Forging Your Own Path : The Chi Brand



Life is mysterious. The Chi team encourages you to forge your own path.

By Josh Fukumae, Staff Writer

The Chi Brand began as the brainchild of Jericho De Leon and Jonathan Mar in 2014. DeLeon and Mar are close friends who  attended church together.

The inspiration for the brand, which specializes in street-wear/lifestyle clothing, came from the idea of being an individual and making your own path in life.

De Leon, who is 19, saw some of his peers starting and running their own clothing brands, and he became interested in trying to see if he could keep up with the competition. He enlisted the help of Mar, who is now 17, and they eventually added another one of their friends, 18 year old, William Cala to the team.

“When I grew up a bit more and realized that I didn’t want to follow the crowd,” De Leon wrote in an email. “The idea of Chi itself came to me. Chi derives from the Chinese concept of Chi – which is life energy or the belief that everything and everyone has their own source of life, so we turned that around and said that everyone controls their own life – Chi.”

Although Chi has started to pick up and grow, Cala expressed that starting a business is no easy task.

“Quickly after joining all the doubts started coming in from all angles: friends, teachers, and even family – it was super brutal,” he wrote in an email. “Other obstacles we faced was putting our heads together and forming the brand itself. Both in style and business perspective, we weren’t too sure where to start, but with some mentoring and constant research and learning we started to build with trial and error.”

Keep it simple. (Photo courtesy of @thechibrand)

Chi is mostly sold online through its website or at Art + Flea events around the island. The brand tries to take a minimalist approach to their craft, and focuses on using simple designs and clean fonts on their shirts.

As a young entrepreneur, Mar had this advice for all the kids out there that want to start their own business.

“As cheesy as it sounds, just do it,” he wrote. “You will never know till you try, the way I look at it the younger you are the more space you have to grow and make mistakes. As you get older when you run a business it is going to be criticized from the get go because most people expect you to be right up on there. But for any age not just our generation, my advice is to commit and just do it. If you strongly believe you have an amazing idea then work at it and push it to fruition, as long as you believe in your passion and yourself then you’ll get there.”

Even though they have experienced some hardships, they still continue to innovate and push forward. Chi aims to make more than just clothing. The three start off their creative process by trying to create designs with intentional ideas and messages. They are also very self-aware, remain true to themselves, and aren’t afraid to try things that other brands either haven’t thought of or are too scared to try.

“Whether it be in the marketing, media work, designs, consistent releases, or just the type of products we put out we want to make sure we are always doing something better than others and we want to make sure we ALWAYS put 100% into everything we do,” De Leon wrote. “We don’t let money become the motive, like what everyone else says we just commit to being ourselves.”

One of the ways that Chi has been able to gain exposure is through the monthly Art + Flea events. The whole team agreed that these events were great because they got to meet many cool people and it gave them an opportunity to become a part of the community.

“So far, we’ve been ourselves and people have loved our personalities and fun vibes, sometimes we can get pretty rowdy but I guess it adds character to the booth,” De Leon wrote.

The Chi team hopes to expand and to use their creation as “a vehicle to help us reach success as both individuals and as a team,” De Leon wrote. “We want to not only become a great brand in Hawaii but a great brand acknowledged by the world.”

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