You thought your look epitomized cool, but you knew there was something missing – that sleeker line, the sharper hue, the overall desire for fashion savoir-faire. Worry no longer dear readers, we’ve found the right person to help you boost that extra edge of urban sophistication and refined confidence. Dameion Royes, President and CEO of Big It Up International, tells us that while his company offers “Fine Fedora Flavors,” you’ll be able to make the ultimate statement in any surrounding from South Beach to Seattle to San Antonio. Dameion, age 34, says that in addition to hats, Big It Up products include an array of other accessories and sell out of 150 stores (including to Hollywood celebs); his next venture, believe it or not, will be within the Japanese market! With his mind on business and his heart in fashion, he’s sure to produce an even more vibrant collection for all your hat needs in the years to come. Learn more in this week’s Young & Professional Profile about Dameion’s vision for Big It Up International and where your fine fedora will be able to take you.
Big It Up International
President and CEO
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Philosophy and Political Science
Marketing & Business Administration
Big It Up
President & CEO
About the company
Big It Up is a funky hat brand from Toronto, Canada that creates a line of hat styles that range anywhere from classic fedoras to down-and-dirty castro hats in a variety of fabrics.
Big It Up hats have been seen on various celebs that love the Big It Up style: Wyclef, J-Lo, Jill Scott, Bokeem Woodbine, international rap star K’naan, model Naomi Campbell, Rafael Sadiq and Samuel Jackson to name a few.
Big It Up has five company run stores in Toronto, Canada and a Canadian wholesale distribution network of 150 stores that carry the Big It Up brand.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
My day to day duties consist of marketing and publicity duties: getting press coverage for our products and our brand through the various media avenues. In addition, I analyze company stats and figures.
The most important duties, however, are prospecting for new and future opportunities for the company and aiding in the development of new products for future collections.
Most notable milestones
We just had a big bash celebrating Big It Up’s tenth anniversary last October. The beautiful thing about success is that you can use it to help others.
That night was special because it was also celebrating the beginning of a community arts initiative called “Shoot with This”, which Big It Up started with four high school social workers. The program is an arts based initiative that teaches disadvantaged youths all the aspects of film making. It encourages youth to find their inner voice and make movies from their own point of view. It puts them at the centre of a whole lot of fun while simultaneously teaching them how to communicate effectively and to build their creative skills.
“Shoot with This” means: shoot with a camera and not a gun!
With the money Big It Up raised from the tenth anniversary bash we bought video cameras, mics, boom poles, lights and other equipment for the “Shoot with This” project.
Giving back to the community that you want to see strong is the only way to ensure that tomorrow is a brighter tomorrow for the next generation.
What’s the niche?
Big It Up’s niche is creating stylish, well-crafted hats that can be worn!
A great fit is our biggest asset. We grind in our efforts to deliver styles that look good on the head and not just on the shelves. And we deliver a level of service that is necessary for our business.
Personas are as varied as hat styles; we have to be able to match up hat to persona for our beloved customers.
What’s the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge is trying not to get caught up completely doing day-to-day tasks and leaving no time for future prospecting.
What sort of background do most of the employees have at Big It Up?
Most employees at Big It Up have a Bachelor of Arts background, have lived overseas, and have worked in the textile industry in other countries.
What inspired you to come together and start Big It Up?
The belief that if good people can get together and believe in what they’re doing. The sky is the limit!
What’s in store for the future?
I just returned from a trip to Japan with the Canadian Apparel Federation; I was meeting with distributors and importers that were interested in representing the Big It Up brand in Japan.
I’m very excited about this opportunity. The Japanese youth are very funky people and they suit the Big It Up style perfectly. They’re in love with hat culture and they get how to wear them their own way.
Big It Up is currently in negotiations with a particular distributor in Tokyo that is keen on importing the Big It Up brand starting for the upcoming fall season.
What or who are your influences for design?
There are many influences that inspire our designs. Some are from simply pop cultural lifestyle influences, others are historical and rooted in a certain nostalgia for something that is no longer with us. We use the universe and everything in it to draw inspiration; it can come come from a season, a favorite song, a movement! Many influences come from simply mixing different periods of time and taking select elements from each to produce something entirely new. That’s what creativity is about! If you play it safe, you’ll never create anything new!
Best way to keep a competitive edge
We connect with the real hat lovers that don’t just want a cheap commodity; they want to derive pleasure from the hats they wear. In the old days, a hat was like your best friend that made a grand statement for you whenever you entered a room. We design and develop our hats with that same sentiment in mind and that’s why we’re loved.
We produce hats for men and women in a variety of sizes, colors and styles. People trust Big It Up for their hat selection because they know hats are our expertise and we aim to satisfy all the time.
Guiding principle in life
Don’t deny others the success you want for yourself!
Yardstick of success
I don’t have a well-defined one that I use, but I believe in getting things done!
We have a motto at Big It Up that goes like this, “Be realistic and demand the impossible.” When you have a focused team and all players are on the same page, there’s no telling what you can accomplish.
Goal yet to be achieved
Developing a strong international presence for the Big It Up Brand.
Best practical advice
If you love what you do you’ll never work a day in your life!
Supportive words from a family member or friend on your venture
Don’t be afraid to stand for something different and don’t be afraid to have convictions that you stand by!
Claude Brown who wrote “Manchild In The Promiseland.”
Claude documented the experience of black folk living in the NY ghettos of Harlem and what the horrid conditions they endured were like. The book was revealing and also made it clear that we are a resilient people that can rise from the ashes to blossom and build greatness.
Claude Brown came out of this tough existence and became an educated lawyer who never turned his back on his people. That’s community building!
What motivated you to get started?
The desire to have some control in my destiny. I needed to do something that didn’t limit my passion for life and my passion for being creative.
Like best about what you do?
I like being able to connect with people and having the ability to effect change in the world I live in.
Like least about what you do?
I like least being absorbed solely with the matters of commerce. I love success, but success is only true success if you use it to benefit more than just yourself or your immediate family members. If you help to make positive change in the society that you live in, you’ll produce success that resonates!
What impact does Big It Up have on its surrounding community?
Big It Up is loved in the local community for several reasons.
- First, because people admire or creative designs and the tasteful hats that we make. People feel we offer something fresh and alternative.
- Second, they respect the community programs Big It Up has being supporting from our inception. They know that this is real!
What is the Big It Up office like on a daily basis?
A busy, crazy place with many thoughts on the table that need to be either developed or dropped.
Person most interested in working with
I would like to work with Samuel L Jackson.
I’ve watched him come up over the years and he’s done some amazing things.
He has a very unique way of being which embodies a vibrant and energetic spirit that I like.
Charity most inspired by and why?
The Umoja Learning Circle.
Umoja is an Afrocentric school that teaches young black kids about having a positive self image from an early age.
Kids from the Umoja Learning Circle excel in math, sciences and the arts.
Three interesting facts about Big It Up
- We consist of employees from all different corners of the world. The perspective each brings to the table is invaluable.
- We have an in-house design team that is solely responsible for what goes on our shelves – keepin the styles ever fresh.
- We took hats to the next level by mixing the variety of tastes and styles available at one place. Generally traditional hat shops only included dress hats. We build an eclectic mix.
Three characteristics that describe Big It Up
- Avant garde
Why is important to give back to your community?
It’s important to think of the community as if it’s a circle. If you take out of it, then you must also put something back in!
How does Big It Up influence young people today?
Big It Up inspires young people by being a present example in their lives of a company that started from the grassroots level that is blossoming and becoming a recognizable fashion brand.
It inspires them to dream and to believe that change is possible! They see themselves in my shoes some years back and that’s cool to know that we have the capabilities to inspire another generation to dream.
Who would you like to be contacted by?
I would like to be contacted by an agent or agencies in the US that are interested in checking new sh** that’s hot! The same goes for an agent in the UK.
Hat stores in the US; also urban stores that want to experiment with some different and exciting products.
Any entertainer that loves what they do and know how to rock a hat with style…Get at me!
And all hat and style fanatics from around the globe that dig the Big It Up flavor!