Local Advancers is a fresh new streetwear brand influenced by hip hop, street culture and vintage military aesthetics. Young entrepreneur and artist Peter Takis founded the brand when he was just 14. By age 16, Local Advancers became well known around the U.S. and Canada. We had the opportunity to catch up with Peter Takis and learn about his come up in the t-shirt industry.
TM: In only a year Local Advancers has blown up! Did you imagine it would be as successful as it is in this point of your life?
Peter Takis: Thanks so much for the interview guys, love this site. I’m very thankful for the rapid growth seen with Local Advancers, but there is simply no such thing as blowing up. It’s all about progression, whether it be slow or fast. The work put in and risks taken determine that ultimately. I feel content with where the brand has gone now that I’m 17, but looking forward I’m going to keep working really hard to maintain the momentum.
TM: What motivated you to take upon the challenge of running your own clothing brand at such a young age?
PT: Honestly I was so passionate about Canadian streetwear and hip hop music. I felt the only way I’d be happy is if I surrounded myself with that culture and people 24/7. That’s why I started a brand. It motivates me now seeing that 2 years ago my city had a very under developed streetwear scene and today young kids are selling screen printed tees out of their lockers in nearly every high school. It’s incredible!
TM: Wow! Sounds like you’ve become a role-model to these kids. What is the concept behind Local Advancers?
PT: It’s a mindset man, the whole concept is to show kids to rep their city with pride and advance it at all costs. I was super inspired by my mentor – a promoter and club owner, Stephen Hua. When Winnipeg was constantly being put down for our lack of nightlife and events a few years back, he didn’t pack up and leave. He stuck up for the city and advanced it, bringing in huge artists weekly, like Drake, Tyga, Skrillex and Mac Miller. That’s what it’s all about! Local Advancers is about improving and being proud, not moving and hating.
TM: What challenges did you face when financing your brand since your parents didn’t want to invest their money when you first started?
PT: That was the hugest obstacle. Not my age or lack of experience, but inability to get a job or money on my own. I applied at literally every McDonalds in Winnipeg, MULTIPLE TIMES. But I was 14 and to make it worse I looked 12. So they laughed when I’d drop off a resume. Finally after breaking out of my comfort zone and working odd jobs, I had a few bucks for a few shirts. Luckily people liked them and allowed me to keep re-investing.
TM: What were some of the steps you took to gain knowledge about the industry and help your business grow?
PT: I read books all the time. I also screwed up a lot too, from my behavior to my financials, but making those mistakes and not running from them shaped what you see today.
TM: Who are some of your greatest inspirations?
PT: Man my city, my mentors, my fans, my friends and my family. Everyone inspires me! My good friend D-Pryde (rapper) is also a huge inspiration at age 18 to be touring the world rapping.
TM: A few shirts in your Summer 2012 Collection have the phrase “Support Local Hip Hop”. How much of an impact has hip hop played on you and your brand?
PT: Yeah the brand really boomed because of J Cole wearing our tee in Toronto. Everyone knows that story, so I won’t bore you guys. But after guys like J Cole, Mac Miller and Royce Da 5’9 showed love wearing gear in pictures and videos, I had an “ah ha” moment where I realized we’re “LOCAL Advancers” not “Mainstream Hip-Hop Advancers”. I even got seriously down on myself after that. Called myself a sellout and all [Laughter], but thankfully after a few short months of focus on my city we’re now worn and respected by just about every local rapper in town. I couldn’t be happier.
TM: Being new and young in any industry, many fall prey to scammers. Have you run across scammers attempting to make business deals with you? If so, how were you able to distinguish them?
PT: Yeah, mostly since I’ve become heavily involved in the nightlife industry too. There are definitely some shady people and I’ve ended business relationships with people that lie. The reality is everyone has an opinion, everyone wants more money and some lime light. So let’s all get it as a team, stay honest and we’re good.
TM: What advice do you have for other teens out there that have big dreams for starting a clothing line but have parents that rather they focus on school?
PT: Life is too short. Do something you’re happy about doing every day. Do something you genuinely love. Don’t live your parents dream. Truth is I’m now going through a yearlong course to have my real estate license so I can sell homes. I did it for my parents to have some peace in their life, knowing I have something to fall back on. Making your parents happy is good, but you’ll never be happy yourself if you’re not selfish with your dreams.
TM: What plans do you have for your brand in the next few years? Are there any brands you wish to collaborate with?
PT: Yes! Looks like we’re doing a collab with Dannie Riel very soon, look out for that in winter. Also focused on collabs with charities, believe it or not. I have a large network now, so in between my never ending spam [Laughter], I like to push select charities I ‘m involved in!
TM: When can we expect your next collection?
PT: New gear is now live. I am dropping a special surprise very, very soon however, so stay tuned on that!