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11 Jul

Daniel Bailey – Founder of Concept Kicks – Footwear Designer

The best part about creating is getting your thoughts and emotions out to the world in a tangible product. A product that will hopefully out live me. With each creation you’re setting a tone, you’re creating a story, a legacy, and you're (hopefully) effecting others.

Creator Profile:

Daniel Bailey + Concept Kicks

Creator: Daniel Bailey

Company: Concept Kicks & Concept Kicks Lab  (Twitter: @ConceptKicks | IG: @conceptkicks & @mrbailey_ | Concept Kicks Facebook)

Location: London, U.K.

Websitewww.ConceptKicks.com | www.ConceptKicksLab.com | www.MrBailey.co.uk

Words of Wisdom

Have confidence in yourself. Be open to criticism from the right people, but also know when to say f--k it and go full out for your vision. If you’re genuinely putting in the work, and doing your own legit thing, it’ll work out eventually and the right people will gravitate towards you.

 

One part designer. One part media publisher. Full-time Sneaker head with one of the most gifted set of minds for details and design.

Daniel Bailey, founder of ConceptKicks.com, not only epitomizes authenticity and staying true to his craft as a footwear designer in the fashion world, he’s raising the standards quite high. And he’s not doing it alone.

A well-traveled, seasoned, former athlete turned creator, Bailey is tearing up the fashion world with some of the most innovative shoe designs, period. Given what I’ve seen so far, his name will be household in no time.

Currently based out of London, Bailey not only designs, but he created an online publication called ConceptKicks as a . . .

. . . way for me to put all the best, inspirational content in one place . . . It came to a point where I was just frustrated there wasn’t a place where you could go to, to see curated footwear content.

And his 4 year-old platform isn’t just a high level curation of beautiful designs, but a bevy of leading footwear architects globally.

I also wanted to give footwear designers credit for their work. Footwear designers are a massively talented group of people, yet no one really seems to know any outside of Tinker Hatfield.

I wanted to have a platform where their work could be shared and people could appreciate the hard work that’s gone into the shoe’s these guys are creating. It’s pretty cool what can happen when you embrace and celebrate other peoples work.

Well, the world is certainly listening now. Sneaker culture has been conquering the fashion world in recent years as its heavily bled over from athletics to pop culture and fashion icons. If I had to guess, Daniel is in the exact right place at the exact right time, which came from serious hustle of course.

CK Screenshot

ConceptKicks.com

And since ConceptKicks’ inception 4 years ago, Bailey has connected with some of the most innovating designers in the world:

Salehe Bembury of Yeezy footwear, David Raysse & Billy Dill of Brand Black, Brandon & Josh Brubaker of Clear Weather, Borre Akkersdijk of byBorre and Javier Laval from Android Homme, as well as industry legends & leaders like, D’Wayne Edwards (PENSOLE footwear acadamy founder, former Brand Jordan Footwear Design Director) & Jason Mayden (former Sr Global Design Director-Brand Jordan).

When I asked him why CK, Bailey said the following:

There are a lot of “hype” blogs out their that post paid, or overly hyped content without that content actually warranting the attention. I want CK to continue to be a true celebration of talent.

If you’re doing something innovative and different, I’ll do my best to find you and help spread the word about what you’re doing. That’s the at the core of the platform.

I had the pleasure of speaking with Daniel and we discussed his background, moving over 30 times in his life, playing basketball which inspired his direction into the fashion and footwear industries, creating designs and concepts that matter, and curating talent globally via his platform, ConceptKicks.com.

Here’s what he had to say:

Daniel Bailey  |  Sneaker Designer + Founder + Creator

HDF: Daniel! Thanks for doing this! I love what you’re doing with ConceptKicks.com, Concept Kicks Labs and all of your custom projects.

Before we get into all of your ventures, can we start by diving in a little bit more about where you’re originally from and where you’re living now?

Daniel: It’s actually always quite interesting when people ask me where I’m originally from because I have to think about how in-depth I want to go.

My father was in the British Army, so I’m your standard Army brat. I was born in Cyprus, Akrotiri and raised in Army camps all over Germany before moving to England when I was 10.

We lived up north in a smallish city called Doncaster for a few years before I left to play college Basketball in America. I spent a lot of time in New Jersey/New York and really soaked in a lot of that culture.

 

HDF: All great places!

New York / New Jersey is my original home. Sounds like you’ve traveled a bunch.

Daniel: Well, I don’t know the exact number, but I’ve definitely moved over 30 times in my life.

I’m actually incredibly proud to have grown up like that. I think it gives me a much more open minded view of the world.

It also really solidified a real sense of family importance for me. Wherever I would go, I knew that I would eventually be moving on to something new and different.

The one constant was my family, so we’ve built a really tight family unit and appreciate how important we are to each other, especially now that we’re a little fragmented with me being in London, my sister being in Doncaster and my parents in-between Germany and Greece.

Daniel Bailey | Playing Basketball in his Childhood

After I left America, I moved to London for a couple months before heading to Crete, Greece for about a year. From there I moved to Belgium, and then to Germany.

I’m half German, so I’ve got a lot of family there. It was a lot of fun actually getting to spend time with my aunts, cousins and grandparents for a change, and to also brush up on my German skills.

At the moment I live in London. I only moved here at the beginning of the year and I’m still figuring things out, but i’m really loving the lifestyle here. The mix of cultures, the hustle and the super talented people I’ve met since being here all culminate to create this incredibly infectious and inspiring energy.

 

HDF:  ConceptKicks is awesome brother. The fact that it’s a collaborative magazine and you work hand in hand with other designers, I can imagine some of the stories and experiences you’ve already encountered on your journey.

So, before we get into that, can you tell me a little bit more about your backstory and what you were doing before CK and designing?

Daniel: Before ConceptKicks and design I was all about martial arts and Basketball. My dad was my sensei growing up, so I’ve practiced Shotokan Karate since I was about 4 or 5 years old.

When I was about 12 or 13, Space Jam came out and pretty much changed my world, haha. When I saw that film I begged my parents for a Basketball and just fell in love with the game. From the ages of 12 to 21 it would have been extremely rare to have seen me without a Basketball in my hands.

Unfortunately my knees didn’t get the message about me wanting to be a pro Basketball player, so by the age of 21 I couldn’t play the way I wanted to anymore due to chronic knee tendonitis.

Daniel and his Basketball Team

It actually ended up being a massive blessing in disguise. It wasn’t like I was going to go to the NBA, and life for a European pro Basketball player can be pretty rough if you’re not a top tier athlete.

So after I realized I was going to be playing Basketball professionally, I switched focus to my studies and took the design side of things a lot more seriously.

Basketball is actually the reason why I loved footwear so much, so it parlayed into my product design degree pretty well.

View from Notre Dame de Reims (Champagne Region) | Courtesy of Matt Gottesman

HDF: I always feel like a person must marry what they love into their body of work, which you’ve clearly done.

How did you first get into designing and creating shoes?

Was there one of those “aha” moments in your life where you knew at some point this is what you’re going to do with your life?

Daniel: I can’t remember there ever really being an “aha” moment to be honest, I think I’ve always just been interested in the creation of products and concepts, it runs in my family.

When I was pretty young my aunt, who was studying Architecture at the time, used to scribble lines on paper and tell me to turn them into 3D objects. That simple act taught me 2-point perspective at a very young age, and gave me an understanding of perspective in general quite early on.

And as I mentioned earlier, I was pretty nuts about Basketball. I don’t think I know a single Basketball player that doesn’t love sneakers. It’s just such a massive part of the culture. So it just made sense for me to draw my own shoes and create my own brands.

HDF: Absolutely! Sneakers are very much a huge part of the culture!

How old were you the first time you designed shoes, or anything for that matter?

Daniel: I can’t remember how old I was when I first started to design shoes, but probably when I was around 13 or 14.

I remember me and my friend, Che, used to just sketch shoes for our imaginary shoe brand called, “Who?” during our Math class. Which is actually probably the reason I used to suck at Math now that I think about it…

It’s also quite ironic that there really is a shoe brand with that exact name out on the market right now (that neither Che or myself have anything to do with).

Bamboo Sketches by the Douro River in Porto

HDF: I don’t think it’s ironic at all. Universal; something you put out there long ago which acts as a sign now that you’re doing all the right things on your journey.

And I see you were also a Freelance Writer for Complex.com’s Sneaker Report. I’m a huge fan of Complex.com – How did that start and what’s been your favorite part about contributing?

Daniel: Yeah, that was a few years back. I haven’t really written for them for quite some time. In fact I don’t think SneakerReport is even around anymore, but that being said it was an interesting and valuable experience.

I say interesting because, even though it was an absolute honour to write for Complex, I also found it a little frustrating.

A lot of the topics I chose to go in-depth into weren’t really received that well, or were heavily edited, so they didn’t quite come across the way I initially intended.

I totally understand why they did that because they need people to actually read these articles, but maybe I went a little too far into detail on some of the subjects.

It was something I learned from, and I’m massively appreciative to Complex for reaching out and giving me that platform to try and spread some spotlight on the footwear design/development industry.

 

HDF: You know, I feel you completely on going in depth on subject matter. A big part of why I created HDFMagazine.com is because I felt there were too many online platforms that wanted the quick story and quick details, that I thought they underestimated global readers who want more interesting content.

So with that being said, you too, have created your own platform. Let’s talk about ConceptKicks.com & Concept Kicks Labs.

I had read that ConceptKicks.com is an online magazine dedicated to all things footwear, but you take it to a whole other level.

Can you walk me through why you started it and the vision behind it?

Daniel: ConceptKicks started as a way for me to put all the best, inspirational content in one place. I used to spend hours looking through portfolio sites and compiling images on my computer.

It came to a point where I was just frustrated there wasn’t a place where you could go to, to see curated footwear content.

Daniel Bailey | ConceptKicks.com

 

I also wanted to give footwear designers credit for their work. Footwear designers are a massively talented group of people, yet no one really seems to know any outside of Tinker Hatfield.

I wanted to have a platform where their work could be shared and people could appreciate the hard work that’s gone into the shoe’s these guys are creating.

 

HDF: That’s massively important to give designers a platform for their work to speak for itself. Again, a big reason why HDF was created.

Daniel: Yeah, it’s been really interesting seeing how CK has changed and evolved over the years.

Strictly from a visual standpoint, when I first launched the site it was a predominantly dark schemed website. Now it’s pretty minimal, light and airy, with a heavy focus on imagery.

From #ckinspiration posts, to interviews and playlists, I really just try to document what I find inspiring, or what I think other people may gravitate too.

It’s pretty cool what can happen when you embrace and celebrate other peoples work.

CK is really just a celebration of the footwear design and development industry and it’s still pretty amazing to me that people have gravitated to it so much within the industry.

 

HDF: Amen! Embracing other artists and creators is not only a great way to unify a culture, but give back.

So, who are some of the designers you have featured?

Daniel: Well, I try to reach out to more independent, up and coming designers and brands. Some recent ones being Salehe Bembury of Yeezy footwear, David Raysse & Billy Dill of Brand Black, Brandon & Josh Brubaker of Clear Weather, Borre Akkersdijk of byBorre and Javier Laval from Android Homme

Salehe Bembury | ConceptKicks.com

I’ve also hosted some industry discussions with industry legends & leaders like, D’Wayne Edwards (PENSOLE footwear acadamy founder, former Brand Jordan Footwear Design Director) & Jason Mayden (former Sr Global Design Director-Brand Jordan)..

Jason Mayden | Photo Courtesy of Fastcodesign.com

I would have to say the discussions have been some of my favourite features. It’s really interesting to hear what some of these industry vets have to say about current events.

The one that springs to mind the most was the, “What Do Designers Think Was The Shoe Of The Year?”, some of the answers were very interesting and brought up some valid points about the industry in it’s current state.

As far as individual designers/design studios I’ve featured, some personal favourites have been; Tina Hyunki Choi’s Reebok Fury Evolution concept, the projects Alexander Taylor Studio have helped create with adidas and pretty much anything Safa Sahin comes up with.

#ckinspiration | Photo – Tina Hyunki Choi (@tinahyunkichoi) | Reebok Fury Evolution Concept

HDF: That’s a serious lineup brother! All great artists. Some I had to look up. (laughter)

How long have you been building ConceptKicks.com?

DanielI’ve been building CK for about 4 years. It’s constantly evolving and has kind of taken on a life of it’s own to be honest. I think when something is created that has a valid and strong reason for existing, it tends to kind of take off and grow organically in it’s own way.

Right now i’m just looking to go into avenues that make sense. I don’t want to force things for the sake of exposure or money.

Daniel Bailey| ConceptKicks.com

There are a lot of “hype” blogs out their that post paid, or overly hyped content without that content actually warranting the attention. I want CK to continue to be a true celebration of talent.

If you’re doing something innovative and different, I’ll do my best to find you and help spread the word about what you’re doing. That’s the at the core of the platform.

 

HDF: Man, you have no idea how happy this makes me to hear this from you! I built HDF to be a true platform for creators to have a voice. As you put it, ‘a celebration of talent’.

There’s just too many platforms out there trying to scale too big too fast and they miss out on all the creativity and innovation going on.

I give you major props for staying true to your vision. Where do you see yourself taking this platform?

Daniel: From here on out I just want to concentrate on ways I can help spread the word about footwear design & development.

The importance of caring where your footwear (and products in general) is made, who created them, and why. Whether that be through certain collaborations, videos or competitions, CK will continue to grow and try to help bring the design culture and what I believe is truly important, to as many of people that are interested in understanding more about their products, as possible.

 

HDF: Well, if I have anything to say about it, I want to give CK as much exposure as possible. (Laughter). People need to experience real platforms like yours.

So as a designer, what have been some of your favorite projects that you designed?

Daniel: My personal favourite designs are yet to come out.

Right now I’m creating a new brand that I can’t really talk about much yet. But also my collaboration line with ekn footwear.

We’ve got some truly innovative footwear that are both minimal but extremely complex in it’s development. I think these shoes are something that people who understand footwear design and construction will really appreciate.

Daniel Bailey | @mrbailey_

@mrbailey_ X @eknfootwear

Mahabis Sketches

Aside from that, i’m very happy to see how well Mahabis is doing. That’s something that happened so quickly. Major respect to Ankur (Mahabis owner) for trusting in the vision we created that sunny afternoon on his rooftop a couple years back.

He went fully in, invested in a 3D printer and we just went to work. Now I’ll be walking around London and see huge ads with these things.

It’s funny to think that this was an idea we came up with over pizza and coke on a random day in London. It’s amazing what can happen if you just go for shit sometimes. Now we have a slipper (yes, a slipper) that won Drapers most innovative shoe of 2015. It’s nuts when you really think about it.

Mahabis

Mahabis

Right now I have a few different “brands” or umbrellas, if you like, that certain designs come under.

For strictly consultation footwear, which I’m slowly moving away from to concentrate on my own projects, they come under ConceptKicks.

Personal projects, say my collaboration with ekn, come under, “Mr. Bailey”. Those are more personal and encompass more of my own personal taste, or stories I think are important to express at that particular time.

I’m always on the look out for potential new projects and collaborations that make sense and will allow both myself and the people I’m collaborating with to spread their story in new and interesting, disruptive ways.

Daniel Bailey | ConceptKicksLab.com

HDF: I can think of a few ideas, but more on that another time (laughter).

While I know designers and creatives can’t ever be put into a “box”, how would you best describe your style?

DanielI would say my design style is clean, conscious & concise. I want each line to have a purpose beyond just the aesthetic. How can you layer a design to have more of a valid aesthetic?

For me this is a question that haunts me with each design. When you nail it, you create a super minimal and clean concept that’s also a little different. A valid, clean, different concept that’s also innovative.

Daniel Bailey X EKN Footwear | Photo via @Photographybymiles

Right now I’m experimenting with creating footwear that looks quite normal, perhaps even mundane at a first glimpse.

But when you take a closer look, you see the attention to detail and the very different way the shoe’s have been constructed.

HDFIt’s all in the details. So many people don’t understand why they fall in love with certain brands or styles that are really innovating and I tell them to take a closer look at the design. The details are what help differentiate.

Daniel: Yeah, I don’t really have any interest in creating footwear that’s the same as everything else on the shelf.

The issue being however, that those are generally the types of shoes that tend to sell a lot more than overtly different ones. So this is a way that kind of blends the two in a more artistic and playful manner.

 

HDF: Too many people don’t understand that experimentation is your brand’s way to keep innovating. I’m glad that you do it so well.

On another note, I recently asked a jewelry designer the following question:

I feel like entrepreneurship and being a designer have a lot of similarities. What similarities have you noticed between designing and building your own company?

Daniel: If you’re a designer that has their own brand, you’re an entrepreneur. There’s no way around it to be honest, at least in my eyes.

You don’t have the luxury of only being able to care just purely about design. Dealing with factories, packaging, marketing, photoshoots, distribution, sales….there’s a long, long list of responsibilities that mean you have to be much more then just a normal designer that works for a brand.

Daniel Bailey | @mrbailey_

I’m not trying to downplay how hard a designer that works for a brand has it, i’m just merely stating that it’s a lot different. And it’s not everyones cup of tea.

HDF: No, I don’t think you’re downplaying it all. There’s a huge difference when it’s your company versus working for someone else’s. There’s an entirely different set of responsibilities, including the ones you never thought of.

Daniel: Honestly, I think it can be extremely intimidating at first. But, once you realize that you don’t fully have to do everything yourself, and that it’s super important to have a good team around you, the pressure starts to fade away and you really start having fun. 

Applying your creative mindset to different aspects that aren’t commonly thought about can be a lot of fun. In my eyes, the creative thought process extends much further than just the initial design of the product.

Daniel Bailey | @mrbailey_

HDF: Absolutely! Diving into the details of both your products and your company can be a lot of fun for the sheer fact that you simply love what you do.

What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned in business from having your own design line?

DanielI think some of the biggest lessons I’ve learned have been that the business of shoe development is never straight forward.

If you have any type of plan, trust me, it’s not going to go the way you intended it to. Either the factory is going to make changes without you knowing, or delay your project, or one of your vendors isn’t going to supply you with the right materials, or a buyer may back out of a deal or just straight up not pay you after they already received product.

It’s a really cut-throat industry that can swallow you up quickly if you’re not careful. So I guess i’m just trying to build a thicker skin and just continue to learn and soak up as much as I can along the way.

HDF: Thicker skin would be the right term. (laughter). Especially if you believe in building your brand / company the right way.

What were some of the obstacles you didn’t see coming in the process of building your company/brands?

DanielAs far as obstacles I didn’t see coming – I think just the fact that not everyone get’s excited about the things I do.

Creating interesting and different product is incredibly hard, but getting them out to the world is much harder than I initially thought.

The business of PR and marketing is still something I’m trying to understand. Right now I think myself and my collaborators are just in a phase where we’re going more insular.

Just caring about our product, the execution of everything from the shoes to the packaging, the website, photoshoots, release structure and not necessarily worrying about reaching out to blogs and websites and just trusting in what we’re doing.

Trusting that the right people will gravitate to what we’re trying to do and the message we’re trying to get out there.

Daniel Bailey at Future of Footwear Business Conference | @SlemWaalwijk

HDF: Let me tell you something, you’re doing an awesome job. The way you’re doing it, people will find you and want to collaborate or give you exposure / PR, just like me/us.

When you put a lot of hard work and detail into your work, the people come. Well . . . the right people come. (laughter)

So, what are your top 5 favorite kicks of all time?

Daniel:

  1. Mr. Bailey x ekn TRILLIUM Chelsea boot (not yet released)
  2. FEIT Hand Sewn Low
  3. Nike Woven Footscape
  4. Jordan 3/4
  5. Adidas Crazy 8

@mrbailey_ wearing the Argan Low

HDF: Nice!!! Are there any favorite artists or designers (outside of sneaker designers) you admire that have inspired you? If so, who are they and why?

Daniel: Absolutely. Borre Akkersdijk of byborre is someone I find incredibly inspiring. He and his team exemplify the term, “cradle to cradle”. From creating their own textiles, to embedding them with wearable technology, they always push limits in an interesting and unique way.

@byborre

From a legendary stand-point, Leonardo DaVinci is someone that I admire immensely. He was probably one of the first ever true product designers in existence. From designing weaponry, creating world class art, and documenting human anatomy, he was unbelievably focused and curious, and of course an absolute genius that didn’t care much for convention.

Another artist that I appreciate would be Pharrell. Music is something that has a huge influence on my life and designs, and none more than that man and his creations. From the Neptunes, to N.E.R.D, BBC ICECREAM, and pretty much any of his projects, he’s always personified whatever he’s created.

HDF: I have to stop you real quick cause he’s a true inspiration to me as well. Music has been a major impact on my life as I started off attempting to work in the industry, but more importantly, it represents art, culture and lifestyle all into one.

I decided to create a “manifesto” after reading his “I Am Other” manifesto. It’s dope! Sorry, continue. (laughter)

Daniel: Of course. And if you ever think of someone that would wear BBC, or the type of person that would enjoy listening to N.E.R.D, it would be Pharrell.

Being able to personify your creations isn’t something everyone is able to do, but if can, I think you have a massive ace up your sleeve, because it makes it very easy to validate your creations. When you can make people buy into you as a person, as well as your products, you create something very powerful.

Oh, and I can’t forget, Daniel Simon. That guys work is incredible.

Pharrell Williams

 

HDF: All true and you bring up a great point. The fact that Pharrell can blend his creations with his real life, allows major buy-in from his audience because it makes it tangible to the customer.

So earlier you mentioned some collabos with EKN Footwear. Can you tell me a bit more about that?

Danielekn footwear is a sustainable footwear brand from Germany that I feel very lucky to have a collaboration footwear line with.

We initially started to work together on 4/5 styles that were very clean and easy to wear. I wanted to place some interesting design features into the shoes, without making them look too different from what was currently on the market.

@eknfootwear X @mrbailey_ | Kudzu Slip-On

@eknfootwear X @mrbailey_ | Kudzu Slip-On

@eknfootwear X @mrbailey_ | Kudzu Slip-On

 

The trick being that though these may look like other fashion/streetwear shoes on the market, they were made in Europe (Portugal) from sustainable materials.

Since then, and having that more, ‘safer’ group of shoes, we’ve been able to explore more interesting designs. From the BAMBOO Runner which can be laced to the back or front and is made from a fully recycled, plant based neoprene, to our one-piece, asymmetrically wrapped slip-on KUDZU style, we’ve started to really push how people perceive a sustainably produced and designed product.

Bamboo Sketches

Bamboo Sketches by the Douro River in Porto

Bamboo Final Product

I think there’s still a horrible stigma attached with sustainable footwear, and the fact that it generally looks very vanilla. I want to help ekn show people that we can create interesting, well designed, even sexy footwear, that also happens to be responsibly sourced.

HDF: Very good points. As a designer, you’re able to push them past boundaries they might not have otherwise thought to create from.

You also mentioned some interesting projects with Android Homme & General Electric for the anniversary of the Moon landing. Can you go into more detail about that?

DanielThis is a pretty wild story actually. Back when I was a student, I used to do random projects for brands, just purely as an exercise and to try and get my designs out there.

This particular design I did, which was intended as a hovering concept shoe, was branded as an Android Homme shoe. This was something I did before I even knew Javier (Android Homme Founder).

Android Homme Render

Apparently they saw the project…or perhaps I emailed it to them, I can’t quite remember to be honest. Regardless, they seemed to really like it, and Javier and myself opened up a dialogue that turned into a friendship.

Years passed by and one day Javier told me about the fact that General Electric had reached out to him and that he wanted to use the design I had created for their project.

Daniel Bailey | Android Homme | General Electric 50th anniversary of NASA’s moon landing

HDF: There are no coincidences.

DanielThe project ended up being much larger than I think either of us ever imagined, and was used by General Electric to commemorate the 50th anniversary of NASA’s moon landing (which GE sponsored).

We had to make quite a few changes to the design in order to get it made in time for the anniversary, but the materials that were used were pretty incredible and mimicked the exact materials used on the original mission.

This is just another example of putting your work out there, reaching out and creating relationships with good people. You never know where it might lead. Seeing Buzz Aldrin where a pair of shoe’s I’d designed is for sure one of the coolest things that’s happened in my design career thus far.

Daniel Bailey | Android Homme | General Electric 50th anniversary of NASA’s moon landing

HDF: What!! That’s a huge honor.

But you’re right. You have to put your work out there. The right people will find it . . . always. I always say, “Everyone is always watching.”

And as if you weren’t busy enough, you also have a footwear design course teaching people how to start their own footwear brand.

First, do you sleep? (laughter)

Second, what are the types of content you teach people in this course?

DanielHaha, yes I definitely sleep. Probably more then I should to be honest. People always act like they’re so busy that they don’t have time to sleep. And that may be the case if you work on the stock market or something, but sleep is so incredibly important if you’re a “creative”.

Good luck trying to come up with great ideas on a consistent basis if you’re constantly running on a low battery.

HDF: Yes!! The only way I can sustain the amount of content and brands I’ve created or co-created is with the right amount of sleep. Otherwise my creativity starts to take a dive and I can’t have that incredibly important strength take a dive.

DanielAs for the course, I’ll be teaching a variety of subjects.

From how to ideate correctly, turn those into concepts and then turning those into tangible samples. I actually just returned from the first class in Hong Kong. I met some super inspiring up-and-coming designers that I think are going to have a beautifully positive and innovative impact on the industry.

A big theme that I kept talking about during the week was the importance of emotion in your products. Building a valid story behind your products.

Daniel Bailey in Porto

Why are you putting another product on the shelf? There has to be a bigger reason than the fact that they just look pretty.

HDF: The story is everything these days. I built my entire brand around it. That, and if you know your story, you know your why and your why will keep you going.

Daniel: And another important aspect I tried to cover was the fact that a lot of people have ideas. Just having a cool idea, to me, isn’t necessarily the hard part.

The hard part is turning those ideas into reality. How can you really effect culture and get your ideas out to the world in a valid format?

Needless to say, I had a lot to get off my chest, and still do. We’re having another course in Holland next month where I’ll refine what I spoke about on this recent Hong Kong course, and also expand on other areas that might make it a little easier for the people taking part to digest and hopefully discuss.

I’m not planning to make teaching courses a regular thing, so I’m not sure if this will be something I’ll offer much after having done it in Hong Kong and the upcoming course in Holland. We’ll just see what makes sense and i’ll go from there I guess.

From Concept to Reality Footwear Course in Hong Kong

HDF: Daniel, you are a serious creator – in business, industry and life.

What’s the best part about “creating” for you?

Daniel: The best part about creating is getting your thoughts and emotions out to the world in a tangible product. A product that will hopefully out live me.

With each creation you’re setting a tone, you’re creating a story, a legacy, and you’re (hopefully) effecting others.

I’m a huge believer in that the most fulfilling act a human being can do is have a positive effect on others, and what better way then making someone feel good wearing your product, and hopefully inspiring them to want to create their own.

That for me is the best part about creating.

Photograph Courtesy of @davidgrr

HDF: Very well put!

What’s the best advice you can give someone just starting out on their own company, brand or project?

Daniel: The best advice I could give anyone is to have confidence in yourself. Be open to criticism from the right people, but also know when to say f–k it and go full out for your vision.

If you’re genuinely putting in the work, and doing your own legit thing, it’ll work out eventually and the right people will gravitate towards you.

In todays world of social media and general globalization, it’s never been easier to reach niche markets. If you’re creating something great for a certain demographic, they’ll find you and your product

HDF: That is the 100% truth and something I preach often.

What about getting involved in the footwear industry – What’s the best advice you’d give?

Daniel: If you genuinely want to get involved in the footwear industry, just make sure you know that you won’t know everything. Reach out and network. Your team will be your biggest asset.

Your factory agents, warehousing agencies, online sales platform, customer relations, etc, etc etc…there are so many facets to this industry, don’t kid yourself and think you won’t need help.

If you want to create, or pursue any type of dream, you’re going to have to make some serious choices, and sacrifices.

The best thing about that though, is that if you really are about this life, a lot of the things people think you’re sacrificing really aren’t that important to you, or at least aren’t as important as they are to other people. Having a big fancy car or oversized house, neither of which you actually own, aren’t things I really care about. I want to create and effect change.

Daniel Bailey

There was a quote I heard today that really brought home my thoughts on creation, entrepreneurship and the pursuit of ones dreams and the sacrifices you have to make, compared to what the general perception of success is (and how warped it can be) –

“Men in suits look really successful until you find out they work for the men in T-shirts and jeans.”

HDF: oooof! True. Very very true! All the people I work with, mentors, advisors, CEO’s of really cool companies they’re building . . . they’re all wearing the stuff their comfortable in. They just want to create.

So, if you could describe the essence of your brand or brands, how would you describe it/them?

Daniel: I would say they have a reason for existing. There’s a reason for them being on the shelf. Each product represents something.

It’s not something I truly embodied until the past couple years or so as I’ve matured and really began to care about our industry, and world in general as corny as that may sound.

Part of being someone that creates, means being responsible for understanding the impact you have on your consumers and the workers making your products. Being a great designer means caring about all the processes.

Daniel Bailey | Seek Berlin – Contemporary Fashion Trade Show

If I gave a true, honest explanation of what I believe the essence of the products I create is, I would probably have to say that it is a feeling of being part of a massive learning curve.

There are so many facets to this industry, and I’m learning something new with every release. And to be honest I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

With each product, each release, you should get the feeling that i’m trying to get a little better with each one. Hopefully that’s something that comes across.

HDF: Well, I don’t think that’s “corny” at all, but refreshing actually.

And how important has social media and the Internet played in the building of your brand? Or at least, how important do you think it will be as you continue to grow it?

Daniel: Social media, as much as I love and also hate it, has been instrumental in the growth of ConceptKicks and the projects i’m involved in as “Mr. Bailey”.

For right now I see it continuing to be massively important in being able to spread the word about good footwear and product design, and the projects I’m involved in personally.

Daniel Bailey’s @ConceptKicks on Instagram

It’s pretty amazing that you can post something while sitting in your underwear eating a bowl of cereal that can be read in a country on the other side of the world in an instant.

We’ll see how long it’ll continue to have a positive impact. I have a feeling at some point I may just pull everything off of it and go back to how things used to operate. There’s a certain beauty about being off-the-grid.

 

HDF: Daniel, if you could meet any entrepreneur, artist, designer or cultural icon who contributed to the world (past or present), who would it be and why?

Daniel: I think as far as present cultural icons, I’d really love to sit and have a conversation, or at least just listen, to Elon Musk. To say I respect what he’s built, and currently building, would be an understatement.

I also previously mentioned Leonardo DaVinci. That man was such a forward thinker that really lived in his own bubble and didn’t care what other people thought about him.

Leonardo da Vinci | Photo Courtesy of Biography.net

The effect he’s had on human kind is undeniable. It would be incredibly inspiring to get a glimpse into his mind and see what he envisioned for the future, what his values were and just how he conducted himself on a daily basis.

HDF: Two very inspiring and perfectly orchestrated picks. Daniel, for real, this is exactly what it’s all about. I thoroughly enjoyed this interview and appreciate what you’re doing for a generation, an industry and entrepreneurship. Thank you!

Daniel: Thank you to yourself for reaching out and providing a platform like this!

It’s great to be able to share my story and also read up on others’, see similarities and also perhaps see things that I may encounter in the future. What you have created here is important, so thank you!

HDF: Honored Daniel! Thank you!

###

Matt Gottesman

<p>Matt Gottesman is a global digital strategist and technology advisor, creator and editor-in-chief of Hustle & Deal Flow™ – an online magazine dedicated to the world’s entrepreneurs, creators and makers, a Social Media Influencer and a consultant on New Media and go-to-market strategies for investments in digital marketing, technology, websites, mobile applications, eCommerce, social media and content.</p>

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