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Meet Cho

Today we’d like to introduce you to Cho.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Cho. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I graduated from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI in 2014 with a degree in finance. I found a job as a mutual fund accountant and worked in that career for the next four years.

I started sewing in 2016 just to tailor my suits and have nicer fitting work clothes. Soon that hobby was starting to consume my life. I found myself sewing for hours after my 8 hour work day. Just making clothes for myself-mixing and mashing pieces together.

I never had enough money to jumpstart a “BRAND” with like samples/multiple pieces/production so I chose to make everything with my two hands. Just like what I did for myself I asked people to bring me their items they’ve been hoarding in their closets so we can repurpose them into whatever they’d want. To gain more traction, I elected to work with every musician in Milwaukee, I knew. This slowly started to grow in Milwuakee with more musicians bringing me their old merch to upcycle.

By 2018, I was working 8 hours a day and sewing for 8-12 hours a day. Soon I got a few big motivating “moments”. Nick Cannon’s PR team reached out to me to make six bags for him and season 18 of Wild n Out. I had under 1,000 followers on IG and that moment made me really believe I could take this “hobby” and make it my life.

I took a trip to LA because I was working with this artist, John Born, about painting on a few of my bags. I came to LA in September 2018 to work with John and he intro’d me to Sheron Barber, a designer I looked up to. I thought to myself:

1) I can no longer work a 9-5 job…life-changing opportunities are happening RIGHT NOW
2) I have to move from Milwaukee…I’m never going to meet some of these “chess pieces” in a remote city

Once I came home from LA, October 2018, I quit my accounting job and planned for a relocation to LA in January 2019.

At this point, I was making enough money from designing to “get by”…I really wasn’t financially prepared though. Now without my main source of income, I had to make something shake to make the LA move happen.

I downsized my entire life:
– Sold my car (saving $250 per month)
– Moved out of my loft apartment (saving $650 per month)
– Chose to defer my student loans for the 1st time (saving $1,250 per month)

I moved into my girls’ dad’s crib 20 minutes out of the city of Milwaukee and found a work studio in the city for $100 a month.

For the next three months, I was sewing/designing 18 hours a day minimum. I was trying to make as much money as possible before moving to LA.

At the turn of the year, I was able to move to LA with some friends as we were subleasing from yet another friend near DTLA.

Once I got to LA, I reached out to every photographer/stylist I had seen on IG just to connect. I went to as many rap shows as possible just to meet the performers. Upon reaching out no-one is inclined to help you at all, so I made sure it was “sweet” for them.

I made so many free bags for photographers/stylists/rappers just to get to the next point-to the point where they’d rock with me forever. And since I was upcycling their old stuff/old merch I was doing something they’d never seen before.

There are other upcycle/repurpose designers in the world but I didn’t know anyone who was letting the consumer outsource the material first.

I rely on my relationships I make with people. I go all out for people I don’t even know, a lot of time for FREE…just for the smidge of hope that it will come back around. And it always does one way or another.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It’s always smooth. There’s some moments of frustration, but it’s never financial. The frustration comes from “not blowing up” yet. I like to hang my hat on the notion that no one goes harder than me on an individual output level. I do not care about anything but designing on a high level. Literally, nothing else I care about. I barely see and speak with my friends/family because I am laser-focused on designing. So sometimes I get frustrated or cynical like ” how they blowing up right now”. I love the fact that I make everything myself-from you, to me and back to you. But I know there are some defining roadblocks that come with that, especially with scale-ability.

So sometimes I have to “ground” myself because I’ve chosen to play a different game than a typical “clothing brand” of sales/trends. I’m working more in the lane of personal connection via design.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a customer designer specializing in upcycling. One factor I do that no one does is that my whole model is formed around communication. People have to get in contact with me and mail me something to get repurposed. You typically can’t just buy something from me direct.

Another integral factor is that I don’t limit my offerings to what I’ve already put out. I can make whatever you ask me to make. You can send me a pair of True Religion jeans and ask for a pair of sandals and I’ll do it.

I really love working with non-fashion brands. I enjoy repurposing “garbage”-things people would throw away-like pizza boxes and making something mind-blowing like a bag.

Everyone is aiming for the Nike collab or LV collab….I’m aiming for that Waste Management collab or Dominos collab.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
My out going-ness. I believe you can “get down” with anyone. If you just open up you and a stranger probably have a lot in common. Not being afraid to talk in a room/go up to someone you admire has lead me to so much prosperity I can’t even equate it tangibly.

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.cho.moda
  • Instagram: @utopia.us
  • Twitter: @utopia_us

Image Credit:
– Trippie Redd, Shaun Ross

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