If there is one phrase that Kam Jamshidian lives by, it is Mark Cuban’s quote, “Find what you’re passionate about and try to find a way to make money out of it.” With a passion for the art and clothing industries, business administration junior Jamshidian recently found a way to combine the two with his new brand, The Kalicks.
Jamshidian’s love for fashion began at a young age. He said he remembers the excitement of dressing up for award ceremonies at school, wearing outfits he chose out the night before. Throughout the years, the idea of starting a clothing line crossed Jamshidian’s mind, but he never put too much thought into it.
“I had this idea of like, ‘Oh, I have this unique, cool perspective of what I would like to do in fashion,” Jamshidian said. “I had always dabbled with the idea that one day it would be awesome to have my own brand, but then I would never really, like, go at it 100 percent.”
Like fashion, artistic expression was always another vital component of Jamshidian’s identity. Since his early years, doodles and sketches filled the pages of his notebooks. However, it was society’s binary standards that influenced Jamshidian to suppress his passion for many years.
“Art was definitely something that I hid from myself,” Jamshidian said. “I loved drawing, but I always thought it was very girly when I was a kid.”
As he got older, Jamshidian openly accepted his artistic expression.
“It’s something that I have always absolutely loved to do and now it’s really nice to be OK with that part of me and actually start to really express it in its fullest way.”
Gradually, Jamshidian familiarized himself with the kind of person he was and fully embraced his dual passions. He realized merging the two would be the first step to fulfilling his hopes of having a future in the fashion world.
“I was like, ‘OK, let me take the kind of guy I am, mix it with my fashion sense and then let me make something that nobody has ever seen before. Let me make something that I would want to wear, like full me’,” Jamshidian said.
Jamshidian created his brand, with inspirations from the 1950s greasers and the 1970s rock ‘n roll subculture. He named his brand “The Kalicks” after the 50s hairstyle made popular in “The Outsiders.”
“As soon as a moment hit where I was like ‘Wow OK, I think I’m onto something,’ I just let the wave take me,” Jamshidian said.
Jamshidian described his creative process as something that is never forced; it happens spontaneously.
“If I force myself to sit down and draw something, I will probably reference a bunch of different things,” Jamshidian said. “But, if I have an organic thought in my mind and I can put that on a piece of paper and then on a t-shirt, holy crap, that’s so real — that’s so sick.”
With full exposure to the development of The Kalicks, Jamshidian’s roommate and agricultural business junior Gino Hartounian, is one of his biggest motivators.
“It’s so cool. [Jamshidian] will randomly come up to me and be like, ‘Yo, check this out, what do you think?’” Hartounian said. “Some of his ideas are really, really interesting and he’s got a very creative mind and it’s really cool because it captures his personality.”
Jamshidian described his designs as evoking emotion. “All of these designs make you feel that unity, that love, but at the same time they’re going to have that very old-school feel to it,” Jamshidian said.
Seeing his designs come to life is what motivated Jamshidian to get his first shipment of t-shirts in February.
“It was something that I was so scared to do because once you do it and once you have, like, a brand name on a shirt, you’re like, ‘Aw fuck, now it’s serious,” Jamshidian said.
A new partnership
As the idea of The Kalicks became a reality, Jamshidian realized there was more to starting a business than just the creative process.
Last quarter, shortly after Jamshidian made his first shipment, he ran into industrial engineering junior Kevin Hull, an old friend from his residence halls, and expressed his concerns about starting a business on his own.
“I’m not really super into fashion, but [Jamshidian] is. That was made abundantly clear very quickly,” Hull said.
Although Hull’s interests were not necessarily about fashion specifically, he saw this as an opportunity to get involved in something where he could put the skills he has acquired through his major to practice. Without too much thought, the two friends became business partners.
“We kind of continued the talk. A lot of it was about what needed to be done,” Hull said. “Now we’re really starting to get the ball rolling with actually finding different manufacturers, getting a website up and running and having a larger social media presence.”
Going beyond profits
Although the business and the partnership are still new, the pair keep each other motivated and the development of The Kalicks continues. Both Hull and Jamshidian find value in asking each other and themselves why they are starting this company.
“[Jamshidian] and I spend a lot of our time talking about, like, ‘What is it that’s truly driving you? Why is it that you want to be dedicated to this?’” Hull said. “I think that’s really the foundation for what is either going to make or break us and allows us to thrive and succeed.”
Jamshidian said The Kalicks continues to be an idea he likes to play around with as it develops into a brand that encompasses his values.
“You know, hopefully people will like it. People like authenticity and people like other people who aren’t afraid to hold back and are doing their absolute own thing and that’s what I really try to put out in my work,” Jamshidian said. “I want it to be 100 percent real, like, 100 percent me.”
As for Jamshidian and Hull, the business partners strive to create an identity with their brand and hope their success goes beyond the economic profit and actually makes an impact on their community.
“Cal Poly is in a very separated, tense environment which I think anyone who goes to school here right now can feel it and can tell,” Hull said. “It can be very disempowering to a lot of people. I think it’s indicative of larger societal issue[s], but that being said, the question is, ‘What can we as individuals do to be positive and inclusive in our community?’”
Hull acknowledged that though this small business is being run by two college students with no prior experience, they hope the brand grows within the Cal Poly community and promotes togetherness.
“It’s all about the fact that fashion is the mechanism through which we can share unifying messages,” Hull said. “That’s what got me.”