Glu Director Alexis Sim quotes the phrase coined by fellow Director, Chip McCabe; “We started as gum on the bottom of the shoe.” And that’s exactly how they like it. The Glu ethos ‘we are all in the family’ is one which recognises everyone as equal and is a fundamental part of their culture. A culture that was born out of an old yellow heritage house in Mount Cook.
The house, painted canary yellow and covered in tags, is owned by Foodstuffs, and can’t be knocked down. A Pak’n'Save is being built next door and the nearby construction zone makes it a hazardous spot to live. “Only people like us can live here,” claims Alexis.
‘The Big Yellow’ is mostly known for its parties; raging, multi genre gatherings that support underground artists, creating a platform for them to showcase their talents. Just like the clothing label, the parties represent anyone and everything; drawing in all walks of life because of the culture of inclusiveness rather than exclusivity that they strive to create. Picking up rubbish, paying for sound set ups and lighting, or providing liquor for the performers is no trouble. Music is what they love.
Surprisingly, Alexis insists that in the three years he’s lived in the Big Yellow, there has never been a fight in the house, despite party numbers ranging from a quiet 50 to a raging 200.
At 23, Alexis is living life to the full. He accepts that he is pretty on to it for his age and adds, “We all are. The four of us drive each other, there is a verbal contract that if one person lets off then you let down the other three… And that would be the worst thing in the world to me.”
When I first visited the Glu Clothing headquarters, they had just celebrated their first birthday. There is an orange road cone on the steep steps leading up to the front door; it’s been pinched off the street as a safety precaution. Alexis tells me the step broke during the after party.
This is the only clue to indicate that there had been a raging party there the day before – the lounge looks like an office. Alexis beams, “Look at our new chairs!” They are a sleek, black leather. Chip, Alexis and Glu Designer Keegan are at their respective desks. Alexis’ girlfriend, Becky, is building a robot out of cardboard boxes in the middle of the lounge. They’re working, but they’re chilled out. They explain their door is always open.
As a brand, Glu is still in its infancy. On October 23 the label made its Auckland debut at Home Bar in the Viaduct. The event was a success, with Glu signing 19 year old Auckland skater and Menu Mag writer Rua Nelson to the family within a week of the launch. They also have a new relationship with another young business, The Learning Curve on K’Road, who are now stocking the label.
Laurence Arlidge, Owner and Director of the The Learning Curve says the reason he chose to stock Glu is because he could relate to their position as a young and upcoming business. “They’re a stylish independent label that weren’t corporate and pushy,” says Arlidge.
Glu Managing Director Chip McCabe says it is attitude and a hard work ethic that makes their business a success. He wishes there was more financial support for those who persevere in young, entrepreneurial business, “…because in 20 years time, we are going to be the ones running things.”
They have turned their lifestyle into a business model, which they say is their point of difference, rather than creating a business model that changes their lifestyle. Having a beer and a yarn is what they love most, and people are at the heart of the Glu culture.
All of the Glu founders come from families that are supportive and motivating. Alexis rattles off a long list of family members who he describes as self made business people that act as a caring hub, all vying for the success of the company.
But according to Alexis they are still feeling their way through the industry. Perhaps they have advanced from the piece of gum stuck to the bottom of a shoe to one that is now perched on top and looking out to the view of what’s next.