Care to Be Kareless?
Mar 02, 2016 11:25AM
● By Dia
By Gina Tagliarino
Local entrepreneur Evan Williams lives life on the edge. And with his brand, Kareless Original, anybody can embrace the carefree lifestyle.
Trophy Club native Evan Williams may consider himself to be “Kareless,” but let’s be clear. This 23-year-old entrepreneur is anything but careless about his business. Since the inception of his apparel brand known as Kareless Original in 2012, a seemingly fleeting idea has evolved into a thriving business. And it all started with one simple goal: to bring people together, while celebrating their unique qualities.
The a-ha moment struck when Williams was a 17-year-old student at Northwest High School in Justin. Saturdays were always spent at local streetcar races, with Williams in the driver’s seat.
“I wouldn’t say that I’m an adrenaline junkie, but I do like to push the limits,” says Williams. “I don’t like to sit on the sidelines.”
This go-getter spirit inspired him to create a car club for himself and his crew of like-minded friends, all who shared the notion life isn’t a spectator sport.
“It didn’t start as a business, but just a way to identify us as a group,” Williams recalls. When the term “Kareless” came to mind, Williams said he knew it perfectly represented the type of lives he and his friends aimed to lead, where rules are ignored and self-expression is welcomed. And the grammar-defying “k”? Well, that’s just part of the attitude.
“We wanted to stand out and be different. It’s something people often do in the car and bike culture—to misspell something,” he shares. “It’s just one more thing that makes it unique, and it continues with the styling of the letters and the colors in the logo. It all comes into play.”
Once “Kareless” was established as their car-club motto, Williams realized it had the potential to resonate with people outside his close-knit group.
“I felt like it could be something bigger,” he says. “I started making stickers that said ‘Kareless’ and giving them out to my friends. Watching them put them on their cars started to motivate me. I thought, ‘What could we do with this?’”
The Birth of a Brand
Setting out to stake claim on his idea, Williams learned he would need to set himself apart even more to be granted a legal trademark. And so, “Kareless Original” was born.
“I kept saying to my friends, we need to be different, we need to be original,” he laughs. “And then it just sort of turned into Kareless Original.”
Rather than getting bogged down on the daunting details of starting a business (with no prior business experience), Williams turned to Google for guidance and began developing his plan to bring his dream to reality.
“So many people get held up on the idea, but you’ll never have a perfect idea,” he says. “You’re going to fall on your face.”
Eight out of 10 businesses fail within the first 18 months, according to Bloomberg, but Williams is still going strong four years later. The road’s been a little bumpy at times, and yes, he has tripped along the way. But like all success stories, this one continues because of his courage to get up and keep trying.
“In the beginning, all the money was going into the products, so I didn’t own anything,” Williams says. “I just borrowed things where I could.”
He can’t help but smile while remembering late nights spent on the floor of his friend’s tattoo shop, creating the first line of Kareless stickers to sell at car meets.
“My buddy had a vinyl plotter and cheap scraps, so I would go after they closed on a Friday night around 3 a.m. and get to work,” he says. “That was the only way I could get it done, and the price was right.”
He began selling these stickers based on two offers: one for $3 or two for $5, while competing vendors offered one for $5.
“If I can get double the product out there and get the stickers on both sides of the car or bike, it’s worth it,” Williams says.
The Making of a Movement
Today, Kareless Original has grown up from just stickers to a full apparel line. Williams and his crew of faithful Kareless Original teammates travel near and far to drift car races (think “Fast and Furious”), totaling about 45 events in the summer of 2015. Stopping to rest is not an option, with the crew sometimes sleeping just two to three hours a night before they’re back to work—always the first to arrive and the last to leave.
“We like to call ourselves the ‘No Sleep Team,’ so there’s definitely a certain level of ambition to us,” Williams says.
And they aren’t alone in this mentality. Phrases like “No Sleep Team” and “Live More Kare Less” have become the mantra of the Kareless Family, an unrestricted group of brand followers that builds momentum daily as Williams welcomes new members to join in the no-holds-barred movement.
To become part of the Kareless Family, you don’t necessarily have to join them at a car meet, or even attend one of their Monday night promotional events at Alliance Skate Park in Grand Prairie. In fact, you don’t even have to be an extremist yourself. All you need is an internet connection and the willingness to live life your way.
“A cool thing we just did in January 2016 was buy Kareless.com,” Williams says. Building upon the traffic he had already established from KarelessOriginal.com, he’s already seen growth by purchasing both URLs, and is excited for the possibilities to come.
“In the last 60 days, we’ve hit 28 states and six different countries,” Williams says of his website traffic. “We had our busiest month so far in December 2015.”
Whether it’s a local order, or placed by someone from across the globe, Williams puts the same care and attention to detail into each package. Not only does he personally fulfill and deliver each one to the post office himself, but he also includes a hand-stenciled logo and handwritten note.
“I think part of the excitement of getting an online order is, as soon as they get it, they can already tell what it is,” Williams says. “It lets them know we took the time to specifically mention them, while promoting the Kareless Family.”
Despite all of the success and growth over the past few years, Williams acknowledges there’s still much to come in the future. In addition to stickers and apparel, he’s looking into new products, such as custom-made backpacks. But he notes it must be unique before he’s willing to move forward with it. “If I wouldn’t use it, I can’t passionately sell it,” he says.
To further their efforts to become a world-recognized brand, Kareless Original also plans to focus on YouTube videos, partnering with motovloggers (these are people who attach a camera to themselves or their motorcycle when they ride) who will share videos with their fan base. Williams also hopes to upgrade his facility space and be able to add someone to the team who can assist him with running the website when he’s on the road. And of course, they’ll continue moving from city to city and show to show.
“Right now, everything I make goes back to making the business better,” Williams says. “If I keep making sacrifices and I keep hustling, I’m confident it’s going to catch on more so than it already has.”
It turns out that being Kareless looks a lot like a carefully planned success story after all.
True Champions, On and Off the Field
Champions come in many forms. There are the football stars, the baseball kings and the business moguls. In the case of 10Star Apparel, you’ll find them all. More than a decade after they brought the Southlake Carroll Dragons to two state titles in 2002 and 2004, and state runners up in 2003, Chase Daniel and Aaron Luna are living the dream that first found its inspiration on the football field many years before.
The duo imagined forming a business together while student athletes at Southlake Carroll, turning it into a reality in 2011 by partnering with B&E Industries, a longtime leader in the apparel industry. Here’s an update on where they are today, as they run one of the largest screen-printing and embroidery factories in the United States.
If Chase Daniel’s name sounds more than a little familiar, don’t be surprised. The former Dragon wide receiver went on to become a two-time Heisman trophy candidate as a quarterback for the Missouri Tigers, has a Super Bowl ring from his time with the New Orleans Saints, and currently plays for the Kansas City Chiefs. The hardworking football player and entrepreneur also serves as founder and CEO of Grand Prairie-based 10Star Apparel, a custom apparel business that offers a wide range of services to its customers, both locally and throughout the country.
“I work on company strategy,” Daniel says, “and I leverage my personal relationships for business development.”
It was always a dream of Daniel’s to start his own business, and at 10Star, he and his partner, Luna, share the common belief that growth for the company comes through hard work and relationship building. With 300 employees working at their facility, including more than 30 graphic designers who work to customize the customer experience, he’s had the opportunity to watch these relationships flourish, while developing a sustainable community business in the process.
As for Luna, he transitioned from football to baseball after high school, finding success at Rice University, where he was named an All-American in 2007. By 2008, he was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals, before retiring to focus his efforts on the 10Star Apparel business as chief operating officer. In his role, he works alongside Daniel on the company’s overall strategy, while using his analytical skills to ensure it’s executed successfully and efficiently.
“Studying business and marketing in college, we all knew someday we wanted to run our own company,” Luna says. “Sports do not last forever, and our education has allowed us to set ourselves up for life after the game.”
When we asked Luna what he wished for 10Star Apparel’s future, he said the goal is to take the company to the top of the corporate apparel world—an achievement they’re already close to reaching. While we can only imagine the stories they’ll have to share at their next class reunion, we know they’ll fill us with Dragon Pride and the spirit of a true champion.