Easy choice, hard life. Hard choices, easy life. A lot of us think that we are going to have overnight success and that our companies are going to hit the ground running and blow up immediately, but in reality, it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifice and lots of drive to make it. And when you look back at the journey and see the success, it will all make sense.
The COVID19 pandemic has disrupted all of our lives. But sometimes disruptions can be times of opportunity. Many people’s livelihoods have been hurt by the pandemic. But some saw this as an opportune time to take their lives in a new direction.
As a part of this series called “How I Was Able To Pivot To A New Exciting Opportunity Because Of The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewingAri Jogiel.
Ari Jogiel is the founder and Head Fashion Designer at ARI JOGIEL, a Development and Manufacturing company that designs, develops, and manufactures garments for over 100 fashion brands across the United States, including a luxury streetwear in house brand.
All processes proudly “Made In Freaking Los Angeles”.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we start, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory?
I was born in Mexico City to a Jewish loving mother and a famous comedian. Both sides of my family migrated to Mexico in the 40s to escape the holocaust. My grandfather arrived in Mexico penniless and not knowing the language. He was able to start his own business and support our family. He has always been my inspiration and the person that I aspire to be every day.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Start now, start where you are, start with fear, start with pain, start with doubt, start with hands shaking, start with voice trembling. Start and don’t stop. Just start”.
I had a corporate job and I remember telling my family, friends, and close circles about thinking of starting a brand. Almost everyone told me not to waste my time and that I was never going to make a living selling clothes, including my father, which made it really hard to get started.
It took a lot to leave my full-time job and risk everything I had, but I believed in myself and my vision and that it didn’t matter how hard it was going to be, I was willing to do whatever it would take to overcome all the obstacles and make it through.
Is there a particular book, podcast, or film that made a significant impact on you? Can you share a story or explain why it resonated with you so much?
“Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight has been the book that resonated with me the most with. Reading about his journey and going through a lot of the same things has given me a lot of motivation in my business. Starting a company at a young age and being in the fashion industry are things that can get very complicated, especially when you are learning the ins and outs of the business on your own. Reading the book gave me hope that it’s possible to make it in this competitive industry and that is ok to dream big.
Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you tell our readers about your career experience before the Pandemic began?
Our manufacturing business was taking off, we were going on 3 years of being in business, and our company was scaling and growing 2x and 3x every year. We passed the 100th mark of brands we work with and were doing projects with all type of fashion brands across the board, including high end dresses, sportswear, contemporary, streetwear, underwear and swimwear. We had a successful company and were onto big things with our “Made in Freaking Los Angeles” mantra.
What did you do to pivot as a result of the Pandemic?
“Safer at Home” hit Los Angeles and we received orders from Garcetti to shut down our factory. Our biggest projects were cancelled, we didn’t know how long the shutdown was going to last, and we had no idea how this would affect our brands. There was a huge demand for masks at the time and it was very clear to us that our company had the expertise and manpower to start producing thousands of face masks within days.
Can you tell us about the specific “Aha moment” that gave you the idea to start this new path?
I went back to the factory after we shut down and saw our mail man wearing a mask that didn’t protect his face well and had been worn multiple times, even though it was not meant to be washed. After that I made it a mission for our company to design the best possible face mask that would protect the whole face, could be worn for an 8 hour shift, and could be washed time after time. We were on a mission to make and donate as many masks as possible during the pandemic. We went from product development to manufacturing our first batch of 2,000 masks within 10 days. Nothing was going to slow us down.
How are things going with this new initiative?
We ended up donating over 25,000 masks and helped out many front-liners including: fire fighters, home depot, hospital workers and USPS. We also partnered with The Conscious Kid to donate a portion of all sales to support the non-profit in their fight against racism in schools.
Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I have been fortunate to have a great support group of friends and family. I couldn’t have had the success that my company has today without them. During the pandemic we had a huge demand for our masks and our business wasn’t structured to sell direct to consumers, so we had to pretty much start that side of the business from scratch. We had shut down at the time and had to relocate all of our machines and personnel, coupled with the regulations and limitations of Covid-19 which made it very challenging. I called my older brother to come help me and he flew from Mexico City that same weekend. We went on a crazy journey together and went through so much in a short period of time. I couldn’t have asked for a better teammate during the time.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started in this new direction?
It was one of those summer nights that I went out for dinner with some friends and we were eating right next the ARI JOGIEL billboard in the middle of West Hollywood, in Fairfax Avenue. That was the moment things came full circle for me and that made all the hard work worth it.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my organization” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- Enjoy the journey because it goes by too quick. It took a lot of bumps, a lot of mistakes, and a lot of life lessons to make it. Looking back and knowing all that I had to do to get here is one of the best feelings in the world.
- Choose your battles. I have always been very hard on myself, but with time I have to learned to let things go and that not everything is going to be perfect all the time.
- Teamwork makes the dream work. The more you grow, the more you are going to realize that people are what make or break a company. It is important to surround yourself with people that can help you bring your vision to life and are experts in their own area.
- It is the dream that get you through the tough times. It doesn’t matter how hard the road gets, if you want something you have to remember the reason why you are doing it and that will help you overcome any obstacle.
- Easy choice, hard life. Hard choices, easy life. A lot of us think that we are going to have overnight success and that our companies are going to hit the ground running and blow up immediately, but in reality, it takes a lot of hard work, a lot of sacrifice and lots of drive to make it. And when you look back at the journey and see the success, it will all make sense.
So many of us have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. Can you share the strategies that you have used to optimize your mental wellness during this stressful period?
It is only human nature to worry when there is so much uncertainty out there. I have maintained a balance of work life with social life and have taken as many vacations as possible. When things are busy, it can be exhausting and draining for the body so staying active and seeing friends is always a good way to get distracted. Taking a vacation is a good reset and perfect way to disconnect and let your mind relax.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Our concept of “Made In Freaking Los Angeles” which supports making clothes locally, ethically, and supports hard working people with living wages.
Is there a person in the world whom you would love to have lunch with, and why? Maybe we can tag them and see what happens!
J Balvin, as a proud Latino. I would love to collaborate with him and launch a collection together.
How can our readers follow you online?
@ARIJOGIEL on Instagram and our website is www.jogiel.com
Thank you so much for sharing these important insights. We wish you continued success and good health!