Today we’d like to introduce you to Alec Simione.
Alec, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
Critic was first launched on January 15, 2013 out of Long Island, NY. However, the idea originated in 2003, during recess with some friends in my 4th grade class. We grew up as skateboarders and always dreamed of being sponsored by brands and receiving free products. So, we all decided to make our “brands” and sponsor each other. In reality, it just consisted of us making our own websites and promoting each other. Being constantly exposed to new art, designs, clothing styles, etc. and eventually getting sponsored by brands while being more involved/seeing the business side of things, contributed tremendously towards me wanting to launch my own brand.
When I started my freshman year in college, I decided to follow through with that 4th grade vision of owning a brand. I spent that first semester learning all I could; from materials and printing, all the way to branding and marketing. On January 15, 2013 I finally launched Critic and was selling t-shirts on my website. I worked at a local skatepark and was fortunate enough to get a ton of support from the kids who would go there along with friends and family. I sold out of the shirts pretty fast and from there I just kept reinvesting sales into the business and watched it grow.
The changing point for the brand came at the beginning of 2015. I began to reach out to athletes in the NFL/MLB with hopes of them wanting to wear my clothing. There is a core group of guys who were as excited to wear the brand as I was to have them wear it. They were Orleans Darkwa, Daren Bates, Anthony Johnson, Chris McCain, Kemal Ishmael, and Matt Hazel. These six guys were the ones who really helped Critic get to where it is today and helped take the brand to the next level. They would wear it to games, across their social media, and constantly show support to the brand. It’s something I’m truly grateful for. They have become family to me and it’s another thing I’m grateful for because not only have I learned a lot from all of them, they also constantly inspire me.
Working with these athletes has led me to meet more athletes, agents such as Mike Swenson, and other professionals in the sports industry. Having the opportunity to be involved with their camps, promotional events, etc. has caused Critic to grow tremendously. Networking became the key to growth and those who took a chance on me, truly helped get the brand to where it is today. I can’t forget to mention my Mom and Dad who have helped me a ton with their support. Add in some friends and all of the people who follow Critic on Instagram. All of these people are the reason Critic is where it is today. Whether they followed, liked, commented, reposted, shared, or even ordered clothes, they are all the reason for Critic’s success.
All of this brought me to move to LA, last June. The support from my family, friends, and supporters on social media, caused me to believe in how big Critic could get. New York had brought me many blessings and opportunities to grow the brand, but I felt it was now time to see what I could do on the West Coast. There’s a different type of vibe/energy out here. NY has all of the bright lights and the nitty gritty that is inspiring, but something about LA keeps drawing me in every day. It may be that everyone who moves here did it to follow a passion or dream. I love that. I love being around creators, entrepreneurs, and all of those who are striving to follow their dream. Possibly due to that fact that I know of the hardships that we all face when following that dream and the criticism we deal with. Let’s face it, Everyone’s A Critic, but it’s how you deal with that criticism, that will make or break you.
We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
It hasn’t been a smooth road, but I think that’s what makes this all so rewarding. It’s not fun when it’s easy. I like to be challenged; I like to have to figure out new ways to get past obstacles. I think the hardest parts have been bad investments and self-doubt.
Unfortunately, I’ve worked with wrong people in the past and it led to me having losses financially, but I always said “If I didn’t believe in this, I would’ve quit the second time I went broke doing it.” I’ve always believed in the brand and it has always bounced back from any setback.
Self-doubt can be many of our biggest obstacles. It has stopped many from starting a dream and it’s something that can make people question if they should bother continuing. When it came to hearing loved ones, or people I considered friends, talk poorly about my vision or use me, it definitely got in my head. However, it’s made me learn how to move better. I’m grateful for that.
Tell us more about the business.
Critic is a streetwear brand, originally from Long Island, New York. As you could imagine, it consists of tees, hoodies, hats, joggers, etc. All of the clothes we know and love. For Critic, I’m most proud of the supporters we have. The constant support from everyone across social media is unbelievable and truly trips me out. I never could’ve imagined that people all across the world would have any interest in my brand. The only reason Critic is where it is today, is because of all of the people who support it. I think the thing that sets us apart is how we view our customers and “followers.” I’ve always wanted the brand to involve my friends and family, whether that be from photos to graphic ideas. Over the years, I’ve learned so much about the people who support Critic. Their personal lives, their goals/dreams, their hardships, etc. I talk to everyone as if they’re family because if you’re supporting my brand, to me you are family. I’ve always believed in genuine relationships and it was something I always felt like brands never really took the time to do, which is why I decided to do so with mine.
Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I think luck plays a part in everyone’s life. From how you’re raised, the financial opportunities around you, your support system, etc. I’ve been very fortunate to have the upbringing I did. However, I think when it comes to business, you create your luck. If you work hard enough at something and stick with it, you will catch that break you’ve been grinding towards. Now, how you take advantage of that opportunity is up to you. Sometimes we never realize when that breakthrough opportunity is right in front of us and it might slip by. If you’re lucky enough, you’ll have more in the future, but you need to create avenues that lead you to those opportunities. The luck is in knowing that opportunity is right in front of you.
- $20 t-shirts
- $40 hoodies
- Website: www.CriticClothing.com
- Email: info@CriticClothing.com
- Instagram: Instagram.com/CriticClothing
- Facebook: facebook.com/CriticClothing
- Twitter: twitter.com/CriticClothing