Updated: Mar 22, 2020
Featuring Avery Antonio l MostProminentCo.
What is MostProminentCo. (MPCo.)?
We are a fashion brand that uses different platforms like clothing and videos to serve other people, primarily garment workers because there's a huge opportunity for them to share their experiences. In general we focus on telling meaningful stories of people doing good things.
When did you start MPCo. and how did the idea of this company come about?
MPCo. started in 2017 when I (Avery) was still in college. I've always wanted to start my own clothing brand because I like business. It just so happened that I took an Environmental and Occupational Health class during that time and one of the sections we were learning about was labor rights and workers' rights. I was shocked to find so much actually happens behind workers' rights and that there were a lot of issues in various industries. An anecdote of this could be asbestos and different types of chemicals they (the workers) are exposed to daily and other harsh working conditions. I decided to look into how these issues were related to fashion.
I guess the first hard look I took was into one of my favorite brands at the time, Forever21. I started to finding articles and academic research from UCLA and LA Garment Workers Center on the topic of fast fashion. I went into sort of this rabbit hole of the extensive study on it.
What were your initial steps with developing the company and your products?
From that point, I started working on MPCo. After taking that class I decided to make the company's niche about garment workers. In March of 2017 we launched out first collection. For the past 3 years we've developed models to solve issues for garment workers, but it (the niche itself) has a huge scope.
In November of 2019 we decided we wanted to relaunch using the "Made for More" tagline. The focus now is more on people and organizations that give back to others. The goal is to create a culture of doing good things and using one's talents & passions for something beyond oneself.
What was your strategy or game plan for executing the original and modified idea of MPCo?
My business partner and I had a lot of back and forth when discussing the relaunch. We decided our focus was always overall on sustainability and fair labor. When we were initially developing garments our scope was smaller, buying from suppliers and wholesalers. We also were really keen on having supply chain transparency when looking for a place to produce. We really wanted to understand how our clothes were being made and decided to go with the cut and sew method.
Process wise, we first found a garment manufacturer to make clothes "from scratch". An important step in this process is being sure to give them the full process instead of just giving blanks and going from there. Next, we went to the actual manufacturing site to see it in action. When we got there, we saw that the working environment wasn't so great for the workers, we decided to do something to help or give back to the workers in some form. Soon after we hosted a volunteer cleanup event for people to come to the factory and help organize the workspace. Additionally we donated ergonomic seats since garment workers work such long hours.
In the end we saw more value in spreading important messages through actionable projects. From there we started adding a collaboration component to our brand. We started to blueprint how we could work with labor organizations, proposing content we think people would be interested in. We want to serve as a value-add to them by spreading a message with what we're good --- clothes and content.
What skills or knowledge do you think is critical for starting a business/brand in your industry?
In general, I'd say Excel or other analytics software, being data-driven is key. Soft skills wise, if you really want something, you'll make it happen. You know when something is gonna work out; know your gut instinct. Listen to your intuition.
Execution is key! If you don't wanna do the work, it won't cut it. A good way to go about this is to plan, I read somewhere that "70% of the war is won before the battle, everything forms around the set mindset".
On the other side of the spectrum, don't be so critical of yourself. There's always going to be someone "better", but you are what you are and you'll get to where you wanna be if you put in the work and really believe in yourself.
You're where you're meant to be.
Fashion knowledge specifically, you need to know your basic graphic design. You need to speak the same technical language as your partners to better convey your vision. Supply chain processes, tech packs, garment specs (dimensions), how to measure clothes, and definitely basic stitches. Fundamentals are often overlooked when you're starting, especially if you're coming from outside of the industry.
I were to start right now I'd use YouTube, Udemy, or Skillshare. There are also a lot of trade colleges that have sewing. and pattern making classes for super cheap, about $100-$300 a semester.
What were some obstacles that you've faced so far as a brand/team/person?
The main one was that there were so many issues we wanted to tackle. Even though there are a lot of problems to address, it doesn't mean you necessarily need to be fixated on one thing for the longevity of the company. If your mission is one thing and then it starts to change as your develop as a brand and wanna go another way, you can! For awhile we didn't know what our niche was. We started jumping between different things and choosing what to focus on. It really takes time to develop your goals, and the niche always has the ability to change. In the end we just really needed to figure out what we wanted to hone in on.
As a person, balancing everything was really difficult for me. Between school, a social life, and putting food on the table, it's a lot but definitely rewarding. It gives you a different grasp and perspective because you're doing everything for yourself and this vision that you're bringing to life.
Where do you see MPCo. in the future?
MPCo. currently has two main goals, one pertaining to operations and another of how to relate with other people. Operations wise, we would want a brick and mortar, part of it is having our own garment workers that we can pay a living wage and have a great benefits package.
We imagine it to be a place where people can come in and do their own work as well, kind of like a co-working space.
As for collaborating with people we want to continue leaning into video, content campaigns, and clothes.
We want to work closely with organizations and nonprofits doing the meaningful work.
How can people get involved with MostProminentCo.?
Right now we're working on a fashion runway for up-cycled pieces. We're looking for any designers, fashion designers, and models who'd like to participate around fall/winter considering. However with COVID-19 it might have to be moer towards the end of the year.
A tip in general to be more of a responsible consumer is to do your research. Being intentional about what you purchase is important in order to shift this culture. It's a mindset shift, think of everything you want as a long term investment over a short term social appeal.
At the end of the day, enjoy it. Don't get so caught up in being critical and working all the time. Be nice to people, give people opportunities. You can do a lot of things for yourself but so much more impactful when you bring people up with you and help those that want. tobe helped.