tomVicious
How did you get started with this company?
I would never have thought that I would be making clothes, but after changing schools and switching around my majors, I found my self in a rut. After a lousy couple of semesters at my new school I wondered if I made the wrong choice by leaving The American Academy Of Art as a design major to pursue music and web design at Columbia College Chicago. I had no clue what I was going to do so I prayed that God would give me direction with school, my career and my life. literally the next day I felt that prayer answered by sitting next to a guy on the train home from Chicago. I saw him creating some cool designs and asked him about it. He told me he was working on designs for the clothing company he was going to start. We started talking more and I found out he went to Columbia as an advertising art direction major. I got one of those feeling when you know what your trying to say but you cant think of the word and then someone says it! That night I stayed up until like 3am or so and designed two of the shirts I currently have for sale today. I posted them on facebook that same night and got some great feed back! That weekend at church I can’t remember what the sermon about but I remember the pastor saying “you cant save yourself” and I loved that! I had to design a shirt with that on it. Our “Salvation” shirt has been one of our best sellers which reads simply “Cant Save Yourself. I wasn’t sure If I would actually have any of these made until a band I started sponsoring needed a shirt made with the words Chase Your Dreams on it for a show they were playing with For Today, Bleeding Through, Attila, and The Word Alive. I couldn’t believe that I could sell my stuff at that show so I made sure that the Chase Your Dreams shirt was made by that day. Thankfully God blessed me with enough money to really get this going at the time and I felt like He just opened so many doors for me that I just had to keep going with it.

What were one or two of the biggest breakthroughs so far?
When I was able to launch new products I felt like that was huge and they sold out as well which I still think is insane. Recently being able to have a presence at large tour stops has been a great break through for us since we do awesome shows all the time in our local scene, but being able to go to some of these larger shows gives us a new audience and just feels like we are growing.

What are some of the biggest and/or hardest lessons learned so far?
I’d have to say the hardest lesson for me has been learning to keep a level head and staying true to what we stand for. We are representing Jesus and sometimes opportunities come our way that seem like a great idea but really conflict with what the bible teaches us. Just learning to take a step back from time to time and remember that we are nothing with out God and our awesome customers has been a tough lesson to learn. Philippians 2:3-5

Why the name Vicious Apparel?
Back when people used myspace, I had some crazy hair that I dyed black and my aunt had said I looked like Sid Vicious. At the time I honestly had no clue who that was haha but I just adopted the name Tom Vicious as my “myspace name”. 6 years later after meeting Justin from Joker Apparel, I thought Vicious Apparel would work nicely. Now I feel it is a bit more appropriate to say it represents both being bold with your faith as well as a humble admission that we are all born Vicious to one degree or another and certainly all fall short of the glory of God.


Any stories or themes/explanations behind any of your designs?
The salvation shirt is directly from scripture saying Cant Save Your Self  meaning that salvation can only come through faith in Jesus Christ. Iv been told that it is a broad enough statement that it relates to people who don’t necessarily believe in Christ which I think is awesome. The chase your dreams shirt was the first one we actually had printed and I just feel like the simple statement on the shirt is empowering to people since allot of people have their dream put down because it seems dumb or wont make enough money but we want people Christian or not to plain and simply chase their dreams. Our logo it self the VA symbol sort of has an anarchy feel to it and we feel like it represents breaking from the mold and to seek truth, and not just listen to what everyone tells
you.

How involved are you with various bands?
We are always thinking of new ways to be more involved with the bands we currently work with, When we are at a show together sometimes we will record and edit together a montage video of them playing along with the rest of the show. The bands we work with have really become part of our family and we do a ton of different things together from working on new merch ideas to touring together and even just hanging out during and after shows. We are really blessed to have them involved with what we do and they mean the world to us.

Are you working with The Color Morale and Eli Rises?
Yes and no, We have a great relationship with The Color Morale, We have never established any official agreement with them but they wear our stuff some times and we consider them family none the less.  Eli Rises on the other hand is a band on our roster and we also have an awesome relationship with them. They were formally just known as just ELI and I actually run their facebook page.

How did that come about?
with The Color Morale I met garret through a friend when I had just started Vicious Apparel, I gave him a shirt at a show they played and he wore it on stage. I was so stoked about that since I really like their music! I was a bit starstruck at first that he would do that. After time we got to hang out more and I eventually met the rest of the guys and we just have become great friends since then. They are some of the nicest people I know and continue to encourage us to keep moving forward. When they come in town we all get together at Buffalo Wild Wings and catch up. As for ELI I heard about them online and they used play with bands like A Day To Remember, The Devil Wears Prada, and Still Remains a couple years ago. I check them out and was honestly intimidated to email them about working together. Luckily they were playing at a venue in Bartlet called Local Noise which I frequently set up shop at. I talked to them after their set which was amazing and they agreed to jump on board. That was all about a year ago, The venue Local Noise was a huge help in getting us off our feet, we were able to set up at every show and thats were we met a lot of the bands on our roster

Who else are you working with?
We currently work with I The Breather, These Hearts, Fit For A King, Of Sights & Sounds, ELI Rises, Elysion Fields, The World Ends With You, Running In Circles, Ghost Of Poseidon, Burn The Remains, and I Killed Everyone.


What do you think you do that’s different than other apparel companies?
I try and keep my prices affordable with out trashing quality, I have started using the same materials as more established lines do but I reduce the profit margin slightly so the price is competitive but I don’t feel like I’m robing anyone. We don’t try to be the next big thing, and we really try not be just a clothing company but an out reach. There is a ton of people hurting in our scene and we try to be a light to them. I don’t know if this makes us different than companies or not but at the end of the day It docent bother me if we don’t sell any thing as long as we through one way or another make a difference in someones life.

What are your goals?
My goals for Vicious Apparel would be to glorify God with what I do first off and eventually have a brand that people appreciate for our honesty quality. In the future we would love to tour the country and set up shop at warped tour and other large festivals.

What does it feel like when you see someone on the street wearing one of your shirts?
Oh man, I can’t even describe it..Its just a surreal feeling. It really never gets old at all, I feel so blessed, I always had an idea to make cloths that become part of someones “identity” if you know what I mean. Everyone has that shirt or hoodie that they look for every time they go out and I just have always wanted that shirt to be some thing from Vicious Apparel. Another thing I have noticed recently is
I  can honesty remember every person’s face and what item they bought from us.

Why do you donate funds to charities?
We give to charities and also church because God calls us to offer the first fruits of or labor and since God has blessed me so much with Vicious Apparel I cant help but to give back to Him and to people in need, I just feel like I should.
Which ones have you been working with?
For the most part we have worked with out reach ministries through the church I attend such as the homeless out reach or other fruitful causes. We have also worked with Feed My Starving Children by donating our time as well as a merch design which is actually being sold on their site now. We really believe in what that organization stands for and we hope to help out with them more in the future. We love to work benefit shows as well. If the cause is something we believe in we are happy to set up at those shows and offer a percentage of our sales to the cause.

How did that all come about?
Since we started I just always wanted to give back, even when we barely charged more then it cost to make the shirts we would give just because we know God calls us to do give. I haven’t been following Christ long but when It comes to tithing I didn’t want anyone to tell me I should or get up my butt especially from the church because it seemed sketchy to me. To my surprise no one did that and as I read more and more in the bible I discovered that we are called to not only tithe but to be a gracious giver. As for Feed My Starving Children, that was an awesome story, I volunteered at their packing facility with my girlfriend’s church and a couple moths later I posted on their wall as Vicious Apparel saying something to the effect of God bless this organization. They emailed me and thanked me, as well as asked me if I would like to create a shirt design for them. I was stoked! After a couple back and forth emails we came up with the design. After it was printed they sent me and my girlfriend each a shirt with some other cool things made by the people they feed. Included in the package was probably the nicest letter anyone has ever wrote for us. They are just a fantastic organization and I was so happy to help them out.

What’s a typical work day look like for you?
Well I’m addicted to coffee so I get me some of that before I do anything. Depending on the day I will either head down town Chicago for school in which case I work on different things for Vicious on the hour long train ride. On days I don’t have school I play what ever band I’m hooked on at that day and get things rolling. I spend most of my time on facebook talking to bands or promoters to find the next show I can set up at. As well as answer emails, look at wholesaling sites for idea for new products. Some times I will check out other companies to try and get an idea of what other brands are doing. After a couple hours of that I work on new possible products. I am a bit of a scatter brain so I can end up doing a million different things at once. If its a day that I have a show, I am usually on facebook ,other sites, designing, networking and other various things until the time I have to leave for the show. When I get there I have to unpack everything from my van and set up the table display, which can take a while since I am a bit anal about it haha. Once I have the table set up, I will usually ask Lis to hold down the fort so I can go mingle and do some filming with my flip cam. It feels like home when I go to a show with people you know there is just so much love in the room sometimes. The rest of the night consists of chilling at the table and talking to people as they stop by. During set changes I go around try and meet new people and invite them to check out the table.
lis2

Anything else you’d like to add?
I spoke briefly about my girl friend Lis but she is actually a huge part of Vicious Apparel and is really the only other person who runs the company with me. We work really well together since what shes good at I’m generally terrible at and vise verse. I’m really blessed to have her in my life. Id also like to thank a ton of people who have really helped get Vicious Apparel off the ground: Justin Wielding, Jamie Koala, Alex Cirillo, Mike Galati + Awaiting The Daybreak(RIP), Cameron Latham, Garret Rapp, Nick & So Far Stupid booking, Zack Hurt (Local Noise), George Medic, Arla Mae(RIP),
The World Ends With You, Liar Vs Lawyer, Running In Circles, Ghost Of Poseidon, Burn The Remains, I Killed Everyone. I The Breather, These Hearts, Of Sights & Sounds, ELI Rises, Elysion Fields, Iscaria (RIP), From The Ocean(RIP), Milosny(RIP), Mojoes, and most of all we thank all the awesome people who follow us and above all our God who has allowed for us to continue to grow and with out Him we are nothing.

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