Ibby is a young New Jersey entrepreneur. I met him through a friend while having lunch in a Rutgers Dining hall. Immediately after shaking his hand I found myself listening to Ibby’s pitch about his clothing company. Of course I ignored what I then deemed to be a persistent guy trying to interrupt my meal. But since then I’ve watched Ibby grow his company from an idea into a legitimate business and non-profit. Ibby’s company has come a long way and I was more than happy to discuss some of the finer points of Ambitious Heights with him.
Here is an insight into Ibby, his company and experiences:
Mike: Welcome to the first interview for WoBistDude. I’m here with Ibby Adnan, Founder and CEO of Ambitious Heights (AH). Ibby, please explain what AH is.
Ibby: Ambitious Heights is a lifestyle brand, clothing company and a registered non-profit foundation. We’re a streetwear/ skate/ hip-hop brand from New Brunswick, New Jersey.
Mike: What’s the customer demographic looking like?
Ibby: It’s more young-adult from the ages of 18-27 and then we sprinkle in some older people who like to rock the brand.
Mike: When did AH start? How old is the company? Go into that.
Ibby: 4 years ago, I realized that I was really interested in clothing. I didn’t want to buy it anymore and I knew what was hip to wear. So, I got an idea. I generated a business-plan and shared it with everyone I knew on Facebook. From this, I ended-up generating about $10,000 in investment money to start Ambitious Heights.
Mike: Go into some detail about your team.
Ibby: I formed the team during my time at Rutgers. Our different personalities end up contributing a variety of ideas. Each member’s tastes concerning what types of merchandise that they like, fits for shirts and color comes into play. It’s cool to hear from all these viewpoints whether it’s for shooting pictures or even choosing merch.
Ibby: A little more than a year ago, we took the brand and ripped it apart by rebranding videos and content and moving to recreate our identity. Ambitious Heights also put out a fall and summer line.
Mike: What does your process from design to customer look like?
Ibby: We work season by season, examining what types of products and colors would make sense during a given time period. Then we use designs made by local artists. We put out 4 or 5 products per season, order them in bulk and then send them to our manufacturer who prints in house.
Mike: You’ve told me that AH works with the surrounding community, could you describe what that has been like?
Ibby: We set up a non-profit called “Music For Advancement”: it’s a concert series used to generate funds for schools and programs in low income areas. For this, we’ve partnered up with Sprint and their “One Million Project”.
Mike: Didn’t this also include a collaboration with an Artist in New Brunswick?
Ibby: His name is DJ Inferno. The guy has a great track record from going on tour with Madonna and Wiz Khalifa; he did a live mix for us. Now we’re using footage from that experience for an upcoming documentary.
Mike: Okay so aside from music, I’m sure it’s also fun to pick models for your brand right?
Ibby: It’s definitely fun to pick models but we’re taking a step to collaborate with people who fit the brand like musicians, artists and athletes. We’re not always looking for the biggest names but people who have the same vision as us; we want to work in the same culture.
Mike: Talk about your personal fashion influences.
Ibby: I see fashion through culture, mainly hip hop, sports, music and art. Hip hop is everywhere, it dictates fashion trends on TV, music videos and now social media. I’ve also been a fan of the skate industry so that’s another big influence
Mike: Any brands in particular?
Ibby: I’ve always liked LRG [Lifted Research Group], it’s a skate brand and they were the first brand name that I started buying on my own (when my parents stopped buying my clothes for me). They were one of the first companies to combine streetwear and hip hop. Kobe Bryant was actually one of the first guys getting into this brand and after that Kayne West came in, that’s when they blew up. LRG was a major influence on me when I started Ambitious Heights.
Mike: Do you have any role models and why do you look up to them?
Ibby: I definitely see my dad as a role model because of his work ethic, you see what he does for your family and I think it’s very admirable. Also, I see Lebron [James] as a great influence because of what he does off the court. He basically sponsors a whole class to go to school every year in Cleveland. The main thing I see in people is, “what are they doing to help others”.
Mike: Let’s talk about milestones, at what point did you realize that AH could start being more successful?
Ibby: For me putting together a team was a major milestone for us. Working with people who believe in what you’re doing, who believe in the company, that is definitely a milestone for me. Also, being able to form partnerships with people. The club downtown, Perle, believed in what we were doing as a non-profit and offered to pay to host our non-profit concert. Even seeing products sell was a milestone—seeing people wear your product on the streets is great.
Mike: You have a time machine, you can go back four years and talk to young Ibby when he started this company. What would your advice be for young Ibrahim?
Ibby: I would tell young Ibby to slow down. One of the issues that I had was that I was trying to do everything too quickly. In the beginning I even ordered stuff from China because I thought China would be cheaper. I didn’t understand that I needed to pay more in taxes and shipping. So, I would tell myself to do more research, to be thorough and look into every aspect of the company, to brake-down every single cost, from manufacturer to customer and also figure out a timetable.
Mike: Of course, nothing happens overnight.
Ibby: It takes time to build a brand. Everyone wants to make money right away but this mindset doesn’t really do you any justice just to say you have a brand. Slow down and do more research about the industry that you are about to walk into. Obviously generating revenue is any company’s goal, but you want to create products and merchandise that you are proud of and you know other people will like when you give it to them.
Mike: What is the goal for the upcoming year?
Ibby: The goal is to increase our brand awareness, increase sales, and form new partnerships to grow our “Music For Advancement”, non-profit foundation. We have a Philly artist non-profit collaboration with AH and some other things in the works but I don’t want to disclose until we have it set.
Mike: Give your Ambitious Heights plug and let the people know where they could see your stuff.
Photo Credits: AmbitiousHeights.com
Ibby is a New Jersey entrepreneur in charge of the clothing company/ non-profit Ambitious Heights. He lives for fashion, hip-hop and the Denver Broncos. When he is not working you can find him chillin with friends and listening to music.