#DIYwithDYD is a series that follows creative individuals. We learn how they made their amazing projects happen. We’re focusing on YOH!, a streetwear and lifestyle brand headed by Patrick Visser and Raees Saiet. The duo have created a brand that runs themed parties, a blog and a clothing brand that has been featured by OkayPlayer and THE FADER. We talk to Patrick Visser in our latest #DIYwithDYD feature.
DYD: What does it take to create a brand that has great international success? Is it about stalking international trends and being able to make your brand applicable abroad? Or is just about being unconditionally South African and hoping that it will get accepted?
Patrick: It can go both ways, but I’d recommend trying not to stalk international trends. A lot of people do that and it only allows for temporary, short-lived gratification. I think that honesty is important. Trying to create something that is honest to us and what we like is important to me, hopefully other people also end up digging it.
DYD: Why do you do events? Why did you start a fashion label? Do these two arenas represent your passions in life or are they just recognised opportunities?
Patrick: I am passionate about music and fashion. I’ve always been. I feel like both have been lucky breaks that somehow just happened without really trying to create something big or knowing too much about what we were doing at the time. I’m lucky enough to have learned from the best, Peet Pienaar and Hannerie Visser, whom I worked for after school. I learned a lot about how to pull off great events in the most interesting ways and with small budgets. Peet and Hannerie did the Toffie Pop Culture Festival, ran The President Design Company and owned the shop, CHURCH. They were also responsible for the MK Bruce Lee Magazine. Last year, I organised the first ever Cape Town Street Food Festival with Hannerie Visser as my business partner and that was another amazing learning curve. As far as the clothing goes, I have an amazing designer in Raees Saiet as my business partner. Ra is on another level creatively.
DYD: You’re Afrikaans. We’re not sure how Afrikaans you are but has there been any thought about how to translate your culture into your brand?
Patrick: I mean I’m pretty Afrikaans. I went to an Afrikaans primary school and high school. My surname is Visser. I used to be quite anti-Afrikaans and used to try and shy away from it due to the negative association attached to ‘being Afrikaans’ and the fucked up shit that Afrikaaners are responsible for. More recently however I’ve started accepting the fact that I’m Afrikaans and embracing it. There are a lot of Afrikaans people doing cool stuff right now and creating their own moulds of what it means to be Afrikaans, it’s about accepting and recognising the negativity and flaws of the past and creating something new and beautiful in the present. I’ve never really tried to push Afrikaans culture into the brand as that would be forced, that’s not really me. However, I am Afrikaans (even though the only people I really speak Afrikaans to ever are my parents, sister and my friend, Ane) and I feel like anything I put out is indirectly me showing what being Afrikaans in 2015 is for me on a personal level.
DYD: Where are you going with YOH!?
Patrick: We’re bringing down international acts this year, releasing new clothing collections, doing a collaborative clothing collection with an international street wear label and making ‘lifestyle’ items and accessories. We will be expanding the brand and company as much as possible.
DYD: What does an average day look like for you?
Patrick: I don’t really have a standard, normal 9 – 5. I do in the sense of trying to do work during those hours (some days I’ll start a bit later and work in the extra hours after 5 or I’ll start earlier and finish earlier), however it differs from day-to-day according to a list of things I need to get done every day which may include sending fifty emails, pressing some t-shirts, going to printers, making a Facebook event, meetings, etc. Every day starts with a cup of coffee at The Power & The Glory. I guess that’s the only constant. I spend most of my days at coffee shops, but lately I’ve been doing a lot of work at Thor Rixon’s place. It’s great cause Thor’s such an amazing, interesting creative individual that it’s just so good to be around him. His energy is the best.
DYD: How do you come up with themes for your parties?
Patrick: Raees and I have a list of themes which we will probably never get through in our lifetime. It’s really fun coming up with them and it’s one of my favourite things. Sometimes the theme will stem from a movie I’d like to screen, or sometimes it will be because there are specific acts that we would like to have on a line-up and they make sense according to a certain theme and other times it will just be something which is nostalgic for us. There’s no set formula, really.
DYD: What have been some of the difficulties you’ve had to face along your journey?
Patrick: There have been quite a few to be honest, but without them it probably wouldn’t be as satisfying getting things done. The list includes: Lack of sponsorship, struggling with funding, not being taken seriously because we’re young (Well, Raees is at least. Lol), printers/factories being closed when we really needed them not to be, neither Raees nor I having driving licenses (this seriously needs to get sorted out!), the Post Office going on strike and losing half of our orders and other silly things like that.
DYD: What have been some of the highlights that you’ve experienced?
Patrick: Highlights have been having venues around the country at capacity, our first proper lookbook getting released on THE FADER, a two-page article on us in the latest issue of THE FADER’s print magazine (never thought I would ever be in the magazine, that’s wild!), being featured on VICE’s Around The World in 80 Raves as one of the 80 best independently run parties in the world, many newspaper features (a personal favourite being a two-page spread in the Daily Voice) and just seeing people have a fun time. Raees and I always love seeing and finding our décor from our parties being stuck up in people’s rooms and chilling in someone’s car – it’s a nice feeling.
DYD: This feature falls in our “Do It Yourself” series. We’re trying to get young people to see different ways of handling their futures. What advice would you give to young people about starting their own projects and/or businesses?
Just kidding. If you are going to do it, it’s going to be super tough, but you have to just put in all the hard work and give 100% cause if you don’t you might as well not start anything at all.