David Forge is the founder of Blksmth Apparel, an East Melbourne based streetwear brand.
Where did you get the idea for your business?
I started Blksmth at a time where I believed there was a lack of appreciation for local clothing brands and the streetwear scene altogether. I was only young and probably a bit ignorant so instead of doing some research I just threw my two cents in and started my own label. Blksmth was named based on the affiliation with my last name, Forge. It's kinda a pun of sorts I guess, but the silly pun just stuck and when I went to draw out ideas the name really worked, so here we are, and no I don't weld metals, we just make threads.
What is the business about and where is it based?
Blksmth operates out of the 3130, A.K.A Blackburn in East Melbourne. The brand runs on the misunderstanding between generations; attitudes and expectations. There is a lot of people who disregard the younger generations for being unable to afford housing, for being hypersensitive and seeming like we all do nothing although many of us are highly passionate and educated citizens doing plenty, so I like to play along and explore that rift. There is a sense of having to prove ourselves to the rest of the world, and one way is through what we wear, so Blksmth is gonna be that.
How did you get your business started?
I'll put it simply just to highlight how simple it can be (although doing a business plan, financing and preparing goals is a much more ideal way in retrospect)
- draw designs which highlight brand image and vision.
- contact screenprinting with logo, receive quote and pay a risky amount of $$$.
- receive garments, take to social media and sell via charismatic flair.
That was actually the first steps I took to get Blksmth started. I'm definitely a case to learn from, hence why I thought it would be great to feature in Launchpad! Haha.
What lessons have you learned so far on your business journey?
There are hundreds, which is hard to deal with when you're 22 and know you're not even started to deal with the big problems! Look, in my industry, the main lessons I've been taught is know your markets, know what sizes your markets wear (I'm constantly ordering way too many XL items thinking the world wants oversized tees like me when they don't) and always be professional on emails and quotes. Just because everyone is casual on social media and in stores, doesn't excuse an email written like a facebook chat box. As by my responses I'm sure its obvious that one is still a W.I.P for me.
How important has it been for you to have a mentor?
There's a lot of people out there who have influenced me throughout the journey so far, but I'm yet to fully take on a mentor. I'm undertaking the RMIT Activator which will be massive for me in terms of meeting experienced people who will provide some real advice for stepping the brand up a few notches over the coming years.
What are your top three tips for starting a business?
- Have a purpose, a passion, and always persevere.
- Know your social media well, and utilise it
- Do your bookkeeping. I didn't at first, and I tell you ... the problems it creates are endless.
- Maybe one more ... Network, network, network. Everyone is worth meeting, Melbourne needs this culture to erupt.
David Forge is a graduate of the RMIT Bachelor of Design (Landscape Architecture)
"Have a purpose, a passion, and always persevere." - David Forge, founder of Blksmth Apparel