Herds of the Fathers co-founder, Jason Akoi, is living every fashionable, business-savvy man’s dream of owing a successful fashion label. Herds is still relatively new but the future looks awfully bright for Akoi, as Herds was featured on men’s style website, Hypebeast, in May. Their clean-cut and sophisticated backpacks, duffel bags, and messenger bags are definitely any fashion-forward man’s “must-haves” for accessories. I recently interviewed Akoi to talk about the inspiration behind Herds and the future of the label, read below.
First and foremost, what does Herds of the Fathers mean to you personally?
Herds of the Fathers means everything to me. Until it came into my life I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. I always had a feeling that I would be doing my own thing as far as business goes, but I never knew what it would be. I’m not going to lie and say I came out the womb wanting to be a leather designer. It was one of those things that once the idea was sparked I knew it was exactly what I needed to be doing.
How did you find your own steps to success because I know starting businesses that deal with leather have to be expensive?
Leather is an expensive business to get into, which is why a lot of people don’t usually do leather start ups. Tobi and I basically took the money we were supposed to use to pay for our dorm rooms and used it as capital for our business instead. Spent an entire semester sleeping on couches and floors. Wasn’t the most fun thing in the world, but I’d do it again.
Did your family support your decision to start an accessories/luggage business?
When I first brought the idea to my family they really had no idea what I was trying to do. I was frustrated at first, but after a while I couldn’t blame them because I understood the generational gap. The internet and its huge possibilities and opportunities are something a lot of older folks and parents still don’t understand. All they know is going to work and getting that paycheck every two weeks.
How well did you balance school work and business?
It was a horrible balance. I couldn’t concentrate on school too much. I learned so much outside of the classroom from interactions with people and life experiences more so than I ever did with school work. But I just tried my hardest to manage.
In terms of celebrities, who do you find fashionable? What is your personal style?
Pharrell is probably one of the most fashionable dudes to me. It’s not even the over the top stuff he does, it’s more so the simple pieces he puts together. A simple t-shirt, jeans, and boots combination and he could still appear better dressed than the rest of the room. I think that has a lot to do with how he carries himself rather than what pieces he’s wearing. Fashion to me is way more than just the items you pick out. You can have on all the latest brands an still look unauthentic.
Do you see Herds of the Fathers becoming your main priority/job?
I think it will definitely become one of the main things I do in my life. We’re growing every year so it’s only a matter of time before we reach where we want to be. Companies take years to reach their full potential. I think we will reach a point where we’re standing side by side with some of your favorite luxury brands.
What was your initial reaction to Herds of the Fathers being featured on Hypebeast?
I ran around my room screaming when I saw our brand featured on Hypebeast. It may not seem like much to other people, but that was such a major victory to me. I’ve been going on that website for the past 5 to 6 years religiously every day of my life. So you can only imagine how it felt to wake up and see that on my iPhone screen. I didn’t even know we were going to be featured. Someone tweet-ed the link to me.
Any tips for up-and-coming fashion businesses?
Presentation, presentation, and more presentation. Anything you put out has to look good. Never believe that phrase “good product will speak for itself”. If you don’t put the same energy behind the photos, videos, and websites as you do in the product, your brand may never take off. You usually only have a few seconds to catch someone’s attention, so make it count.
How did you utilize the platform of Rutgers to promote Herds?
Rutgers was just a great place for me. Everybody I needed to meet, I met there. From Phillip Annand of Madburyclub.com to Tobi, I would have never met these guys who were pivotal in my dreams coming true. College students are always looking for new things, so word spread around pretty fast. The support was immense. All of the tweets, status updates, and posts contributed to our minor success as a company.
Do you ever see Herds breaking into clothing? What are we to expect from Herds in the upcoming seasons?
I think we’ll stay away from clothing. It’s easier to appeal to a wider range of people when you’re doing accessories. Be on the lookout for all types of accessories from us in the future. The possibilities are limitless.