In this episode of The Dialog Podcast we talk Francis Torres. The recent George Brown graduate talks about how he balanced being a student, St. James campus director and starting his own clothing company Motif Co.
Hosted and produced by Manseeb Khan
Theme Music: Barbarian by: Pierlo
Manseeb Khan: And we are recording, alright hey what’s going on everybody Manseeb Khan here from the dialog, and you are tuning into The Dialog podcast. Today were here with Francis Torres, the former St. James Campus Director, George Brown graduate, and founder of Motif Co his street wear clothing company. Francis how are you doing today buddy?
Francis Torres: I’m doing good thanks for having me here, this is awesome
MK: No, dude I mean I’ve been meaning to like sit down and talk, I mean were a student, you had your own clothing company on the side , that’s just *sighs*
FT: It’s crazy how involved , just cuz when I got here , I honestly had zero intention of it, like I came in, I Figured, okay I’m just going study, I’m just going to go to class, I’m just going to go home. And then yeah one thing lead to another, I started on the event squad and things kind of just went from there,
MK: I can totally relate to that, I didn’t even think I’d be part of the paper, like what the heck? My grammar is terrible. Like what am I doing writing?
So what’s it like finally being graduated? Like you’re done school
FT: It feels good, but I also feel like I now I have too much free time. Like sure doing that, I wasn’t even sure with the whole events squad, the way that worked out. I had a friend that worked on the previous team. And they were like oh yeah. I was like really hard for cash, just to find things to push the brand. SO she’s was like yeah “you, and you meet a lot of new cool people, the events are fun”. I was like okay sure I’mma do this, and then as I got more involved and sort of the community, you meet a lot of good people and everyone just wants the same thing, or you kind of go deep you realize that we’re all just here to kind help each other, you just gotta reach out .But yeah now that I’m a graduate it feels great, like this weights off my shoulder, I don’t have to pay for all of this, all that extra expenses. It feels good, it’s help me sort of be more creative. I have some more free time at home, so sort of work on some projects, some more collections, I go seasonally so it’s been good. It’s given me some creative space that I desperately needed.
MK: I can’t wait, I’m almost done so I’m just counting down the days to graduate. What has George Brown taught you? And like you mentioned you worked at event squad, and SA. So I guess what has the college taught you, what has event squad taught you, and what as the board of directors taught you?
FT: It’s definitely taught me a lot, I couldn’t word how grateful I am just having the opportunity to be with the events team and being fortunate enough to work, with those great folks, and having Neil as a great coordinator. And then working on the board and working with the great directors, the exec team we have now they are doing some great work. It taught me a lot it taught me, People, people, people like to meet as many people, it help me set out of my confront zone to really reach out and meet, try and want to meet likeminded people, whether that’s on the union and trying to find ways to better St. James or whether it was find ways to better me and my brand or just in general. It was cool to sort of meet people and the conversations I’ve had thought like going on conferences and the opportunities that I was given. I was amazing it was stuff that I definitely could not have had anywhere else. So I’m very appreciative of that.
MK: People, People, People I’ll keep that written probably get that tattooed, sounds like a dope tattoo idea. I guess how did you manage everything I mean your were event squad and then SA director , then you have your clothing line you were running as a side hustle, and you were a student how did you manage everything? Did you have like a master schedule?
FT: It definitely took some time, the master schedule definitely wasn’t there from day one, and I definitely lost some hours of sleep, just to work things out. I think at the end of the day , and I know I’m sure a lot of students that sort of deal with juggling a lot of thing whether that be work, weather that be family commitments, things like that. I think I learned that at the end of the day, much as you want to go out and meet everyone and as much as that ” people people people” thing one of those peoples is you right so you gotta figure out like what works best for you and I just happened to end up prioritizing things that I wanted to do, and things that were good for me. Whether that be work or school or even my mental health just making sure that I’m getting sleep, I was eating and I was being healthy and once I started to get in that routine. You start to, there people that are around you, whether you’re not to see them or not plans. People start to understand. You know that they got their stuff, I’ve got my stuff and I didn’t feel as bad, not being able to do as much cuz now I finished one of those priorities finishing school, I can then go back and they were understanding . So they were like oh hey your done school start to catch up and it makes for great catch up conversation because there is so much material to go up on
MK: So I guess your advice would be focus on yourself but also have that weird
FT: focus on yourself but make sure you let people know that you haven’t cut them off. Give people a heads up that you are busy. I had friend that would be understanding but I’d have friends that would be busy but we won’t know. People are understanding enough that if you let them know that you have a lot of stuff because we have stuff going on too. We just want to know so that we can help each other.
MK: So I guess, have you ever felt over whelmed and if so how did you deal with all that?
FT: Absolutely. When I was on the Event Squad and I was campaigning to be St. James campus director and I had a few collections that were out. There were definitely times that it was hectic and I just found myself up and checked the clock at 10 p.m. you check it again it was 1 a.m. or 2 a.m. It gets crazy and it gets overwhelming. I think what helped me was not being too hard on myself. Because as much as I wanted to do everything that I could, I had to recognize that the time that I gave myself would not always match up with my physical and mental health and sometimes, as much as I want to be like perfectionist and get everything to the T sometimes you have to take a step back and be like maybe I have to push this a couple of days back so I can sleep and maybe work on things for school. If I needed those deadlines I had to push those creative things aside. Sacrificing is something that you do as a student and sometimes I had to bite, so to speak.
MK: So prioritizing then essentially? Figuring out what’s more important, master schedule everything figure out what’s a little more important? What can get pushed back and what can get pushed ahead?
FT: people will just push, push, push, project, project, project they’re like 50% for 20 things. As much as you want to do 50 things and rule the world, you almost want to be sure that you could do 100% so that everything you do you can look back and really be proud of it and not supposed to be like oh I could’ve done a lot more.
MK: So why fashion? could you speak on that , your street clothing company Motif stands for motivate others till it fits, could you talk about your inspirations, aspirations of the clothing company is it just a side hustle or you want to go on Toronto Fashion Week?
FT: I had a few friends that had their own companies and that was in photography, videography and some people had their own brands. So I sort of helped them and sort of made them associate and growing up, I grew up on fashion. Growing up, I used to live in New York a little bit and I was really exposed at a young age to those fashion scenes. I think coming back into Toronto and being exposed to just certain styles. I was raised like my dad raised me to sort of like work on my pants and the idea of what I was meant something to some people so I kinda grow up with that headset. I was always out there looking for some trends and that just sort of when from fashion trends to just trends in business and trends elsewhere so it kinda grew and rippled into that. But in terms of my brand, when I reached out to other people and they were talking about how much the brand changed them and how much that inspired them to do other things, I find it really cool and I found that it was cool that something so little to some people could motivate to the masses. Some people kinda got motivational, something I could speak to a lot of people.
MK: So from what I can understand is that you are going on this journey, be it fitness business like whatever. You’re using your motif brand to inspire and bring more people along the way?
It’s one of those things where as for me it started off as I motivated myself for fitness and motivated myself to maintain my mental health but as I grew on other people with pick up other brands and support it, they would tell me about stuff that it’s motivated them in other things outside of that and I thought that was really cool because I never intended for it to really reach out to that so once I realized that everyone sort of took it in their own way and I thought that was perfect, I thought that completely summed up what I was trying to do and now that it’s sort of a universal message, it doesn’t matter where you do, whether you’re in fashion like me or whether you’re in music or whether you’re a student going for a PhD and what not, it works you know. You’re motivated, you’re trying to do what you can and that’s what it’s about.
MK: What advice would you give to students being a former GBC grad? And for aspiring entrepreneurs like me and many others in the school?
FT: As much as I’m happy to be a graduate, I definitely miss it. I definitely think that while you’re at GB take advantage of everything that is going on. I know the special events of management they’ve got there, the Capsule events. Take part in that, those are some great opportunities to meet cool new people. I met my barber, he’s still my barber now. At the events he gave me a free cut and now I’m one of his regulars. So that’s super cool just that I understand that people have different comfort zone but I would encourage folks to step out of that. I stepped out of mine when I went for the Event Squad thinking that okay this is gonna be an easy paycheck but it ended up being one of the best things that I could do. And for entrepreneurs just go out and meet, talk to people, just talk, talk, talk, people, people, people right? I think it’s super cool that you meet so many people from different sort of walks of life and they have different sort of viewpoints and it’s good to get different perspectives but it’s also just as good to find people that think just like you so you can almost just broaden and kind of get better.
MK: Well Francis thank you so much for joining me man this was a pleasure.
FT: This was a blast.
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