We all know WongFu Productions and the Fung Bros as Asian Americans who represent our culture in the predominately Caucasian entertainment and creative industry. Yet the one thing that irks us is that they’re all from the West Coast…Rob Chen, a marketing major from Northeastern University thought this needed to change and decided to start up his own brand “Dynasty 8” to represent Asian culture and rally for the Asian American community that seemed under recognized on the East Coast #EastCoastBeastCoast. We caught up with Rob to see what he’s been doing to bring Asian culture to the streets.
To get things started, can you tell us about Dynasty 8?
We are an Asian-inspired lifestyle brand based in Boston. We take influences from Asia’s art and tradition, and present it as something more relatable and current for fellow Asian Americans, and others interested in Asian culture. 8 is a lucky number in Chinese and the Dynasty represents a big family and movement that pays homage to the rich heritage.
Our brand is founded upon three pillars: Dynamic, Spirited & Phresh (yes, with a PH). Dynamic means to be bold, to make a statement. Being spirited is to have purpose in your actions, and is the cultural drive of our brand. We want to purposefully represent Asian culture to its fullest extent. Finally, phresh is to just keep things cool, current and real, challenging ourselves to be innovative everyday. Everything that we do has to encompass these three values.
Creating a brand takes a lot of drive and passion, what inspired you to go down this path?
Well, when I was in boarding school, there was a “Create Your Own T-shirt” activity that I participated in. My design said “It’s Time to Date a 中國 (China) Man”, and to my surprise lots of people gave me compliments and said it was a fun design. So that kinda sparked my interest on getting into the clothing business. Then during my junior year here, there was a Huskies Start Up Challenge held at my school where I had the chance to take a small idea of mine and develop it into a business model. I’ve always wanted create a platform for those who vibe with Asian art and culture. So when I received positive feedback from the program, I decided to keep running with the idea and develop it further. It’s only been less than a year since we’ve started and now we’re a legal LLC (limited liability company).
Were there any challenges that you’ve faced through this process?
Oh, most definitely! So I started this back in October 2014 and by winter break, I had lost my whole team due to multiple commitment conflicts. That was a major blow, but I didn’t give up and kept asking around to see if there was anyone who would be interested in carrying out my vision. Eventually I found the team that I’m working with now and I’m so grateful to have their constant input, hard work and creativity. And of course, being a student while pursuing a start up business is not the way to achieve a 4.0 GPA. There would be nights when I had my final essay open, along with 5 other windows looking at the clothing printing process, potential collaborators etc. Funding is also a hurdle we have to overcome occasionally. At the end of the day, it’s through these difficulties that help you grow and move forward.
Definitely! So, what’s next for Dynasty 8?
Hmmm, I would love to have it established back home in New York, to be a recognizable brand that is not just known for its clothes but serves the community and creative thinkers in a positive and effective manner. We recently had a popup booth at Kollaboration Boston and had the chance to collaborate with DANakaDAN and design a shirt for him. We’ve also sponsored Serendipity, the NYU female dance group (who got to perform at KCON this year), with some of our Sakura tank tops. Basically we love doing collabs and are open to supporting any group who is also down to inspire fellow Asian Americans and promote Asian culture.
Thanks so much for talking to us! We can’t wait to see what Dynasty 8 does in the future!
P.S We’ll be giving away some of their apparel as prizes at our upcoming Trivia Night!! Make sure you’re there!