If you’ve ever wanted business advice from Marc Ecko — the 34-year-old money machine behind his self-named white-suburban-kids-who-dig-hip-hop clothing line — last night was your shot. It was the inaugural installment of CIT’s “Behind the Business” conversation, and the conversation was with Ecko. It was a chance to learn how, over fourteen years, the business he started in his parents’ garage grew to report billings of $1.5 billion last year — and it was also a chance to hear buttoned-up business journalist Andrew Shapiro say things like “How did you hook up with 50 Cent?” and “Tell me about your street cred.” Ecko explained his success — how he managed to attract investors in 1996, when his company was $6 million in debt: “LOS. They don’t teach you that in business school — luck of the schmuck” — and we caught up with him after the talk for some one-on-one advice.
Got any tax advice for us?
Just be accountable. I know people who are making 30, 40 thousand who are being audited. Do your shit. Button up. Be buttoned up in this world.
How much have you lost in the stock market?
I don’t invest in the stock market. I’ve got some hedge-fund things, but I won’t invest until I go public.
How’s the store expansion going?
Amazing, really exciting. It’s the most exciting part of our business. Like Steve Jobs says, if you want to be a great software company, make hardware. Hardware is going to be retail for us.
If you woke up tomorrow and you were 20 years old and starting out again, what would be your first move?
I think the one thing that binds me today to those moments back then is that you have to believe in what you’re doing no matter what, because you’re gonna face a tremendous number of obstacles and rejections. Don’t be so overly emotional that it colors your judgment of whether what you’re offering to the market is genuinely needed or not. Does the market need me, with my twist and my brand on it? I did that back then, and I still do that every day I wake up now. —Amos Barshad