We were fortunate enough to catch up with the founders of one of our partner brands. Wainao is a bold brand that is incredibly passionate about what they do. Here is a unique insight to their brand, questions and answers from Phillipe of Wainao. Enjoy.
Who are you/ the people behind your brand?
My name is Philippe, I’m 39 and I founded the brand with my friend JP. We were helped by our best friends named MO’, SISTA, STAN, ESSO, BENITA, ABDOU and CHRISTIAN. We are from different countries, FRANCE, SENEGAL, WEST INDIES, HAITI, TOGO, ARGENTINA…but we all live in FRANCE.
What is the name of your Brand?
The name of the brand is WAINAO. This word that you pronounce “WHY NOW” contains the three essential elements of our philosophy.
WHY: because questioning, debating is what we push people to do
NOW: because OUR concept is about TIME and history.
And NAO: which means NO in Portuguese, because we want people to refuse to believe what they’ve been told without asking questions. We are so used to take informations we get, for granted that we don’t analyze anymore. We have got to be able to say “NO” when something doesn’t seem logic to us. No matter what other people think. We want people to be free minded and share their own thoughts, not other people’s opinions.
Where is WAINAO is based?
WAINAO is based in PARIS, FRANCE.
Where can we find WAINAO online (website, social media accounts)?
On our website: www.2wainao.com ( which is very different from other tee shirt brands. We built our website as an art site, because that’s how we see our project you have page artists, videos, interviews…)
On our facebook page: wainao officiel
On our instagram: wainao officiel
On twitter: wainao officiel
On youtube: wainao officiel
On pinterest: wainao officiel
If you could sum up your brand in a one or just a few words, what would they be?
If I could sum up our brand in few words it would be: FREEDOM of SPEECH, ART and HISTORY.
Talk to us about your concept.
We are very proud of this concept, because it has never been seen before.
The idea is to revisit the history of the world through a series of dates and events that we consider significant. We have multiple ways to do it:
1) Our main attraction is the double reversible tee shirt: we present on originals double reversible t-shirts, as riddles, dates and events in history. The elements distributed on the four sides of the shirt (date, sentence puzzle, visual, text), and which are all clues, help determine which event we speak about. what makes our brand different is the fact that we work with a new duet of artists(one for the visual and an other for the text) for each new event we choose to talk about. Artists create works about the subject, then, these works are exhibited on the same support; namely WAINAO; an unique model of double reversible tee shirt made by assembling 2 t-shirts, which allows to wear the garment on both sides.
2) We also got 2 other collections on classic tee shirts.
The first one is called : “CLASSIK” : We collaborate again with artists-drawers and ask them to create works based on our enigmas. Then we present it on classic tee shirts. It’s interesting to have an other artist’s vision about the same subjects, we treated in enigmas.
The other collection we are about to release, is called “TIME OUT” which, in my opinion, will definitely establish us as the main brand in years to come. We keep the same idea of presenting important moments of history but we do it by themes. We will have different section: SPORT , MUSIC, MOVIES, POLITICS, JUSTICE…etc we will talk about all the subjects so everybody can find what he needs. We are the first brand EVER to do that.
What inspired you to start your brand?
It’s funny because few years ago, we were about to go to a party and one of our friend was planning to see a girl he liked and wanted to impress. He was hesitating between two tee shirts. One had a tremendous picture on it, with amazing colors; and the other one was less beautiful but had a very strong political message on it. It was “stop harassing people”or something like that, in Tibetan. I don’t remember exactly. We spent 2 hours and finally, he choose to take both. He wore one and put one in his bag. The idea of double tee shirt was born…. but that’s not most important.
We always had that feeling that, talking about culture, the main problem was that interesting things were sometimes boring and on the other hand, things entertaining are very often too basic. We thought that we shouldn’t have to choose between entertaining things and intelligent things. That’s why we had the desire to create something entertaining and intelligent.
What do you want your brand to be known for?
Our goal is to be known for three things:
First of all, we want to break monopoles. Today NIKE, ADIDAS, PUMA are the leaders not because they have the most beautiful or more creative tee shirts, but just because they are more powerful. They have annihilated all competition. They can’t do that with us, because of our concept. We want to be the first brand of a new era where talent and creativity are the only way to separate brands from others. Not money, not fame, not celebrities you have under contract. History and great moments belongs to everybody.
Second of all, we want to known as the “BRAND OF ARTISTS ” and especially drawers. There are thousands of incredible talent out there, you have never heard of. As we always say “ there will never be enough museums and galleries for all artists of the world BUT the number of people on the planet still growing so….. we have to link these two elements. Why continue to wear cheap tee shirts with stupid logo whereas you could have a way better shirt, with a stunning work of great artist on it ? especially about a subject that matters for you.
And it leads to the third thing:
We want to be known for being the first GLOBAL BRAND! We are not limited by anything. Not only our project is transversial to all areas of our society, but we are not scared to talk about all subjects, even the most controversial. We want to give something really interesting to think about. You will never see NIKE talking about homophobia, war or racism. Except maybe to say that “racism is bad” (you don’t risk too much saying stuff like that)…because they don’t want to hurt and lose some clients.
For us, people want to be more than just consumers, they want to hear something different, real. We are not scared to shake people ’s feelings, to make them uncomfortable because freedom of speech is the heart of our project. And if you don’t like what is said and designed on a tee shirt, it’s not a big deal, you will love the next one but we will always keep it real.
What inspires the artwork on your T-Shirts?
It can be about WAR in IRAQ, or a documentary about a great ballet dancer, a song…etc. We have absolutely no barriers. The only thing that matters to us is to have an original point of view.
What is the difference between your brand and others? Artist works on tee shirts is not really something new?
You’re right, but the real difference is that we “REALLY” collaborate. We don’t choose one artist design and put it an a tee shirt because it’s beautiful. We use art to deliver a message, to tell a story which will interest people. The main problem is that artists creates and waits for people to come to them. But before people enter artists’ universe, these artists got to make a step toward them too.
That’s what we try to do. Artists have got the power to captivate people’s mind and we use it to deliver a message. In return, people who have got interest for the subject are allowed to discover an artist they would never have known without that. We always say “Art and CULTURE [have] got to get out of libraries, museums and go get people!!”.
What is your process of working with artists?
Usually, we find artists on internet, even if we got more and more artists who come to us. Before starting everything, we already have gotten the subject and obviously we are looking for great artists but we have got to look at the style of drawing. We choose the one who will be the best for the specific kind of draw we need. After that, we contact him and give as many details as possible. The artist makes a first sketch, so we can exchange by mail and once we are on the same page the artist has a light green to do what he wants. We trust him.
Has the power of networking been beneficial to your success? Tell us how.
Of course, now you can showcase your creations by many ways. Back in the day, you had to have a shop if you wanted to succeed. You don’t need it anymore to start, that’s why we sell online. With Instagram, Facebook, Twitter etc…..you can do a lot.
What are some of your favorite quotes?
There is one that we love: “ If you take the same path as everyone, you will arrive in the same place as everyone else”
What motivates you and those behind your brand?
We want to change the way everybody sees history and CULTURE in general. We want to use art and artists to make it accessible for all. Even the ones who don’t go to libraries, museeums or others. We got to make things interesting entertaining. We start with tee shirts but we got many more projects..
Are there any books, articles, blogs, etc. you would recommend to inspiring entrepreneurs/artists?
I recommend to watch videos from ERIC THOMAS on youtube. It was very helpful for us and still. His speech are so powerful and inspiring that it motivates you when you are a little down.
Tell of us a memorable event or overcome challenge from first starting out.
The biggest challenge was to start this all thing with less than 100 euros… Think about it: we were in 2014, we had no money, no contact, no fame and we decided one night to compete against greatest brands ever made. It sounds crazy!! We worked very hard to built this and we are very proud of what we have already done. All you see has been made with almost no money.
Your concept is fantastic, did investors come to you?
Yes, few of them but they don’t want to collaborate, they propose to buy our brand from us. I understand because the project has so much potential.. but we are not interested at all to sell, even if we had some correct offers and our pockets are still empty. (Laughs). We are more ambitious than that and the most difficult part has been done now.
The SKY my friend…The SKY