Broke and Stoked was founded in Montreal, Canada by former record label owner Dede. After working in the music industry for years, he searched for a different outlet to showcase his talent. With a couple of bucks in his pocket and hunger for a new hit, Dede was on the verge of making one of the greatest career changes of his life. He teamed up with his long time friend and graphic designer Edith to create Broke and Stoked. The brand celebrates laughing through rough times with grim comedy t-shirts, drinking patches, pins and flasks.
In an exclusive interview, Dede opens up about how being broke drove him to a successful t-shirt venture.
How did the concept for Broke & Stoked come about?
At the very beginning, I didn’t have any specific concept in mind. I just wanted to do whatever I wanted regardless of any rules. I don’t really know anything about the clothing industry and I’ve never really planned to work in it either. I just wanna do what I feel like doing as long as I’m having fun doing it. You know ?
What does it mean to be broke and stoked?
Well I think it’s pretty simple. It’s about PMA (positive mental attitude). You might be broke but you don’t have to be mad about it. The way you react in those situations is your choice and your choice only. I complain about a lot of things but never about money.
Have you ever experienced hard financial times? If so, how did you get through them?
Absolutely, I used to work in the music industry, I had a small record label. I was so poor during that time. I remember going on a Cross-Canadian tour with only $14 in my pocket for a three week run. I found some really cheap white shirts and spray painted the logo of my record label at the time on them and sold them at $5 a piece so I could afford food from day to day. When the nights were good I could even afford a couples beers, best times. Back in 2009, the guitar player of the band I was working with and I went to this place where they pay you to test some new drugs to see if they’re good enough to be on the market. We stayed there for 2 or 3 weeks I think, then used the money to finance our first Euro tour. I never told my mother about that, hah.
What has been a vital step to getting your business up and running?
Honestly it was pretty easy. I’ve been working for years with Edith (Boucher), she was the graphic designer for my record label and other projects. I’ve been in charge of printing shirts for some bands so I was kinda used to the way it works. I had this idea now for a long time about creating my own stuff. One day I got bored to the point that I really needed a new project to focus on. I think the hardest part was to find a name for the brand.
At the startup phase of Broke & Stoked, I’m sure you went through tons of ideas of what products to sell. What things didn’t make the cut and why?
Yup, at first I wanted to do some silkscreen printing but then decided to focus on the clothing to start. I’m sure I’ll do a poster or two at some point but since we kinda have a good buzz going around right now I just want to come out with more shirts and keep the ball rolling.
How were you able to create/grow a community of people that love the philosophy of the brand?
Well I think our product speaks for itself, I mean, there’s no attitude, no girly model in underwear. I hate the fashion industry for that. Everything seems so fake to me. All brands descriptions are like: “(insert brand name here) is not a brand, it’s a lifestyle that blablabla.” Let’s just cut the bullshit, our website is pretty simple, no fancy pictures, what you see is what you get. I believe our people get that and want to be part of it. It’s all about having fun!
What has the response from customers and fans been like?
Way better than I could of ever imagined. Honestly when I started the brand I was kinda scared, I was like ”okay, I’ll probably sell 4 shirts to my friends and nobody else will care” But within a month I sold a good amount of shirts and a huge load of that Drinking Club patch. Fans are writing me every week telling me their stories. I had this girl buy a Heart Attack Enthusiast shirt for her boyfriend who just had a heart problem. And a girl at the postal office was just telling me she had a match on tinder with a guy because he was wearing a B&S shirt on his profile. Hearing peoples stories make my day every time.
Do you plan on collaborating with musicians, artists or other brands in the future?
We have this Fast Food, Fast Music shirt going on right now with our friends at Pouzza Fest, a really cool punk fest in Montreal. I’ve been approached by other brands for some cool projects. Nothing is set in stone yet but hopefully something will happen at some point. There’s some bands I’d like to work with as well. I didn’t even get in touch with them yet. I just been so busy that I don’t really have the time yet but that’s something I’d like to do more next year.
What advice do you have for budding entrepreneurs?
Stay true, don’t play any games, be nice to people and eventually some good things will happen.
What can we expect from Broke & Stoked in the upcoming months?
We just released a new collection on Sept 22th. We will go out, do some pop up shop and festival. That’s about it. Also working on a lookbook, and eventually get our shirts in some stores. And of course, more shirts!
Visit BrokeandStokedCo.com for their latest gear!
Want to hire Broke & Stoked’s graphic designer Edith Boucher?
Check her out at EdithBoucher.com
Photo Credits: Christine Lortie