BY: DANIEL DAYAO
Life is unpredictable. Sometimes we feel that we are on the path we want to be on, but fate and destiny take us somewhere else. It’s how we react to those crossroads that builds our character. Tony Kim felt he was on his path, but it was “footage that ended on the cutting room floor,’ that took him elsewhere.
Tony loved San Diego Comic Con and he created a website blogging about his experience. It was passionate and filled with great tips for new convention-goers. A documentary was going to be filmed and this website Tony created would play an important part. He was excited to find out his story was chosen to be in this documentary, but sadly, his segment was not included in the documentary. He felt dejected and felt it was a “failure.” Those feelings were short-lived, because he started receiving messages from people about his website.
E-mails flooded his inbox from people who wanted to thank him for his website. Readers of his blog sent him stories of how his website helped them personally. It was overwhelming but this was just a tip of the iceberg. It created relationships that granted Tony many opportunities to visit other conventions and it began to show the full potential of what Mr. Kim had to offer to Nerd Culture.
Even though bigger things were in Tony’s future, he still makes sure to spread his message about how to prepare for San Diego Comic Con.
“You can’t go without planning. I try to focus on first timers because when I first went in 2006, I didn’t understand how much there really was to see and do. I thought I saw everything in the first day and thought I really didn’t need to go on multiple days…until someone asked me about how I enjoyed the panels.” Comic Con became a yearly thing for Tony, but he started to notice a problem.
“I wanted to go to all these events, but there really wasn’t much fashion for men to wear to these events that require more than a t-shirt. I started to make my own outfits.” This was the beginning of the Hero Within clothing line.
This led him to create a Superman themed blazer. The response was awesome. Tony knew he found something but wasn’t sure how he could fit his new passion in with his full-time job. But, fate and destiny interrupted again.
“I got laid off….I was like ‘THE UNIVERSE! CURSE YOU UNIVERSE,’ but that gave me time to just dive in. We landed the license. And it’s been a crazy roller coaster ever since.” Things were happening fast. But, Tony made sure he knew how to stay mentally happy and healthy. His sense of humor helps him deal with his newly found struggles of time management.
“I just realized that I can get everything done if I just cut sleeping, eating, and bathing. Ultimately, you just have to do what you love. You don’t have to quit your day job. You just have to afford the time that allows you to do what you love. All I wanted to do in life was to solve interesting problems. I want to take a problem that interests people and I want to fix it. That’s the idea of geek fashion, especially for men. There isn’t enough for men. We are content creators, entrepreneurs, influencers, we should be able to dress like that and showcase our fandoms, also.”
Tony started this line with a blazer and it keeps a special place in his heart even with his ever-growing fashion line. His Batman Peacoat was huge and instrumental in the growth of his young fashion empire. And new interesting problems popped up along the way. For example, developing a Wonder Woman Jean Jacket for men and more sizes to match different body types. Luckily, he has been expanding for this need and it’s become successful.
Through this success of Hero Within, Tony never forgets where his creativity came from and how it keeps him going.
“We are creators and artists. And a lot of this creativity is birthed by pain. We may have been called nerds in the past and dismissed and called losers. And even though Nerdy is cool now, it still isn’t really respected in other aspects of life. Anytime I see that or experience that, that still taps into the insecurity and pain that I had. With this brand I wanted to change that, I want people to feel empowered. I want others to feel like they belong in this space. They own this space.” That state of empowerment is displayed in the brand name Hero Within.
“I wanted it to reflect that everyone has a ‘hero’ inside of them. We all have the power to inspire, to encourage, and to do good works. The ability to find their path. That is signature to our clothing line.”
The future of Hero Within is bright. It came from pain and created a brand that empowers and inspires people to step out and find their path. We don’t have to feel insecure about who we are and where we came from. And with people like Tony leading the way, the “path” with self-confidence and self-esteem as the destination just became a lot shorter.
Make sure you follow Tony on twitter @Crazy4ComicCon and @HeroWithinInc!