Q&A with Swah: fashion designer and brand owner of Piece of Mind

photo by: JT Hicks

Meet Gavin Pease, also known as Swah, designer and brand owner of Piece of Mind. Piece of Mind is an apparel business based in Akron, Ohio. We reached out to Gavin who talked to us about his journey with Piece of Mind and his experience with launching his own brand.

How long have you had your own brand and what inspired you to start it?

I’ve had a clothing brand for a little under a year. I’ve always created and designed. The canvas just changes with time and growth. Drawing, fashion and music were my first loves. I believe I was the first 6th grader in the world to wear a Durango cowboy boot to school when it was totally not the popular thing to do. It was also a dream of mine to own a boutique early on. I just knew I was different early on. Left of center as Uncle [Pharrell] would say.

How would you describe your brand?

I would describe my brand as a time capsule of the soul. My thoughts, visions, beliefs, struggles and messaging on quality garments.

What are some of the main products you sell?

I sell mainly tops and accessories. More specifically, shirts, crewnecks, hoodies and socks. I haven’t gotten into bottoms or jackets yet. I want to master where I am first.

Who would you say is your target audience/clientele?

I don’t really have a target audience. That sounds like a box or limitations. I’ve never been a fan of those. All are welcomed. If what I create makes you feel something, whether that be the color palette, the message or the quality of the fabric, then it’s for you.

How would you describe the design process for your products?

The design process differs from project to project. Most times it starts with some sketches of mine. Sometimes there are words that I want to somehow express in design. I never rush though, I let life happen and move accordingly. When I’m inspired and have something meaningful, I go for it.

What has been your favorite part of starting your own brand?

My favorite part is just being able to give the world my perspective in a fun way. 

What has been the most difficult part of having your own brand?

The most difficult part has been the things you can’t control, just like anything else. Things like access to materials, the budget for those materials and balancing the man-made parts of life, such as working a 9 to 5 job, with doing what you love. 

photo by: Dante Solitro

What are some things you have learned since launching your business? Have you found having your own brand to be more challenging that you initially thought?

I’ve learned patience for sure. I have also learned about dealing with money and time management. Also, you can’t rush good ideas or they fall flat and that’s not good for any business. I don’t find it to be more challenging. I never thought it would be easy. I’ve always just done what my heart felt compelled to do, no matter how hard. Sometimes that decision takes time, but I always get around to it. The same thing happened with starting a brand: it was in me. Now maybe when I’m doing outrageous sales numbers monthly and have to employ other people to help, I’m sure there will be challenges, but I’m not quite there yet.

How have you taken steps to promote your business?

I’ve taken small steps mostly by social media and word of mouth. I have some really cool friends and family who are big time super stars and music executives, so maybe when I’m cool enough and the product is where it needs to be you’ll see them in some Piece Of Mind garments. Which is really good marketing, who knows.

How has social media played a part in promoting your business?

It has given me a presence, a home. It is somewhere for people to go to see what’s happening or not happening. It’s huge for any brand to have them. It’s crazy because my graphic designer Erik Leib and I were working on something for a current project that we’re knee deep in and he asked me about the size of something and my answer was, “I don’t know, whatever size is perfect for Instagram.” It made me think about the new standard. As soon as you are done with the art where do you post it…exactly. Album rollouts include Instagram, Twitter and all these things. 

What is your long term goal for your brand?

The long term goal for my brand is to inspire and impact as many lives as possible. Maybe even change the way someone thinks about themselves and the world. It’s all about the lives for me. Money is cool, but if I didn’t help someone smile or do better or think differently, it doesn’t even matter.

Do you have any advice for any aspiring entrepreneurs?

Go for it, just do it. Don’t wait for the right time or when you have everything perfect that doesn’t exist. Don’t worry about structure man, just create with honesty, taste and execution. The world is new and changing, get ahead of it and do what you feel and love. One of my favorite quotes from Howard Thurman says, “Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Is there anything you would like to add that hasn’t been mentioned?

Yes! I enjoyed answering these, thank you so much for the opportunity. Also, spread more love, be kind and always consider that everybody is going through something whether we see it or not. It’s our job to be good humans. Oh, and I’m releasing a small capsule in a couple of weeks and this next collection is really good and I can’t wait for you all to see it. Love you all! Also shout out to Jonny Watkins, my good friend and the decorator of all my garments.

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