Even if you’ve never heard of Tony Shellman, you’ve certainly heard of Mecca and Enyce, the fashion companies that he co-founded. The success of these powerhouse lines paved the way for brands like Rocawear and Sean John. Tony’s infectious charisma and business savvy is now the driving force behind Parish Nation, a brand that is making waves with bold designs that set out to push the boundaries of creativity.
Q: How did you get started in the industry? What made you go into the urban market?
I started out working for Pete Nordstrom then the Z product store in Seattle, where I’m originally from. I then moved to New York, started attending Parson’s School of Design and interning at International News, where I received what was a Harvard University type education. There I met Evan Davis, my future partner….I decided to go into the urban market because I wanted to make clothes that me and my friends enjoyed wearing–honestly, it’s all we knew.
Q: You were the co-founder of two mega urban brands, Mecca and Enyce, and now you’ve started what appears to be another successful venture with Parish Nation. What do you think has been the key to your success?
Ambition, perseverance, believing in your concept and having a great team around you because there is no “I” in team. I couldn’t have done any of the brands I’d done completely on my own. It takes designers, financial backers; all that goes into making a successful brand.
Q: Brands like Mecca and Enyce have paved the way for many other street wear labels. How has the street wear game changed since you first got started?
The market has never been so flooded with brands. It’s an easier game to get into, for example, I can take a graphic and start my own t-shirt company out of my office, but it’s a harder industry/market to be successful in because of that.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received and what advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?
Don’t go into something for the monetary gain, do it because it’s what you love to do, because then it will never become work. It’s hard, people will tell you, you will fail, but if you believe in your craft then you will succeed. Believing in yourself and those around you is key.
Q: We understand that you started Parish Nation without any additional financial backing. What compelled you to take that kind of risk to create this brand?
We—my partners and I—left Enyce knowing we wanted to start a brand that would inspire creativity and would be about the talent, the designers. Everything in life is a risk, some are willing to take it, others just stay reserved and wish they had. We’re about action.
Q: What’s the most exciting part of building a brand?
The entire process, from gathering the right troops to the drawing boards to the marketing. Everything about it is exciting because it’s always fresh, and you never know what’s going to happen.
Q: What’s the creative vision behind Parish Nation?
Comics/TV/Hip Hop iconography, politics, religion, basically anything we talk about on a daily basis. Things we’ve grown up on are what inspires the brand.
Q: The Parish Nation website states that one of the goals of the brand is to spawn a new attitude in fashion. Can you elaborate on that?
We want to build brand loyalty. At this point there are so many brands out there no one knows what’s what. We’re not about trends; they come and go. We want to build loyalty–create gear that makes you feel good and confident.
Q: How would you describe the aesthetic of your most recent collection?
Everything from camo/army inspired tops to rocker style hoodies.
Q: What type of guy wears Parish clothing?
Any guy from 14-25 that is on the cusp of fashion. He knows that his style is a reflection of his personality.
Q: What’s one trend that you would like to see more men embrace and what trend do you wish would just disappear?
Embrace – Woven Shirts
Disappear – Trucker hats
Q: We always ask dope menswear lines the same question; do you have anything in the works for the ladies? ;)
Yes, there have been talks, but first we want to hit the mens market hard then later on do something fun for the ladies.
Q: Can you share any other future plans for Parish Nation?
We like to keep things hush hush, but be assured it’ll be something fresh and original.
For more information about Tony Shellman or Parish Nation please log-on to www.parish-nation.com