9 Sep 2014
XTAL Clothing is a new BJJ and surfing influenced lifestyle brand based in Manchester, UK. I spoke with owner Tim Fong about the vision behind his brand.
Q: Hi Tim, tell me about you, your BJJ background?
Hi Seymour, I am 24 years old and am currently in my final year of pursuing an Economics degree in University of Manchester. In terms of BJJ, I have been training for about 3.5 years now. Before coming to Manchester, I have been training at Juggernaut Fight Club in Singapore. Here in Manchester, I started training with SBG Mainline and have been training with this great team ever since. I was awarded my blue belt on June 2013 by Karl Tanswell and couldn’t be more proud to be a blue belt under such a great coach whom I really look up to.
Q: Tell me about your clothing brand, what was the thought process behind starting it up?
This brand started up with a few individuals from various backgrounds. We have Krystal that’s currently pursuing a Law Degree, Joe (Graphic Designer) and Pat (Photographer). Even though all of us are from different backgrounds, we share one common belief, which is having the liberty to pursue our passions. Therefore, through this brand we hope to inspire individuals and cultivate a culture that builds around the idea of not being afraid to do what you’re passionate about.
In my opinion, many clothing brands out there put their focus mainly on the aesthetic appeal of their apparel and also on the fit and functionality of their products. We know that this is extremely important and we do pay a lot of attention to all these details but on top of that, as a brand XTAL also seeks to represent one belief. XTAL plays a part in the community we are involved in by supporting deserving individuals and helping them take a step closer to their dreams. We have launched the 1st of many projects to come called ‘Dream Chaser’, whereby we give everyone an equal opportunity and chance to secure a sponsorship with XTAL.
Q: Why the name XTAL, what does it mean?
XTAL is actually an abbreviation for crystal. As a brand, XTAL started with a clear vision and purpose in mind. Therefore we hope that we can share this vision with everyone who supports this belief and the brand. We want to encourage everyone to take a step back from this hectic world so as to have a crystal clear visualization of the possibilities and opportunities that lies ahead from doing what you love. As we will like to put it, ‘By the sea, we all see a crystal sky’.
Q: Who designs your gear?
For the design process, we have Krystal and Joe working on the designs of our apparel. I personally contribute to the creative process behind the designs as well. Krystal is of Asian ethnic background while Joe is from England. Thus, our designs incorporate elements from both backgrounds and we try to find a perfect mix and blend between the two.
Q: What kind of things do you have now and what are you planning for the near future that customers can hope to see?
At the moment, we have just launched our 1st Summer Collection that consists of tees, tank, sticker and patches. As for our 2nd collection, we are in the process of planning to launch a wider range of products that consists of rashguard, hoodies/sweatshirt, more tees and 5-panel cap. Of course, in the near future we hope to be able to launch our very own Gi too.
Q: How easy or hard was the process of starting up for you?
Just like any other business, it’s never an easy path to take on. A start-up requires a great deal of commitment and hard work filled with blood, sweat and tears. Building a brand from scratch and making it successful is not something that can be achieved over night. Therefore, we are constantly working on providing the best customer service and products we can offer so that it will allow us to gain a customer base that truly believe in what we do.
As a startup co-founder, I rarely have much money in my bank accounts. Neither in the personal nor business account and it may be stressful dealing with cash flows of the business. Funding the business at the start was also another crucial issue that XTAL has faced. However, we are really thankful for whatever support and help that we have received from our families and friends.
I would say that one of the most difficult parts of starting up XTAL would be the sourcing of manufacturers that can deliver the quality of products that we desire. This is especially important for the brand if we were to build up a solid customer base with the quality that we can be proud of to offer. All of our products for the first collection are printed and made in UK.
Q: You mention surfing - not many waves in Manchester, where are the best places to surf in the UK?
There isn’t any waves in Manchester, the nearest decent place that you can surf at will probably be at Saltburn by the Sea. As for the best places to surf in the UK, I think it will be at Cornwall and Newquay in my opinion.
Thank you for taking your time to do this interview with us Seymour. We really appreciate it!