A RAD Story
Where it All Started
Saturday morning was my favorite time of the week. I would wake up as early as I could, and have 8 hours of cartoons injected into my brain. But if I wasn't watching cartoons, I was definitely drawing them. My Mom would always buy me sketchbooks for me to fill up with Disney characters, Animaniacs, or whatever my imagination unraveled. I'm Randy by the way :)
Growing up as an Artist
In school, I was never the brightest, but gosh darnit I could draw. I was that guy who drew all the artwork for group projects or the guy that was drawing on his homework in the back of class. In High School I was the Commissioner of Publicity. This USB position took drawing to a different scale; from sketches on notebook paper to gigantic 100 ft posters that were displayed at football games and rallies.
Make Your Gifts
As a college student I was always broke as a joke. I could never buy my friends cool gifts for their birthday. So instead, I would make them personalized gifts like bags, shoes, sketches and paintings. It felt a lot more thoughtful when presents were made rather than taking the easy way out by getting a target gift certificate or something. Not to hate on Target or anything, I love Target.
One of my gifts that stood out the most were my custom VANS designs. My friends even started paying me to design them a pair. After a while, I was getting booked to make shoe designs for up to $300. It was a lot of money for shoes, but my artwork was in demand. It would take up to 30 hours to do ONE design. After spreading the word, I decided to throw an art show at a shoe boutique in Pasadena called Grey One. The show was kind of a flop, but I didn't give up.
After finally graduating from college in 2005 (I was on this 5 year plan), I got a Business Degree. While most people were getting jobs in offices, I got a job at a sushi restaurant. Although the sushi was bomb there, I knew it wasn't where I wanted to be. Designing was my passion, and I still remember the day I got a phone call for an internship at this clothing company.
The Grn Apples
My friend Bryan was working at this huge clothing company called GRN Appletree, and they're marketing department gave me an opportunity to work as an intern. I eagerly took the opportunity and knew this was where I wanted to go with my life. Even though it was unpaid, and I had to drive in 2 hrs. of traffic, I knew it was a great chance to learn everything I could. Eventually I joined the staff and became part of the team.
A year after working at GRN Appletree the emergence of RAD was unleashed. RAD was my initials, so my friends and I came up with a acronym that I wanted to represent the business: Random Artistic Design. After penny pinching my way into saving two-thousand dollars, I was able to produce my first line of RAD T-shirts. I knew I couldn't run this business by myself so I recruited some of my friends younger siblings... some of which are still on the RAD squad today.
Another one of my loves growing up, besides art, was music. I was a part-time DJ in high school and college. Music became a great outlet for promoting RAD. We would drive all over LA and San Diego looking for different venues that would allow us to host music nights. We found a lot of luck working with It's a Grind Coffee shop. It was through these shows that we met some New additions to the Street team, as well as some talented musicians.
In order to help spread the good word of RAD, we needed an extra hand. So we started recruiting new street team members. At the time, Myspace was a huge thing, so we looked through friends of friends who would be down to be part of the RAD crew and help sell our shirts. Hence the birth of the San Diego and Los Angeles Street Team.
Couple Seasons Later
We were still putting out designs that we thought were awesome. But we were running out of money, and I was falling into MAJOR credit card debt. We had done hundreds of shows across the west coast and met tons of people like the Jabbawockeez, Fanny Pak, AJ Rafael, and DJ A-Trak. But we just weren't making enough money to survive. So we took a big step back and re-developed the brand. By taking all the feedback and learning lessons of the past we were able to create RADisRAD.
It's funny how life takes you back to the beginnings sometimes. 27 years later, I find myself drawing designs and characters that were inspired from my childhood. I also partnered up with my childhood friend, Kevin Lee, who helps with the business administrative side. Our partnership bought RAD a printing press, and we started screen-printing all our shirts in my garage. Now I'm finally out of debt, and we're taking RADisRAD to the world. RAD's goin' global, and you're comin' with!