Do-it-yourself is almost a lifestyle choice in the Elk Valley, with many in the community thriving off of homemade projects and collaborations. At least Josh Lloyd and Drew Hampson know a lot of people who enjoy that lifestyle – enough to make a clothing company inspired by them.
D.I.Y or DIE started as an elaborate idea that morphed into a lifestyle clothing company.
“The original idea was to have a shop that sold records and had a radio station in the back, and then a tattoo parlour and then in the basement would be this big screen printing area. And it would sell coffee and stuff,” said Hampson. But as the two kept talking, they started playing around with putting art on shirts, using bleach and stencils to create artistic patterns on blank shirts.
The two weren’t sure that their work would turn into anything substantial until the first order of shirts was received. Within five minutes, Hampson sold the entire order. “After we sold out, it was like this could be a potential thing. So I did another shirt that was just a plain ship design and I sold 50 of those from pre-orders on Facebook, and that’s when were ‘Okay, we can do this. Let’s start taking this seriously’,” said Hampson.
Since November, Lloyd and Hampson have been taking it very seriously, going to markets and trying to get into retail stores. With the help of their friend a business partner, Murray Bouchard, D.I.Y or DIE got into it’s first retail stores and Halifax. Pro Skates and Fresh Goods both picked up the line.
All three business partners have an artistic flare, and all contribute to the design of the shirts. Hampson works at Giv’er Shirt Works, which allowed them try out screen printing designs as well.
Hampson and Lloyd, who are 25 and 17 respectively, want to pursue expanding the company, and while they both have other jobs, want operating D.I.Y or DIE to be their full-time career someday.
“Ideally, in five years, I’ll be doing exactly this,” said Lloyd, who is entering his final year of high school. Both Hampson and Lloyd said that the next goal would be to get their own equipment to be able to scale the production of the clothing line. But for now, they are concentrating on markets and finding more retail spaces that would be open to their line.
“I think that the markets are a better way of turning profit other than retail, because when you’re first getting into retail stores, getting in their stores is the initial step and can be slightly expensive,” said Hampson. “But you got to spend money to make money.”
While they are committed to the business, neither Hampson nor Lloyd forget why they got into the project in the first place – to create art with friends. They are looking into making a catalogue featuring friends and locals known for “doing it themselves” in the clothes as an homage to the people and lifestyle that inspired the two to create the clothing company in the first place.