BLAKE RICCIARDI | POPULAR DEMAND
SKYN: Popular Demand is a huge driving fashion force. But for those who don't know quite as much about you Blake, could you tell us who you are?
BR: I am the founder and CEO of Popular Demand. I am a son, brother, entrepreneur, leader and creative.
SKYN: Fantastic. And what would you say inspired you to get into this industry?
BR: I have always been drawn to creativity and when I was growing up, fashion (especially fashion in hip-hop) showed me that creativity could be worn.
SKYN: Unreal. It's always interesting how things from our childhood can affect so much who we become. How long have you been in the clothing industry?
BR: I have been in the clothing industry just over 9 years.
SKYN: So that's quite some time then. Over all those years, what was your favourite collaboration that Popular Demand was part of?
BR: That’s a very difficult question to answer! I find that each project/collaboration we do is such an exciting experience. It gives us an opportunity to work with exceptionally creative people that look at things from a different perspective than we do. I feel that a lot of our growth as a brand has come from working with different music artists and business owners.
SKYN: 10,000%. We couldn't agree more, and it's been such a pleasure watching you and the brand grow and evolve. What about when it comes to photographers? You've obviously worked with quite a few, do you happen to have a favorite?
BR: Of course! The Popular Demand leader photographer, @MikeLeShotIt, is my favorite. Working with Mike has been an incredible experience for me. He started off as a guy who helped us on a couple of project a few years back to running a department for me. He has shot models, celebrities, music artists (the list goes on and on) for us. Little did I know when I first started working with him that he was self-taught and still in college for accounting. He ended up leaving school and taking a risk to for me as I tried to get Popular Demand off the ground. His work ethic and desire to learn is an inspiration to me.
SKYN: Ha, that's wild! So happy to hear that it all worked out and so inspiring for those out there looking to make their first big leap. What about when it comes to models? Any favorites of those?
BR: You’re trying to get me in trouble, huh? We have shot so many incredible models over the past few years that would be very difficult to name just one as my ‘favorite’. I have to give a big shout-out to Vivian Kindle though. She supported Popular Demand early on and her co-sign definitely helped us when we went to work with different models.
SKYN: It's all about those who were with you from the start, for sure. When you were starting out, did you have any mentors who really helped mold and guide you?
BR: My mentors early on were always my parents. I worked for my father at a young age and learned an immense amount. He is incredibly smart and his work ethic is unreal. I also saw from an early age the importance of determination from my mother. She decided that she wanted to be a published author and wrote books for years and years before anyone would even consider publishing a book of hers — now she has multiple published books and has become a successful college professor. Both of my parents have inspired me and they also always supported me.
SKYN: That's phenomenal. Sounds like you've got quite the team backing you. Now that we know a little about what you do and who you are professionally speaking, could you tell us something random about yourself?
BR: I have a bit of an obsession with salt and chocolate — not both at the same time though. I use salt on just about everything (even things like pasta and pizza) and I can eat Nutella straight out of the jar. I am not AS unhealthy as I make it sound though!
SKYN: Ha, raw Nutella, breakfast of champions. Besides clearly having the best taste pallet ever, what are you most proud of?
BR: My team that works for me at Popular Demand. They are quality people that have grown so much over the past few years. Many of my employees started as interns — now they are running departments. I watch them teach our current interns or new employees. It’s a privilege for me to get to work with them daily. I have a special group of people.
SKYN: That's so great. It's amazing to be able to watch the progression of talented like that. And when you get to surround yourself with them on the daily, even better. Aside from having exceptional employees and interns, what can we expect from Popular Demand in the next year?
BR: We are planning on introducing a women’s line in the second quarter of this year. We have always had a lot of female fans but they had to buy our men’s product, now they will have an opportunity to buy leggings, crop tops, etc. We are also working on a few projects in the entertainment world (radio, TV etc.). Each of these projects will help show that Popular Demand is much more than a clothing brand, we’re a lifestyle.
SKYN: Solid stuff. Well we're sure there are going to be quite the number of very happy ladies out there. Do you have any tips for aspiring new designers in the industry?
BR: Two tips. Make sure what you are creating is different enough. There is really no point to creating a new brand that is very similar to everything else. You need to figure out a way to stand out in some capacity. If you’re product looks too much like everything else that’s out, why are they going to buy yours? Take risks when creating. The other tip I have is to consume information and learn as much as you can. There is an amazing amount of information available on YouTube and blogs. Watch a lot and read a lot. The more you can teach yourself, the more successful you can become.
SKYN: Wise words. Now you've reached such high success over the past year and have been able to bring Popular Demand to such inspirational heights, do you have any best memories of the past year?
BR:The billboard in Hollywood that we did with Ty Dolla $ign was definitely a highlight. It gave us an opportunity to work with someone that has supported the brand since early on and create a campaign that couldn’t be ignored. We had a loud, colorful, slightly obnoxious billboard in the center of Hollywood with one of the hottest artists in the game — it can’t get much better than that.
SKYN: Ha, definitely not. Sounds like it was definitely a full year with a lot of memorable highlights. What about when it comes to next? What are some of your goals for 2016?
BR: To build a closer relationship with our fans and to have more and more people discover our lifestyle. We created something incredible here in Los Angeles that continues to spread worldwide. With social media and different forms of entertainment, more people will see it all.
SKYN: Love the plans. Both aspirational and totally attainable. For those who want to jump on board and join the movement, where can people find Popular Demand?
BR: We are sold in stores worldwide. You can also purchase our product on PopularDemandShop.com.
SKYN: Solid, thanks so much. And finally, when it's all over what do you want to be remembered as?
BR: Man! We are getting deep here.
SKYN: Ha, you know it.
BR: I like this.
SKYN: Glad to hear it. So tell us, what would you, Blake Ricciardi, like to be remembered as?
BR: I would like to be remembered as a successful entrepreneur that was able to both mentor people and inspire people to be reach their potential.
SKYN: Well on your way my friend. All the best and a million thanks.
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