Skateboard cool, edgy cats and rawness are just a few terms that embody the SANK. Apparel brand. SANK. Apparel is a streetwear brand that incorporates expression and grittiness into graphic tees designed by local artists. What started as an idea between two Philly friends and a love for their twin cats, turned into a business. Founders Mike Ferry and Lisa Franco hope that SANK. Apparel will re-invent the way we see streetwear. Co-founder Lisa Franco shares with us successful marketing strategies, overcoming bad press and plans for the future of SANK. Apparel.
TM:Where did you and your business partner meet and what inspired you to begin SANK. Apparel?
Lisa Franco: Mike and I met 9 years ago in high school. We were really into the skate/music community and always wanted to do something in the streetwear industry. I went to school in Philadelphia for Fashion Marketing, so last November, when we wanted to start our own company, we knew we wanted to do something that we grew up loving. We knew we could make an impact in streetwear because our visions are different from what is out there now. We wanted to make something that was more then just graphic t-shirts with abstract and meaningless designs. We wanted to make art.
While some people name their brands after relatives or deceased loved ones, SANK. is named after your twin cats Sam and Hank. Why did you name your brand after your cats?
Both of us are animal lovers, so naturally we have adopted pets. Though countless people say this, our cats truly are different. They have personality and individual uniqueness that make them stand out and make them unforgettable. Coincidentally, these traits are exactly what we wanted in our brand, so naming the company after them seemed natural.
What is the core message of your brand?
SANK. Apparel is designed for the risk takers, the trendsetters, skaters, street artist, underground musicians and those with a passion for graphic t-shirts. Everyone in those communities, and more will find a home within the SANK. apparel line. Originality is key, but will get you nowhere if it isn’t heartfelt. SANK. Apparel strives to create t-shirt concepts that are fresh, exciting and authentically ours. SANK. apparel is more then just a brand it is a lifestyle with aesthetic that is out of the ordinary, daring and edgy- qualities which every unique individual should hold dear.
How does the collaboration process with local artists & friends play out?
It’s beneficial for everybody. We have these artists who have exceptional talent, and we want it to be seen and appreciated by as many people as possible. Instead of these artworks sitting in a portfolio, we love the idea that we are giving them the chance to be seen by thousands of people everyday. When you wear a t-shirt that stands out, people look at it and remember it. And that’s exactly what we’re aiming for.
With a social media heavy culture, you’re brand does not only rely on online sources for brand promotion. What are some of the methods you have used to market your brand?
While we do consider social media a vital aspect of our marketing, SANK. Apparel is also promoted locally through our sponsored skaters, and interns, as well as using sticker and other marketing campaigns to reach local customers. We also do local events with bands in the area while promoting our brand. SANK. apparel continues to actively execute guerrilla marketing strategies throughout the city and suburbs of Philadelphia.
How do you go about organizing events/parties for your brand and how successful is this in terms of brand awareness and sales?
While in college I worked closely with event companies, fashion week and concert promoters. When we put together our events, I use skills that I learned over the years, starting with local bands that I know from the community as well as local venues. Once we have a line-up and concept we start promoting awareness through local coffee shops, colleges, social media and word of mouth. Our first event was last September with 6 performing acts and almost 200 people coming out (on a Wednesday night) to a local venue in Philadelphia- Kung Fu Necktie. Overall, for our first event, having only one month to promote, and selling over 10 times our expected sales, I think it was a very successful night.
This past summer SANK. Apparel received bad press for a misunderstood marketing agenda. How do you handle bad press and what did you learn from this experience?
When we first heard that such a major media outlet was covering this story, we honestly expected bad press. The media rarely likes to cover positive stories, and we knew that they would have a field day with ours.
For those that didn’t catch the story, there was a misunderstanding between a couple thousand catnip-filled baggies in the streets, and a major drug panic throughout Philadelphia (who would make that mistake?). In the end we handled it well, because we knew the individuals that are the right fit for our brand made no mistake in our intentions. What we did was bold and different, like our clothing, and our fans expect no less. (For a complete story on the media coverage, anybody can check it out on our blog.)
Moving forward, what do you plan to accomplish this upcoming year?
This year we plan to release 3 new collections with incredible artwork along with several very special release shirts, and build a strong awareness in the skate community with our skate team by entering local contests. We also will be planning spring, summer and fall events in the local area. In terms of overall growth in the company, we are consistently in contact with local skate shops as well as well known streetwear companies such as Zumiez, Urban Outfitters, Tilly’s and Pacsun, which has been very successful so far in such a short time.
If you could pick a few well known bands or performers to promote SANK. Apparel, who would they be?
Because SANK. apparel is such a diverse brand and we are fans of such a wide range of music artists, we look to bands/performers that have an influence on the generation that are just as unique as we are, including, but far from limited to: Kanye West, Tigers Jaw, La dispute, Lily Allen, Lana Del Rey, Davey Havok, Transit and New Found Glory.
It would be awesome to see Sank Apparel on popular music icons!
Where can we buy SANK. Apparel today?
SANK apparel is available online through SANKapparel.com also in shops local to us- Knack in Philadelphia, PA and The Comic Station in Haddon Heights, NJ.
Thank you for sharing Lisa. Best of luck on your journey!
Visit SANKapparel.com to shop the latest collection.