“I’m a big proponent of self-learning. The internet’s fucking incredible. You can literally learn anything. I learned how to use Illustrator via YouTube. I learned how to design shoes. Everything I just learned online. I didn’t go to school for anything. I learned how to do my taxes. I learned how to … Everything was online, and so that was one of the things I did which was a big shift for me because I never really had to do that.”
Javier Laval – Founder, of Android Homme; From music industry to fashion; Building your own thing: Forming a company & building a fashion brand; Bio-hacking.
Segment 1: (Length :04:00) – General Updates; Introduction to Javier Laval and his journey as an entrepreneur; Dropping out of school; Street promotions and events for the music industry; Moving to LA; Wanting to build something of his own.
Javier’s finer points:
“Android was kind of like a surprise epiphany moment for me. I grew up in the Bay Area and never really kind of knew what I wanted to do.”
“I was an athlete in high school and I had a scholarship to play basketball and ended up breaking my wrist before I got there and ended up … That killed my career because I’m 5′ 8″ on a good day, so I was a point guard. If you don’t have your handles, you’re done.”
“I started to kind of … Our team was winning and we had some local guys that were really doing good like Jason Kidd and these guys back in the mid-’90s, so I started to do some parties to celebrate the team’s winning.'”
“That really just kinda steamrolled, and that’s kinda the start of my trajectory in entertainment, marketing and then ultimately fashion.”
“I was doing events out in San Francisco. Kind of like record release parties. Very early. It was pre-Facebook, pre- all this madness. It was just kind of like word of mouth, fliers and you just burn a lot of calories walking up and down the street putting fliers on cars and shit like that, you know?”
“That kind of got me started into making some really quick money because I would do an event, people would show up, charge five bucks. I was like, “Holy shit, this is a good look. I don’t have to fucking go to school for this,” you know? I can use my charm, I can use my connections, and so that really … We really made an impact and a dent in San Francisco nightlife.”
“At the same time, a lot of the smaller record labels, the hip-hop labels like Bad Boy and all of these labels were … There weren’t really any power stations at that time, like Power 106 or Cameo. These stations weren’t really playing hip-hop like that, so they had to go to the smaller guys like us and give us posters and, I don’t know, fliers and vinyl. We’d have to go club to club and service all the DJs and put the posters up on all the light posts and stuff like that.”
That's where the hustle started. This show is pretty appropriate. That was a serious hustle, and we'd get paid 500 bucks, a thousand bucks a month to do this. The great thing about it was when the artist would come to town because they would have to do what was called a promo tour where they would come and meet people, greet people, perform for free. They would do it at my spot, so I had that kind of leverage.
“I worked on these things with, like, the Fugees and Nas when he first dropped his first album. Biggie. I did Jay-Z when he first did his first album. I was actually with B.I.G. the day before he came to LA and got murdered, so there’s a lot of history on how this hustle and this whole thing started.”
“Again, this was pre-social media, pre-internet, like kind of internet marketing, let’s call it. That led me to LA and in LA I kind of just continued that trajectory, doing events here in LA as well as I saw that there were some labels that were asking for how to bridge their artists with brands.”
This was about early 2000s, late '90s, so I started to do that freelance for some companies and some labels. That's how I got involved ... This is totally random. I didn't really have a plan, I didn't really have any goals. I just was going with the flow, so I felt really fortunate.
“At the time I felt like this shit is just easy. Success is really easy. I’m making a lot of money. I’m really young and I’m meeting all the right people. It was just a real flow for me at that time. I was up all night, every night, just eating like shit. I was just having fun and I didn’t really have a concept of work, you know? It didn’t seem like work. I was just having fun and I was just making money doing it.”
“At the time I got approached by a couple executives from Nike because they liked what we were doing with the nightclubs and whatnot, and they asked if I could help them kind of execute this, the secret project that they’re working on called the Blue House in Venice Beach.”
“It was Jim Morrison’s old house and they rented it out. We went in there and kind of like renovated it and we created the Nike Blue House. It was a group of influencers at the time, which we had zero social media influence or presence. I think it was the time of Friendster or Myspace. It was just super early, but we were influencers in a different way.”
“I was like, “No, this is going to work. I know it’s going to work. It’s continuing to grow.” We’ve always seen growth. If it’s continuing to grow, why would I stop? It’s going to be a thing.”
We had direct contacts through celebrities and the cool kids and all that stuff, so it was defined differently back then. We created this place in this space where influencers could come and experience new Nike products. A lot of stuff came out of that like the Mr. Cartoon, Air Force One. All this stuff we curated and helped facilitate.
“That snowballed because then I got approached by an agency on record for Apple. At the time they just had this small, this secret product. I didn’t even know what it was but it was the iPod ultimately, and they had just dropped a commercial with Eminem in it, or they were using Eminem’s music and Eminem had sued them and was like, “I don’t fuck with you guys. I don’t even know what you’re doing,” so they kind of went back to the drawing board and was like, “Yo, how do we launch this product to the market?”
“We didn’t really understand MP3. We didn’t understand this whole iTunes shit that they created. They brought us in as a think tank and we helped them kind of craft this story and communicate a story. We helped them kind of put together that infamous campaign where it was like everyone is kind of … It was kind of all-encompassing because we didn’t want to alienate any race or class or color. They felt like the product was for everyone, so we did silhouettes.”
“Then you saw all these silhouettes popping up on billboards and all that kind of stuff. I brought in some directors to direct their first commercials, some choreographers and all that early stuff.”
“That’s just kind of the starting point. At some point … There are many more stories like that, like we did the “Where you at?” Campaign with Boost Mobile and they launched with Kanye and Game and Ludacris and that was like a global national campaign. We created that, shot that, directed that, the whole thing, and so I got to a point where I was just kind of like a little tired of the bureaucracy in the boardroom with when it comes to creatives.”
I want to just do something on my own.
Segment 2: (Length :08:00) – Talking with Javier; Going from a service based business to manufacturing products; A chance trip to China; Designing shoes; Forming a company and a brand.
Javier’s finer points:
“So much was happening and so many things were going really well. I could drop names all day. We did Drake’s Grammy party. We had the most incredible events where Jay-Z and Beyonce and Lil Wayne and Kanye and everybody was in the same building at the same time. I mean, it was insanity. It was so easy and so when I decided to step out of that to do Android, I kind of went into it with that same belief, you know? Oh, fuck it, I can do anything. I’m gonna do sneakers. I’ve got a passion for sneakers, I’ve got a passion for fashion, and I’m gonna just do that.”
“It was a different process because there was more production and metrics to be met when you’re dealing with products than when you’re dealing with just services or people, and so that was a huge, huge kind of shock to me when I realized that I didn’t really have the tools or understand how to do that, so I had to learn quick.”
“That’s kind of where I embarked on a whole mindset, mind shift process, because I knew it was possible. I was already doing it. We were already having some success with the brand. Justin Bieber was wearing it and Usher and all these guys, and so I knew there was something there, but I was just still under … I was still kind of shocked by the level of, I guess for lack of a better term, the level of business acumen that you need in order to succeed in other areas, in other types of businesses”
“That was kind of when I started to dig a little deeper. I mean, I had to dig deep in my soul and not quit and also just think about am I cut out for this? Am I built for this? I’m still here today so the answer was yes, but I paid a pretty nice price for it, you know?”
“what I did was I got wildly curious. I just started to go online and search everything. I basically kind of started to have this black complex where like, “Fuck, man, I didn’t go to school. I don’t have an MBA.”
“I started to kind of realize that I had a lot of kind of self-limiting thoughts kind of permeating and even though I was designing really dope shit and a lot of … I felt like it could be bigger and better and I wasn’t really sure how to scale it. I wasn’t sure how to grow it and the things that were needed in order to do that, so I just really kind of hunkered down and just worked OT on learning.”
I'm a big proponent of self-learning. The internet's fucking incredible. You can literally learn anything. I learned how to use Illustrator via YouTube. I learned how to design shoes. Everything I just learned online. I didn't go to school for anything. I learned how to do my taxes. I learned how to ... Everything was online, and so that was one of the things I did which was a big shift for me because I never really had to do that.
“Everything was kind of easy. Money was flowing. I was probably making more money than I could count at the time so I was spending it. I wasn’t really managing it wisely although I did have some good investments in some real estate and stuff that I was doing because I heard that was a good thing to do, so I did it.”
“There was really no rhyme or reason, so I started to really create rhyme and reason to what I was doing and why I was doing it and really put some pen to paper and kind of determine what it is that I wanted to do and how I wanted to do it and that’s when I started to see some growth.”
“I started to learn so much. That was one of the things, and then outside of that, I really kind of invested in seminars and things like that. It was something that I felt like I might’ve been too cool to do it at a particular time, but then I realized, holy shit. I’ve seen some YouTubes, I’m hearing that these guys or these people like Tony Robbins or Chris Howard or whatever, these guys are saying some real shit. If you really pay attention, they’re speaking a lot of truth.”
I did the Landmark and that was kind of mind-blowing. I hired a coach, like an NLP coach, and we did some neurolinguistics and I studied that for a little bit just to really understand what's making me a really emotional guy.
“I was either super hype or super down. I was just a roller coaster, and business, that’s just not really the best way to be and/or manage staff or a team, and so I had to really shift how I saw the world, you know? How I saw my business, how I saw myself. That was some of the stuff I was doing.”
“when I decided to do sneakers, I didn’t really know that it was gonna be sneakers. I was just kind of sitting around my loft at the time and I was like, “Man, I need to do something. I don’t want to be a promoter, night life guy forever, and I certainly don’t want to be cavorting with these suit guys in these agencies for much longer either.”
“I was dating someone at the time and she was doing jewelry and stuff and she was like, “Hey, I’m going to China to look for a manufacturer, do you want to go?” I was like, “What? What do you mean China?” This was like 2006 or something, or 2005. I was like, “You’re going to China.”
“She was like, “Yeah, I’m going to China.” I was like, “You’re going by yourself?” She was like, “Yeah, I’m going by myself.” I just admired her. I was like, “Wow, you’re fucking brave.” She was like, “Come with me and maybe you’ll find something,” so after quite a bit of convincing, I joined her on that trip to China. We were on the bus with chickens flying around and it was just the wildest experience. There was very little infrastructure. The way China’s grown in the last 10 years has been incredible, but at the time it was just kind of a little wild.”
To make a long story short, through a friend of a friend and a connection of hers and whatnot, I ended up meeting a shoe manufacturer. At the time I didn't really know whether I wanted to do hats or t-shirts or apparel. I just wanted to do something.
“He spoke kind of broken English and I didn’t have any shoe designs at the time. I was just asking questions, like, “What kind of shoes can you make? What do you do?” He was showing me stuff, and I was like, “Can I design my own shoe and give it to you?” Make me me a sample. He was like, “Yeah, it’s 2,500 dollars.”
“I only had about four more days in China when I met the guy, and so I was just kind of skeptical. I was like, “Man, I’m gonna give this dude 2,500 bucks. He’s gonna fucking burn me and never send me anything,” right? I just said, “You know what? Screw it. I’m here.” I said, “I’ll come back tomorrow.” I sketched my first design which was a propulsion high, which was kind of our best-selling shoe for, I don’t know, five years. Five, six years. It’s like a high top. Anyhow, I sketched that the night before. I brought it to him and I gave him the money.”
“I was like, “Make this in black leather, gray and white and send it to me.” A month went by. Communication was tough because there was no WhatsApp and none of that stuff. It was still kind of hard to communicate at the time, and lo and behold he sent me the samples and I was fucking stoked.”
“That’s how we created the team. To be honest with you, it’s been kind of like ups and downs because we were kind of the first to market, and we had an odd price point. Our shoes were 2 to 300 bucks and at the time there was no kind of like Buscemi or any of that stuff. There was no Christian Louboutin.”
“There was none of that in the men’s sneaker market, and so it was either a very cheap shoe like say a Creative Recreation at like 80 bucks or it was an athletic shoe for men or it was a very expensive Prada, Gucci, et cetera, you know? There were no independent sneaker brands at the time that were pushing this in the market.”
“We struggled for a few years in terms of finding our customer primarily through a wholesale route through retail because they didn’t know where to put us.”
“I think the best thing that happened in the business was more people saw what we were doing and got involved so other people started creating brand and it created a category. Now it’s a pretty big category and there’s a lot of different independent sneaker brands and all that stuff but at the time it was really just us, you know?”
so from there we kind of rode the waves of ... I think the biggest shift for our business is going from a wholesale model, because we built the business on wholesale so we sell like Bergdorf and Saks . . . but the stores are trying to figure out what they're going to do because online is crushing everybody.
“I think the biggest challenge for us as a team is making that shift from wholesale models, wholesale business into a direct to consumer business with our website and social media and all that stuff. Quite frankly we’re just not really that strong at it and that’s just being honest, so that’s been our biggest challenge, is shifting kind of how we sell our shoes, how we sell our product.”
Segment 3: (Length :10:00) – Growing pains; The meaning of Android Homme; Transforming the mind to transform the business; Biohacking.
Javier’s finer points:
“Ultimately the vision is to communicate a story and an energy of transformation.”
“I mean, the name Android Homme stands for “robot man.” “Homme” is man in French and Android is just an autonomous robot with human flesh like the terminator, you know? It’s always been about that at its core. It’s kind of evolved over time but at the core it’s just about inspiring people and I mean, if I can do it, then literally anybody can do it, you know.”
“I see the difference now is that the only thing that allowed me to do it was my bullish kind of head. I just was like, “I’m gonna do this,” and I faced everything. I faced fears. I got deathly sick. I was super sick in the hospital for a while and I got diagnosed with this autoimmune disorder. It was brought on by stress and travel and eating.”
I had to make a massive shift in how I approach my life and that's where the meditation, yoga, biohacking, all that came into play. Really, the brand is just about inspiration. It's like we all strive to, and aspire to be more than what we were exposed to or what we thought was possible, and so Android Homme is the brand for that guy. It's for that thinking guy.
“There’s a lot of people that say, “It’s a lifestyle brand.” I think Android Homme is more of a mind style brand. It’s people of the same mindset. Not necessarily the same lifestyle. It’s a global community. It’s a global audience now, so not everybody lives the same type of lifestyle but people can have a same frequency, a same mindset that connects them and unites them and that’s how they connect on these platforms.”
“It’s not literally how they’re living but how they’re thinking, so they gravitate towards certain brands, certain people, certain influence or whatever.”
“That’s really what Android is about. It’s providing that type of platform and inspiration for those. I get tons of hits on social and people, kids asking me how to start a brand. I’m just totally transparent. I’m free with the information. I don’t feel like I need to hide where I make my shoes or who makes it. I just want other people to succeed. I want other people to do well as well, you know?”
Those two modalities like meditation and yoga really have helped me as well to reprogram, at least kind of like white board my life. Just clear everything out and just ... If I liked what was on the white board before, just kind of organize it so it's not as chaotic and it's not as crazy as it was before, and so that along with simple nutritional hacks to optimize energy and focus.
“Things like that I feel are super key because the one thing that I realized is that there’s a big push in our community to be an entrepreneur. The push to really kind of protect your health and your mind is not quite there yet, you know? You can’t really be a successful entrepreneur if you’re not healthy. You could have all the money in the world and if you’re on drugs and your gut has a dysfunction and you’re in toxic environments, eventually it’ll all just fucking come crashing down, you know?”
“Some of the stuff that I do is I do breathing techniques. I got really familiar and studied some different techniques and I do that. I do Reiki. I have a Reiki practitioner I go and see and she kind of does some energy work on me. Everything is energy, and so when you start to realize … I mean, Nicola Tesla said that. He’s all, “The keys to the universe is encoded in energy and vibration.” You can kind of just look at what we’re doing and how we’re doing our lives as energy.”
How am I feeling right now? What's the energy that I'm experiencing right now? Is it anxiety or fear? Then we need to tackle that and find solutions for that the same way we would tackle any business problems.
“These kind of biohacks really help shock the nervous system, reset the nervous system. It starts to create new neuro pathways for you to kind of create new ideas, new solutions and so I’m all in.”
“Segment 4: (Length :03:00) – Hustler Thought of the Day:
Fashion has to reflect who you are, what you feel at the moment, and where you’re going. — Pharrell Williams
Javier Laval – Founder, Android Homme
Javier is the ultimate creative director and entrepreneur. If you have attended one of his infamous JL Events in Hollywood entertaining top celebrities, athletes, and trendsetters then you will realize quickly that he is connected to the key influencers in music, fashion, sports, and entertainment.
Truestar Media his marketing company has worked on major campaigns for companies such as Apple, Nike, Boost Mobile, Pony, Nooka, and many more.
Javier’s background is in design & marketing. His migration into fashion was a move that he chose to make after helping numerous companies build their own brands and products that were specifically geared towards the young influencer market.
In 2008 he decided it was time to take the leap and founded his own brand Android Homme.
Self financed, and a tightly run operation has led to global distribution and respect from many of his fashion peers as well as the laundry list of celebrity clients and supporters of the brand.
His inspirations range from ancient/modern architecture to sacred geometry. His belief that the human mind is similar to a computer and therefore can be programmed or “Re-Programmed” is what serves as his ongoing inspiration to try new things.
Javier is the Creative Director/Designer of Android Homme. He is also a father of two that is focused on health and wellness via bio-hacking, yoga, and meditation
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