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Originally born in the small town of Fort Smith Arkansas to Vietnamese immigrant parents, Richie Le has gone against the odds and built a successful career in the industries of digital media and fashion. As a content creator, he has garnered over 1.1 million subscribers on Youtube with over 220 million total views within the streetwear and sneaker niche. Beyond social media, he is co-owner and founder of fashion brand ‘Richie Le Collection’ operating under the multi-million dollar parent company ‘The Leverage’. Despite the tremendous growth and the many big things yet to come, he always makes sure to stay true to his original mission to inspire, entertain, and help his audience in any way he can.
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Intro: (00:00:00) Hey guys, welcome to Asian Hustle Network Podcast, My name is Bryan.
And my name is Maggie
And we interview Asian entrepreneurs around the world to amplify their voices and empower Asians to pursue their dreams and goals.
We believe that each person has a message and a unique story from their entrepreneurial journey that they can share with all of us.
Maggie: (00:00:23) Hi everyone. Welcome to the Asian hustle network podcast. Today we have a very special guest. His name is Richie Lee originally born in the small town of Fort Smith, Arkansas to Vietnamese immigrant parents. Ritually has gone against the odds and built a successful career in the industries of digital media and fashion. As a content creator. He has garnered over 1.1 million subscribers on YouTube with over. 220 million total views within the street wear and sneaker niche beyond social media. He is co-owner and founder of fashion, brand Richie Lee collection operating under the multimillion dollar parent company. The leverage, despite the tremendous growth and the many big things yet to come, he always makes sure to stay true to his original mission, to inspire, entertain, and help his audience in any way.
He can welcome to the show Richie.
Richie: (00:01:10) Man. Thanks for having me. Appreciate you guys. Um, and shout out to you guys for really like, you know, pushing the envelope right now for a lot of Asian-Americans and allowing them to tell their story and everything. So, yeah, I know it's not easy for you guys and, um, yeah. So shout out to you.
Bryan: (00:01:26) Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, we're super excited to have you on, so let's hear more, more about you. Like where did you grow up? What was your upbringing like?
Richie: (00:01:32) Yeah. So for myself, um, I was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas. My parents were, um, sponsored there after the Vietnam war. Um, I only lived there for like a couple years and then we ended up following our pastor up to Seattle. And so I grew up in Seattle with, uh, David and Andrew Kent Washington. And I would say for myself, it was just a pretty normal upbringing, a lot of influence from my, uh, older brothers and my siblings. They were really, really big into inner entertainment. So my brothers, they would do like, um, they would like throw car shows. They would, uh, Oh nightclubs. They would just, just really in the scene and everything. And I would say, I cannot include, I can't really bring up my success or everything I'm into without really mentioning them. Um, and yeah, so yeah, I was huge into sports. I was always that kid always like trying to find like the Asian, Asian guy on a basketball team or like, Oh, he's mixed with Asian. Let me root for him and everything. So, yeah, that was really big for me. Um, Yeah. I just have a ton of influences. Like when I think about it right now, I'm like, dang, so many people come to mind, but yeah, a huge one are my brothers.
Maggie: (00:02:46) That's awesome. Awesome. And what were your, what was your relationship like with your parents? Like, did they have like a kind of like strict set of rules for you like that they have this idea of like what you were going to be when you grew up or were they kind of laid back?
Richie: (00:02:58) Yeah, so for myself, I'm actually the youngest of six, so my siblings went through it all. Like I have my, you know, my brothers like. You know, some of troublemakers, you know, so for myself it was really like, my siblings almost raised me. So I think that's why I have like the cultural aspect from my parents, but more so like that, that American upbringing for my siblings, because they were the ones that taught me about like basketball and enrolled me in sports and everything. Um, So as far as any expectations, they, they were done raised like kids, you know, they're kind of, yeah. So I really had, I was really blessed with the opportunity to really follow. I would say whatever I wanted to, um, at a young age, like every, everybody was really cool with like supporting me if I wanted to try to rap or like do talent shows where I know this is not always the case in a lot of, you know, uh, Asian American households. So that was a really lucky in that, in that aspect.
Bryan: (00:03:59) That's awesome. I'm kind of curious too, like how did you find your way to fashion? You know?
Richie: (00:04:05) Yeah. So fashion's like, I just, my brothers used to like, Really put me on a clothing. I remember even them having like their girlfriends come pick me up and like go shopping at Nordstrom. I don't like, you know, um, so it's always been something I always really cared about. One, one person. I would say that really, um, influenced me when I was super young was, uh, Jonas of LRG. And like I said earlier, it was really hard to find like Asian representation when I was young. Um, In fields that I really like basketball music fashion. And so when I saw him he's Vietnamese, um, he was adopted, he had a story he's out of, uh, the OSI. He founded one of like at the time, the biggest brands, I'm sure you guys know of LRG and to see someone that was co-signed by the likes of Diddy, Kanye, like Jay Z, that meant everything to me. I always big up Jonas, um, in everything I do. Um, so yeah, I would say he was a huge influence when it came to fashion. Obviously like being in a basketball sports and like clothing I say are pretty tsunami. Uh, you know, they're pretty parallel with each other. Um, David and Andrew, I would say David had a big influence on like sneakers. He always put me onto this form called Nike talk when I was super young. And, uh, we would browse it, learn about sneakers. He would tell me like, The ins and outs of like the sneaker industry. So I owe a lot to David, as far as like sneakers go. I used to go to his house. Open up a closet and literally just look at his sneakers that were really, really hard to find, um, specifically the, uh, 2000 Jordan 11 Conchords I would, uh, yeah, I would just go over there and just sit there and looking at him like, damn, these are crazy. And, um, he's actually the one that found me one of my first pair of Jordans online. I, I remember like 135 bucks. They were like, kid's sizes. He's like, I could get it like back then. It was really hard to get sneakers in store. You had to like order them and send them money, order out. And so, yeah, he helped me out with that, but yeah.
Bryan: (00:06:12) There's also the inspiration behind the, behind the number 23 and all your user needs.
Richie: (00:06:16) Yeah, exactly. 23, Michael Jordan basketball and everything. So, yeah, for sure.
Bryan: (00:06:22) Also also see that the Michael Jordan behind you too. Yeah,
Maggie: (00:06:27) that's awesome. Well, yeah, that's amazing. And rest and peace of Jonas as well. We hear a lot about him and he's been such an inspiration to a lot of people in street wear. Can you talk about your, you know, growing up in Kent and how that shaped your Asian identity?
Richie: (00:06:40) Yeah, I would say definitely growing up in Kent, there's not a lot of Asians in the Asians that you do, like, you know, go to school with you, everybody kind of gravitates towards, towards each other. And I, and that's something that I've noticed with a lot of stories that you guys have heard with your interviews and everything. Um, it kind of reminds me of like, when you're in a school, there's one, you know, one Asian and then there's another Asian girl. And then like you guys totally like. I don't know, there's like a connection already there. You guys know how each other are feeling and you guys are kind of on the same team, like automatically, you know what I mean? So, um, yeah, I would say it wasn't, uh, we, my school was different than Andrew and David's definitely there. It was like way more like on the outskirts where the farms are and everything, but we, we had a good mix. So I had a way more like Asian friends at our high school and everything. Um, so yeah, it was enough to feel like, you know, you want to rep and you want to be yourself, but it wasn't, you don't feel like such an outsider where you're like, you feel secluded from everybody. I felt very involved in everything still. So I know, uh, I know Andrew always talks about his experience going to Kentwood versus Kent Ridge. And he's like, damn, I sometimes wish I would have went to camp Ridge to get that experience where there's more Asians. Um, cause yeah, we didn't really see it as like a, such a. A divide. You know what I mean? Everybody was pretty cool with each other.
Bryan: (00:08:09) Pretty awesome. I kinda wanna dive deeper into your YouTube career. You know, like we heard a lot about your, how you started on YouTube. It was very grassroots. So you start with it started slow, but you celebrate a super quickly over the recent years.I want to hear about that journey.
Richie: (00:08:24) All right. So, um, yeah, I had graduated from, um, UDaB. I was working for a water company, a local water company called talking rain. I was doing marketing. And when I say marketing, literally like setting up a, a, a table at events and handing out water. Yeah. It looks real like ground level. And, um, David and Andrew had already moved down to LA at the time and they were doing it for like, I want to say. A year and a half, I won, I think a year and a half, they had gained some traction and everything. And I saw what they were doing had like really, they had really cool music videos and going on and everything. I was like, man, that looks really fun. And we had always kind of like performed together, growing up. So it wasn't like randomly, I wanted to do music or anything like that. And, um, So they were doing their thing. And I remember like, Oh man, can I, um, I remember like DME and Andrew. And I was like, man, that looks really dope. And he's like, come check it out. We got a big music video coming up, which was, uh, Oh, um, Boba life too. Oh yeah. Huge budget for it. You know, it's going to be really fun. Just come down for a weekend. And I was like, okay. So I remember just flying down. This is like, like I said, I had just graduated. I'm working at this job. And, uh, I flew down and I was like, literally in all of like this ecosystem that they were in, like this whole, like. You had like Asian film producers, you had like, uh, you know, like a whole real set. I did stuff that I used to dream about. Um, and even though they're talking about like Boba and, you know, it's a real gimmicky, you know, they will say it themselves, corny topic, it's still a real production. There's still some, you know, some coolness to it. And I was just really in awe. And I was like, we were talking one night. I was only there for two days and we were talking one night, literally throughout the night. About what it could potentially look like if I moved down there. Um, and yeah, they really just kind of sold me. They're like, Hey man, this, this is not going to be easy. I remember clearly David said, uh, Oh wait, I could give you the tools. What I can't build this house for you. I'm just going to, like, if you move here, man, I'm gonna just, you know, tell you what to do. But all the work has to come from yourself. And I remember really that really stuck with me. And, um, I had flown back and obviously I was like super excited about the music video and just what they had built. I talked to them and I think I literally moved down to LA maybe like three weeks later, my job, you know, told the family I'm, I'm, I'm leaving. I'm out of here. You know how to go away party. I sold my car. Um, and I, I CA I went down there, I think with like $14,000. And, um, yeah, just stayed on an air mattress, trying to save my money, um, and just started the whole career, which is kind of different than a lot of people that you've interviewed. Whereas like, I think a lot of people, when they started YouTube, they started off with like, A video, just, you know, maybe going viral, not on purpose, they were doing it for fun, but I kinda went into it like differently where like I have money behind me.I need to make this money. I'm like chasing a dream. I need to be more strategic about it. So I think my approach was a lot different than a lot of other YouTubers actually.
Bryan: (00:11:50) But I really liked that approach too, because that's how we feel about Asian hustle network. You know, we kind of check for jobs and we're just trying to make things work now. Exactly. The thing I like about that is you would do things you would never do because you have to do it. Yeah.
Richie: (00:12:05) Yeah. It puts a little bit more pressure on it. When you, you rely on it for your income and everything. And I noticed like helping a lot of YouTubers out and what they're doing. Some people are built for it. And some people aren't. Right. So you have the ones that are pursuing their passion, and then you have ones that are pursuing it, pursuing their passion with knowing that they got to make something out of it. And a lot of people just can't handle that and I'm not going to lie. It changes your whole approach to doing art. Especially a lot of people are like, nah, I'm not trying to do a song about fuck. You know, that's corny, but I'm like, Hey, are you trying to live off this or are you just trying to chase a past? You know what I mean? So it's not for everybody, but at the end of the day, glad it worked out.
Bryan: (00:12:49) What was it like for you? And you draw your journey at any point where you're like, man, like, I don't know if this is going to work out. I just want to quit and I tell him to come there.
Maggie: (00:12:56) Yeah. So I'm very curious, you know, like David and Andrew put you on to LA you move like in the quickness and what was that transition like? Like, were you scared at all? And like you said, you only had like $14,000. How long did that last? You.
Richie: (00:13:05) Yeah. So I was telling, um, my guy Gabriel here, uh, who does production and everything. I was telling him, I was so scared on the plane. Have you ever, literally like being so scared, you can't even close your eyes. So I remember I was trying to doze off on the plane one way ticket down and just thinking about what I'm doing right now, moving down and like chasing such a crazy dream. I was so scared that I liked. Did a, you know, like when you wake up from a dream, you're like, Whoa. Yeah, that's what happened on the plane. I was like, Oh my God, this is crazy. And you know, like obviously my mom didn't approve of this. And I was like, Whoa, that's how scared I was going down to LA. Um, and as far as your, to go back to your question, did I ever feel like I wasn't gonna make it? I mean, there was a lot of moments. David. And Andrew will tell you, we got in, you know, as friends got in a lot of, lot of crazy arguments and, um, you know, our friendship was at the, on the line. Cause there's so much at stake, right. There's money involved. There's, you know, your living space involved. They're trying to chase a crazy dream as well. They didn't have, they hadn't like fully made it. Um, so we're, yeah, it was just a crazy time to think about, but we all stuck it out. And I think one thing that really, uh, I would really chalk up our success too is really not like, except in each other's bullshit. If that makes sense, like we really call each other out where we could like improve, you know, you're not waking up on time. Yo, you're kind of lazy here. Yo, you're never showing up to the meetings on time. Like really, really calling each other out on that more. So David calling us out, um, and it, it just really worked out.
Bryan: (00:14:48) Wow. I like that accountability, Griffin. He goes a long way too. No lucky Maggie and I are dating, but we're pretty mean to each other when it comes to work like, Hey, you're not waking up early enough. You know, I needed this earlier, but you need it deep. You like that. You know,
Richie: (00:15:01) you can be super real about it, especially if like, like I said, things are mistaken. You know, some people don't really like that approach. Some people do. Um, yeah.
Maggie: (00:15:11) What's really good. Yeah. That you had people to turn to like David Andrew, when you moved to LA, but at the same time, they didn't, they told you, like, I would give you the tools, but not show you how to build the house. And so that kind of challenge you too. And you, you kind of like dependent on yourself to really show you.
Bryan: (00:15:26) Yeah. I don't know how you did it, bro, because it was me. I'd probably wouldn't be sleeping for the next six months. I'm like, Oh crap. Did I get myself into,
Richie: (00:15:36) it was a huge learning curve. I look at that moment in my life as like, I just learned so much. I like learn how to. Build this like work ethic. And I saw from them like what it means to like really stay up a long, long nights. Um, they taught me a ton. Like I, I, when I, when I think of YouTube, I really owe them a lot as far as building the foundation of like what I just know how to do now.
Maggie: (00:16:01) Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So when you moved to LA and you were starting to do YouTube, did you take on any other part-time jobs as well? And when did you make that jump? If you did.
Richie: (00:16:13) There was a moment where I had ran out of money. I was applying, so I didn't even have a car. So David had a car and I was borrowing it from him. It was a, uh, like a 97 white civic. Um, and I was borrowing it from him. And one time when we moved to a different apartment, it got stolen out of like a parking lot. And I remember that I was like, what the, I feel so like helpless at this moment, it got stolen from a parking lot. And I was like, David, are you going to buy another car? You know, what's, what's the transportation going to be like, he's like, nah, like we don't have it like that right now. So you're just going to have to like, fuck. And I don't even have money. Um, and I wasn't making money off YouTube for sure. Wasn't making money off YouTube. At this point, I applied literally. So Barbie's shout out to Arby's stop Verizon, a local like walking distance from our apartment. What else? I think it was those three and a sneaker store.
Bryan: (00:17:17) Wait, quick question. Did those brands sponsor any of your videos in the future?
Richie: (00:17:24) New Arby's new games? You know what, uh, yeah, no, no, not messing with those brains actually. No, don't say that. Um, yeah, so I applied to them and then, um, none of them got back to me. I remember like, Even going up to Seattle and visiting my family, I was like, Hey, maybe can I borrow like $3,000 to buy a car? And you know, some of them were like, considering it, but they were like, you can't even get down to LA with a $3,000 car. Like, that's like, it's not going to last, what do I do right now? Cause I need a job because if you, obviously, if you have a car, he opens up the market to so many jobs.
Bryan: (00:18:05) Wait, how old are you at at this time? 23 or 24?
Richie: (00:18:11) uh, my mom has said, Hey, we have a family friend he's pretty high up at Toyota. Let me call him. His name is Lynn. He worked at Toyota of Downey. Nice. Yeah. I'll just be a hundred percent Frank. My credit was so FDIC. You wouldn't like, they couldn't even let me borrow a cent. Like it was crazy. Right. I was like, and she's like, maybe you could lease a car. I was like, nah, they checked your credit. I, you know, I just maxed out all my stuff, like to try to live down in LA. So my credit is so crazy right now. We called him. He's like, my gosh, what have you, like, what are you doing right now? You're so far in debt. And I was like, yeah, I know when you know, he's like, man, I'm gonna make it happen. I'm gonna give you the fan. Like, you know, like if you're you work for Toyota to Yoda, you get like a family car or whatever. He's like, well, we already have our cars. I'm gonna give you mine. It's going to be under my name. And you're going to just. Co-signer or whatever. Yeah. So he ended up giving me a, a, a Camry lease and I was like, wow, this is like, this changes everything. It was brand new too. So it was fire. Um, and then I applied to just a ton of jobs at the mall. And then I ended up getting a, uh, uh, interview at Nordstrom, um, In a suits department. I have no idea. I don't find a, so many jobs that I didn't even know. I applied to suits, but they called me and they're like, Hey, you have an interview for the suits department. I was like, Oh shit, I don't know nothing about suits, but now you do remember, um, I, uh, interviewed for Santa Anita suits department North from, um, and she was like, Hey, I can really tell you don't know much about suits. I'll say you had, you know, to be honest, I was just applying to so many jobs and she'd go there. Listen, I like you though. I'm going to riff department and maybe they'll take you on. I'm not sure. I'm not even sure if they have a position. And I was like, cool. Um, so fast forward, I ended up getting just a summer position at Nordstrom. And then, uh, man, I had worked the whole summer at Nordstrom, probably saved up, like, I want to say like 4,004 to $5,000. And I was not productive on YouTube though. It was like a long days, really long seasonal sale hours. And, uh, I just couldn't do both. And so at the end of the summer, they were like, Hey, we would love to bring you back on for a full-time position. And I had to make that like, Basically, you know, I was at a crossroads and, um, yeah. Even with the help of my, uh, girlfriend Kim, at the time, she was like really supportive and she was like, still in, Oh no, she was working. She was like, Hey, I could try to help you out. But I really don't think you should go back to Nordstrom. Like that's how hard pursuing YouTube is. Like you can't, you're just, mine has to be so focused on it. Yeah. Um, so yeah, I was like, all right. No more Nordstrom, I'm going to just pursue this a YouTube thing and give it my all. And I'm kind of try to do it my way and like really make some adjustments. Um, and it, it, it started working out. I really like, kind of like, I would say, switch the content up and really ramped up the volume and just went really in, I would say Nordstrom really gave me like a perspective, like it could be this, this job, or it could be that pursuing that. So like, Yeah, it was, it was a big eye opener for me.
Bryan: (00:21:36) Yeah. That's I mean, it's really relatable because I think we're to see me each, I think we're both 31 and it was a point of reference economy at age 23, 24 for us sucked. Yeah. But I just want to put that into a point of reference too. Cause it's you're 23, 24, like couple years ago. Yeah, that was perfect timing, Connie, the straw and fleet of y'alls. But even if you were an engineer at that time, it was so hard to find anything, dude, it's terrible.
Richie: (00:22:01) I mean, we were college was during the whole recession thing and like, yeah, it was just, it was, it was a tough time.
Bryan: (00:22:08) Yeah. I just want to highlight that point because our 2324 is not like other people's three 24.
Richie: (00:22:13) That's a good point. Yeah.
Maggie: (00:22:17) And so when you were starting out YouTube, when you were, when, after you quit your job at Nordstrom and you were like, you know what, I'm going to double down on YouTube and just focus on YouTube. Did you know immediately, like I'm going to focus my channel on clothing and sneakers, or did you, were you like, what should I focus on? Like, I don't know what to do it on, you know?
Richie: (00:22:34) So for myself, what I had moved down there, the approach was really going to be talking about like cultural Vietnamese stuff a lot. That's the date? That's the angle David really wanted me to take. He was like, this is a huge market. It's completely open right now for myself. I'm really natural. I just speaking about sneakers and clothing. Cause I, I just, you know, Read about them all day and everything. So the Vietnamese stuff was really kind of tough for me to delve, like fully into, and you can tell when you see my content, it's not like fully natural, um, stuff. So I had divided my channel up into like Vietnamese, cultural content, music, sneakers, clothing, and some food. Yeah. And at the time when I had, uh, Quit Nordstrom. I think they sneaker stuff was starting to bubble. Like I could see a little bit more engagement, you know, they were getting spread a little bit more and the Vietnamese stuff was cool, but it wasn't like hitting, hitting. And so I was like, man, even though David said, Hey, you should take this route. I was like, I have to make a decision on my own. At this point, based off me studying my analytics and everything, and just seeing the feedback, you really can feel the feedback of what people are giving you. Right. And so I was like, I'm going to go full on with the sneaker and clothing, um, route and see how it just pans out. And so, yeah, I just went full on with that kind of like. Would dabble still in like food and like Vietnamese cultural content. And just for that audience that I already had to make them happy and everything, but I would say the focus really, really shifted towards sneakers and clothing, just because I saw that they were, um, Really gravitating towards that.
Maggie: (00:24:18) That's super important. I think a lot of people struggle to figure out what their niche is like, what they want to focus their channel on, or like their Tik TOK videos on. But the most important thing is to listen to the feedback you get from your audience, right?
Richie: (00:24:31) Yeah. Like it's kind of cool. Like sometimes you don't get to pick what people want from you. Like sometimes the people choose for you. And I would say in this case, I, I guess I, I clearly saw that they were like wanting that content from me. So, yeah.
Bryan: (00:24:43) And then content creation is a lot more difficult than people think it is. You know, you always wake up one day and be like, ah, crap. I need to post some video this week. I don't know what to post. So how do you overcome that? I create a block. And how do you like brainstorm traditional ideas?
Richie: (00:24:57) Um, I really just study like a lot of what people are doing. I have a lot of friends involved, like Johnny tan. We always like talk to each other about like, what's going on right now. Um, a lot of brainstorming, uh, out what I'll do is like, really look at my channel and kind of like gauge what the temperature has been like. Oh, I hit them with a lot of blogs a couple of weeks ago. Now let's hit them with some, like, More onset stuff or I I've done too many group things, so let me hit them with something that's just solo now. Like I really pride the channel on really like giving them that versatility. Right. Um, cause at the end of the day, I, for me personally, I never really liked the channels that you just see someone sitting in the room talking. For 20 minutes every single day, I want to be a real channel. Like the definition of a channel, you know, on YouTube on TV is like a diff a bunch of different shows, a bunch of different looks at a bunch of different people. So that's what I try to really go after. Well, yeah, I know everybody's different. Some people like just talking in front of a camera, I actually don't like that. Like, I'm really unnatural in front of the camera. Camera shy. Don't have like the right vibe. So I, I really liked giving them just so many different looks and like bouncing off of friends and everything. So, yeah.
Bryan: (00:26:17) Yeah. That's good to know. And just to go back to your previous story as well, you know, you're working Nordstrom, you're about to make a full jump into your, your YouTube career. At what point did things starting to feel real? And you're like, wow, let's see, this is starting to happen. I can sustain myself now. What was I feeling like? And what point was that?
Richie: (00:26:37) There was a lot of little moments, say like the, one of them was like your obvious where someone wants to take a photo with you or, um, you know, being with your family in the middle of like nowhere on the beach. And then like some kids come up to you. Like that was definitely like, Oh shoot, this is pretty real, but photos don't equal money. No, it's not broke. You can charge five bucks. I charged them on the spot. Uh, I mean, my, my realest moment, I had moved back to Seattle after two and a half years of being in LA. I still had that. I hadn't made it. I moved into my brother's basement. Like I was like, Aw, man, I'm still not making that much money. I moved into my brother's basement. And then, uh, every year, a single morning before his son, my nephew would go to school. He would literally come up because the basement doesn't have a door. And you have to go to the garage to go to the garage. You have to pass the basement. He would always come up to me and start messing with me like, Oh, go Richie, wake up, like, fuck like six in the morning. And I was like, this is insane. I can't be this lucky, you know, it's just a crazy environment to be in the basement right now. Um, and so I really reflected on the financials that I had. I was like, if I like really make it work, I could go get an apartment right now. Uh, so I had. Yeah. In the apartment. And then things started kind of falling into place if you guys know Tim Sheba. Yeah. So he had worked with the fangirls while I was in LA. He was working with them even when I had moved back to Seattle. And, um, he was like, Hey, I'm looking for a different change of pace. Uh, would you potentially hire me if I moved to Seattle? And I was like, Oh, this is a perfect opportunity because. One, I need to ramp up the, uh, the volume on the channel. And two, I just moved into the apartment. So obviously I need more income and more volume on your channel. And everything means more income. I was like, yo, we already built the chemistry of working together. He had filmed for me when I was in LA. So I was like, if you move to Seattle, we live in a studio right now. It wasn't even like a one-bedroom, it was a studio. I was like, you could move into the studio and we're just literally. You want to make this our entire life. YouTube is everything at this point. If you move here, you know what I mean? And he's like, yo, I'm all for it. So we were talking on the phone and doing a lot of like Skype meetings for like weeks to prep for him coming. Because at that point I'm responsible for his life. His whole income and this whole structure of his life, because he's going to be moving into with me into a whole new city and everything. Um, yeah, so he, he really like changed a lot. I owe a lot to Tim. We really like a lot of long nights, a lot of like, just I'm saying YouTube was life. It was crazy. Yeah.
Bryan: (00:29:35) I really appreciate the hustle. You know, like a lot of people see you now, like, Oh, Richie, just overnight success. Like you just got lucky on YouTube, but we hear from other people that talk about you, we know about this journey, you know, but hearing from you, it's like, wow. Like, I don't even know if I can make it through something like that. I'd probably be like, ah,
Richie: (00:29:58) sound. So it's not as bad as the sound. You know, it was fun. It was fun. And, um, I think one thing that I want to say too is like, and I try to remind myself, like just the other day I was looking at my phone and I saw this photo and it was a, uh, a note I had written to myself when I was in LA. And, um, it was, uh, remember why you moved, enjoy the journey. So right now I try to like really reflect on like, TA like I'm big on like accomplishing goals. And then just moving onto the next, but I think at some point you really got to like accomplish your goals and just reflect. Right. I think it's just so natural of me to just move on and not really think about what's going on. And so like, it's still to do this podcast right now. Cause you're like, Oh man, that must've been so hard, but when you're going through it, you don't really think about it. You just. You you're hitting your goal and you're moving on to the next one. Um, but yeah, that's something that I'm trying to do better. I was just like, kind of reflecting and like, you know, maybe giving myself a Pat on the back, like, are you reached this man? This is what happened. Really reflecting, I would say. Yeah. Um, and enjoying the ride.
Maggie: (00:31:08) Yeah. We're reflecting right now during this podcast. So think about all the things that you've accomplished.
Richie: (00:31:13) Like I kind of forgot. This whole story. So it's clear that it's going
Bryan: (00:31:20) to hear him about this too, because you don't do a lot of podcasts interviews. So we never really get to hear this story to now.
Maggie: (00:31:24) And I were trying to like look up interviews of you, but we could barely find any that were in
Bryan: (00:31:30) like white page and everything too,
Maggie: (00:31:34) confining interviewing other people. So that's how we knew, like, you're, you seem super humble. Like you seem like the type of person who just uplifts everyone around you. So that's just really incredible.
Richie: (00:31:46) And. I dunno, like the spotlight, like I said, it's not super natural for me to just have this spotlight on me. I don't even like birthday parties or anything like that.Um, so yeah, but I did make it a goal of mine to kind of branch out and like open up a little bit more and tell my story. So that was, yeah, here we are. Got it.
Bryan: (00:32:03) And curiosity, T let's talk about the reishi Lee collection. We read a lot about Richie Lee collection and how fast it sells out. Do that that's access. Do let's talk about that.
Richie: (00:32:14) Yeah. So the Richie Lee collections crazy of it kind of started off like recommended. So it started off when I was recommending a, um, a sweatshirt from urban Outfitters to my viewers on a, on a channel. And I remember that day, I was like, Oh, I still need to get my own. Like I wanted it in a different size or color or something. And it had sold out in the entire, uh, uh, quantity, uh, entire, um, Inventory. Yeah. Yeah. I just made that sold out and uh, I was like, well, this is crazy. Well, why can't I just do it for myself? Right. And at the time, um, I was working with my friend tan a lot. He was in the videos and everything, and he, he has like a, a clothing production background and he's like, Hey, we could start like making some t-shirts and everything, like screen print and stuff. So we had came out with, um, the fudge just ate at t-shirts. We had came out with those and then some shorts and, uh, they would sell out like the reception was really good. And I was like, well, people really like it. Listen to what we're saying, you know, like about the fit and the quality and everything. So to go from screen printing to actual. And so it was a whole nother story. A lot of people do screen printing, but to actually make like garments that are like cut to your liking and everything, that's, you've got to deal with factories and everything. So we had taken a little bit of a break, but we knew eventually we wanted to turn it into something. Um, Oh, we were sitting at Footlocker one day. We're sitting at Footlocker and this guy came up to us, shout out to Jay way. He's like, Hey, can I take a picture with you? Um, and he's like, my, my parents do a clothing and we hear that a lot. Like, some people do say like, Oh, I can help you with your clothing if you want. But we went to his Instagram, I think. And we're like, yo, his stuff actually looks really good. Um, and he, he had a relationship with the factory in China and everything. So yeah. With him, we built out our first collection and I'm not going to lie our first collection. We were really trying to copy at the time, a really popular brand fear of God. So we built that a small collection. Uh, I think it was like five to six pieces, you know, cargoes. I mean, not even the cargoes, like zipper pants, sweat shirts. And, um, we both dropped some money on it invested, like I think 10 K or something like that. And, um, yeah, we drop it. And we sold out and we're like, Oh my gosh, this is insane. It was twenty-five K at the time, like 25 or 30 K. And we're like, this is insane. We, we sold out of the clothing. So like at that point, me and him became like official partners in the clothing. Um, and really just ramped it up every single season kind of improved and like reflected, Hey, we can do this better. We can make shipping better. We can make like so many, obviously there's a lot of opportunities to improve. Um, we even floated flew to China for, you know, visited the factories and everything. Um, yeah. So that's how it kinda got started. Like Richard. Yeah. I
Maggie: (00:35:20) was talking casually to your partner in Footlocker and this person just overheard you guys and that's how he jumped into the conversation. Yeah, yeah
Richie: (00:35:29) , no, no, no. He was a fan. He was a fan. He was a fan. Okay. He didn't just over, Oh, over here. He was a fan, but he had told us about his, uh, Factory connects.
Bryan: (00:35:39) Is it, is it increased? How everything connects? Because he started,
Richie: (00:35:44) he was like, really God sent, like, we wouldn't have learned about factories in China and like the importance of that. And like, yeah, it's really insane to think about how we were just in Footlocker. And he came through.
Bryan: (00:35:55) Yeah. I just come to show like, you're so driven by your goal. You see opportunities everywhere. Because you have a goal and you have that North star, you saw that with this guy, you could potentially do this and you're not being goal driven.You'd be like just another guy.
Maggie: (00:36:09) Yeah. Yeah. And because he was a fan, like you already had a fan base, like a loyal follower base. So that person knew of you already. Right. So everything really connected. Um, so before you went to do cut, and so you were doing screen printing, can you talk about, um, when you were doing like the Nike designs and Brian and I.Her from one of your videos yeah. That you were doing a Nike sign before, but they were some company, you know, you don't even know if it was Nike house
Richie: (00:36:38) only star is so, um, yeah, so we're doing the fall. It just ate at t-shirts. So rewind back to the screen printing. We were doing those and someone had emailed us was like, Hey, I represent a copyright company as a fan of yours. I'm letting you know, I'm giving you a warning, but if you drop these. I might have to tell Nike I'm like gonna tell Nike and everything. And I was like, what the heck? Like, I don't have money for a lawyer. So tan, what we would do is like you get like 30 seconds talking to a lawyer, you know, before they start paying you. I mean, before they start charging you. Um, so we base, so like he called up a bunch of lawyers and we just milked that like one minute for free, get our answer and then move on to the next lawyer. Like we were just progress. And, um, we're like, is this guy for real? Is he like really working for this company? Or is he trying to like scare us? Who knows? You know? Um, so instead of a neck, so it came down to this, we're like, all right, We're going to drop the Nike. We're going to change the Nike sign into some chopsticks. I still have the photo and like the original promos for it. It's not bad. It was a Nike sign made out of chopsticks basically. Um, and then we, we dropped them and then no one had said anything and everything. And then we just, I think it got to the point. We were like, Man after sky, if it happens, it happens because people copy each other and use a Nike site all over the place. Why aren't they gonna come after us? Like, so we're like, man, let's go back to the Nike sign. So we dropped the real, the backside of the Nike sign. Obviously a lot of people are like, Hey, why, why aren't you guys getting sued and everything. But I mean, fingers crossed till this day. No one is, we moved enough units for them to really, really care, you know? Yeah, but that guy, if you were listening, Shame on you. I actually searched for that email and really see his wording. Cause they're the shit out of us. We were like, Whoa. This is serious.
Bryan: (00:38:50) Yeah. Also you're younger at the time, but now that you're older, you're like, bring it on
Maggie: (00:38:54) like young. And I got an email like that. I wouldn't know what the heck did you, you know, that'd be so scary.
Richie: (00:39:01) exactly. Like, you know, when you're younger things like are inflated and you know, you're just like, Whoa, this is, this is heavy, but you know, no
Maggie: (00:39:06) , you can just be like talk to my lawyer.
Bryan: (00:39:10) So tell us what's next Richie, what's your goals for 2021?
Richie: (00:39:01) Uh, for myself, man, it's just really, uh, really ramping up the Richie Lee collection. Um, I know you guys interviewed Chris, you guys haven't came out with that one, right? Yeah. Yeah. So we partnered with Chris tan and I have partnered with him on the Richie Lee collection. They, they handle a lot of like the backend stuff. We really want to make it like a legit. Clothing company where you're purchasing, not off of just me saying purchase it. You know what I mean? We really want it to stand on its own and be something where like, you would like it, even if you don't know who I am. So that's a huge goal of mine and his, um, we have other projects in the work, like doing like sneaker accessories with Gabe, um, and really just continuing what we're doing on the channel. I think we have a great audience. We don't need to like. Change up the format. I'm always like switching up the looks like different sets and not, but as far as like changing everything up, we don't have a lot of those types of goals. Just really doing what we're doing and ramping it up. Um, yeah. And I would like to take this time out to give a huge shout out to everybody. Who's been a part of the channel, all the editors, like. When I say, yeah, I know you're just interviewing me, but it's totally not a one man job. Like when I say this YouTube channel thing is hard, it's insane. There's a lot of backend stuff that people don't know about. And a lot of logistics Mylynn, um, you know, my business manager. Uh, Gabe, Johnny sitting right here. Let me you little camera shot right out. Hi Johnny. You know, he's had a huge part in the channel. Like if that's one thing I want to get across too, is like, make your career fun and enjoyable. Right? Get your friends involved, give people something to like, be part of inspire people, even if you're not like doing it, like, Hey, do this job right. At least show them it's possible by your actions and what not. And having everybody involved just been really, like, I would say a huge blessing and like just one of the most rewarding parts of this whole journey where everybody could be involved in the channel. If, you know, if you look at my channel, it's, it's not, I would say rarely, is it just me in a video? So yeah, I, I. Yeah. Get people involved in, have fun with it, you know?
Maggie: (00:41:39) Yeah. That's awesome. I love that. And while we're on that note, I am very curious, like, you know, we know your products sell out in like one minute we see like those comments all the time in your YouTube videos, like, dang your products just sell out so fast. How were you able to build such like a close knit community for your brand and like the loyal following for, you know, yourself and, you know, like your, your brand pretty much.
Richie: (00:39:01) I think it's just the transparency that we've given them. Um, from the get go we've told people, Hey, we don't have like the professional backing of a real clothing company. We really documented the journey from the beginning, from our first clothing collection that had only like five to six pieces, even like showing them like footage of us. Talking with like freight, you know, like shipping companies and everything, like really letting them know, Hey, we're, we're not only just like a Polish product selling you stuff. You're on this journey with us, you know, you know what we're thinking when we pick this type of zipper, you know what we're thinking when we pick this type of, um, pocket, like, and I think they really appreciate that. I really like explain every single detail and, um, I think people really appreciate the transparency. I don't know. It's, it's kind of hard. It's kind of crazy to really think about how engaged people are, but I, I, if you made me guess I would chalk it up to just how transparent we are in the they've grown with us basically.
Maggie: (00:43:11) Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Awesome. Yeah. So we have one last question for you, Richie. What's one advice that you can give to an aspiring entrepreneur?
Richie: (00:43:21) I would have for an aspiring entrepreneur, I would say really, really there's so many things, but you know, accountability is huge. I mean, if you're an entrepreneur, I was just talking to Johnny about this. No, one's going to tell you what to do. Like literally you are your own engine from every little. Aspect of your life. No one could tell you, Hey, take this break right now. No one can even reflect and give you a Pat on the back. That's like, you know, like in jobs they give you bonuses. They, they let you, Hey Johnson, good job on the project. You know what I mean? Like, none of that happens when you're your own, um, entrepreneur. So like really just know that you, you got to play a lot of roles and you gotta be like, Everything from like the logistics of how a video looks to like your content creation to, um, even like paperwork to having your like legal stuff in line. Just, there's just a lot of hats that you got wear. And I think a lot of people don't maybe like that aspect of being an entrepreneur, they want it, they think it's just about the art or the product, but man, No more than half the battle is literally everything that comes with it. For me, the toughest part is like the backend stuff, like the legal stuff and the stuff that's like, not the fun part, but, um, yeah, you just, but at the end of the day with this all being said, the reward is that much greater, right? You have that many responsibilities, but the reward is insane. Like I, sometimes I can't even, uh, Like sometimes I really am speechless. When I think about the life I'm living, to be honest, like I know that sounds kind of corny or whatever to go into work. Friends are all around. We're talking about beings, go sell a product that sells out. You know, my dogs here. I don't even have to ask anybody if I have to bring my dog, like that's to me a really cool, like, I don't know. It's just really cool to think about. And I'm super thankful.
Bryan: (00:45:25) That's awesome. Congratulations on all your success. You deserve every single one of it and hearing that grind too took years to get to this point, man.
Richie: (00:45:34) Thanks man. Yeah, it was, it was really fun to reflect and um, you know, like I, I, like I said, it wasn't just me. A lot of people helped out with this entire journey. All my friends, David and Andrew were huge myelin myelin. I remember taking a meeting with my Lynne. Cause she was business manager. She was a business manager for Fung bros. At the time I had no like audience or anything. She had met with me a lot of weekends just to like, give me hope, basically like, Hey, if you reach this point, I may be your business manager one day. I can't take you on right now, but you need to get here. And I owe a lot to her for like, basically. Believing in me, I would say like, it admits a lot, basically.
Maggie: (00:46:17) It's a long way. It really does.
Richie: (00:46:18) If you like, if you're super insecure about your growth on YouTube and yeah. Yeah. She was a fish too. Like she had, you know, Ryan Higa like, she was me managing a lot of people, so to have her, like, co-sign definitely meant a lot. So yeah, it definitely wasn't, um, just me during this journey. So I, if I could get that across, like, It's it's a whole team.
Maggie: (00:46:44) Yeah, for sure. How can our listeners find out more about you online Richie?
Richie: (00:46:48) Yeah. So you could just type in Richie Lee on a YouTube Richie Lee, 23 on Instagram. Um, the clothing is Richie Lee collection. Um, yeah, that's pretty much it. I mean, yeah.
Maggie: (00:47:01) Awesome. It was awesome. Hearing your story today. Thank you so much for being on the show.
Richie: (00:47:06) Yeah. And I want to get you guys, like I said, a huge. Huge. Thank you. And shout out to you guys. Cause I know what you guys are doing. It means a lot to a lot of people, not only the people that are on your platform, but the people that are listening like that inspires so many people to hear other people's journey and get inspired themselves. So trust me. You guys are making a huge difference.
Maggie: (00:47:28) Oh, thank you. Likewise, you are such an inspiration and thank you for all that you do.
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