Careers rarely go exactly to plan. In Job Hacks, we shake down people for the insights they cultivated on the way to the top of their field.
Names: Jared Austin and Carlos Basora
Jobs: Co-founders of Deux Hommes, a digital fashion publication that features lesser-known and emerging designers
Ages: 31 and 32
How did you get your start? Jared: We hit it off as friends first, and one day we sat down and decided we wanted to come up with a business that combined fashion, fitness and fun. It looked like promoters on steroids. There was nothing unique about it, and there was a ceiling to how much we could earn. Fast forward, we gave that up, and decided to focus on fashion, because that was the thing we loved. We decided on a digital magazine because was scalable, easy to do on the side, on nights and weekends, and there was a specific niche.
What kind of niche? Carlos: We feature emerging designers. Emerging designers are frequently overshadowed by mainstream fashion brands. Our whole purpose is that we have a platform and an online store that supports them.
So if you mainly feature designers that aren’t well-known yet, how do you find them? Jared: Today, people contact us. We’re building a following really fast. One of our jobs is looking for these designers everywhere. We spend a lot of time online, on Pinterest or Instagram, looking for new people. It’s also looking at fashion weeks as they’re happening. Awards are given out and we see if we’ve heard of the finalists. If we haven’t heard of them, we feature them. We look all over the world. We’re fortunate to have Parsons right here. In the beginning, we used to say, ‘Let’s see how far the rabbit hole goes.’ Everyone knows the brands you know. We go looking in stores for brands we’ve never heard of or seen. We’d Google them and find stores that sold other names we hadn’t heard of. When you Google one thing, you find 10 things. It was intriguing to us to think, what’s out there? The fashion world is hard to break into for unknown designers. That’s the problem were trying to solve.
Why is it so hard to break into? Jared: It’s a combination of them not having the business acumen and stores not wanting to take chances on them. For example, Paris isn’t conducive for emerging designers because they don’t have the finances. Paris! The top market in the world! Fashion is an industry that typical investors are scared of. You have a few main capital funds and then you have nothing. Investors want to invest in technology. They don’t get [fashion], but it doesn’t mean there’s not money in it. But with every hardship, there’s opportunity. That’s what we’re seeing.
What’s been the most challenging adjustment along the way?
Jared: For me, my background is in business development. I’m used to starting things but I’ve never had the role of a leader. In my career path, I’ve always been managed. It’s a new experienced but I’ve grown with good leaders around me who I’ve taken a lot from. I’ve learned how to be humble in the whole process.
Carlos: I’ve learned so many things from the whole creative process, from working together as a team and being a leader. There’s a lot you have to do. Get rid of your emotional baggage to get things done, have positive energy. So far, we’re not as big as we want to be, but we’re pretty successful.
What’s a common misconception about the industry?
Jared: People outside of fashion think the fashion world is glamorous when it isn’t. There’s so little barrier to enter, a lot of people are flooding the industry with crappy work. Within the fashion community, its jaded. People are getting fed up with having to work for free. People can come out of nowhere and say, “I’m a stylist.” To be a photographer, you just need a camera. There are stylists who don’t even have phones.
Carlos: The industry as a whole is not very exclusive in the sense that anyone can do what they want. You’d think that because its not so exclusive, that means there’s a larger chance to succeed, but most of the photographers, stylists, and other creatives haven’t been managed by a corporate structure. Its pandemonium. There’s no barrier for entry, but there’s a barrier to succeed. We’re going to solve a big problem in the fashion industry. We want to create an ecosystem where good emerging designers actually have longevity in their journey.