I’ve known Daniel Hernandez for a few years now, and I must say he is one of the most realistic individuals I know– especially when it comes to business. As he’s said to me on many occasions- “You can love doing something, but what’s real is the need to make money!” And I’ve watched him do just that by taking his love for designing clothes, and translating that into his clothing brand, DONT QUESTION KINGS. So when he told me he was opening a store in Brooklyn– King of NY– I knew this was a full circle moment for him.
Veralyn Media: How did you become interested in fashion?
Daniel Hernandez: My interest came from just growing up and always wanting to be the best dressed at school. I didn’t have much money but I think I put up a good fight– as some of the things I would wear and how I’d wear it, definitely seemed to catch on.
VM: How would you define the fashion style you work in?
Daniel: The fashion style I work in is sometimes called Streetwear, which is really just young mens casual wear. Its just a little more edgy with bold graphics that make a statement and reflects the “street” mentality. But at the same time it has a global/universal appeal. I’ve worked in this style of fashion for about 5 years now, learning the business with King of NY‘s house label DONT QUESTION KINGS.
VM: What’s your personal fashion sense and how will that influence what people see in the store?
Daniel: Anything I design is based on the question, “would I wear it?” I’m usually pretty casual or “Street” as some people may describe it, but I also know when to clean it up and bring it to a more sophisticated level. So what will be available in, King of NY will reflect that street-upscale sense of style.
VM: How long in between you deciding to open a store like, Kings of NY – and the first time you rung someone up?
Daniel: Well I’ve always wanted to open a store. But it came up in conversation with my brothers in August of this year, I presented my ideas to them soon after, and we all just ran with it immediately. We opened our doors on OCT 15th. It was a quick process, but when you have a gut feeling about something– you just have to go for it, because the moment you question yourself– you’re bond to make a mistake.
VM: Opening up a store in this economy is risky. How have you accounted for that risk?
Daniel: The economy is very bad right now. But our unique designs– along with having the support of the people who have been following the brand DONT QUESTION KINGS– we have a good head start in generating business. Also, over the years I’ve seen many stores fail and many move forward. Learning from them and understanding the customer we are trying to attract– will really push us forward for years to come.
VM: One of the most impressive parts of your store is that you built everything inside by hand. I didn’t know you were a carpenter…
Daniel: I decided to build everything myself because first off it saves a lot of money (laughs)– and it gives the store pure uniqueness– and not the “Ikea-feel”. But the shop is still a work in progress.
VM: What has been your biggest challenge in taking on this endeavor?
Daniel: I cant really pinpoint any one challenge. If anything– the hardest thing is not being able to be in the store everyday because of my responsibilities as a father and with my other online businesses. I really love the feel we’ve created there and the people who stop by. I love getting to meet the customers and hanging out with them– just chatting.
VM: On that note, what’s it like juggling your businesses and fatherhood? How do you keep that work-life balance?
Daniel: Having a healthy balance in life is all about organization and having a great support team. My family, my girlfriend, and my friends really help me out when I need them. And honestly there are many times I find myself wishing I could do something, but my responsibilities as a dad holds me back. But I remind myself that what I do everyday is for my daughter, so the sacrifices I make now will always be worth it.
VM: What advice would you give to others trying to figure out how to do what they love and get paid for it?
Daniel: I think if you’re not making money– you really just need to find another job. (laughs) No, but seriously, not making money has never been an option for me. You really have to understand the service or product you’re trying to provide and understand the customer it’s for– from every aspect. And always remember what you do, compared to anybody else, is unique! That’s what people will pay for.