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Meet Aaron Avila of Longlive The Swarm in North Los Angeles – Santa Clarita

Today we’d like to introduce you to Aaron Avila.

Aaron, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
In July of 2012 one of my closest and most talented friends, Barry Warrick, passed away. It was a turning point in my life. In fact, I barely remember who I was before his passing.

I knew I wanted to do something to keep his creative spirit alive. Something that he could live through and that I could use as a way to stay close to the memories we shared. I just wasn’t exactly sure what that “thing” was. In December of that year my friends and I put on a memorial concert to raise some money for his family and bring everyone together to celebrate his life. It was incredible! One of the greatest nights of my life. There was so much love in that venue. It was perfect. Everyone felt his presence. At that event, we printed some t-shirts with his face and a very early stage Longlive The Swarm logo that Shane Spalione (co-owner) and I had come up with a few weeks earlier.

It had been a few months since the show and people were still asking for Barry t-shirts. So, we set up a Big Cartel shop. I felt like we needed a name that would stand out. Something different. We had the Longlive portion of our name, which is an ode to Barry, but I knew that we would never be able to own that name long term. The Swarm portion is something I came up with as a representation of a collective, family, or group. No matter who you are, you belong to some kind of swarm. We were still trying to figure out what this thing was going to look like. Shane and I had no business experience and no money. We were a slow moving operation as we attempted to work out the kinks.

In February of 2014, we entered a contest through Big Cartel, called: ‘Store from Scratch’ contest. The rules were to make a video in which you tell your story and share a behind the scenes look at your shop. We were still in the beginning stages at that point but we said fuck it. Let’s enter and see what happens. We shot and edited the video in one day. Some how, we won! We received $2,000 and a Big Cartel store for life. Just like that, we had enough money to really get things going. Two months later, we set up our LLC and officially launched.

Here we are today. Still learning and having a lot of fun doing it.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Shane and I always joke about having the worst luck.

There have definitely been struggles along the way. We’ve literally had to steal our own products back from vendors in the past. So much time spent learning and figuring out what works for us. The amount of time we’ve spent on finding reliable sources is insane! When it comes to starting a business, there are going to be some growing pains. If it’s your passion that you are fighting for then I truly believe there is nothing that you can’t work past. Running a brand is a non-stop grind. It is something that cannot succeed unless you are truly unrelenting. You need a solid team or partner. In our case, we do everything ourselves. Truly a DIY mentality – which at times, I think hinders us because of our need to be so hands on. But it works for us.

Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Longlive The Swarm – what should we know?
Longlive The Swarm is a Southern California lifestyle brand that creates unique, bold and quality goods. We are best known for our bold graphic tees and accessories. We carry a range of pins and patches which are inspired by our love for punk/hardcore music and tattoo art. We try and keep things pretty limited. We rarely reproduce the same product over and over. If we do, we try and offer different colorways or a different rendition of the garment. We do our best to listen to what our customers want. With social media, it is insanely easy to get instant feedback and test out new ideas.

We have always tried to inspire others to create. We want to be as transparent as possible. If we can do it – so can you! It doesn’t have to manifest itself as clothing. Everyone has a passion. Surround yourself with others who share that passion and help each other make something.

We are most proud of the fact that we actually like our customers. We have always been a brand that sees things in black and white. You either connect with it or you don’t. We are our target audience. We make what we like and that’s it.

Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
This is so much bigger than Shane and I. We owe so much to our friends and families. Honestly, that is all we had for so long. They helped us get over that hump. The struggle of convincing outsiders who have no idea who we are that they should buy from and support this brand. We have super loyal customers who buy from us every time we drop. People who have taken the time to learn about the brand from across the globe. The love we have been shown over the years is incredible. We owe everything to them.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:

Nicolae Bernal, John Baehr

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