Trying to figure out your life in high school is a struggle. All I knew was that I didn't want to follow the traditional path. My definition of the “traditional path” or "linear path" was something that was structured. For me, that was going to University after graduating high school and finding a full-time job with that degree. I had the idea of starting a clothing brand when I was around 16-17 years old and pitched the idea to some of my close mates. They were supportive of my idea so I ran with it in November 2017 by registering Crooked Supply as a business.
Since Crooked Supply was a new start-up, and I wasn’t making a living from my business yet, along with the pressure of not letting my parents down after all they've provided me, I ended up enrolling at UniSA to study Business Marketing straight after high school. I knew in the back of my mind that this was only a backup plan and was to show my parents that I wasn't being a bum in the meantime. While studying, I was simultaneously working several casual jobs and slowly building my brand on the side. I thought by studying marketing, I could grow my brand with what I learnt so, in my mind, it was a win-win situation.
Nearing the end of my second year at university, I was contemplating dropping out and focusing on my business because I knew it wasn’t for me. All i've learnt was textbook marketing concepts and felt like I was wasting my time. Crooked Supply started to gain consistent followers and customers through my designs and marketing on Instagram, but at that time, I wasn't able to live off my business alone. So, I decided to finish off my degree, since I was already thousands in debt from my student loan. After graduating, I decided to take Crooked Supply seriously. This led me to take the risk of quitting my job and going all-in on my business. It wasn't an easy path with the ever-changing industry, but it was something I enjoyed doing to this day. That was a few years ago.
Why a clothing brand, you ask? When I was younger, I always liked the idea of wearing something that no one else had. My main influence was my older brother and travelling overseas. My brother was three years older and was always buying new clothes and shoes. Being the younger brother, I followed in his footsteps. I remember buying the same brands as he did with the money i'd saved up. Some of these brands were unheard of in my year level and my mates started to ask where I got my clothes from. It was a subtle flex nonetheless.
I used to travel to Hong Kong and surrounding countries, e.g., Japan every three years with my family. These countries were way ahead of time in fashion and always had the latest trends and releases. Whenever I used to travel overseas, I always came back with new clothes and shoes that were unreleased in Australian retailers. The feeling of wearing something that no one else had and people asking “where did you get that?” was essentially why I started Crooked Supply. I wanted to pass that feeling onto the people who wore my brand.
The name Crooked Supply (Crook-ed Supply, not Crookd Supply) was inspired by not going down the traditional path/linear path. The crooked path is for those who want to do something out of the norm and step out of their comfort zone, whether it’s related to your career, lifestyle, health, starting that business, or whatever it may be. Taking the crooked path has no “right” direction, but it could take you anywhere if you educate yourself enough to take those steps. Taking the leap and accepting the potential risks of the unknown, while putting in the work, is what makes you grow.
Why we choose to create specific artwork / designs?
Some people buy certain brands and designs because they feel a sense of community. Your clothes communicate something about you to other people. Some of our artwork / designs represents a feeling of belonging (a club, group or community), where our designs can strike a conversation with people who you can relate to and find common ground with. This could be beneficial to those who are less likely to start conversations with other people in public settings but still want to be amongst talk. Our designs are a form of invitation to provoke conversation with others. Sometimes there are hidden messages behind artworks & designs, that's the beauty of fashion & art. Can you relate?
Over the years, I have been trying to figure out the core purpose of my brand, and since I have been receiving a number of messages from individuals who have been inspired by it, and others who aspire to start their own businesses and look up to us. I came up with Crooked Supply's brand essence: Visualise, Create, Inspire, which is the embodiment of our Journey.
Visualise: A dream is just a dream if you can’t visualise it. Visualise the steps you need to take in order to create the things you want in life.
Create: Create the design, product, business, body, the life you want by taking the necessary steps.
Inspire: When you create something that changes your life, there comes a point where people start to look up to you and are inspired by your creation.
My brand essence has led me to write this blog and continue the blog series with the hope of inspiring others through my journey with Crooked Supply, where it can serve as a vehicle to help others, as my brand's journey is an extension of my own.
If you’ve read to the end, thank you. I hope this blog has inspired you in some way and thank you to those who supported Crooked Supply and myself. Without you, we wouldn’t be here.
Stay tuned for the next parts.
Written by the owner of Crooked Supply: Vincent Lam