ALL ABOUT MONSTA
Everything you wanted to know about Monsta Clothing, the Founders, and how the company started.
Everything you wanted to know about Monsta Clothing, the Founders, and how the company started.
Said to be the biggest question we have been asked: “How did Monsta get started?” We will take you through the journey that is the birth of Monsta Clothing Company. It all started with an idea that Co-Founder Tony Curtis had for possibly adding some clothing to his existing gym “Future Fitness” in Lake City Florida. It was around 2008 and the housing market caused a huge financial crash around the U.S. and businesses from high and low were fealing the pressure. At that time, Tony was trying to think of something to help with his gym business of over ten years. He had always wanted to start a clothing line.
Being in the fitness industry and being focused in the cult world of bodybuilding, Tony thought of a name that would sum up the grueling training and lifestyle of the world of bodybuilding and then it came to him. Everyone wants to get big... everyone wants to be a “MONSTA”. Tony liked the slang usage of the word and how it rolled off the tongue so casual. It had a very street feel to it and stayed with him for a while, constantly playing in the back of his head, waiting for the right time to pursue it.
Tony has been in the bodybuilding industry for a long time. First as a competitor, then later on worked his way up to become a judge in the National Physique Committee (NPC). This is the largest bodybuilding organization in the world and it was a part of Tony’s life.
The time was just right to start looking into a way to breath life into (what was at the time only an idea) what would be come a future powerhouse clothing line in the fitness industry. Like all great stories, there has to be challenges and obstacles that would need to be overcome. This story would be no different.
Problem One: Tony could not draw if his life depended on it. He barely could draw a straight line. For goodness sake, just look at his signature! It looks like when you get a new pen and test it out on a sheet of paper to get the ink to start coming out. So Tony thought “How the hell am I going to build a look for a clothing line when I can’t even come up with a logo for it?”
(Now for a little back story) As the owner of one of the local gyms in his small town of Lake City Florida, he has the ability to meet a lot of people coming through his gym. He met a guy who had starting working out at his gym by the name of Chris Cuadras. He was married to a life-long friend of him and his wife. Like all time in the gym, you make conversations with people to get to know your members. At that time, Tony found out that Chris was a Graphic Designer from the big city. Interested in seeing what he could produce, the two talked about re-doing the gyms brand logo.
Hold up!! This guy just moved to town from Miami Beach Florida. (Wait a minute... why would anyone move from a tropical paradise like Miami Beach to a small country town like Lake City you might ask?) Well, love will make people do crazy things. Love made Chris follow his future wife to her small town in hopes of making a new life with her and raising a family in a small town community where everyone knows one another.
Back to the story. Chris designed the new gym logo and Tony loved it! It is the gyms logo still to this day. After planting roots in Lake City, Chris ended up starting up his own graphic design firm.
Tony knew of his talents and thought he would be the perfect person to ask for help with his idea for the Monsta brand of clothing. One day in late 2008, Tony called Chris and asked him if he could stop by his office to talk with him about a project he needed help with. Being good friends with Tony, Chris gladly excepted to help him out. They both met at Chris’s office, sat down and starting catching up on personal family outings. Then the famous words were spoken: “Hey man, I need help with a logo for clothing line I always wanted to start called Monsta. Could you help me out a come up with a logo for it?”
This being what Chris specialized in being corporate branding for new and existing companies, this was right in his wheel-house. Chris said “No problem.” and the two discussed some basic ideas they both had. Tony left and in typical Chris fashion, he knocks out a logo in a day. Chris had a gift for knowing what sells well and what people would be attracted to. Now you must know that Chris wasn’t a bodybuilder, but he worked out his whole life. He always had a passion for bodybuilding but never dove in the deep end of this industry. Life was about to change for the both of them in a way they would never have dreamed. With the creation of the logo, the spark was lit and the dream was coming to life.
With excitement, Chris went to Tony to show him the logo he had created and Tony had only one thing to say: “Damn! That’s bad as fuck!” Seeing the dream starting to come to life, Tony then asked Chris his next favor. “Can you help me figure out how to put this logo on some shirts? I have no idea what to do and I could use your help.” Chris excited to see the progression, quickly made some phone calls to some contacts he had in the industry and arranged for some shirts to be made.
The first set of shirts came off the press. Tony and Chris saw them together and were like “Damn! These look bad as fuck!” They both went to their homes and a little time passed. Then the infamous day came when Tony called Chris on a Sunday afternoon to ask, yet again, for another favor. Tony called and said: “Hey Chris, could you help me with a website for Monsta Clothing?” At the time, no money changed hands as it was one friend helping another friend out. But now the work was about to get real. Knowing that building a website was no joke and took a lot of work, Chris had a thought. Chris said: “Tony, I would be glad to help you with a website, but you wouldn’t be able to afford my rates for building this kind of website. Plus I am seeing a trend that is going to follow with continual favors and help requested to progress this line in the future. I can get really expensive if these projects continue. I see some definite potential with your idea for a clothing line and have an idea. How about the two of us go in a 50/50 partners on this deal? I will handle the creative development of the brand and you will handle the financial books and industry insider knowledge aspect. “ Tony paused for a second and said: “Deal! You’re on.” With that said, the partnership was formed and Monsta Clothing was born. They talked for a little while and sealed the deal with a man-to-man handshake where the famous words were spoken. Tony said: “I am a man of my word. If I say I’m gonna do something, you can take that to the bank. All I have in the world is my balls and my word and I ain’t gonna break either of them for nobody!” Chris agreed (and laughed as he knew he quoted “Scarface”)
Over the next few weeks, they developed a game-plan which included their equal contribution, as startup money, of $1500 a piece to begin building their empire. Tony and Chris discussed how they would start out by going to local bodybuilding shows, set up a booth and sell some clothing to see how people responded. The problem is that they realized they needed some more funds to get a little push with startup inventory, website development and pull-behind trailer for going to the show. They started out by building a small retail space in Tony’s gym to sell to the members of Future Fitness. We knew we were either on to something or conveniently lucky when we actual sold our first $200 worth of goods on the same day we were setting up our display trying to get all the merchandise open for general sales. (We were not even open yet and we made $200! Not a bad way to start!)
Plugging along on our website development, we realized it was time to see about a loan to start up the business. What better way to get a loan than to hit up family! At the time, Tony’s father was a very reputable banker here in town and we set up time with him to pitch our idea and business plan. After our meeting, Bob Curtis (Tony’s dad) was sold on the idea and granted us a personal loan of $10,000 to start up our initial push. Even though we knew this was family, we wanted to do this straight up where we paid back (with interest) on this loan. We were very fortunate and blessed that Mr. Curtis was willing to take a chance on us, so we felt it would only be right to make sure that he had some return on his investment.
Now, I will fast-forward through time as we went to bodybuilding events, learned from customer wants and desires and focused our business on what we felt was a growing success. After starting the official business in January of 2009, we launched our website with fingers crossed and starting seeing a few orders coming in. Now when I say that we come from humble beginnings, I want you to try and picture this. Everything we owned was stored in the small pull-behind trailer that we took to the shows. So what we had for sell online was also in that same trailer. Since I handled the website aspect of the business, Tony said he would help with pulling and processing orders. As I would get orders coming in, I would call Tony that night and go over the list of items he needed to pull out of the trailer bins for us to package up and ship out. You are probably think “Ok. What’s the big deal?” Now picture it with Tony in his bright-white tighty whities and flip-flops outside, in his driveway, in the middle of the night, with a flashlight in his mouth, digging through bins searching for the right size shirt that I just gave him. It’s hot as hell outside, he is sweating like crazy, the flashlight keeps slipping out of his mouth and wedging itself between the stacks of shirts. All Chris could hear is Tony dropping the phone, throwing out some flavorful curse words as he scrambles to find the flashlight. Then, after pulling the shirt Chris asked for and Tony closes up the bin, Chris then forgets he also needs another of the same shirt for another order. So Tony has to go through the same pain-in-the-ass process all over again! Oh yeah. Don’t forget he is still in his underwear outside in his driveway. Image the sight as the neighbors drive home and see a 280 pound man in his underwear outside digging through a trailer with a flashlight in his mouth.
It wasn’t very long until we outgrew the trailer and we had to make a choice on what to do next. So Chris decided to give up his two car garage and move Monsta storage into it. Tony, being the KING of organization helped transform the garage into a well organized area to store the merchandise. It didn’t help that Chris, wife Michele and two small kids Dominic and Bella would constantly go in there and wreck the place. As time went on, two racks turned to four racks. Then four racks turned to eight racks. Before we knew it, we had crammed 4 full isles into the garage making it a full-on mini warehouse. It was so tight and crammed, we didn’t even have enough room to walk straight down the isles. We had to walk down sideways like a crab. Don’t get them started on talking about trying to turn while in the isles. That would almost cause a domino effect and knock all the isles over. Some would have called it a fire hazard, we called it cozy and profitable! The business kept growing, new designs were being launched almost weekly. The small 2 car garage was no match for the growing (busting-at-the-seems) needs of the small booming business.
The time had come to branch out once again and invest in our first rental space. We picked up a small 1200 sq ft converted law office and turned it into our new headquarters. We thought we hit it big-time now with all this room, right? WRONG! The website sales grew so fast that the once big converted law office became over-ran with more and more racks for storage. Every room was used wall-to-wall with barely any walking room. The hallways were being used storage (fire hazard), the kitchen cabinets in the house were being used for storage, and even the bathrooms had to house boxes. It got so bad that we had to even rent a 40 yard outside storage unit to be brought to the property to house more merchandise. It was nuts! Business was growing. Sales were coming in non-stop, we were picking up distributors around the world, shipping out to over 80 countries and counting. This was all new territory for Tony and Chris.
In 2015, the business was solid and they were at their max end with the ability to produce and storage what they had in the small office space. The time had come for them to build! They designed up and created, what is now to be, their world headquarters. Bringing in-house production, storage, customer service, shipping and even an actual store-front for the general public to shop from. From Tony in his underwear pulling orders, to a 5000 sq ft fulling pimped-out warehouse with a staff of at least ten employees.
To sum up this history lesson into the life of Monsta Clothing, Chris and Tony would like to say that they are still growing, always improving and overwhelmingly grateful for the millions of fans, customers and supporters who all made it possible to make this small town dream come to a very real success story. To the Monsta Nation out there.... We salute you! Thank you from the bottom of our hearts and get ready for more greatness form us here at the Monsta Clothing Company.
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