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 !
Londyn Douglas talks vintage finds and creative minds with her returning vintage boutique The Club.
2017- Pulling into the parking lot of the Line Hotel, I was filled with nervousness and anxiety. This was my first official interview for the Indigo Stop. I had this idea to interview fashion designers based in Los Angeles. I was excited to tell their stories, share their products and expand their reach. I sent out over 50 emails to various designers in the area and the first to reach out was a young African American woman from DC. Londyn Douglas told me how she dropped her accounting career in D.C. to pursue a fashion career in Los Angeles. She also told me her stories as a wardrobe stylist to her development as a fashion curator. She left me in awe and inspired many as the first subject on the Indigo Stop. Two years later and I now consider this woman a friend and mentor. A lot has changed in the life of Londyn from taking a little hiatus from her brand to gaining more exposure in the fashion industry as an assistant and head stylist. Here she discusses with me the return of the Club, working in fashion and music.
The Cool Babe and her Club
IS: It's been almost two years since our first interview, what all has changed since then?LD: I’m still the Queen of Cool Babes, haha no a few things have changed. I moved around a little bit to NYC to DC then back to LA. I also started exploring a new passion (DJ-ing) and I relaunched “The Club”.
IS: What inspired you to bring "The Club" back?
LD: The Club has never left me. Between the moves I was sourcing and collecting bomb vintage. Once I settled back into LA, I started working on the relaunch.
IS: What is the new method of purchasing products from the online/social media brand?
LD: I moved the online store directly to Instagram. Cool girls can now shop directly on the app by commenting on the photo or sliding into my DM’s to make a purchase.
IS: It's probably a secret, but can you explain to me how the vintage finding process works?
LD: I can share a secret. I like to make a moodboard/ shopping list before I go thrifting. that way I have a general knowledge of what I want and when I’m scanning the racks the pieces I envisioned stand out. Finding vintage takes a lot of patience, If you come in with a game plan you’ll ultimately win.
IS: What is your fave piece from your collection? I have so many! Where to start?
LD: My latest obsession is this crazy Babyphat monogram purple denim jacket. It looks like a piece Supreme or Louis Vuitton would currently design. I loved baby phat as a teenager, so the jacket is super nostalgia.
Styling, Thrifting and DJing, Oh My !
IS: Do you still double as a curator and stylist? How does doubling as a designer and stylist further the brand?
LD: Yes, it helps alot! It cut the middle man out with getting my brand worn directly onto clients/ celebrities. I take my vintage to every fitting/job I do. I also have a strong network of stylists, my first pull was for Singer Summer Walker (shout-out to stylist Chasidy Billups). Summer wore The Club in her “Up Next” Apple Documentary.
IS: What skills as a stylist do you bring to the brand?
LD: Stylist and Vintage curator go hand in hand. I bring my stylist eye when finding vintage. I can pick up a piece know exactly how I’m going to style it. I offer styling advice with each piece that I sell.
IS: Outside of thrifting & styling, what do you do for fun?
LD: I love to listen to live music especially jazz. I check out this monthly event called Jazz is Dead in highland park. Its curated by Ali Shaheed Muhammad from A Tribe called Quest and producer Adrian Younge. Last month I saw the legendary Roy Ayers.
IS: Does music inspire the pieces you choose and design? If not, what is your inspiration?
LD: Most definitely! I'm super into funky tropical music right now which translates into airy, bright and fun pieces.
IS: What made you want to add Djing on ygour list of things to do?
LD: I love music just as much a I love fashion. I always wanted to DJ but didn't see many women pursuing it. Last year I decided I wanted to go after it and started going to DJ workshops and classes. I jump right in and haven’t turned back since!
IS: How long have you lived in Los Angeles?
LD: 5 Years
IS: What is your fave place to get some inspiration from in LA? (Coffee shop, museum, store, etc.)
LD: I love visiting Hammer museum in Westwood for their contemporary edgy art and Recess vintage store on La Brea for major vintage inspiration.
IS: What is your fave LA nightspot for listening to good music and vibing?
LD: My friend Earry Hall is an amazing DJ and throws parties at Standard and Sho Sho Baby with the best vibes.
IS: What is your fave LA vintage shops?
LD: Recess and Squaresville
Shop the club here !