Build A Community; I see this as being a culture creator- I will say build a community, find a need and be a culture creator, bring answers that will amplify and enhance the way of life of your community. Your goal shouldn’t be to change the way of life instead strengthen it; people like to have freedom, find that fluidity in your products and focus on the experience your product creates, not the function. People will buy your brand for what it means to them more than what it does.
As part of our series called “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Chuks Collins who has matured into one of the freshest new designers in New York. Born in the UK and raised between the UK and Nigeria, Chuks is inspired by his unique upbringing to dress people in bold, bright colors with softly defined edges. His impressive educational background and experience working for brands like Ralph Lauren mean that his visions are executed with formidable expertise. Chuks Collins is more than just a designer. He is a creative architect, creative stylist, insightful image consultant, style influencer, entrepreneur, and artist.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your “childhood backstory”?
I was born in the UK and grew up mostly in Nigeria and partly in the UK as well; one of the best memories I had was learning how to sew from my grandmother. Growing up in a household with strict discipline and rules, you are not allowed to watch TV every day that was only permitted on Saturdays and Sunday nights. There’s a special seat, cup, and plate for the head of the family, and you are not allowed to use it. Our food was farm to table; we ate vegetables and produce harvested from our farm and only had meat on special occasions. I focused on going to school, learning new languages, and getting amazed by the culture, art, buildings, and people. Growing up with my grandmother also taught me a lot of things like sewing, respecting women, uphold and empower the people whose voices are not heard. I’ve had the privilege of having so many powerful, strong women in my childhood and journey. I watched them go through societal limitations, which deeply affected me since I feel everyone is equal and should be treated equally despite their gender.
Can you tell us the story of what led you to this particular career path?
Growing up and living within two different cultures- I’ve always been intrigued by people and their means of identification, and that you can get a clue from the way they look and what they wear. I’ll often play a game in my head where I am guessing who they are, what they do etc., from their appearance, which is often categorized by their dressing. So I’ll try to rearrange what they’re wearing in my head and dress them up in something else. This led me to start drawing cartoons and stylized them with different clothing designs and also creating a lifestyle for them. But being a male child from African parents, fashion wasn’t a reputable career for a male child, so I had to go to college and bag different degrees to please my family. But art, design, and lifestyle have always been in my blood, and I couldn’t hide it for long.
Most importantly, I found a medium to express my art, which is through creating beautiful products and designs that amplifies the way of life while supporting and empowering those marginalized voices. I design for the girl in every woman and the woman in every girl, who aspires to embody their core, to connect with their tribe, and to wear as amour along the way.
Women are a primordial part of existence; empowering women is empowering the world- and they inspire my career. When I choose the factories for production, I tend to lean towards women-oriented family business or even my team.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I think one of my earliest funniest mistakes was trying to do everything, everything in the sense that we have this whole big idea of our dreams and aspirations, which is fantastic, but when you put it down on paper and approach it from a realistic point of view, you’ll understand that reality is always different from the big idea. While starting up, I wanted to build this fashion brand with all these beautiful dresses and make women look gorgeous. In my first few collections, I made many dresses. I only sold a few of them as women don’t wear dresses every day, instead only on very special occasions, which for a business that’s not sustainable to keep and run the business. Having other items they need and can go with what they have in their wardrobe will help increase sales.
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?
There have been a lot of resources that I’ve found very helpful in my journey; the first book I religiously read was the Holy Bible, which taught me a lot about foundation, discipline, relationships, how to treat others with kindness, love, faith, faith in hard work, etc. Other resources were self-development books, podcasts like Super Soul Conversation, How I Built This, etc.
Can you please give us your favorite Life Lesson Quote? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
One of my life lesson quotes is “ Understanding The Why Behind Your What, Is the gas that ignites the flame” For our dreams and visions to be active and stay active; we have also to have that motivating factor that caused us to start in the first place, because there will be tough times and a lot of hurdles to get through, but that reminder of “Why” I start will help keep the “What” going.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. For the benefit of our readers, let’s define our terms. How do you define a Lifestyle Brand? How is a Lifestyle Brand different from a normal, typical brand?
Ans: A lifestyle brand embodies and showcases the consumer’s values, opinions, interests, and way of life. It seeks to guide consumers while inspiring and motivating them with the goals of their products and also creating fluid accessibilities and inclusivity.
What are the benefits of creating a lifestyle brand?
Some of the benefits of creating a lifestyle brand are that it promotes a way of life; it gives consumers the liberty to express their identities differently. Identifying a niche and strategizing on that demographic’s needs: What are you good at and love to do? What need did you find in that process? What is that thing that troubles you and you wish it could be better? What are those problems you see in the process? Progressive Marketplace is very scalable for entrepreneurs. Lastly, for me, it has been an incredible ride as a Lifestyle Artist/Entrepreneur, as I am creating a way of life while giving liberty, inclusivity, and fluidity to the way we live and also caring for the Planet we live in on the same journey.
In your opinion, what is an example of a company that has done a fantastic job building a believable and beloved Lifestyle Brand? What specifically impresses you? What can one do to replicate that?
The brand that everyone can easily relate to is Nike. One of the things that impress me about them is they have built a feeling of connection with superstars and elites with their campaigns. The Just Do It campaign made the average person feel like an elite just by supporting them and buying their products. They’ve created a sense of identity and community with their brand lifestyle. I believe every brand can emulate and replicate their community building, which will keep the brand growth thriving.
Can you share your ideas about how to create a lifestyle brand that people love and are ‘crazy about?
I think a few will be, finding a need, creating a solution/answer, then building a personalized community around it. Creating something you love, and that’s part of your everyday life. Create something people need daily. Think of a way of identifying or creating a relationship with a product while allowing people to have fluidity and control of themselves with the product.
What are the common mistakes you have seen people make when they start a lifestyle brand? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Building a brand is very important, as that’s what the lifestyle is and will thrive. Don’t try to recreate someone else’s lifestyle; instead, amplify it.
Be authentic about the story of the brand and how it relates to your niche market– source of identity that your target community /audience can relate to. Start from the basics, and know you can’t have it all at once, take your time and keep expanding and scaling. It keeps your community/consumers happy to know you’re releasing new and different products to support and amplify their lifestyle.
Let’s imagine that someone reading this interview has an idea for a lifestyle brand that they would like to develop. What are the first few steps that you would recommend that they take?
First, I will ask you why are you doing this/ why do you want to do it? If your answer can convince you about why- then that will be easier to develop. Often we have these big ideas and reasons for what to do; still, we always forget to identify the why behind the what, and that’s a core part of the brand and the brand story and that will support a lot of the success.
Secondly, I will say build a community. Find a need and be a culture creator and bring answers that will amplify and enhance the way of life.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Here is the main question of our discussion. What are your Things You Need To Know To Create A Very Successful Lifestyle Brand; and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
1) Identifying Structure: What, Who, and Why? — This will help in finding a niche, building the community, and creating your demographic. A lot of research and identification will happen here, leading you to develop the right products and building a lifestyle brand that people can identify with and relate to. This will help in creating a structure and model for your business.
2) Understanding “The Why Behind The What” — I will ask you why are you doing this/ Why do you want to do it? If your answer can convince you about why- Then the What will be easier to develop, often we have big ideas and reasons for what to do, but we always forget to really identify the “why” behind the what and that’s a core part of the brand, the brand story and that will support a lot of the success.
3) Basics: Start from the Basics as you can’t have it all at once; take your time and keep expanding and scaling. It keeps your community/consumers happy to know you’re releasing new and different products to support and amplify their lifestyle.
4) Build A Community; I see this as being a culture creator- I will say build a community, find a need and be a culture creator, bring answers that will amplify and enhance the way of life of your community. Your goal shouldn’t be to change the way of life instead strengthen it; people like to have freedom, find that fluidity in your products and focus on the experience your product creates, not the function. People will buy your brand for what it means to them more than what it does.
5) Being Ready: Being ready at all times when the business needs you, every Business is like a newborn baby; there will be times you’re very excited, other times when you’re tired, other times when the business will be saying something different. Being diligent and ready always to take care of the baby as it grows and transforms into other things.
I talk about Culture Creator- a big part of this is vital as people like to identify with something and buy the experience. As I mentioned earlier in my childhood and journey, I have been inspired by many women who have taught me to stand up for what I believe in and empower those marginalized voices. Thus one of my core values in most things I do is to identify with my tribe and enhance life. Empowerment being a forerunner in the things I do, I like to create a culture that empowers women, people and also improve the living abilities of us as a race, and that’s where my next point comes in, which is Sustainability; A big part of the human race is being affected by how we treat the planet and how we contribute knowingly or unknowingly to harming our environments by the things we wear and indulge in. So I always like to bring value and awareness in creating a culture that supports sustainability and the right experiences it creates to make our lives better.
Super. We are nearly done. Here are our final questions. You are an inspiration to a great many people. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
I think I will inspire a fluid way of life that support the human infinity possibilities while reconciling all aspects of ourselves (our art self and act self), and creating a harmonious habitable place for human existence in all excellency.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
I have a few people in mind and for different reasons; Jeff Bezos of Amazon, Oprah Winfrey, Sundar Pichai, Tim Ferriss, and Daymond John I think a few of my answers are obvious, but really, one reason I choose the people here is because of the “Why” behind what they are doing? There’s a success story here, and you will see the trajectory of their growth till they got famous, they did the work, they went through the process, and they still embody their mission. I like learning from people who have track records of growth, I can relate to that, and it’s also very inspiring to hear, learn, and ask people who have been through the process.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.