Steven Mena of Menace LA interview
by Matthew J
IAJM: In your words, Steven, please tell us what the MENACE brand is all about and how did it get started?
Steven Mena: MENACE is the offspring of the stuff I was exposed to growing up, the things I liked to do, and just things I saw in my everyday life. I handle everything basically, all the designing and the to day-to-day operations - shipping, emails, social media - but I do get a little help from my best-friend Ivan. I’ve always been a creative thinking type of person and I’m studying marketing (shout out to UCR), so street wear & clothing was the perfect platform for me. I wanted to just be able to do me without really worrying about anyone telling me I couldn’t do it, so here I am.
IAJM: Thus far, what would you say has been your most successful design?
Steven Mena: Our most successful piece has been our 13th letter long-sleeve. But some of my favorites that sold quickly have been the Public Enemy Baseball Jersey, the DEAlin’ tee, the City of fuckin’ Angels piece, and the LAX-JFK shorts.
IAJM: In your opinion, what differentiates MENACE from other clothing brands? How do you maintain uniqueness?
Steven Mena: I think what sets my brand apart from others is consistency. I’m always just sticking to my guns, not one to really hop on trends and bandwagons in the industry. Take for example the amount of Hood By Air/Pyrex type of brands that sprung up with this whole leather trend… that was ridiculous to me.
IAJM: What goes into the actual design of your clothing? Do you work as a collective, designing print, or do you individuals keep brainstorming until a certain looks or concept sticks?
Steven Mena: I’m always thinking. Just looking at ordinary stuff from different perspectives helps me keep the creative juices flowing. I just sit down, put my earphones in and start creating stuff for hours. I have a stock-pile of unreleased ideas so when I decide on what look I want a certain collection to have, I can pull some up on Illustrator and start to perfect them to make a final design. Then you got those “light bulb moment” type of designs where you just come to a realization like “oh shit… I need to do this”.
IAJM: What are some of the retail goals (buyers, new accounts, etc.) you have in mind for MENACE? Where do you want to see the brand standing in the years to come?
Steven Mena: In terms of accounts and buyers we’ll work with, my goal for Menace is to have 30+ accounts within the next 2 years, nationally and internationally. As for the 2nd question, right next to some of my fav brands like CLSC, Hall of Fame, Supreme, BornxRaised. Shout out to CLSC btw, they were a big inspiration to me.
IAJM: Where can people go to find your clothing? Is Menace available internationally?
Right now, people can see our brand on www.Karmaloop.com, but I can also tell you that I’m pretty close to closing some deals with some shops in the US and abroad. Just gimme time (haha). Stay tuned and watch what I do next.
IAJM: What motivates you to create? Where do you get the inspiration to from?
Steven Mena: My motivation is the continued support/growth of the brand and to always make something people can really f@*% with. It’s crazy to think that it’s only been less than a year and the brand has gotten lot of exposure.. even crazier to me that I’m here talking to you about it. That’s what keeps me going.
I get inspiration from anything really – pictures, books, personal experiences, and most frequently, the city.
IAJM: What can the general public expect next from MENACE?
Steven Mena: People can expect dope/high quality pieces. We have some hot stuff dropping for the Fall/Winter collection, also, we plan on dropping a Satin Baseball Jacket - it’s one of the pieces I’m really looking forward to releasing.
IAJM: What is the best piece of advice you have received in terms of operating a business, and what advice would you like to share with anybody who is seriously thinking about starting their own clothing brand?
Steven Mena: In terms of running a business some of the best advice has been to never second guess myself – it’s pointless… and to stick to my gut feeling. For anyone wanting to start their own clothing brand all I have to say is make sure you’re starting it for the right reason. If you’re just looking to make a quick buck I’ll be the first to let you know it’s anything but a fast and easy process. And second, figure out what makes you different from others and stick to it.
IAJM: Final question. Is there anybody you’d like to thank or acknowledge for your helping/participating in the success of your brand?
Steven Mena: Yea, shout-out to my dudes who’ve been supporting me since day 1, appreciate it…. and also those who’ve been constantly doubting the brand since day 1, for fueling the fire.
— Ghostface Killah
I don’t respect opportunistic people, but I do respect resourceful individuals. There is a huge difference between the two mentalities.
Don’t get it twisted.
Daily Motivation #39: Re2pect Consistency (Derek Jeter tribute)
50 Cent featuring Joe
"Big Rich Town"