Jeffrey C. Ng aka jeffstaple, is one of the hardest working people I have had the pleasure of coming across. Working as a designer, he made a couple shirts, someone saw them, loved them and things exploded. But Jeff honed his career in a different direction than most. He is the man behind Staple Design and The Reed Space and it was inspiring to hear from a fellow entrepreneur from a Graphic Design background about how he shifted his discipline into apparel design. This confirms that you don’t need to study fashion to be an apparel designer. Read below for the full interview:
Hey Jeff, Tell me a little about your background – and the type of work that you do now?
Jeff: I’m the Founder and Creative Director of Staple Design. Staple Design is a creative agency and a clothing collection. As well, we operate a retail store and art gallery called Reed Space. And the space also produces a quarterly publication called Reed Pages.
Since your business is a hat trick of creativity covering everything from fashion to a creative agency, how do you structure your business?
Jeff: Well we’ve got a team of about 20 people. Everyone has a passion for everything else that we do. So even the guy that does logistics and shipping at the store, is very in tune with what goes on in the design studio. We have 4 separate physical office spaces all located in the Lower East Side. One for the design studio (which is where the clothing gets designed as well). One is the retail store, Reed Space. One is our sister retail store where we hold special pop-ups and exhibitions called Reed Annex. And finally, an office where we do all our web fulfillment and sales work out of. It helps that I also live in the LES. The entire neighborhood is my office!
Operating for over 13 years, what would you say is the biggest secret to your success?
Jeff: Bill Cosby said “I don’t know the secret to success. But I do know the secret to failure—trying to please everyone.” I read that even before I started Staple and it stuck with me forever. So just doing what feels right in my heart and soul is always important.
Could you give us a glimpse of what is in store for the 2011 Staple Apparel Collection?
Jeff: For Spring 11, we have a great collection that is completely inspired by cinema. It’s called The Film School Collection. That should start coming about in a few weeks. We’re putting the finishing touches on our Fall 2011 collection which we will showcase around the world in the coming weeks. And at the same time, we’re concepting and beginning design on Spring 2012. Fashion is a never ending grind.
Will we ever see a pair of Jordans with a pigeon stitched on it?
Jeff: Mums the word. But anything is possible.
Got any favorite films out of Japan that you dig? Anime?
Jeff: I’m actually not a huge fan of Anime. I really love those Japanese coming-of-age dramas they show on the plane ride going to japan though. They’re so emo. Haha. Like I saw one about a ping pong player and it had me in tears on the plane! Also, shout out to my adolescent crush Rena Tanaka!
What is it about Japan that makes you extra productive?
Jeff: I can’t put my finger on it! But when I go there, everything in my mind works in warp speed. I think in Japan, for whatever reason, the possibilities are endless. And my mind races to try and cover everything that’s possible.
Could you tell us more about the print publication you launched entitled Reed Pages?
Jeff: Yes, I’m very proud of this. It’s not really a business. It’s more like a labor of love. Reed Pages is everything, everyone and every place that inspires us. Reed Space is sort of the same concept, but in a retail setting. Reed Pages allows us to cover things that wouldn’t make sense in the shop. For example, we did an article on a UPS driver…like that wouldn’t make much sense in the store!
Anyway, Reed Pages comes out quarterly (sort of) and it’s laid out alphabetically. So we have one feature per letter of the alphabet in every issue. There’s no small stories, cover stories or main stories. Everyone has equal billing. The other unique thing is that we have no “advertising”. We work on a sponsorship model where companies and organizations can sponsor a page or two in the book. It makes for a much cleaner and cohesive end product. In my opinion at least….
How important to you that other people know about your work?
Jeff: Not important at all. The reason why I speak at universities and schools is because I feel it is important that young people who are coming into the working world learn from my mistakes…and make themselves better workers and hopefully also, better people. I think all designers are simply communicators. So it’s important that I communicate to people who are willing to listen. I also like connecting with people on a personal level. I think there’s too much digital chatter out there. I am fully guilty of adding to that chatter. So just hearing someone with your ears, eyes and senses is very valuable today.
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