Reddit, Adobe Illustrator/Photoshop,
What is the biggest misconception about influencer marketing?
Followers do not mean anything when you are looking for influencers. The only purpose they serve is to inflate the value of the influencer. Follow the engagement of their comments and likes on their posts for a true understanding. A good amount of likes and comments represent a strong influencer as opposed to a “fake” one. (10-20% of their followers should convert to likes as reference).
Where do you see the Toronto Boarding Club brand in a couple years?
Wholesale pricing, entry into skateboarding and streetwear apparel based shops. I also want to see a worldwide connection between Toronto and skateboarding. Creating various and unique pieces of clothing rather than design with possible collaborations with other brands.
What do you plan to achieve?
Have recognition and awareness across the world for my brand. Bringing my medium and my ideas across the world and bringing influence and solidarity to my clothing.