Social media is what you make of it. You can use it for a variety of reasons. But one thing that I have found that is great about social media (most of the time) is the soccer community. Sure, we tend to argue quite a bit. It's easy to go down a pro/rel rabbit hole, opinions can be greatly divided and fans can be pretty harsh at times.
But it can also be a pretty remarkable place. I have been able to connect with people through social media and build relationships and friendships that have lasted over years. I'v been turned on to new brands, new voices and new personalities. We've been shown a lot of love and support and also been questioned at times when we should be.
Not long ago I got hip to a brand called Icarus FC that are making incredible custom jerseys. I had actually been looking for a brand to work with on custom jerseys so the timing seemed somewhat serendipitous. I reached out on Instagram and shared my appreciation for what they were doing as a brand and my interest in working together on something.
And that was the beginning.
The first project with Icarus is actually a jersey for my mens team. We needed something new for our jerseys and I had been thinking about doing something custom for awhile. This seemed like the perfect opportunity to do that.
I've become a big fan of what Icarus FC is doing, and the following interview sheds some light on their owner, how they started and what is going on with the brand.
Can you talk about your background. Where you grew up. Where you played soccer? Basic intro on you and your relationship with the sport.
I grew up in Princeton NJ. Played soccer all my life and played 4 years at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs NY. Still play twice a week. Played basketball, baseball, tennis and soccer growing up so just loved sports in general. My family were big Philadelphia fans so went to a ton of Sixers, Eagles, and Flyers games. Was a big reader and loved sports and history books. Always loved the intersection of sports, geography and history and would draw logos and uniforms for fake teams. Majored in International Affairs in college and wrote my thesis on national identity and soccer. Basically have been a sports, geography and history nerd my entire life.
How difficult was it for you to start the brand and to find a manufacturing partner that shared your vision?
Much easier than I thought. I don’t want to get into too many specifics on that but basically shopped around and spent a lot of time with different manufacturers until I found the right one. The people I work with now are wonderful and totally get it.
I’m not trying to get you to give away your manufacturer or anything like that. People have asked me that for years. But more about the process that you went through. It's not an easy thing to start a business and find good partners that share in your vision. So can you talk about that at all without giving away any proprietary information?
Yea sure. Honestly it wasn't so much about finding partners that shared my vision as partners that could produce my vision. Finding someone who could produce based off of a rough mock up I sent over was the key to the entire thing. Once I found that manufacturer we were able to tighten up things like sizing, design options, consistency and estimated delivery time. I'm very happy with my production partners.
The soccer jersey market is obviously controlled by some very big brands. But you have carved out a niche that allows people to be more creative and not rely on stock blanks for their teams jerseys. How important is the customization aspect to your business?
The customization part of it is almost the entire thing. We don't have any templates and our customization and mock up process is free of charge. While I love our uniforms and think the fabric is great frankly it's a bit pointless to go through us if you want a plain kit. Our main goal it to make custom uniforms an affordable and desirable solution for any team regardless of level. I see too many teams wearing boring template jerseys or European/Mexican club kits that they paid way too much for. There are a few other companies in our space but I like to think we offer a lot more in terms of unique design options.
Did you have much experience with design before you started the company?
I had no design experience other than drawing and doodling in class. I bought adobe illustrator like a month before I started the company and taught myself how to use it. Same thing with photoshop.
What has been the most challenging part about starting brand and what has been the most fulfilling part?
Most challenging part has definitely been the things that seen minute. So the unsexy stuff like sizing, dealing with clients and different payment options and other small business issues. The most fulfilling part is easily the journey from initial concepts to seeing a team wearing the design with pride.
And just to add to the fulfilling part - it’s great to be able to make a clients vision come to life. That’s something that I think is really unique about what we’re able to do.
Are there any teams or dream clients that you have that you would love to work with?
Any client that is willing to work with us and wants something out of the ordinary is a dream client but we were obviously super excited to work with you guys and we just put something together with Asbury Park FC which I’m really excited about. We’d love to work with the heavy hitters of lower league soccer - guys like Providence FC, PDX FC, and San Francisco City for example. We’d also love to add more women’s and youth teams to our portfolio as well as outfit more teams from local Philly leagues.
Thanks for your time and all the best with Icarus FC going forward! To find out more about Icarus FC and possibly make your own jerseys, check them out here.