“Repping the brand ” with Charles “Chaz” Zayed, Cofounder of Awful Cloth

Give us your “Twitter bio” or elevator pitch.

Hello, I’m Chaz. I started my own clothing brand called Awful Cloth. What makes my brand different is that we focus on spreading positivity and good vibes through our entirely hand-drawn designs and vibrant colored clothing. Awful is known to mean “bad” but for us, it means “full of awe” and inspiring. We want to inspire others to be themselves no matter what and to look at perspectives differently, even if it means fashion. Stop dressing like everyone else and start looking Awful.

 

What entrepreneurial or innovative business or project are you currently working on?

I currently have my own clothing brand. It’s called Awful Cloth. I started it when I was 19. Pretty neat stuff.

How did you get started with Awful Cloth?

The story goes: I ordered a Quesadilla Maker off Amazon because I was sick of Pizza X’s prices and delivery. I needed something late night to munch on. So I started making dillas and eventually my floormates found out and wanted some, so I had an idea. I started selling them for $5 to my floormates and eventually, it got out of hand where people from different dorms were coming to me for my quesadillas. Everyone loved them even though it was only 3 simple ingredients: cheese, tortilla, and my secret hot sauce (which I will remain to keep it a secret). I realized the influence I had and wanted to make a bigger impact on my campus. I’ve always been into fashion, so I decided to go for the t-shirt route. 8 months later (from January) I released Awful Cloth along with my business partner, Emmit Flynn. To be honest, the name Awful I had a dream about. I envisioned like rappers and people wearing awful it was kind of weird. I looked into the word more and realized it meant more than just bad. As I said before, it can mean inspiring or “full of awe” so I wanted that to be the meaning behind my brand: to promote looking at perspectives different and to promote self-positivity. Since our initial release, we’ve had a thousand orders across the globe. Really was a reality check seeing an order being shipped to Moscow, Russia and Melbourne, Australia. I’ve had some publications too that’s pretty cool. Celebrities are starting to wear my clothes too also pretty nice.

How’d you get into entrepreneurship and innovation? Why entrepreneurship?

Before Awful Cloth, it was selling quesadillas. Before quesadillas, I was selling shoes. Before selling shoes, I was selling lemonade. Before lemonade, I was selling fake toy food to my sister for monopoly money. I’ve been an entrepreneur my whole life I just want to make an impact on people. I love seeing people happy especially if I give them something I created. I’m just a  people-pleaser and the way I’ll do that is through my positivity and creativeness. That’s what I always thought being an entrepreneur was. I’m not going to stop being an entrepreneur until I’m six feet under. 

What has been the most useful entrepreneurial resource or experience at the University?

Honestly, I never really used any university resources. I don’t know if there even is. Even in my classes, I haven’t applied it to my business really until I was in I-Core and it was more of the marketing stuff. I just did a lot of research and learning experience. But the biggest thing about being on a college campus is my ability to network and market to the students (my target audience). I’m a social guy so whenever I talk to someone I always sell them a little bit of awful once I get to really know them. Bloomington has been the biggest support for me and without the students, I’ve met, I don’t think I would have been as successful.

What has been the most useful entrepreneurial resource or experience outside of the University?

Research on my laptop, phone calls to some professionals, and youtube videos. I don’t know I feel like I just did it on my own and figured it out from there, but of course, it took a lot of research and development and looking through our store data.

What’s the best advice you’ve received as an entrepreneur?

Mark Cuban and I were emailing and I was asking him for some advice. He doesn’t type big paragraphs just a sentence or two when he emails, so he emailed me saying “don’t take yourself too seriously” along with a couple of other things. It really stood out to me because I’m a super goofy kid and for him to say that meant a lot. Of course, I run my own business and I have to be professional in a sense, but also I’m a college student who likes normal stuff like going to social events and eating steak burritos. I never acted differently since I started a business, but it was a good reminder for me to continue to be my weird self every day and not let this change me into a different person. Cuban is the man, me and my partner went crazy when he answered. It took him like 7 minutes to email me back too. My own mother takes like 15 minutes to respond to me like come on. 

What advice would you give to other entrepreneurial students?

Besides the cheesy “follow your dreams” honky, I would say just find a passion, become obsessed with it, and turn it into a career, business, goal, lifestyle. You can’t start a business if you’re not passionate about it. I would never start a makeup line or microwavable popcorn company because I’m not passionate about that stuff. Also not caring what people think goes a long way. Don’t look in your blindspot when you should be focused on the road. The people who doubted you always try to come crawling back and act as they support you when you’re successful. It has happened to me but I just don’t give them my attention. Everyone is going to want a plate of what you’re eating once you’re done cooking it. People literally called my idea Awful, so I turned it into a clothing brand. Just focus on you and your passion and you’ll be not only successful, but happy.

Where can people find you in-person? Online?

www.awfulcloth.com or Instagram: @awfulcloth. I have occasional pop-up shops I do too.

Thanks for sharing, Chaz!