Rival™ Founder sits with Josh Blackwelder from Elevated for interview

Rival™ Founder sits with Josh Blackwelder from Elevated for interview


Recently, the fashion scene has seen a new trend become popular: Streetwear. Think Yeezy, Supreme, and other minimalist brands that give off a certain message. Underneath these main brands are dozens of start-up brands, hoping to one day be the next big brand. One in particular is on the rise: Rival California.

This minimalist brand focuses on being a better brand, and smashing the competition, or for a better term, their Rivals. We had the amazing chance to talk with the founder and main designer of the brand, Joey Ardire. In his interview, he discusses how hard it is to start a brand, and what it’s like competing with so many others.

Name: Joey Ardire
Age: 37
Home: Pleasanton, Ca

Current Occupation:

I’ve been an Elevator Technician in San Francisco for the last 18 years. I’ve worked in the slums of the Tenderloin district and seen a whole different way of living. Being in that environment for so long changes you as a person. I picked up street photography as a hobby during my lunch breaks and after work. I would sit on the sidewalks and interact with the homeless. It took my photography to a whole new level as I dived into a candid photography style catching raw and emotional shots of urban poverty and urban life in general. I had a graphic design background and found myself using my photography to inspire my graphic designs and use them to make clothing brands just for fun. In 2003 I had started a clothing brand called “Dinity Krisis Inc”. It was just for my friends and family. The clothing aspect failed within the year but it did open doors into artist management and nightclub productions. The company became successful in nightlife production with a Nightclub in Pleasanton,Ca called Aura. I retired from that in 2008. Although the company had a great run, I always missed my original passion for designing clothing.

What inspired you to chase your dreams?

I wanted to see if I still could produce a brand based on where I was currently in my life. Somehow it needed to tie in my Street photography style. I still had the same style but I was a little more mature. I told my wife that I wanted to start a brand again and she laughed at me and said, “Don't you think you are a little old for that? You can start a Street wear brand but you can’t spend any of our own money.”  So in one hand I was excited that I got the go ahead but on the other hand, how the hell am I gonna raise the money? I found a crowd fundraising site called Kickstarter and applied. I designed a business plan and really did a lot of research to figure out what this new brand would bring to the table of Casual/Streetwear Industry. I pitched it to everyone and their grandma… even their mailman. I was hungry to make this happen. I started a Instagram, Reddit, Facebook, Tumblr, and YouTube account. It started to build a following  with mock ups of what the shirts would look like. My original goal was $2300 and after 3 weeks I only had $800. I couldn’t give up without a fight so I made a YouTube video with me touring San Francisco and using my voice to explain my project. The whole project took off on Facebook. We succeeded and raised  $3234.00 in 33 days. It was official, The Rival Collection was born.

What’s your greatest achievement?

That question is a long one because I never stop wanting more. I would say at first it was to sell “one” shirt to someone I didn’t know at all. Then it was to sell 20 orders in a month. The next big step was shipping internationally. The following milestone was building the site 100% by myself. After all of these little milestones, I would say my greatest achievement is being able to payoff all of our startup costs and be debt free after one year in business. That means the world to me in regards to this business. Now I can focus on adding more products and evolve into a Lifestyle Brand.

How do I stay motivated during setbacks?

The Clothing industry is a never ending bag of stress and disappointments. The one thing you must understand is no vendor will put as much effort as you. So get ready for being let down over and over….and over. In the beginning my motivation was to earn the respect from all the people who donated to the Kickstarter campaign. "How could I possibly give up with so many people believing in me?" Now that was stress. When my first clothing launch had came, 75% of all the graphics were off center. This forced us to make some quick changes. That was my first experience dealing with being major disappointment. I survived and bounced back. There were so many hurdles in the beginning. Learning how to sew was the absolute hardest. So the name of the clothing game is, “Mastering how to pivot”. Learning how to take a bad situation and create an opportunity to continue forward. Just don’t quit!!!

Any advice for our followers?

Build something in this life that you can go to sleep and love. It doesn’t matter what it is as long as it brings you joy. I didn’t do clothing to make money. Nowhere in this interview have you heard/read me say anything about wanting more money for myself. I do this because it brings me joy to create something in my head and make it real. Rival is growing every month and stretching across the globe. People write to us frequently telling us how they feel inspired to support us or do their own thing. That’s the most special thing. Its about relationships and interaction. Johnny Cupcakes, Shepard Fairey, and Ralph Lauren inspired me and I recommend anyone to watch their documentary about their life and career.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published