Inspired by motivational speakers and feel good quotes, Tony So is whipping up some fun and quirky original designs for his new T- shirt company Be Squared Clothing. Tony views fashion as a fun way of expression and doesn’t take it too seriously. Street wear brands are often correlated with a perverse culture. Tony wants to set him self apart in the contemporary street wear scene with feel good clothing.
“I’ve seen a lot of street wear brands that promote a negative lifestyle, but I don’t really relate to alot of it. I want to come out with a message that being educated is cool; that knowing what you want in life, and pursuing it with a passion – is better than being a thug or a crook. this is my chance to make a difference and have fun doing it.” –Tony So
Are you a 100% Cambodian? If not, what else?
Tony: Why yes i am 100% cambodian, and 100% proud of it.
Where were you born and where do you reside?
Tony: I was born and raised in Oakland, CA.
What inspires you?
Tony: I want to say that making a positive impact is my life long goal. I’ve seen a lot of street wear brands that promote a negative lifestyle, but I don’t really relate to alot of it. I want to come out with a message that being educated is cool; that knowing what you want in life, and pursuing it with a passion – is better than being a thug or a crook. this is my chance to make a difference and have fun doing it. I am also inspired by the vision that I can become the best “me” that I could be, and also help others find themselves to work hard at chasing their own dreams.
Were you one of those kids that doodled on your paper full of action heroes and cartoons when you were a wee lil lad in school?
Tony: Hahaha – this is a good question. I actually learned how to draw from my dad, and when I was growing up I would draw power ranger characters – like megazord and that godzilla looking robot, dragonzord. also, I created a little comic strip called “the adventures of stick-man-dude” and made a few little quirky characters that actually ended up looking like calvin from “calvin and hobbs”. I wasn’t the most talented artist – but I just had fun doodling and just kept my creativity flowing. Its definitely a little dorky, but that’s what makes it cool.
What was the first t-shirt that you designed and what was it/who for?
Tony: The first shirt I designed is my “theorem” shirt that’s set to launch soon – still tweaking the design to make it perfect. But the first design that I printed was the “I love Cambodia” shirt. I made them for cambodian new years 2010, where me and my friends drove down to Long Beach, Ca to sell them. The crazy thing is that we didn’t have a booth, we didn’t have any connects, and this was going to be our first time ever going to long beach for Khmer New Years. What we did have – was few duffel bags full of shirts, a sellers permit, and a dream to jump start Be Squared Clothing.
When did you decide to get into the t-shirt business?
Tony: I remember looking for a t-shirt that I could buy that was both stylish yet simple – and I look for 2 hours and bought only 2 shirts – and one of the shirts I didn’t even really like that much. Then one day, while I was out running and getting my exercise on, I saw a guy with a shirt that said “be great” – and that really left an impression on me. I put the two and two together – and felt like we needed more simple shirts with feel-good messages. Then people who wear the these shirt can spread the message without saying a word.
Name some designers or public figures that influence your designs.
Tony: Number one on my list is definitely “Johnny Cupcakes”. He has manage to make his brand exclusive and inclusive at the same time – and come out with apparel that’s fun to wear – and never too serious. I also really like the brand “Rad is Rad” and “The Imaginary Zebra”. Yet, many of my influences do not come from designers at all, many of the messages that I will be putting on my shirts are from lessons I’ve learned from motivational speakers such as John C. Maxwell, Les Brown, Stephen Covey… I know crazy right?!
What was your first accomplishment that led you to start Be Squared?
Tony: I can’t pin point a single accomplishment that led me to create be squared, but it was just an unwavering urge to do something that I really wanted to do. Most of my life I made excuses not to pursue my dreams. I was pretty comfortable with my 9 to 5 job and making enough money, but then I felt like I wasn’t making a difference and I knew realistically I could never reach any of my dreams by staying employed under someone else. I had the skills, knowledge, and attitude to be my own boss – but the toughest part about being an entrepreneur is believing fully that you could make it. I’m still learning to do that, and some days are overwhelming when I picture where I want to be – but the great thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.
What is your favorite Khmer dish?
Tony: Cambodian sour chicken soup – but I dont know the khmer name for it.
What are your future goals for Be Squared Clothing?
Tony: By 2012 I would like to really make a name for myself in the street wear scene – especially in the bay area. I’m going to be working with Bulli, from Jaya Production, to make videos to promote the brand name and the message of positivity. I want to be successful in this business so that I can inspire others to become entrepreneurs themselves. I want to run Be Squared full time, and retire from my current job.
For more about Tony So:
Originally Posted by Sophia S.
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