For aspiring fashion and lifestyle designers and entrepreneurs hustling to get their brand off the ground, the chance to travel to the Agenda Show and showcase their work is a dream come true. The trade show event is one of the most creative and diverse in the industry, and it’s considered the premiere destination for investors, retailers, and creatives to meet, mingle, and grow their businesses. That’s why Skillshare worked with Jeff Staple to choose six lucky, talented teams from his recent workshop, Build Your Brand, and gave them an all-expenses-paid trip to Las Vegas so that they could showcase their student projects, mingle with Staple and other industry professionals, and compete for $10,000 in seed funding to help propel them to the next level.
Just how much did the winners take home? Before Staple named his top picks, we left it to the competitors to decide how they wanted the award distributed. Would they prefer a winner-take-all approach, or something more equitable? True to the event’s supportive spirit, Skillshare students voted unanimously to split the pot among the top three teams of Staple’s choosing: $1,000 for third place, $2,000 for second place, and $7,000 for the big winner.
Now that everyone’s back home, we touched base with the top three brands to chat about their experience at Agenda Show, the future of their work, and how their professional (and in one special case, personal!) lives have been changed by the class trip of a lifetime.
Below is part two of our interview series. This one, with winning team DAYSWORK. Looking for part one with the third and second-place teams? Check it out here.
First Place: DAYSWORK
The team behind DAYSWORK may have traveled all the way from Australia to get to the the Agenda Show but co-founder Ben Murphy says his team didn’t begin the workshop intending to get to the event -- much less win the competition. “It was by luck” that he decided to take Staple’s Skillshare classes, he says, “I signed up for the workshop because there’s always something new to learn and because I admire what Jeff has accomplished. I knew he’d be a good person to learn from.” It was only after the DAYSWORK team began taking classes that they learned about the Agenda Show and how much winning might mean to his brand.
Murphy and his co-founders, brothers Ed and George Cunningham, began DAYSWORK “to make high quality products that people can emotionally invest in and really love.” They turned to their family roots for ideas, and were inspired to refine the practical, quality workwear of the country’s early 20th century manufacturing sector for the modern era. “We all come from the Australian working class, our families worked in manufacturing and surveying,” he says. “We love to find concepts from that era, and to incorporate them into our garments, accessories and imagery. We may not have followed our ancestors into manual labor, but their mentality – and hard work – continues to resonate with and inspire us.”
Hi Ben! What a whirlwind these few weeks must have been! Before we dive in to your big win at the Agenda Show, let’s talk about the origins of your brand. You work with two brothers, Ed and George. When did you decide to work together?
We met through mutual friends in 2013. I met Ed first and then George shortly after. We’ve always been prone to intense conversations about design, fashion, and rap music – the conversations run the gamut – and we realized that we all were individually obsessed with the process of creating a brand. It wasn’t so much about any finished products when we began working together, we actually created a ‘zine first and included a merchandise component. Once we found a name for the project, we scrapped the ‘zine idea and started a full-fledged clothing label instead. I think we’ll bring the ‘zine back at some point, though!
DAYSWORK emphasizes the quality and integrity of your products. Can you talk a little bit about your manufacturing process?
Definitely. We do this because we love high-quality materials and we care about the history and message that our brand promotes. We care a lot about what we make! We find the best materials we can and try to make our clothes in the best factories, by the best machinists, as close to home as possible. It’s really important to us to make high-quality products that people can invest in and really love.
We’re really excited about promoting the Australian fashion and manufacturing industries, and inspiring other brands to start doing the same. This country is bursting at the seams with talent – and we think that should be recognized!
You’ve said that you weren’t familiar with the Agenda Show before you began Skillshare’s workshop. Had you taken other Skillshare classes before Jeff Staple’s?
Yes! I was a little further behind in my Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator abilities than Ed and George. I was trying to design graphics and put together clothes illustrations and just happened to find Skillshare on the web. I signed up and watched a bunch of Illustrator fundamentals classes to help me through the program layout, learn how to use certain tools and improve my efficiency.
The identity of our brand was already there, but when we took the workshop, it helped us look at it from a different perspective. It gave us tools to make sure we were on the right track. We are still new to the business, and Jeff’s advice has been really helpful.
And then just like that, you were on your way to Vegas! What was it like to be at Agenda for the first time?
When we found out we would be flown to the Agenda Show, we felt so much excitement and relief. We are so confident in the brand, but it was exciting to see our ideas recognized by external experts. We were so excited to go to Vegas because it’s a fun place to be – and we knew at the Agenda Show we could physically show our products in a fundamentally brand-centric way. We had Perspex hangers, accessories – way more than clothes. We had a whole set-up to show off our ideas and themes.
I loved showing the brand in a physical space for the first time, and meeting people in the industry. It was great having buyers come through and to feel their excitement about the brand.
We were all pretty nervous to meet Jeff in person. He’s an O.G. with huge street credibility. But he was really kind, had a ton of smiles and probing questions. He liked our brand concept and our ideas and gave us a bunch of constructive advice. It was a boost of confidence during the show and it really helped us.
The rest of the event was so much fun. Everyone, all of the other finalists, were super chill. It felt like we were all there trying to succeed at Agenda together, rather than in competition with one another. That was important. I know these people will be a part of our lives in the future.
Now that you are home, what’s next for you and the DAYSWORK team?
We’ll use the prize money to produce garments and make them available for public purchase in the near future. We’ll also use it to develop samples, accessories and improved brand elements for next year’s collection. We see such potential for this brand, it really could have a strong presence in the fashion industry. We want to collaborate with bigger companies, drive ideas and represent our country on a broader stage.
For us, it’s all about continuing to develop DAYSWORK’s brand and vision, to explore new concepts and give consumers, our friends, something to believe in.
Interested in taking your own Skillshare workshop? Check out this list to see all of the classes that we are offering this fall.