Derek Kesseler and Stuart Van Volkenburg launched VNCVR Clothing back in 2015 and already have made a huge impact on society. With their decision to partner with BC Children's Hospital Foundation they have been able to help the less fortunate and have inspired many people with their brand.
Q: Where were you guy’s born and raised?
A: Stuart was born in Victoria, BC and I was born in Edmonton, Alberta. We both grew up together in Beaumont, Alberta.
Q: How did VNCVR clothing all start?
A: VNCVR clothing started in November of 2015. We had always wanted to start our own company and while on the drive home from a Seattle Mariners game we decided that we would start brainstorming to see where our ideas and passions would align. After a month of exchanging ideas we decided a clothing company was what we would love to create. Next we came up with the branding of VNCVR with inspiration from companies such as Life is Good, East Coast Lifestyle, and Tom’s footwear.
Q: What inspired you two to create a clothing company that supports the BC Children’s Hospital?
A: Once we decided that we were going to launch a clothing brand, we knew that we wanted to include a social initiative; the matter of who was our next decision. Stuart and I both had amazing childhoods, growing up with a great group of friends and living a healthy active lifestyle. This is something we feel every child should have the opportunity to experience. That’s when we decided that the BC Children’s Hospital was the foundation we wanted to partner with. They align with our vision of building a loyal community of people who share our passion for helping those less fortunate while providing inspiration for others.
Q: How did you come up with the name VNCVR and what do you think makes your brand stand out from others?
A: We came up with the name VNCVR after hours of writing out names, acronyms, and having brainstorming sessions for two months. We were constantly texting each other idea’s and meeting every night until we finally landed on one we both thought was great. We wanted something that was going to be simple, bold, and also represent Vancouver in a stylish new way that hadn’t been done before. That was when we decided on VNCVR. It is our diversity that really makes us stand out as a brand. We aren’t looking to target any specific groups or different types of people; our mission is to bring Vancouver together as a whole. Whether you’re a cyclist, swimmer, yogi, weightlifter, hiker, artist, actor, singer, or any other type of person we want our brand to represent the diversity and openness of Vancouver’s culture.
Q: What do you see for your brand in the next 5 years? How will you expand your social media presence?
A: We both see a great opportunity for large growth of the VNCVR brand in the next 5 years. In our first 8 months of operation we have been able to showcase our brand in 4 downtown stores while creating a strong relationship with the owners. We are hoping to be in 10 stores next year and have our own storefront in the next couple years. Our social media has been our strongest presence since our inception and it is something that we are going to continue to improve on. We have spent a lot of time researching and strategizing how to run our social media successfully and we are going to keep on evolving. We will continue to expand through collaborations, online contests, and most importantly by putting out great content that delivers our message to Vancouver.
Q: Do you have any new collections coming out for the fall/winter?
A: There will be a few new surprises to keep an eye out for in the next few months. As women continue to be one of our stronger supporters we decided to come up with a few exciting new items geared toward keeping them warm this winter.
Q: What have been some of your biggest accomplishments so far with the company?
A: The accomplishment that resonates strongest is being able to donate $3,000 dollars for the BC Children’s Hospital in our first 9 months operating. It all comes down to the amazing people of Vancouver who continue to support us and buy our product that have given us the opportunity to give this money back to the hospital. Stuart and I can both agree that one of the biggest accomplishments so far with the company was having the courage to start it. It takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to take on a life of entrepreneurship, but it was something we were ready to do. So many people are worried about what others are going to think or what if it doesn’t work out. If you feel like you have a great idea and your passionate about it then go after it!
Q: How would each of you define the word success?
A: Derek: I define the word success by waking up each morning with the intention of pursuingsomething that you love. Not something your friends think you should do or that your parents think isright for you, but something that YOU love to do. You should ask yourself one question every morning when you wake up. If today were the last day of your life, would you want to be doing what you’re doing? If that answer is yes then I believe you are on the path to, or currently living a successful life.
Stuart: One of my favorite quotes is “If you're not making someone else's life better, then you're wasting your time. Your life will become better by making other lives better.” Will Smith said that and I truly believe it. Helping others is the key to finding long-term happiness and how can you be successful if you are not happy?
Q: Who are some people you have collaborated with and who would you like to work with in the future?
A: We have been very lucky and are grateful for the many people we have collaborated with so far. Our goal has always been to grow with the help of other like-minded people so we can return the favor. Many local photographers have lent their time and ability in creating the gorgeous pictures we use. BCIT is currently helping us put together a marketing campaign for the New Year.
Q: How would each of you describe your own personal style?
A: Derek- I would describe my style as both classy and hip. I love getting dressed up in nice suits and also throwing on some ripped jeans and a snapback. That is one of the great things about Vancouver. There are so many different styles and personalities that you can be whoever you want to be.
Stu- Very laid back. From the feet up I start with a pair of Jordan 1’s or a classic low top converse. Tight black jeans are my calling card (what else would you wear?), with a VNCVR tee shirt and a backwardssnapback to finish.
Q: Do you have anything else you want your viewers to know?
A: Speaking from experience, going from working at a JOB you absolutely dreaded to building a company that has the ability to impact others in a positive way is an incredible feeling. Don’t settle for a job or a career, create a dream then spend the rest of your life turning it into a reality.
Lastly, we’re going to be throwing an official launch party in the near future, so keep your eye out for when that will be happening and we hope to see you there.
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