Female Hercules recently met up with the founder of Kidsuper Studios, Colm Dillane. Colm is a young entrepreneur who started out screen-printing his art on T-Shirts in high school, then after graduating from NYU as a math major, he set up Kidsuper Studios in the heart of Brooklyn. His unique store doubles as a location for his clothing line and also a space for other creatives and professionals to live while working on their own craft.
Colm is one of the most ambitious 'go-getters' I have ever met. The Kidsuper house and store has very few couches for a reason; the energy to create and go after your dreams hangs in the air.
ALL PHOTOS BY SHIN ICHITSUTSUI
Female Hercules: Since it's Thanksgiving weekend, what are you thankful for?
KidSuper/Colm Dillane: Man this is a hard question. Starting out rough. I'm thankful for being able to do whatever I want that pushes the brand forward. I'm thankful for my family and my friends. Yeah that's like the corny stuff that I'm obviously thankful for but I'm glad that the KidSuper brand has allowed me to do many different things that all push the brand forward, so like I'm thankful that I can do a music video, make t-shirts, make a new song, dance whatever, science blah blah blah and it all can be under the KidSuper umbrella.
Nice! Next basic question, what is KidSuper and how did it get started?
The classic question! I started making T-shirts in highschool with my friends that snowballed into me wanting to start my own brand then I went to college. I launched a brand, met a guy who could make websites, put the clothes on a website. Then people who weren't my friends started buying it which was the big like AHA moment. That progressed into.. I changed my dorm into a store, spray painted the dorm, got kicked out of the dorm, then opened up my own store.
Wait did you get kicked out of college because of that?
No, I was a math major and I graduated with a math degree, so that's cool.
So it snowballed from there to a store then I realized the brand was called KidSuper, so I had to be a superhero all the time.. so I made the store awesome instead of a regular studio. I built a recording studio, a soccer field, and a sewing area, and a living space, and a photo space. That progressed into doing artwork for different people. And now hopefully I can do different things under the KidSuper umbrella.
Is it weird having strangers come into your home and work space?
Yeah but I mean that is the kind of environment I created and like the spirit I give off. I was just in LA and I met all these people and was like hey I want to do this who wants to help? And I got a videographer, I got a photographer, I got a stylist all of this stuff from just the KidSuper spirit.
Tell me a little bit about the KidSuper spirit in this studio. Productivity seems to be the motto in here...
That is definitely the whole motto. I wanted like every spot in this store to feel like you had to do something, so like there is no chilling. That is why I never really put chairs and stuff. And I don’t smoke weed and I don’t do any drugs because it’s very easy for this to be ‘that spot’ where people come and just smoke weed and hang out. Especially because that’s also the image and vibe I give. Haha. So I wanted a more productive space like you come here for a reason. Chilling is not really what I like to do.
Have you always had such an intense drive to make things?
Yeah I've always been kind of motivated, kind of an out of the box thinker, always thought I could do everything. I kind of wanted to show the world or build a world that was my mentality in physical form. So that is kind of what the KidSuper brand is. '
About the clothing. Is it just clothing you would wear yourself?
Yeah that's how I design. It's just what I want to wear and I always add artistic elements like everything has a drawing on it. My huge thing was how can I make clothes that nobody else can make because I couldn't compete manufacturing wise and production wise with like H&M or Old Navy or Gap that make a perfect blank t-shirt or perfect jeans or a striped shirt. But if you want paintings here weird things there blah blah blah, you gotta come to KidSuper. If you want a great fitting pair of jeans, probably don't come here. Go to H&M.
Weren't you a soccer player when you were younger?
Yeah I'm thinking about going to Japan in two weeks to try out for a third division Japanese team in Yokohama. A lot of people order clothing from Japan actually. And like unfortunately you guys didn't get to see the clothing that was here because we brought it all to Complex Con, but the style is Japanese..a little outlandish..and the Japanese people seem to love it. So I always wanted to make a little KidSuper Japan or something.
Yeah that would be hype. How was Complex Con?
It was awesome! I mean the whole journey there..we did like this two week long road trip across America stopping at 7 cities ,doing different pop ups, screen-printing, murals and stuff like that. So it was really cool. Then we got to Complex and we had done like 6 mini Complex Cons before just to prep. We were stopping at all these cities to do all these events, so we were exhausted when we got there. We had to build our booth and we hadn't stopped moving for the past 2 weeks and then Complex Con happened and it was a huge success for us. Tons of hip hop artists came and Alexander Wang bought some stuff, so it was crazy.
When did you realize that KidSuper was going to be a big success?
Well we just dropped a new collection and in like 10 minutes we had 3,000$ sales which was crazy to me because I remember making stuff and dropping stuff and like we wouldn't sell a T-shirt ever. It definitely feels like it's on its way but I also don't feel successful yet. But it's cool that there are little signs like ‘Oh you're doing the right thing,’ so that's always reaffirming. And if we weren't doing the right thing.. if our clothes sucked or the business sucked or whatever.. I think the spirit is notable; something you can like and attach yourself to. ‘Oh the T-shirts suck, but I like the spirit.’ So no matter what we are doing, the spirit is clear and that's really what the people are attracted to.
At this point in time, Colm takes out a strange looking piece of fruit from a plastic bag under his bed.
What is that?
I have no idea what it is. We bought it at the grocery store and I asked the same question. It's like a persimmon or something.
Looks like a tomato or a mango.
It tastes.... like a mango ....but.... it's like a mango-tomato.
I can't tell if I like it or not. It's like a papaya and that's what it tastes like. I hate papaya. haha.
This tangent was really weird and funny that I had to include it. It also truly attests to the fact that Colm is so open to trying new things on a daily basis.
So on the way to Complex Con what was living in an RV like?
The RV lifestyle was hilarious. We honestly felt like we were on tour like a rock band on tour. It was hilarious. Also the RV we were in was quite nice. Everyone's like 'what's it like was there fighting?' I'm like dude we sleep like that every night.
So you fight here often?
We fight like normal people fight, like brothers fight. There's times where it's like we're past even liking each other. I don't even know if I like them but I have to be around them. It's that level. So there are times like "fuck them".. I don't have any siblings but I feel like that's the vibe; you can hate your sibling but you can't get rid of your sibling, so you end up liking them.
It's like if you're dating a girl since we're not in like highschool or college, and we break up, we might never see that girl again and like never talk. But in highschool you like break up with a girl and you see her in your math class the next day. And then within a month you're back to being friends and she's dating your friend and like you don't care about it.
This house is kind of like highschool because there are like two girls who live here and there was obviously a little bit of romance but we all got over it because it's like highschool ..like imma see you tomorrow. So we get over our little stupid fights. I don't know what philosophy that is but write that one down.
How often do people come to live here and then leave?
Who's the dopest person who has stayed here?
I mean the dopest person on paper who has stayed here is probably Russ. I love Russ. Not that he's not cool off paper, I'm just saying he's an easy answer because he's the most famous and successful. And he stayed here when we was not successful at all. Now the people who come in and out are already famous. Russ was really staying here.. like he lived here for four months.
Was that the best thing that has happened here?
That was the most quintessential 'KidSuper.' ..'This is what KidSuper is about, this is how it works and watch it work.' If we were to pitch this idea to anyone, he's the face of it.
Was that your proudest moment in this building?
No. That's epic. The coolest thing about that is like, so there's a recording studio in the basement, but I built it by hand. I remember being like there's a basement it was open cleared and I was like we need a recording studio here! Why? I don't even make music. HAHA so sometimes I have a dumb song here and there because I have a recording studio but I was never musically gifted. But everyone's like why did you do it? I was like it's gonna be a great place for people to come, it's gonna attract all these different musicians, it'll be awesome. I love music, I love the culture of music, and then a year after I built it which was physically by hand like we rolled out the rug, me and Will were hammering, I stole the vending machine door with Will, Russ starts living down there and then a year after that it's platinum. Which not many studios have platinum record.
Did you see that coming?
No. I just liked him as a person and I liked his super focus and motivation. Which is something I respect more than talent and he was so meticulous everyday. His work ethic was out of a job. He took music as a job whereas musicians or rappers now, half of the time, are drug addicts. But he was like waking up, making music, going to sleep, waking up, making music, going to sleep. And then it succeeded.
You don't want to help people who are half assing it. You want to help people that are like..I gave him an inch and he took it a mile. If I let you live here, I'm giving you a lot. I'm paying for the rent and I built the whole thing by hand, so like if you are not, one, grateful and, two, giving it your all, I'm like dude what the fuck.
So Russ was a great person for that because he was very grateful and very hard working. and then three, you could see that every time he was leveling himself up. Which also very KidSuper: keep doing more and more.
It's so cool that you're making space for people who have skills that you don't have.
It's quite funny. They're like my little children. You don't become a soccer player, but your kids become soccer players. I was just interested in the culture that music brings and I like being around people that do things that I'm bad at. I always loved the idea that I made T-shirts and that allowed me to meet anyone. I like the aspect of doing one thing and it opening up a million doors. So that was the idea for this space: to meet more people.
What's the scariest thing about running this business?
There are a couple scary things. One, KidSuper and Colm are the same thing, so like if KidSuper fails, Colm fails. That sucks, but like when I'm bringing on different people and they're representing the brand, if they fuck up, it doesn't really hurt them but it hurts KidSuper which hurts Colm. That is like a horrible scenario. Another thing is like at times I'm kind of locked down to the store and the KidSuper world. Sometimes I wanna like runaway and do things like play soccer in Japan.
ALL PHOTOS BY SHIN ICHITSUTSUI