Invest In Yourself: Brandon Maurice
There is this weird pocket of time somewhere in between your teenage years and your mid-20s where your only job is to discover. Discover new places and new people. Try, fail, then try again. This is the time for self-discovery and self-reflection. During this time when you are trying to cultivate your unique voice one can get bogged down by these sort of self-loathing thoughts. I’m not even that talented. Who cares what I have to say. I don’t have the means. Everything has already been done. It is here at this very moment in time that separates the dreamers from the creatives. Dreamers, while they may have some of the best ideas in the world, never actually see their dreams come to fruition because they live inside the confines of their own mind and are unable to make their dreams tangible. Creatives do just as their name suggests—they create. They have the idea and they turn it into the thing. RaisedbyStyle’s Brandon Maurice has turned the idea into the thing. He is a creative.
A few days after the new year, I got the chance to grab lunch with my friend Brandon and get some self-reflection in because, well, it’s only right. I have the pleasure of knowing Brandon for about a year now and I can say, bar none, he is one of the hardest workers I know, next to my mother of course. As we wait for our burgers to arrive at our table it dawned on me that I never really got the full rundown on his backstory. I had known about his blog and his clothing brand and about the companies he’s worked for but I've never gotten around to asking him about his origin story.
Now Brandon’s narrative isn’t a new one. Born and raised in Scotch Plains, New Jersey, Brandon was just another kid from the suburbs with an interest in fashion. Except he wasn’t. In high school, he conceptualized Fr3sh Nerdz, a clothing brand that never saw the light of day but allowed for him to get his gears going and step into the menswear landscape at an early age. After his Fr3sh Nerdz stint, he took up photography with the inception of B. Maurice Photography where he would shoot for different events. “My mom had friends who had events and needed a photographer. I got $100.” It wasn’t until the genesis of his third business, Disciples of Creation, where he began to solidify his space in the fashion industry—in between homeroom and gym class of course. Here he bought men's and women's jewelry wholesale and set up a StoreEnvy account where he could sell these pieces for a profit with no overhead costs. “I spent around $500 on inventory for the entire duration of the business and grossed around $3000.” He had no formal business knowledge, no classes of any kind—just an idea. A lot of his success, he tells me, he attributes to social media platforms. “I made an Instagram, Facebook, and Tumblr and shipped everything out myself. I saw what people were doing and mimicked it.” He continued to promote his jewelry on all of these platforms and sell to customers all around the world. He did make it known that it wasn’t without its struggles. “I was shipping first class mail but some of my customers would say they never got their packages. With first class, you get no tracking so there’s no way of knowing for sure. I lost some money that way because of refunds." After 9 months of flipping wholesale he knew that he wanted to “do more and make his own stuff.”
Here is when Brandon began to develop his voice as a creative, with the birth of Luxury x Royalty, a streetwear brand he designed. In between bites he tells me that he was able to keep all the social media platforms from DOC alongside the StoreEnvy, delete all the content and start fresh as a way of making sure he kept the following he had. He had used his social media savvy to do a quick #screenprintingsale search on IG and came across a company that did wholesale screen printing in Florida. Working at PartyCity at the time he knew that he “had to take the leap.” As one would imagine starting something new isn’t exactly the easiest of feats. “It’s scary because you don’t know if you’re going to get it back.” His first order was 50 shirts at around $200-$300. He sold his first design, a bandana printed tank top for $25 each and at just $3 a shirt made a profit of almost triple his investment.
He tells me just how much work he put into Luxury x Royalty to make it appear as though it were a real corporation with a staff, not a 19-year-old kid working out of his room. He was able to tie in his photography skills and took his own product shots. “I pinned my shirts to foam cork and edited it to make it appear as though it were being taken in a photo studio. I then bought packing slips off of Ebay that was priority mail with tracking—I learned this time and shipped out my orders myself.” I remember sitting in class with Brandon watching him lug around this large Herschel duffel bag filled with orders, constantly checking up on sales as everyone in class is taking lecture notes. His drive and dedication to his business allowed him to gain a little traction in the media space.
A freelance writer who worked for Dj Funkmaster Flex’s site In Flex We Trust stumbled upon his shirts via Instagram and wanted one to promote. As Brandon is recollecting this story in front of me I could only imagine what thoughts must have been running through his mind. He would have to give this woman whom he’d never met before a free shirt in the hopes of her perhaps mentioning it in an article. But, she did. This was his first ever press coverage on this brand that he worked tirelessly to promote. It wasn’t long after he was checking in on his StoreEnvy and noticed a lot of customers had been recommended through this particular link. “I clicked the link and everything was in French. I immediately turned on my translator and here pops up Glamour Paris: 50 Essentials For Summer.” I’m witnessing my friend sort of come to terms with all that he’s accomplished in such a short amount of time. It’s quite inspiring actually. “It still hasn’t really sunk in—all that I’ve accomplished. I wasn’t in any of it for the money. I was doing what I loved. People you grow up with see you do all this stuff and it’s like wow, hey Brandon I see what you’re doing and I’m really proud of you.”
Although business was going rather well Brandon just couldn’t seem to sit still. “I was into different things, different experiences." He felt that he grew his brand, which was now selling graphic t-shirts, snapbacks, patches, and sunglasses, to its capacity and wanted to expand. He really wanted to design more SKUs which would include a jogger but the risk of manufacturing overseas was one he could not take. He ultimately closed Luxury x Royalty after releasing his final collection called “Raised by Darkness."
Soon after the phoenix had risen and out of the ashes of Luxury x Royalty came RaisedbyStyle. He created a space for himself to showcase his brand collabs with the likes of Frederick Benjamin Grooming, K-Swiss, and now GREATS Brand all thanks to the following he had been building in tandem with his business endeavors on social media. He was able to use the Internet in a way that built relationships with real people that existed outside of his phone screen. He’d even got in contact with the Marketing Manager of Atrium NYC where he was the buying intern through a giveaway on Instagram proving that an idea can blossom into something more. Midway through the conversation Brandon dropped the most useful piece of advice for anyone who has an idea and hasn’t seen it through because they don’t have the time or the money. “Invest in yourself. We wait in lines for sneaker releases and designer collabs, why not invest that money you spend on other people’s stuff into your own ideas.”