Podcast: Ryan Lowthian on Starting an Original Apparel Brand on Shopify

 
 
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Starting your first business is brutally difficult. Even though Pangea was founded in 2019, I can hardly imagine how much harder it would be to launch a business in 2020! Yet some brave souls are doing that, and Ryan Lowthian is one of them.

Ryan runs and owns Leviathan Clothing. It’s a brand new clothing store on Shopify whose mission is to make unique clothes with an unconventional aesthetic. Translation: imagine bright colors and ornate design inspired by Japanese street art.

Ryan is on a mission: elevate artists with weird styles and give people clothes they want to wear. His store is tailor-made to figure out what people like without incurring huge costs. Curious about how that works? Listen to this podcast (or read the transcript) to learn more!


Pierson: What’s up, everybody? This is Pierson Hibbs with Pangea Marketing Agency here with Marketing is the Product. I’m here with Brandon Rollins.

Brandon: Hey, everyone.

Pierson: And today, we are with Ryan Lowthian from Leviathan Clothing 613. What’s up, Ryan?

Ryan: Not much, what about you guys?

Pierson: Oh you know, just the normal Saturday morning quarantine routine of coffee and moving into my desk in the corner of my room.

Brandon: Hiding in my house for six months. What’s up?

Ryan: Yeah, with the whole quarantine and everything, it’s kind of been difficult to do anything aside from grocery shopping.

Brandon: Yeah, pretty much, it’s a bad time for a lot of things, but it is a good time to reach out to people on podcasts if absolutely nothing else.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly, ’cause you don’t need the person-to-person contact or anything, just a microphone and you’re set.

Pierson: What’s crazy is we were originally gonna do this podcast like face-to-face and be in the same room and interview people in person, I think that was both of our original ideas, Brandon, and I think it’s slowly transitioned into becoming what it is now, and I think that’s been a blessing in disguise, ’cause it’s opened up our outlets to interview so many more people from around the world that we wouldn’t have been able to interview in person.

Brandon: Absolutely, like we were gonna start with just local businesses and see what we could come up with there, and see who we could basically get to come over, and of course, that’s not gonna work at all, but now we have the good fortune of interviewing people like we actually just did an interview with somebody in the UK, and that’s not something we would have done if things had gone differently.

Ryan: Yeah, it’s difficult to afford the airfare to do all that.

Brandon: Yeah, no kidding. [chuckle] And I feel like you can’t just ask your guest to pay for their own ticket, so it’s like, alright, alright, London to Chattanooga, how much could that possibly cost?

Ryan: Yeah, and especially to Europe too. Those tickets are expensive.

Brandon: Yeah, would you believe I’ve actually done that for $700? That was the ugliest flight you could ever imagine, I mean, multiple layovers, but man, I got to the UK on 700 bucks from this little Tennessee town.

Ryan: Yeah, that’s surprisingly good. 700 bucks.

Brandon: [chuckle] Yeah, no kidding. It was not worth it. You should pay extra and you should get the comfortable flights instead.

Pierson: Absolutely, the last really, really bad flight I had was from Tokyo to New York, and that flight… Halfway through the plane, right, I was like, “I don’t think I’m gonna make it, I don’t know what I’m gonna do.” We still have 10 hours left and I’m about to die, and I got off the plane in New York, and it was just the biggest relief to not be on a plane for near 15 hours. It’s brutal.

Brandon: Yeah, no kidding. Have you ever taken one of those overnight ones that’s like six hours long, and you don’t have enough time to actually sleep?

Pierson: Red eyes are not fun. I took one from San Diego to Atlanta a couple of years ago, and that was… It’s weird ’cause you leave when it’s still night and you get there and it’s just like the entire night has passed and it’s ready to start the next day, and you spent the entire night on a plane. [chuckle]

Brandon: Oh God, screw that. Oh man. Look at this, we’re three minutes in and we’re already getting into tangents.

Pierson: Well, Ryan, so let’s start off by asking, where are you from? Where are you located at? What’s your base of operations?

Ryan: So I am located in the capital of Canada, which is Ottawa.

Pierson: Okay, awesome.

Ryan: Yeah, you probably expected me to be from America, but us Canadians have businesses too. [chuckle]

Pierson: You’re actually the second Canadian that we’ve had on the show. Our second guest, Sam Kauric. She’s from…

Brandon: Windsor, she’s from Windsor.

Pierson: Okay.

Brandon: Yeah, right across from Detroit, yeah. And she moved here from Canada to start up a CBD shop in downtown Chatt. Or not downtown, I guess, wherever. Anyway, she moved here for that.

Ryan: Oh, nice, nice. Yeah, it’s good to have some Canadians opening businesses in America too.

Brandon: Yeah, yeah, definitely. So you… Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re just starting up Leviathan Clothing, right?

Ryan: Exactly, it’s only a couple of months old.

Brandon: Cool, and how would you describe to our listeners what it is that you’re doing so far?

Ryan: So essentially, the business model that I have in mind is I wanted to give artists exposure while also making some cool clothing that I myself would be proud to wear. So for now I just work with a close friend who makes all the art, but ideally when I expand, I want to get all sorts of artists from all sorts of walks of life and all that to make cool designs and work on jackets and stuff, and maybe some new clothing that no one’s seen before kind of deal.

Pierson: That’s ridiculously cool. And like I mentioned, when we first got on the call, I’m sitting here currently kinda scrolling through the site and looking at these clothes, and they’re sick. I would wear almost all of these myself, and I like the Asianesque, I guess, would you say Japanese or Japanese style? Is that what that is?

Ryan: Yeah, mostly a Japanese aesthetic.

Pierson: Yeah, I am obsessed with that kind of stuff, I have a Japanese traditional sleeve on my left arm and I’m about to get my right one done, and so this whole type of art culture is right up my alley. And I saw it, and I was like, “This is so cool.” And just hearing that you’re trying to bring more artists in to let them expand their work within what you’re doing. That’s awesome.

Ryan: Yeah, I’m glad to hear that you like it and… Yeah, like I said, we’re in very early stages, but as time progresses, we hope to get more and more people on board.

Brandon: So you’re starting with just the one artist and then you want to expand out into other ones as well. How are you making these? Is this some sort of dropshipping setup?

Ryan: Yeah, all the production and the shipping is done through Shopify, and then all of the designs and the website and all that stuff is done by myself.

Brandon: Okay, neat. So I feel like probably at this moment, what I wanna do is give a little context to what dropshipping is and how it works, to anybody who’s not heard of the business model. Basic idea of dropshipping is that you go straight from manufacturer to customer and nobody else touches it. And this is only a really, really recent business model innovation, and it allows people to do… Well, exactly what you’re doing, to create an interesting design, see if people want it and then print just enough to fill that need, without this, without this, you can’t… It’s a lot harder to do something creative and odd and uncertain.

Ryan: Exactly, and it’s a lot more cost-effective this way too.

Brandon: I have not actually drop-shipped myself, but I’ve heard that it’s one of those business models that you can get started in without a whole bunch of capital.

Ryan: The profit margin is not very high. You don’t get as much as you would if you were developing everything yourself, but you have to spend less on materials, equipment, shipping, all that stuff.

Brandon: Yeah, and that makes a lot of sense, because if you were starting a business completely from scratch, I think you told me privately that you’re actually just starting college for accounting soon, if somebody is a college student and they are just getting started out in life, you hear these stories about people who create businesses in their college dorm rooms, the truth is that’s actually really, really hard to do, ’cause you only have limited ways to start a business without the capital, and dropshipping is actually one of the newer ones to do it. Before, what you basically have is you could sell a service or a product you could make yourself, that used to be your only real option. Then crowdfunding kind of broadened the horizon a little bit, and then dropshipping added another new way to make money on top of that. Anyway, what I’m saying is, I just, I really like that this is something you can do now, that’s like a remarkable thing about living in the last 10 years.

Ryan: Yeah, innovation in the last 10, 15 years has been very insane compared to 30 years ago, it’s giving us all these nice opportunities to make businesses as well.

Brandon: Absolutely, so how did you get started with this?

Ryan: So I actually had the idea from… There’s YouTubers with different merch lines and all that, and they do a similar thing where they have their production companies and they ship all the designs off and everything, and so I got inspired by a YouTuber that I watch, and I have a roommate and close friend who’s an artist. So we figured we might as well team up and come up with a way to make some extra cash.

Brandon: See, now that’s fun. And you guys have known each other for a while?

Ryan: Yeah, we’ve been good friends since high school.

Pierson: Oh wow.

Brandon: Yeah, that’s cool.

Pierson: So you guys have taken the dream of two best friends that wanna make a clothing line and actually making it into a reality.

Ryan: Exactly. And slowly but surely, we’ll get there.

Pierson: That’s awesome, dude.

Brandon: Yeah, that’s fantastic.

Pierson: So let me ask with… And I keep going back to this, the art aspect of it, because I’m fascinated by it. Do you guys work hand in hand to kinda go for the look that you’re going for, or are you really just using this Leviathan Clothing site as a platform of sorts to let artists grow what they want to put on merch… What’s the process like that look like for you? Do you have a specific image that you want Leviathan to be tied to?

Ryan: So for the time being, it is hard to get other artists to submit their art because obviously you wanna pay an artist well for their work and you wanna pay them a deserved amount. So just starting out, it’s a little difficult, but ideally, I want artists to have creative freedom and to be able to do whatever it is they wanna do, so for now, I just have my own vision, my own designs, but eventually I wanna open up other, like, I guess, sets you could call them of clothing, where other artists put their own designs in and then it goes into that section.

Pierson: Gotcha, so that’s more of a long-term plan rather than what your business model is currently.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly. Once I start making a decent amount of money off of it, it will be easier to sustain more artists.

Pierson: So what serves as your personal inspiration for the aesthetic of this?

Ryan: Basically, as far as anything that I have designed or put up on the website, I wanna make sure that everything I put up there is something that I would wear myself, so while I am looking to provide cool clothing for other people, I also wanted to provide to myself.

Brandon: So in a way, you’re using yourself as a test audience.

Ryan: Pretty much, yeah.

Pierson: I think that that’s a good sign of anything is showing like the creators should want to use and represent what they do, and if you as a creator, co-creator of Leviathan are saying, “I don’t wanna put out a product that I personally wouldn’t wear,” I think that that’s a fail-safe way to ensure you are putting out quality products.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly, it’s good quality control and it’s good to be proud of what you produce as well.

Brandon: Absolutely, and while I will always advocate for forms of research like looking at what’s on Amazon and looking at… And doing little Facebook ad testing and stuff like that, if you don’t know where to start and you just wanna get a business going, just creating something that you want to see is actually a pretty good way of going about it, because odds are, your desires are not that unusual, like somebody else will probably want the kind of thing that you’re making, and you find out more as you create something ’cause just the act of creating a prototype gets something out there for review by other people, and then you can pivot from there.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly. Even small exposure at first is still a really good exposure ’cause then you get people telling you, “Hey man, I like the designs, keep it up.” And you get feedback.

Brandon: Yeah, and maybe… And even if it were to take like 4 or 500 designs to get one that really, really works, just starting, creating design just increases your odds of making one that really, really resonates over time as well.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly. Trial and error.

Brandon: I will always advocate for the church of trial and error. Actually, I think that to give our listeners a little more context, Pierson, could you describe some of the art that you’re seeing on the store so that folks can kind of understand what we’re talking about?

Pierson: Why don’t we have Ryan? Are you available to kinda describe some of the art and are you at a place that you can look at some of the merch you’ve got online and kinda walk us through it?

Ryan: Yeah, I could just pull it up on my lap… Or my desktop right here, and then we can go through them. So are there any designs in particular you wanted to start with?

Brandon: Let’s start with this Demon Street hoodie.

Ryan: Demon Street hoodie, so that one there was actually… That’s not the full design of it, there was actually a huge intricate design, but my artist has… He gets attached to certain art pieces, and so he doesn’t want to produce the whole thing, but he lets me isolate graphics out of them, and I figured isolating the… In Japan, it’s called an Oni, which is like a demon. I figured isolating the demon graphic with a little bit of the graffiti around it as well, would create a nice aesthetic for the name Demon Street.

Pierson: Yeah, when I saw your site, this is the piece of clothing that I immediately was like, “Whoa, that’s sick.” ’cause the demon mask is something… And I bring it back for me for tattoos because that’s something that I personally am into, and especially like the Japanese style of tattooing is very, very specific and as well as Japanese art. It’s very identifiable, and I see this and I’m just like, “This is so sick.” And all of the Japanese aesthetic of all of it, it’s beautiful. Is he inspired mainly by Japanese work?

Ryan: Yeah, we’re both fans of Japanese culture and Japanese media. So we find a lot of our inspiration there.

Brandon: Yeah, it definitely comes through in the product.

Ryan: And the whole artwork was very nice as well.

Brandon: Yeah, definitely so, and I also noticed while on here that you’ve got this in eight, 10, 12, 14, 16 different colors, which again, is one of those interesting things that can happen only because you’re dropshipping, you can apply this art to basically any color-based hoodie that you want.

Ryan: Yeah, that’s the goal. We want people to be able to choose the color that they want, because I find that when the artist or the website chooses the color for you, it removes a certain layer of personability and personal preference.

Brandon: And while there is a case for that in some situations, especially if you’re… Especially when you’re first experimenting and you just wanna see what takes, it’s awesome to be able to have a whole bunch of different choices and see what people gravitate toward, ’cause if four years down the line, you wanted to start producing some of these in the States, or if you wanna just start holding inventory, you could say, “Well, the red ones and the blue ones and the black ones, they do really, really well, and I need to get them in these sizes.” And you would actually know.

Ryan: Yeah, it makes for good market research at the same time.

Brandon: Yes. You’re collecting good data. I also think it’s very smart that you’ve got the pocket, the hoodie size, like the actual length of it and the sleeve length all spelled out in a diagram, so that there’s little guess work in terms of how it’s gonna fit you when you buy it.

Ryan: Yeah, it’s as good as you can get without actually trying the product on.

Brandon: Yeah, definitely, and you wanna reduce returns as much as you possibly can because they’re just kind of a pain, and doing something like that is very smart because it can cut your return rate in half, which will save you tons and tons of money.

Ryan: Exactly, it saves me money and time. And it saves the customer hassle as well.

Pierson: So let’s change items real quick, and let me ask you about some of these designs like the cruise control, whether that be… I’m looking at the long sleeve shirt right now, but I’m assuming you’ve got that in a sweatshirt too. So what’s up with some of these more almost futuristic-looking designs of like the afternoon tea, which is… It looks like a tea cup and I’m not clicking on them or just kinda scrolling through the outside of them, and then you’ve got the stargazer and pens and needles, pretty much that whole line of clothing, it’s almost a more futuristic vibe to it.

Ryan: Yeah, I very much like the future punk and the cyberpunk kind of aesthetic, and so I’m very much a fan of existential art and just like very interesting, unique and alternative styles like that.

Pierson: For sure. Now, let me ask, are you… Do you draw a lot of inspiration from music?

Ryan: I do, yes.

Pierson: What type of music do you listen to?

Ryan: Personally, I listen to a lot of genres. It can be anything from death metal to hip-hop, to alternative rock. I pretty much cover all the bases there.

Pierson: Yeah. I can get those vibes, especially from the Scream Bloody Gore shirt, that’s the kind of stuff that I feel like I’d see at a harder rock show and that’s also the kind of stuff that I’m into and it fits the scene. You seem to really nail this look that you’re trying to come across.

Ryan: Yeah, and I appreciate you saying that. It’s good to hear that I’m hitting the nail on the head there.

Pierson: For sure.

Brandon: Yeah, it’s got that like… I have been struggling to put into words exactly what you’re doing, but now that you mention music, these futuristic ones have almost like a vaporwave look to them, if that even makes sense. I’m not sure how much people are even talking about that anymore. But you’ve got the pastels and you’ve got images kind of collaged together and a surrealist look to it. [chuckle]

Ryan: Yeah, I agree. The best example of the vaporwave aesthetic would be the Helter Skelter design.

Brandon: Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s definitely got the vaporwave look to it.

Ryan: That’s one of my favorites actually, that one.

Pierson: Yeah, that transitions perfectly. Do you have a couple of pieces of clothing on here that you think are your favorites?

Ryan: I’d have to say that my favorite on the whole website would be the Goddess of Dreams design.

Pierson: Yeah, I was just on that one looking at it, and that is insane. This art that’s on it is just so cool.

Ryan: Yeah, I’ve been ordering samples for people that I know and photographers, so we can get some good sample pictures up on the website, and every time I do, I always order a shirt for myself as well to slowly add to my collection.

Brandon: Yeah, I actually just found this one, I’m looking at it myself. You’ve got a psychedelic array of colors on here.

Ryan: Yeah, and it’s very nice and it’s got the geisha look from Japanese history and all that.

Pierson: What got you into Japanese art and that culture?

Ryan: When I was a kid, I used to visit my grandparents in their nursing home a lot, and my parents used to have these moments where they’d go and talk to them in a separate room or whatever, so me and my older brother would just be left to our devices in the TV room, and they had an anime channel on there with Dragon Ball, One Piece, all that stuff. So I grew up watching that.

Pierson: Okay, so like anime is kind of the root of your interest, that initial interest in Japanese culture and…

Ryan: Yeah, exactly. That’s what kickstarted it.

Pierson: Yeah. I think for a lot of people, that’s a great entrance into it. And for me personally, anime was something that I had never really taken the time to explore until I went to Japan and I saw how ingrained in that culture it is, and it makes you appreciate it. And I came back and I watched a few different series, I watched Death Note, which I think is a very classic anime that everybody talks about that I know, and it’s just like you appreciate it and you see it in a different way, having gained that perspective, and it’s super cool.

Ryan: Yeah, you gain a new perspective when you experience it.

Brandon: And it’s interesting that this is… The classic anime is actually old enough now for people to be really nostalgic about it, especially the stuff that came out around the ’90s, late ’90s, early 2000s.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly. It’s just been around for so long that there is so much room to reminisce about it.

Brandon: Yeah, and then people see something that reminds them of it in that kind of vague foggy way and… It’s attractive. It’s immediately attractive.

Ryan: Yeah, and that’s sort of the note that we’re also trying to hit with these designs. We’re trying to have people remember all those times that they were watching it and reminisce about it, and then express that enjoyment through their clothing.

Pierson: Yeah, clothing is such a… Your style and your personal style for so many people, it’s their identity, and it’s who they… Their image means so much. And it matters to me. I’m very conscious of what I wear and what I want to represent, and a big thing for me is wanting to be different and not just wearing the same things as everybody else. And I see all of the stuff that you’ve got on Leviathan, and it makes me think like, “Wow, this is different.” And that’s, for me, that’s what I want to gravitate towards. And I’m instantly drawn to stuff that showcases art and really talented artists that are producing really cool graphics. It’s like that’s the kind of stuff that I personally want to wear and represent.

Ryan: Yeah, and that’s exactly the mindset that I had going into it. To get off on a tangent a little bit here, I’m assuming you guys are aware of Supreme, right?

Pierson: Yes.

Ryan: So I detest that brand because just hundreds of dollars for a red box with a word in it on a shirt.

Pierson: Yeah. [chuckle]

Ryan: I’m sorry. I might as well just burn my money at that point.

[laughter]

Brandon: Shots fired. Yeah, and it’s devoid of creativity and it’s… From a marketing perspective, I’m impressed that they can manage to get people to pay so much for something so simple. But you just kinda look at it and you’re like, “Huh, there’s really nothing to it, is there?”

Pierson: Yesterday… It’s funny you said Supreme, Ryan. Yesterday, I was in an antique store and for whatever reason, they had a cabinet that had Supreme stuff in it, and it was a set of mugs, like four mugs for $150 that just said “Supreme” on them. On each mug, it just said “Supreme”. And I’m like, you mean to tell me… And they’re not big mugs. They don’t look super high quality, just regular small espresso mugs is what it looked like for 150 bucks.

Brandon: Oh, good grief.

Ryan: Through the purveyors that I use, I have the resources to literally re-create that if I wanted to. So it just shows how devoid of creativity it is, I can open Photoshop and recreate that logo in like five seconds.

Brandon: But on the flip side, it does give you a chance to make something that’s genuinely interesting and creative, sell it at a lower price, and then kind of pull some market share slowly and gradually away from that because people maybe are looking for something more creative and interesting.

Ryan: Exactly. And that’s why our t-shirts are only 20 American, because I wanted to keep it at an amount that’s affordable. So the higher-end designs are a little bit more expensive, but I want everybody to be able to get something.

Pierson: That’s the other thing that I instantly notice is like, for going back to the Demon Street sweatshirt, you see something like that and with a graphic on it, and the quality of the art, mixed with the fact that it’s a sweatshirt, for so many companies, I feel like a product similar to that would go for 65-70 bucks. So you guys are in an affordable range for people to say, “Oh okay, not only am I gonna get one hoodie, but I’m gonna get a couple and maybe a t-shirt, all for under 100 US dollars.

Ryan: Exactly, and that’s the idea.

Brandon: Because you’re having these manufactured overseas and then shipped directly to customers, has coronavirus messed with that at all? I know you’ve started this recently in the last couple of months, but have there been any hurdles that you wouldn’t have expected to encounter earlier?

Ryan: Well, COVID did actually affect shipping times, but our production company is actually based in the US. So it hasn’t been as bad. Getting some samples to cross over the border to Canada to get to me took a while ’cause they have a backlog at the border. But aside from that, it’s been pretty smooth sailing.

Brandon: That’s good because I’ve been working on some board game projects and we have had the hardest time getting samples out of China lately, or even getting responses from manufacturers. So it’s really good that you’ve been able to avoid that problem, that by having the manufacturing done in the States.

Ryan: Yeah, the Shopify, I guess portal you’d call it, they have a bunch of different purveyors and companies that you can use, but I wanted to use one local so that we wouldn’t have to worry about shipping times being more than a week and stuff like that.

Brandon: And while it does probably eat into your profits, I will say there was a pretty massive change to postal pricing in the last couple of months, I don’t know if it affects Canada or not, but it sure does with the US, where they basically made it really, really expensive to import certain… To have items shipped from China and other similar countries to the States, and of course, you can question the reasons for that, but point was it was actually really bad for dropshipping ’cause it just made it prohibitively expensive for a lot of people to import goods. And again, you’ve managed to sidestep that, thank goodness, because you’re getting the benefits of this business model without the actual hassles that have been thrown at people lately.

Ryan: Yeah, that’s one of the other reasons why I chose local because I don’t like the idea of paying a lot of taxes for something that shouldn’t really be taxed that much.

Brandon: Yeah, yeah, that makes sense too. Thankfully… I think starting a business like post-coronavirus gives you the chance to avoid a lot of the supply chain mistakes that people have made. I mean not even just taxes, although yeah, that too, but [chuckle] there’s a lot of people who are just not ready for what happened because they didn’t think about things like shipping time if a disruption occurred.

Ryan: Yeah, and it’s interesting to have started this all during COVID because it’s been very interesting. The shipping either takes months or days. There’s no in-between.

Pierson: COVID has messed up things that you would never expect for it to mess up, like book reviewers have three-month backlogs because people cannot… Authors cannot go to events because of COVID and therefore are soliciting more book reviews. Stuff like this is happening, so you never know what’s gonna get delayed. [chuckle] Being able to circumvent that is remarkable.

Ryan: Yeah, and it’s funny ’cause in Canada, we closed a whole bunch of businesses like right as the COVID started. So I actually ended up losing my job in that first little bit, but eventually after a couple of months, we opened back up. But it was still kind of interesting to see how I was gonna run a business while not having a job at the same time.

Brandon: Oh God, I have a similar story as well. I still am working a day job for a hospital in the area, I do technical stuff, and I’ve been working from home for six months, but there was a stretch of time for about three months where I was doing half of my normal hours on half of my normal salary. It was getting really dicey during that time because there was also some stuff that happened, like my wife was unable to earn her check as well. There’s a much longer story there. And for a brief moment, we were making a quarter of what we were used to. It was getting really scary. I wasn’t sure how things were gonna work out. And then thankfully, like the digital marketing business, like the actual stuff we’re doing with Pangea Marketing started filling in that gap pretty quickly. But there was a time in late March, early April, where we had no idea how things were going to shake out that we couldn’t have possibly known.

Ryan: Yeah, the whole unpredictability aspect of COVID is what really gets to me the most.

Brandon: Yes, that’s the worst part of it. You don’t know if a store is gonna be open, you don’t know what the business you’re working in is going to look like. Even if it looks good on the surface, there’s often ugly stuff under the surface. Like shipping, for example, they’ve had a wonderful last handful of months because massive increase in the e-commerce orders, but also health and safety restrictions, legitimately, it’s become a legitimately dangerous job, hazard pay, [chuckle] there’s all that kind of stuff, shortages that you can’t imagine on items that you would never think you’d run out of. And all that’s under the surface.

Ryan: Yeah, you don’t really get to see it that much until you experience it. I’m fortunate enough to live with a couple of high school friends, so we split the rent, so it’s not as bad. But… And also thank God that Canada had a system called CERB, where if you lost your job directly due to COVID, you received support from the government.

Brandon: Oh, thank goodness. Yeah, that helps a lot.

Ryan: Yeah, and luckily, I qualified because my workplace closed because of COVID. So I had that to keep me on my feet till I got my job back.

Brandon: We had a rough and ready version of that where we all got 1,200 bucks… Well, everybody who was making under a certain level of income got 1,200 bucks, and they expanded unemployment benefits in some states, but it was also really hard to actually get your hands on the check.

Ryan: Yeah, I didn’t experience it myself, but I heard that there were some very, very complicated happenings surrounding that.

Brandon: Yes, [chuckle] to put it lightly. Yes.

Pierson: So Ryan, let me go back to something we were talking about a little bit ago, and kinda going over some of the designs and inspiration. There was one that I didn’t get the chance to ask you about that I wanted to ask kind of the background on, and that’s Death’s Presence. It looks like it’s got almost like a sci-fi type, lore-esque vibe to it, and I think that that’s one of the only pieces that I’ve seen that doesn’t fall into that psychedelic, futuristic look or the heavy… Like the Scream Bloody Gore shirt, or even the Demon Street. What’s the back story on that?

Ryan: So this one was… Basically, my artist sent me a folder of a bunch of designs that he had so that I could pick and choose some, see which one I wanted. And this one, it just really reached out to me because I like the idea of death and the grim reaper and all that stuff, but I find it so overdone in a certain way, like everybody, when they have a rendition of it, it’s always the same thing. So I liked the idea of the way that they were two triangular shapes, one of them being death and one of them being a follower, and just the whole aesthetic of it pleased me very much.

Pierson: It’s a different look, and I’ve not seen it portrayed in that light. And I think that it sounds like that’s what you’re going for. But I really appreciate just the creativity behind all of the clothing that you’ve got on the site. The attention to detail of the art that’s on each piece of clothing and what that represents, and just overall, how you’re supporting creativity and doing things differently, I think that that’s, to me, one of the things that matters the most is doing things that are stimulating, things that are making people’s wheels turn in a way that they’re not used to turning.

Brandon: We can really relate to that goal.

Ryan: Yeah, and art is a creative outlet, and so I don’t want to staunch anybody’s creative outlet.

Brandon: Absolutely. And Pierson, I’m sure you picked this up, but this is more or less what we do as well. We have very different approaches, you and I, Ryan, because you’re making clothing with different art styles, and we’re doing button and suit and tie marketing stuff, but ultimately, the goal is to get somebody’s creative and interesting work and share that with the world in the loudest way possible. I think it’s kind of cool that we’re doing the same basic thing in a very different way.

Ryan: Mm-hmm. And I find artists tend to be an under-appreciated group of people, so it’s good that they get the recognition they deserve.

Pierson: We actually… And I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but feel free to check it out, in I think a couple episodes back, we interviewed two of the people that tattoo me, English and Christopher Cousins, and they’re incredible artists in their own right, but they’re also incredible tattoo artists, and they’re even better people. And I think that, Brandon, what you were just talking about, about this is what we are trying to go forward to, I think that what you just said in showing people that we’re doing the same thing even though it looks a little bit differently in how we execute that, I think that that was always our overarching goal with this podcast is to show everyone just how, even though that Ryan is in clothing manufacturing and we’re in marketing, our end goals are similar, and what we’re really striving for are on the same plane, we’re just going about executing it in a different way.

Pierson: And I think that with people taking the time to understand how similar we all are, and our ambitions really aren’t that far apart, I think that’s what the world needs right now, is we need people to understand that we are all alike, we all share similar interests and ambitions and goals. And it’s interesting to see how different people from all walks of life, whether that be clothing, manufacturing, CBD stores, tattoo artists, they’re searching for that creative outlet that they can share what they do in an uninterrupted way, and people will receive that. And I think that that’s probably the coolest thing to recognize from talking to you and from having the opportunity to talk to all of the other guests that we’ve had on so far, is you see these similarities within all different walks of life, and it’s really cool and it’s reassuring.

Brandon: This is why I like podcasting as a medium, because it is probably the most humanizing medium that I can think of. If you listen to somebody explain themselves and their thoughts and their passions and interests for an hour at a time, you really get to know what makes them tick and what makes them special.

Ryan: Yeah, it gives you really deep insight into how a person thinks and how they feel.

Pierson: That’s exactly why podcasting is so well-received. And I think so many people have gravitated towards podcasting across all fields. You see… One thing that I’m personally into aside from tattoos is MMA. You see a ton of guys in mixed martial arts transitioning into getting into podcasts. They’re doing that not necessarily because they need the revenue from having a successful podcast. They’re doing that because they want an outlet that they can voice their opinion in an uninterrupted way and they can convey how they feel. Because I think that people are… All of us, I’m guilty of it, I know that for the most part, everybody probably is to a degree of seeing one thing and generalizing that to be the whole truth. And you see it a lot on social media where someone sees or they read something and they think, “Oh, that’s true, ’cause I saw it online.” And I think that when you take the time to really go in-depth about a subject, you can articulate your thoughts better, you can come across in the way that not only you wanna come across, but that’s gonna be received the way that you want it to be received. And for a lot of people, this is the best way to do it.

Pierson: For me, I can verbalize far better than I can write or in any other way. I’m a talker, and for me, that’s how I communicate to people the best. So it’s a great outlet for that.

Ryan: I was just gonna say, I’ve considered starting podcasts just about things that I enjoy or things I’ve experienced and all that, but I need to get better equipment and stuff to do that first. But it’s definitely something I’ve explored.

Brandon: It really is not as hard as it used to be. Like what we use, we use microphones that are roughly $60-$70 each. Pierson’s got a condenser mic from Amazon, I’ve got a Blue Snowball and this Zencastr tool which we’re recording on right now is like 12 bucks a month, and it records everybody on a separate track so that we can edit it. We edit it in Audacity, which is cheap, actually free, you don’t have to pay for Audacity, period. And then we upload it to Buzzsprout, which is about $12 a month and it does all the hosting for us. Couldn’t be easier. Yeah, yeah, I mean there is… You can pay for fancy podcast editing software, and we may actually do this in the near future just to keep labor costs down, but actually it’s a really accessible medium, more accessible than video, and it’s right up there with blogging with things you can just start at any time.

Ryan: Yeah, exactly. I see what you’re saying.

Pierson: And on top of that, I think a big part of it currently is, with all of us trapped inside and abiding by regulations in where we can go out, how we go out, what we have to wear when we go out, nobody’s expecting a five-star audio quality podcast from your home. And I think for a lot of people, if they’re interested in getting into something for the first time, this is a fantastic time to do it because we’re all kind of in the same boat, it gives you the opportunity to explore a different medium if you haven’t experimented with podcasting. And it’s something that we had talked about for a long time, well before we ever decided to start Marketing is the Product Podcast, I had expressed interest in having my own podcast, as had Brandon. It’s a great time to do it. And you’ve gotta try to think, “How can I make the most of this situation, given the hand that we’re dealt?” And I think that this is a great way to do it and utilize that.

Brandon: Yeah, we’ve been talking about this since COVID was a twinkle in a bat’s eye, but the actual virus is what made us take the plunge. [chuckle] We just decided, “You know what, screw it. We’re locked inside. Let’s just do this thing.”

Ryan: Yeah, it’s good that you guys made the jump. Congratulations, eh?

Brandon: Well, thank you.

Pierson: I personally do not have any other questions for you, Ryan. Brandon, do you have anything else?

Brandon: I don’t have anything else. I think this has been fun. I like hearing about just the fact that you’re setting up a store to let artists show off their work. That’s really cool.

Ryan: Yeah, it was an idea that I had where I wanted to also donate to charities and give back to communities, and I also wanted to have contests held in communities that need more help, so then that way I can employ artists and give them a chance to get their artwork out there and make a name for themselves.

Pierson: Dude, that’s so cool. Everything that I’ve heard about this brand makes me like it and support it more, not just from the aesthetic of it, but from your reasoning behind why you’re doing that. Your long-term goals for Leviathan, I think it’s everything that should be present when starting your own small company. So congratulations to you, dude. You are killing it.

Ryan: And thank you, I appreciate all the kind words and I appreciate you guys having me on.

Brandon: Absolutely. I would love to hear what you’re doing in like a year or two, see what happens with this, or if any projects spring off from it, and maybe we can record again.

Ryan: Yeah, I’d love that. That’d be great.

Brandon: Alright, thank you for listening to Marketing is the Product Podcast. If you like this, please leave a five-star review on Apple Podcasts, we really, really appreciate that. You can read our blog posts on marketingistheproduct.com. This podcast is sponsored by the Pangea Marketing Agency. And if you like this podcast, you can subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, pretty much anywhere else that you get your podcasts. Thank you very much for listening in. Talk to you later.

Pierson: See you guys.

Ryan: See you

Categories: Podcast

5 Comments

Kakhaber Khmelidze · September 21, 2020 at 4:57 pm

I am a newbie at Shopify. Thanks for the info.

Michael DeFren · September 22, 2020 at 9:30 am

great info an love the hoodie

Shellie Clark · September 23, 2020 at 12:37 am

Thanks

Sandy Weinstein · September 29, 2020 at 5:19 pm

i am not a big fan of shopify. i get their emails. i think it maybe good for start up companies to get noticed though.

Brandon Sparks · October 2, 2020 at 9:23 pm

I really want that hoodie.. Thanks for the great info..

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