Here’s a local brand that’s been making a statement — quite literally — since 2012. Statement was founded seven years ago by co-founders Visa and Desmond. What’s really intriguing about this local brand is the fact that it didn’t begin as a business venture.
Visa and Desmond initially gave their project the working title, “Statement”, simply because they “were making t-shirts to allow other people to make a statement.”
“Back then, when we started out, we weren’t even considering this as a business venture at all,” explains co-founder Desmond, who also doubles up as a culture and customer officer at referral marketing campaign platform, ReferralCandy.
“It was sort of a ‘let’s do this project and also have a name so that people know how to find us’ situation.”
The brand may not have been conceptualised with the goal of actually becoming a brand at first, but one thing’s for sure— their brand vision is crystal clear.
“For a long time, we aligned with the idea of “starting conversations”. The co-founders wanted to create fun, playful apparel that could start conversations, which led them to design t-shirts with slogans that were sometimes subversive.
According to Visa and Desmond, being playful and asking questions were what helped to build the Statement brand.
“We dug deeper into the brand and into what we want to do with it, and we realise it is ultimately about having the courage to be naughty.”
Injecting Local Flavour
If you’ve seen Statement apparel at stores like Naiise, or have paid a quick visit to their online store, you’ll notice that their t-shirts and tote bags are uniquely Singaporean. The same way Statement was not started with the intention of growing it into an actual business venture, Desmond revealed that neither of the co-founders set out to focus specifically on Singaporean-flavoured products.
In fact, it was a much simpler vision that inspired Statement’s foray into tongue-in-cheek slogans, local humour, and political puns.
In the beginning, Visa and Desmond just wanted to “make t-shirts that we ourselves really want to wear.” The fact that many of those ideas incorporated elements of Singaporean culture were more of a coincidence than anything.
Visa, who co-founded Statement alongside Desmond in 2012, shared his ideas for his edgy t-shirts on Facebook. His ideas received a positive response, with many friends and other Facebook users expressing their interest in purchasing the Singaporean-themed pieces.
Since the local designs resonated with the crowd, the duo was inspired to create more.
Turning Passion into Profits
Though the inception of the brand was a side hustle for both Visa and Desmond, the brand has had so much local appeal that it’s actually turned out to be pretty profitable.
In 2016, what started as a little passion project transformed into a six-figure business, earning over $100,000 in revenue after just 4 years in operations.
When asked to divulge some secrets on how they achieved such an impressive milestone, Desmond explained that branding, alongside word-of-mouth-marketing, had a lot to do with it.
“I would say it’s the people who have believed in us and our products. People like sharing about our t-shirts. Our products market themselves through people like that, and that has gotten us a lot of business and engagement through word-of-mouth.”
Having evolved into a brand that is well-known for its locally-inspired slogans, we would argue that Statement has built a rather strong brand image for itself. They have attained customer preference for their cheeky t-shirts, and these satisfied customers have turned into their brand ambassadors.
Desmond tells us that word-of-mouth marketing has contributed to Statement’s success substantially,
With happy customers who have since become their brand ambassadors, Visa and Desmond are able to channel more time into creating products that customers will love.
Playing With The Rules
Statement’s edgy, occasionally subversive designs are inspired by the playfulness and curiosity of the dynamic duo. They believe in “the courage to be naughty, and to be yourself and playing with (but not actually breaking) the rules.”
Through its witty and eye-catching designs, Statement positions itself as a brand that inspires curiosity and provokes thought.
“We’d probably raise questions about the rules and boundaries we observe in the society. Why are the rules there? Do the rules make sense? How can we play with them?” quips Statement’s co-founder.
With consignment stores presenting customers with a plethora of similar offerings to choose from, we wondered how Statement manages to distinguish themselves effectively.
Statement is already bending some rules when it comes to facing their competitors. In fact, you’ll find that this Singaporean brand isn’t at all fixated on setting themselves apart from their competition.
“To be honest, we don’t really spend much time focusing on other local apparel brands, or consciously trying to differentiate ourselves from them.”
“We actually have a post on our blog where we list out many of our favourite “competitors” and encourage people to go buy from them, too.”
Perhaps in not desperately trying to set themselves apart, they have effectively emerged as a brand that’s different.
Our team recently collaborated with Statement for our social media contest and we were awfully tempted to keep some of the prizes for ourselves! Wanna make a statement at your next social gathering? Check out their playful apparel here. Don’t say we….