By: LDR (@lisadelarosa)
Daniel Kasidi, the man behind Rastaclat, founded the brand in 2010, and since then, the braided shoelaces became a staple across the globe. And, in the year 2014, DBTK became one of the many official retailers of the brand here in the Philippines. Rastaclat believes in spreading positive vibes and encouraging the wearer to express his/her unique identity and style. In this interview, we are lucky enough to know more about Daniel Kasidi’s journey before Rastaclat and the struggles he faced in running the brand.
Before entering the scene of running a business, Daniel Kasidi already had knowledge about skate culture, which was vital for the discovery and creation of Rastaclat. And, in every journey, one finds inspiration from someone.
“First of all, my Dad played a big role in giving me the confidence in myself and my abilities by just simple things as verbalizing positive reinforcement to me.”
Apart from his dad, he was also inspired by Bruce Lee, especially when it came to Lee’s “…work ethic, style, charisma…”, which he applied to his early life. In addition, sports figures like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant became his main basis for creating his own killer instincts when it comes to any aspect of his life. When it comes to skateboarders, he mentioned the likes of “…Kareem Campbell, Gino Iannucci, Keenan Milton, Guy Mariano…” and gained inspiration when it comes to their style and confidence.
For the business side, Daniel Kasidi was inspired by Shawn Carter (Jay-Z) for his entrepreneurial-like music; and world leaders like Bill Gates and Richard Branson where he was influenced to build a business that would leave an impact to the community.
First Ever Rastaclat Made By Daniel Kasidi
“I always knew there was something special about the product and how it made people feel.”
In our everyday life, there will be certain instances where an imaginary light bulb appears and become a “eureka” moment. And most of the time, it appears naturally and genuinely especially when you are doing the things close to your heart and filled with passion. For Daniel Kasidi, who started braiding shoelaces out of idle moments, became something that would radiate people positively. In return, what was once a concept bracelet to build a community with shared experiences now became a brand. However, not all experiences were upward since there were still doubters along the way.
“Most people would have said I was a bit delusional to try to turn a shoelace to a bracelet and then a brand, but the relentlessness that it took for people to finally believe in me and the idea took about 12-18 months of really grinding it out…”
In the early years of Rastaclat (2010-2014), the brand focused more on building the business rather than building a brand. Although, it was understood that this stage was also the “training ground” of making pavements for learnings and adjustments along the way. He said that “…I was still learning about what it meant to have a brand and the responsibility that I held as one of the leaders of it.” For the next following years (2015-onwards), the brand focused more on building the brand and to continue to build a community that believes in “Seeking the Positive” that will help inspire other people.
“…it’s not just about growing revenue, a lot of it comes down to people, community and impact.”
From all his journey, and journeys to come, the constant thing about running a business is learning from all the experiences and “…facing your fears” in order to grow personally and professionally. Apart from these, struggles and challenges cannot be skipped as it was also part of the process in any aspect of life. For the early struggles of building Rastaclat, Daniel Kasidi faced the struggle of “…learning to hire the BEST people and inspire them with the vision.” After all, having someone that had the same rhythm and understanding about your passion is an important key to get something moving in unison. The next big thing apart from this is strategizing to make the brand moving and also the data analytics.
“As a young entrepreneur, I didn’t have a focused strategy, I was more operating the business on feel.”
Because of this, he studied how other entrepreneurs work and started to get mentorship to sharpen his business prowess. With the help of Eileen, his business partners and the rest of the Rastaclat team, they were able to build a solid operational system for more effective and sustainable brand. However, there were still other aspects in business that the brand struggled when they were still starting.
“…we’ve faced a lot of struggles from inventory, losing staff, shaping company culture, legal issues, evolving product categories and…recruiting the best people in the business…”
These struggles are a crucial part of any business as it can make or break any brand. However, if one stays committed, like what Kasidi and the Rastaclat team had been doing since the beginning, then one will definitely get the hang of it somehow and understand the twists and turns of running a brand.
When a brand progresses, it is only a matter of time that other brands will recognize your own brand. For Rastaclat, they did collaborations with Penny Board, Christian Hosoi, Sanrio, and Carrots. And, also with charitable foundations like British Virgin Island Preservation, Shark Bite, etc. For Daniel Kasidi, before picking the right person or brand, he sees to it that the person or brand aligned with the values of Rastaclat. Next, the reason of the partnership should align the story telling of both brands in an authentic way. Lastly, the partnership should deliver value to the consumers, licensors, and the brand itself. He said that “[i]f I can’t align all three, we just learn to say no and stay true to who we are.”
“…sometimes collaborations aren’t meant to have a sales return of investment.”
When it comes to the thought process of approving a collection or a design, Kasidi sees to it that it would be genuine and would leave an impact to the customers. He wants to focus more on what the story of the product tells and most importantly, what the story of the wearer would be and why it resonates to them. For the execution standpoint, rather than focusing on the idealistic view of what the project could become, he makes sure that the project not only just remain as ideal but also makes it into reality. Lastly, focusing on the customers is the number one prospect on how the Rastaclat considers collaboration and product release.
“…really think about what your current or prospective customer wants. It shouldn’t be your own personal agenda. Your customer is your boss, listen to them and solve their problems.”
To cap off this feature, I would like to share Daniel Kasidi’s parting words and mantra which is “…live a life I’ll never need a vacation from. Which translates to living a life that is true and authentic to me, live with no regrets and really enjoy everything that I do. I wake up most days just happy to be alive and happy to go to work, learn, and experience new things with friends and family. I feel extremely blessed to have people around the world like DBTK crew that believed in my vision and continue to be a part of our vision. That’s basically it.”
As a brand who shares the same vision as Daniel Kasidi and Rastaclat, we also believe that staying true to oneself and especially the craft that we create is important and what we value. So, once the vision and craft is shared with other people, it would come as genuine as possible. For us Kids, it’s a nice inspiration to hold on to and a motivating addition to “Dream big. Start small.”