Don't confuse Quiet Hero with another one of those "indie" t-shirt types. This label's got a soul, personality, and an attitude to match. Catapulted to success by their recent acquisition of Fred Segal shelf space, San Diego based Quiet Hero has quickly become a cult favorite in "America's Finest City" and far beyond. My interview below with Quiet Hero clearly showcases this company's passion for combining art, global inspiration and an aesthetically cool sense of good will, all in an eco-friendly package.
PR: What is Quiet Hero all about? Who is the Quiet Hero customer?
QH: Quiet Hero is about the visible aftermath of blinding intensity. That's as simple as it gets. I could muddy the water with all kinds of bullshit about bar fights and billionaire sunsets, old trucks and fierce dogs, far-off deserts and ports in a storm, but it comes down to this idea of putting what we have in the hottest fire around and then seeing what's left after the heat goes down.
We've found the people who really dig QH are like us; they're passionate about something, and they've got an eye for Art. Art in the form of pure input for the senses; not explicit, something that tickles a primal urge for the beautiful.
PR: What makes Quiet Hero different from the rest of the vintage-style t-shirt companies out there?
QH: Well, it ain't the vintage t-shirts. I'd like to say it's the art, but it comes down to the raw stuff we're made up of; we're a bunch of weirdo’s just running at the front of the wedge. You look at the things that each of us do or have done, and it's the out-there stuff; running camel expeditions in Mali, rescuing animals in Mexico (I'm not talking kittens in cardboard boxes, either) or getting on a boat shorter than most SUVs and sailing down through the Panama Canal with a guy you barely know. It's that kind of fire, or passion, or probably best, intensity, that makes our stuff stand out. Whatever we're doing, from organizing the books to frenzied art sessions, we do it with that same intensity you get when you're 30 feet underwater and out of breath, scratching for the surface.
PR: You seem to have a very strong brand identity. Was this something you strove to create (perhaps enlisted outside help for?) or something that happened more organically? Can you share a little bit about this
process of turning Quiet Hero from an idea into a company?
QH: It comes down to this idea of opening up and blazing away at what we're doing with the white hot intensity of ten thousand burning suns. Turning an idea into reality takes no more than focusing with intent on what you want, but no human can take on a harder task.
PR: Explain a little about Suki, Quiet Hero T-Shirts, Shines, and how these aspects of the brand all relate to each other in regards to Marketing/PR. Do you find that having these product extensions helps your brand attain credibility?
QH: The Suki and the shines came from the side of stuff we'd seen and liked, and less from thinking beforehand about integrating any of it into our credibility. If you look at either the Suki products, or the glass rings, or even our Peace Love Joy bottles, they're all created by people who are fanatical about what they're after. More than anything, that's what attracted us.
PR: Do you work with a PR agency, have someone in-house, or handle the press yourself? What are the key ingredients of your PR outreach?
QH: Writing and telling people about Quiet Hero is our creative joy. I'll get a little touchy-feely here, but PR for us is a chance to interact with other people joyfully. Whatever comes out of our interviews, or sales calls, or just random chats at restaurants is all a product of us really digging being alive and running a company that is limitless in potential.
PR: Is online marketing important to you? If so, how have you utilized web 2.0 tools to get the word out about Quiet Hero?
QH: We put up a website that felt right to us, something that showcased our love of plastering different ideas and pictures and words together, and keeping it in a format that had formal straight lines as well as squigglies. Most of our online stuff has been interviews and being open to whoever writes in with an interest in Quiet Hero.
PR: Did you begin to seek out media coverage the traditional way? i.e.local leads to regional, regional leads to national, national leads to complete world take-over, or did you seek out a different approach. If so, why?
QH: That's how it's happening, but we didn't have such a formal plan. We started writing about what was important to us, sending off samples to people we felt would dig them, and let the shirts do the majority of the work. At the very beginning we had our whole staff cold-calling 4 hours a day each. If you've done any kind of cold-calling you know it's intense, but we didn't limit ourselves to local work, we just jumped time-zones starting with New York and working back to San Diego.
PR: You've had some great success at national media placements in a short amount of time. Can you share some of your recent successes and any insight into how you’ve been able to build rapport with fashion editors?
What has been your process to get your tees in front of boutique owners? How did the relationship with Fred Segal come about?
QH: Thanks for noticing! We were just in Nylonmag.com, we've got a long-distance slow-motion romance going with Marie Claire, and Fred Segal picked us up in August of '07 at the POOL trade show. All that stuff comes from us asking for it directly, politely, and consistently.
We've got a good product and we know it. The confidence that comes from that makes it easy to not push sales or placement so much and just connect with another person. The rest takes care of itself.
PR: Why did you choose to set up shop in San Diego? Has it been a challenge to not be based out of a major fashion capital like LA or NY?
QH: San Diego's tagline is "America's Finest City" and we believe it. We've lived here off and on since the early '90s, so it wasn't so much choosing to set up shop here as it was, "There's no way I'm moving out of paradise just to do business." Sometimes we disagree within our little group, but I think it's a bonus to not be in LA or NY. We get to imagine what it's like there, and I think that imagination is so much more productive and motivating than if we were actually in the mix out there.
PR: Describe a little bit about opportunities/challenges in the San Diegofashion scene?
QH: San Diego is a great beach town, and it helps us keep in the back of our mind that whatever we make has to be comfortable enough to wear down to the sand, sun, and waves. This idea of stuff that looks so good you can't wear it is total bullshit; if you can ride a wild tiger without getting a wicked rash, you're probably wearing a Quiet Hero shirt.
PR: What are three upcoming trends (can be cultural, industry, media, or fashion related) on your radar?
QH: Urban farming, the constant intrigue of a growing inter-connectedness, and the onset of global human enlightenment. And indie t-shirt sales.
For more information, contact Quiet Hero through their website.