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The Dirt on Filthy Casual

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Darshelle Stevens Filthy Casual
Darshelle Stevens wearing Filthy Casual

These are the guys that created a community behind a brand. Jason Soprovich and Mike Gaboury are the creators of Filthy Apparel, a premium lifestyle brand based in Canada focused on the gaming industry. The beauty behind the Filthy Casual brand is the positive influence that it has on the people wearing the clothes. What makes their apparel different is that it is for gamers of every level, whether you are a professional or play casually every so often. This is about growing as an extended family, with people you meet virtually, at conventions, or through social media.


Filthy Casual

Photo by Darshelle Stevens

Jason and Mike began their adventure 7 years ago as nothing more than just a hobby. They were never the cool kids, but not quite the nerds either. Their similar interest in World of Warcraft brought them together as friends and decided to form a company together. Unsure of which industry to reach, they pursued music. They quickly learned that it was not something they had passion for, and discarded the idea soon after. Clothing sounded reasonable, they thought, and that was where they poured their creativity to this day.

What started as 50 shirts for friends became something much more, for a community with a large demographic. According to The ESA, in 2015, 155 million Americans play video games with an average of two gamers in every gaming household. With a large audience in the United States alone, Filthy Casual is quickly becoming the ultimate lifestyle brand for gamers. Their online store features a wide range of products, from graphic t-shirts and snapbacks to artwork in the form posters and prints. Their apparel is focused on comfort, made with premium fabrics and materials. Growing quickly, their product line will be expanding within a few months time.

The culture that Jason and Mike built for Filthy Casual is unique in the fact that they have remained humble throughout their success. Their appreciation for everyone involved thus far, from their photographer Darshelle Stevens to all the family and friends they have met along the way, is expressed through their language and stories shared. Filthy Casual Spotlights feature individuals that are equally as passionate about the gaming community as they are. Social media has been an outlet for Filthy Casual to reach and engage with fans. Their Twitter is flooded with people around the world wearing their apparel, while their Instagram gives you a behind the scenes look into the people behind the brand.

Filthy Casual

Photo by Darshelle Stevens

Keeping up with the gaming market is one of their priorities that has contributed to their success. Jason and Mike are constantly watching gaming trends and many times, designing on the fly based on what is forecasted. The Filthy Casual team has traveled around the world, with Vancouver, Austin, and San Diego being some of their favorites. Their growth is no secret, with companies actively reaching out to them. They have collaborated with some of the most respected people in the industry like Rooster Teeth, where Filthy Casual designed a shirt based on their aesthetic. Others include Kinda Funny Games, Deep Silver, and are currently in talks on secret projects in the gaming industry.

Filthy Casual is a brand filled with passion and their mission is to spread the positivity that they have seen in the community. They are the family that you wish you had growing up, and are pioneering the way for people to come together based on similar interests, just as Jason and Mike has. They made a clothing brand that they believe in and wear themselves. The best advice they can give is, “Be willing to be dynamic, find where you fit in, and don’t give up.” Filthy Casual is as respectable as the team behind it. What was once days filled with World of Warcraft is now an apparel company sought out by fans around the world. Because their foundation is built on connecting with people and building relationships, they do not offer sponsorships of any kind. Everyone that wears their clothing is a true fan, and they pride themselves on being authentic without having to spend any marketing dollars.

Filthy Casual

Photo by Darshelle Stevens

As Filthy Casual continues to grow, they hope to see their apparel on the average gamer. They have turned down opportunities for entering retail stores, but are considering opening a flagship store of their own within 5 years time. Jason and Mike want to give their customers a personal experience that only they are able to give. Fans from around the world are purchasing their product in their online store and at conventions. Some are collecting the apparel, such as one of their customers in the UK, who has 46 of their pieces. What they want their fans to know is that Filthy Casual is all inclusive and to not be afraid to say hello. Think of them as an extended family, the guys that have your back when there is no where to turn. That is the Filthy Casual lifestyle.

Jie writes about influencers and startups in various industries. She is a designer turned techie, and when she is not writing, you can find her in her workshop working on her next big project.

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Business

“I’m Fat Let’s Party” Guy: Life as a Celebrity Meme

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The internet has done a lot to disrupt culture.  Once upon a time, styles, techniques, communities and information were only as transmutable as cable TV and word of mouth.  When compared to the rate of change we see today, the evolution of content has moved from a slow creep to nearing light speed.  Ten years ago the lifetime of any trend in humor could last months, and before that years.  These days, you see a popular meme “break the internet” but one week later a new one is there to take it’s place.

Imagine if Charlie Chaplin had risen to fame in this day and age through the vehicle of The Meme.  Would he still be as iconic?  As immortal?

I spoke with Steven Lee… also known as “I’m Fat Let’s Party” Guy.  Steven’s meme has been sported on the front page of reddit twice and has garnered over 400k in likes and shares on social media within the first hours of being posted.  As it happens, Steven and I actually went to the same schools growing up.  However I am jealous because I cannot say that I grew up to be a world-class meme.  I got the chance to speak with him about Memeology.  Here’s what he had to say:

1.  So let’s hear about this party…  

The picture was taken in 2011, I was with my friend Dave Leek. We went to Philadelphia at Drexel Factory for a concert. The head Dj was Alesso. When we got there I found out my friend Dj Dubsef was opening so we were allowed in early. When the concert started, since we got in early we got front row, right in the middle. It was crazy we were just having a blast and I saw the photographer “ATOTHE” and I just made that pose and everyone went along with it. It was great the high from just being at the concert and all the fun I was having was crazy mainly because I was completely sober. We didn’t drink at all it was just the energy that gave me like a high feeling. Definitely an amazing feeling.

2.  Now let’s hear about this shirt…

The shirt I got back in 2010 at Comic Con NY. It was at a booth called “Seibei”. They were super nice. After I became the meme I sent them an email about it. They thanked me and I told them that I ordered another shirt from them.  They said they were going to throw in some more for me. It was amazing because I ordered two shirt but when the package came they gave me three more shirts two of them were different color versions of the “I’m Fat, Let’s Party” shirt. One in black with yellow letters and one in sky blue with yellow letters too. Another note about Seibei is that when I went to Magfest 2015 I got to meet the creator of the shirt there. He was working his friend’s booth there and I haven’t officially met him before so it was great. Once he saw me he told some customer “I’m sorry but I need to hug this man really quick.” He is an amazing man, his name is David by the way. In short, I have three different colors of the shirt.

3.  Who first memed this?  Tell me about the moment you realized it went viral.

So going back to the Photographer “ATOTHE” he posted the original photo on his Facebook page. Then someone who I still don’t know posted it to “reddit” and it blew up from there. It’s funny I never heard of reddit before that. I saw the post after 14 hours of it being posted and it already had over 400,000  reblogs and likes. It was weird because in the comments some people knew who I was, telling them I lived in NJ and that I went to high school. Some said that I quote “omgz he snapchats me everyday”. The worst part of it though was the comments about body confidence saying that I have a mental problem about my body. Then there were other people arguing about it. It was pretty nuts. Also in the comments were people who started to photoshop me into a ton of different memes.  Basically the reason it became a big deal was because it made the front page of reddit and apparently posts only get the front page when it’s discussed and reblogged a ton.

4.  How old is this meme now?  How often do you see it reappear? 

It’s about 5 or 6 Years old now. It has been reappearing all the time. It’s been on the front page of reddit now about 5 times and when it gets posted the meme evolves, which is cool.

5.  What has been the most surprising side effect of being a “meme guy” so far?

The most surprising part of being “that guy” is that people from all over the world knows the meme and some of them actually know who I am due to mutual friends. The funniest/weirdest time I got recognized was when I was working as a cashier for FiveBelow. These two kids age probably around 12 and 10. They made a comment while I was ringing them up. It was “oh must be a party over here”. I was confused at first but then I looked at them and I asked are you referring to the meme. Their faces lit up in excitement when I caught on. What made it weird is that their father was confused and asked what are you guys talking about. My response was that they saw a funny picture of me and he gave me the most confusing look ever. It was funny and weird lolz.

6.  What are your thoughts on meme culture and memes as a vehicle for humor?  What’s your favorite meme?  

The meme culture is huge, when it first started it usually was the same pictures with new phrases on them. Now new memes come out every other week. The convention I went to had a huge meme culture following in it. There were people who cosplay a meme that just got popular only a week ago. It’s crazy but I also believe sometimes people make memes and take it to a new level. Now memes are videos too. They went from pictures to videos… now that’s huge step. But again some of the memes are just too much for me and are part of that I wanna say is stupid humor like doing the stupidest things on purpose.

My favorite meme of all time?  Arthur Fist.

7.  What do you like most about your meme?  What do you like least? 

What I like most about my meme is that I met people who told me that the meme gave them the courage to go out and do things and that made me feel better about themselves. Even though I just was at a party having fun. The thing I like least about it is that some people think that I’m someone who just parties all the time and that makes them think I’m not someone who actually has a head on their shoulders. It sucks but I usually just ignore those guys because everyone has, haters am I right?
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Leading Ladies In Tech: Caitlin Clark Zigmond

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Caitlyn Clark Zigmond

 

Caitlin Clark Zigmond is the Vice President of Product Management at CoreDial. She shares her experience of over 30 years where she has worked with numerous companies under several different capacities. She started out in Hi-Tech as the Director of operations working for a company that built precision hot stages in science and industry, which involved working with one of the first windows based research pieces of equipment. From there, Caitlin decided that she wanted to become an entrepreneur and started her own catering business. Growing up, she cooked at home as both her parents were working, and that influenced her first business. She bought a company with just four employees and grew it to the third largest company in Boulder, Colorado. Caitlin gave up the business to start a family with her partner. Over the next few years, she went from being the first Product Manager for New Global Telecom (NGT), to Product Lead for Hosted PBX, then Advanced Voice at Comcast who acquired Hosted PBX, and finally to CoreDial.

Caitlin spoke about the hurdles she had to face in the workplace and managing a work/life balance. Ruth Bader of the Supreme Court is her female role model because of how she has consistently broken down barriers throughout her career while maintaining a true level of professionalism. Though she’s faced immense challenges and a heavy degree of sexism for her role in a previously all-male space, she has a fierce dedication to equality. Caitlin said it reminds her to connect to all those around her, whether it’s family or a more professional setting. As Caitlin says, “Be open to new things and stay strong on your life’s journey.”

Caitlin Clark Zigmond

Caitlin Clark Zigmond

Caitlin Clark Zigmond

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Philly Startup PiperWai Solves Your Sweat Problems

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PiperWai

One of Philly’s top startups, PiperWai, was founded by Jess Edelstein and Sarah Ribner, two entrepreneurs with a knack for building a brand and staying authentic. They penetrated the highly competitive deodorant market by introducing a natural deodorant that actually works as advertised. Whether you are health conscious or just a regular user, PiperWai was introduced to solve your sweat and odor problems. The team has no plans on moving anytime soon. According to Jess, “Philly startups are extremely supportive.”

PiperWai

PiperWai is a natural charcoal based deodorant free of aluminum and other harsh chemicals that are usually found in conventional antiperspirants. Jess and Sarah started off with a creme deodorant and recently launched a stick applicator by popular demand. Activated charcoal is becoming an increasingly popular ingredient in cosmetics because of the health benefits and various uses. By using it in PiperWai’s deodorant mixture, it absorbs moisture and fights odor without staining your clothes. The essential oils give off a spa-like scent that appeals to both men and women. And, in case you’re wondering, it’s perfect for sensitive skin!

I had the opportunity to connect with Jess Edelstein, Co-Founder of PiperWai, and was heavily impressed by the perseverance that she and Sarah Ribner has shown for their brand’s success long before appearing on Shark Tank. From being 9 year old entrepreneurs in elementary school with their lemonade stand to self-made moguls, there’s no stopping Jess and Sarah. As any entrepreneur can tell you, the process is difficult and the hours are long, but the result is worth it’s weight in gold. This is the story of two best friends that embarked on an amazing journey together, and there seems to be no stopping them.

Before reaching their height of success with PiperWai, Jess’s day job was a real estate agent, selling houses to make ends meet. When PiperWai first launched, Jess and Sarah worked 80-100 hours per week pumping out the mixture into jars by hand. PiperWai has always been a business that has been bootstrapped, even after appearing on Shark Tank. Their first office was a closet, but expanded exponentially as demand began to rise. Real estate money became less significant and PiperWai became the core focus. Jess and Sarah moved production from making 300 jars at their home office to a copacker to keep up with demand. PiperWai is now the 3rd fastest company on Shark Tank to reach $1 million in revenue and the business has grown 6000% since.

You can now find PiperWai in every GNC in the country and every Whole Foods in the Mid-Atlantic region. You can also find them at over 200 independent retailers and online on websites like Lucky Vitamin. When they first appeared on HSN, they completely sold out. Not only is PiperWai good for your body, they do good for the community as well. They donate a portion of their sales to non-profits. Bloggers rave about PiperWai and express how much the natural charcoal based deodorant has changed their daily routine.

One of the best piece of advice Jess has is, “Bootstrap everything until you cannot anymore. Work out of your apartment. You do not need to appear fancy early on. Reinvest back into your product. It’s going to be hard. No matter how hard you work, it is going to be difficult. The short term discomfort is beneficial.” Entrepreneurship is not for everyone, but for those, like Jess and Sarah, who persevere and continue to invent in the business, the benefits are astronomical. They enjoy the flexibility of not being chained to a desk. Jess has not set an alarm in 2 years. Entrepreneurship feels more rewarding to these founders, especially after all the effort and looking back how far they’ve come.

Finding the right deodorant takes a large amount of commitment, something that these young founders understand. PiperWai went all natural with their product and is quickly cornering the market by outperforming their competitors. Jess and Sarah has come a long way since mixing the PiperWai formula in a closet to the sound of Taylor Swift.

PiperWai

Jess and Sarah in one of the first PiperWai kitchens

PiperWai

Jess and Sarah today

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