Inspired by the creative energy of producing his own music, Wesly Tan welcomed us to his new brand Gfted Apparel.
2019- Two alumnus from the University of La Verne reconnected in Downtown Los Angeles to continue their creative journeys. One creative was a young and hungry stylist/blogger in Los Angeles, while the other was a musician, real-estate agent, and now new founder of his own clothing brand- Meet Wesly Tan. Tan and I crossed paths back in college. A couple of years later who would've known that these two passionate top of the class student leaders would pursue a nontraditional career field.
Tan grew up in an Asian family with mostly traditional Asian values including going to school and getting a job. Music, however, was always his first love. Juggling a growing real estate and music career was Tan's typical 9-5. After sticking to the status quo for so long, Tan decided to push his creative limits by discontinuing his real estate career. One night in March 2018, Tan drew out his first design for his brand.
"Before losing my thought, I had to get the design on paper. As a musician with no background in graphic design, I instinctively pulled up Paint on my computer and went to work," Tan said.
"I played with the colors for over a week before settling on the ultimate design. In the end, the general consensus was the simplicity of the white text with a pop of red."
A year later and the end result is a new brand with a great concept- embracing and encouraging creativity in every person. Sticking to its mission, Tan decided for his brand to be modeled by the creatives in his life. From fraternity brothers, alumnus and even yours truly- creatives from all walks of life can be spotted rocking the new brand for the upcoming Summer. Here Wes talks with me about the opening of Gfted Apparel and his blending of music, business, and fashion.
Young and "Gfted"
IS: What inspired the name?
WT: I love the name because it represents creativity in all forms. Everybody has their own creative talents. We should look to foster that in each other rather than pushing people towards being like everyone else.
IS: What inspired the first design "Gifted" ?
WT: I actually just thought of the design when I was high one night lmao. It looked cool in my head so I designed it on my computer, made a sweater out of it, and it turns out people really liked it, so I started pursuing it.
IS: What made you decide to start a clothing line?
WT: I wore the original sweater I made when traveling to Seattle, and an airport worker stopped me and asked to buy a couple of them. Then he sold another one to his brother, then I sold like 10 more in a week. That’s when I realized people were into it, and I became curious to see how far I could take this.
IS: What advice do you have for anyone interested in starting a brand?
WT: Focus on developing a message and brand that people can stand behind. I picked an idea that was specific enough that people felt unique repping the brand, but broad enough to encompass people from all backgrounds. I also heavily emphasize the fit and quality of my clothes too. My advice is to be authentic and genuine. Know exactly who your target audience is. If you try to pander to everybody there will be nothing special about it.
IS: How has the brand targeted young creatives? What is the brand trying to teach them?
WT: Our mission is to embrace and encourage creativity in every person. Society has always tried to push people towards the “traditional” path. We want to promote creatives from every walk of life, and show that creativity is something that should be celebrated.
IS: Explain the process of choosing models for this unique brand.
WT: GFTED Apparel is different than most clothing companies because the purpose of the brand is not the clothing itself, but the message and community of people we are trying to reach. Our motto is “Everyone has god gifted talents. And we should aim to support and foster these talents instead of pushing people towards ‘the traditional path’.” All of our models have a creative talent, whether it be poetry, painting, or even less common ones like make-up, or travel vlogs. We want to provide a community and support group for all the creatives out there, reminding them that their talent is something to be shared.
The Sound of Business
IS: Outside of designing what else do you do? What other businesses do you run?
WT: I sold real estate for a year and a half, and now I’m using the money I made from that to invest in my other businesses. I play piano and compose music professionally, as well as teach to keep me afloat.
IS: How do you handle all of the various businesses you run?
WT: I work the best when I have the freedom to do things at my own pace. Since I’m my own boss, I can work whenever I want, which usually amounts to me working all the time. But I feel so fulfilled building these businesses that it doesn’t feel like work at all most times.
IS: Do you feel that obtaining a business degree is necessary for running a brand?
WT: Absolutely not. To be completely honest, my education did nothing for me lol. BUT, my college was so phenomenal because it taught me so many other things; how to be a leader, how to talk to people, how to recruit and market your ideas, as well as giving me a network of people that are helping me develop my brand.
IS: Does your work in music inspire your work as a brand designer?
WT: Most definitely. As a musician, I’ve always been discouraged to go into the field because “what if you fail” or “you’re not good enough” etc. But instead of quitting I looked at the feedback I received and just keep improving my music to now where people are finally on board with me pursuing it. And I think it carries over into being a brand designed because my life motto is “just keep on doing you, and people will follow”
IS: Where can we hear your music?
WT: If you want to hear my music it's available on Soundcloud, iTunes, Spotify under the name Wesleezy.
IS: Where do you feel most inspired at the moment?
WT: Traveling. Traveling enriches me so much while simultaneously giving me more inspiration in my writing and creativity.
IS: What is your fave LA spot to eat?
WT: I’m a sucker for Korean food lol. I love BCD tofu house.
IS: What is your fave spot to listen to music?
WT: When I’m high af at night and going on walks while having my noise canceling headphones on. I’ll usually just dance to myself and it really feels like you’re in your own world. For live music, I actually like watching people perform at like grocery stores and stuff.
Shop Gfted here !