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Their clothes have been worn by international stars such as Rihanna and Drake. In Montreal, the reputation of the brand of streetwear Atelier New Regime held by the brothers Koku and Gildas Awuye is more to do. But the road to success has not been easy for the duo.
We spoke with Gildas Awuye on the occasion of the Expo Entrepreneurs to talk about art, celebrity and, of course, entrepreneurship.
Why have you decided to launch yourself into the streetwear?
Gildas : We had a love for clothing and ever since the streetwear appeared to us as the ideal style for diving into this industry because of its simplicity, since the base of streetwear is that to print a slogan on a t-shirt. Thus, it was associated with another partner in 2009 to start Atelier New Regime and the rest is history.
How would you describe the identity of the Atelier New Regime for someone who doesn’t know you?
Gildas : The heart of our philosophy is creativity. We want to constantly reinvent itself, the challenger, the environment around us and push our ideas further. Our mission is not to sell clothes : it is getting people to develop their own creativity through our brand.
Is it that you have always dreamed of being an entrepreneur?
Gildas : Yes and no. I’ve always had a certain fibre of the “trader”. While small, I was selling my cards Pokémon to my friends in the playground. In college, I was in the natural Sciences, a program in which I would not really, and I saw constantly my big brother talk about design and business, with his friends. I wanted to follow in his footsteps and participate more actively in its projects so entrepreneurship came to me this way.
How do you explain the success of your company in an environment nestled ?
Gildas : The craze for the brand outside of Montreal has allowed us to increase our profile in the middle of the streetwear exponentially. When Drake has worn one of our hats at a basketball game, any credibility that we were looking for since years we finally fell over. All of a sudden, people started to see us as serious players in the industry and yarn needle, one was able to develop business partnerships interesting, like the one with Puma.
What have been the biggest challenges since the creation of Atelier New Regime?
Gildas : The biggest challenge I face every day is the administrative organization of the company. In 2011, when I really started to involve myself in the business side of the company, I was in a chaotic organizational constant. I had to learn to take care of the connections with the clients, managing finances and relationships with the governmental bodies at once. Today, there is a team of eight so I have to continue to wear multiple hats to run the business. It is sometimes tiring, but it allows me to learn continuously.
What are you most proud of in this you have done?
Gildas : Yes, it is flattering when stars such as Drake or Rihanna wear our clothes, but that’s not really a pride for me. What motivates me is the fact that after 10 years of existence, we are still here and stronger than ever. I love sharing my knowledge and experiences at conferences because I want to inspire entrepreneurs to follow their ambitions just as we have done.
The rapper 6lack.
That is what is coming up for you?
Gildas : We have a few collaborations on the table and creative projects in Toronto, New York and possibly Paris. In a future fairly close, we would like to establish several shops around the world and to experience other forms of art, be it the furniture design or the development of short films. The word of order is to explore to the maximum our creativity.