About ten years ago John Gutierrez, 32, was sitting in a graphics class at the Center for Digital Arts at Westchester Community College on Division Street, thinking how he wanted to work for himself. He’d been frequenting New York City stores that sold clothing with images of skateboarding, art and graphics; all things he loved. He quickly realized there was a business across the street from WCC that made T-shirts so he struck up a friendship with the proprietor and learned about putting designs on shirts. That initial outreach of meeting someone, asking questions and networking has served him well and laid a foundation for how he would start and grow his business, Whadafunk.
Today, his brand of streetwear clothing is sold nationally, including at Zumiez, a lifestyle brand retailer with 150 stores across the country. Streetwear is a subset of the fashion industry known as athleisure which is leisure and sports clothes. A multibillion dollar segment of the industry, streetwear gives women and men a way to express their individuality through fashion, art, music and gear for action sports. “It’s not just T-shirts, it’s more about a lifestyle,” said Gutierrez who hand creates the designs on all the products he sells. His hoodies sell for $45 and more depending on how detailed the designs are. Sweatshirts retail between $30 and $35. He advertises his products on social media posts where new designs are ‘dropped’ and offered for a very limited time.
The name, Whadafunk, is “catchy, and able to stick in someone’s mind,” said Gutierrez about the moniker that he and a friend came up with one day when they were tossing ideas around for what to call his company. All the graphics on his limited edition clothing are drawn by him. He starts a design with sketching on a pad by hand and then takes the image into Photoshop or Illustrator on the computer. The next step involves making a clear transparency that he uses to ‘screen’ the images individually on each item of clothing.
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