We had the good fortune of connecting with eli james and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi eli, how do you think about risk?
Risk taking is a must if you want to grow.. and it’s funny because the most rewarding risks all seem to have happened by “accident”.
Meaning, I was never “looking” for the opportunity, per se, it just came to me as I was doing my own thing.
I have a random idea “I want to make my own clothes” plus, a very fun and strong feeling to just move forward with this crazy idea.. these crazy ideas that definitely do NOT have a guarantee for any success and with a twist of close friends and family maybe doubting it.. But then.. BAM, the opportunity rises and the risk taking begins!
Then I move forward and BAM another opportunity and BAM another.. with ALL these opportunities having very scary growing pains and sometimes very little reward.. but we just keep on going.
One foot in front of the other.
This is where our slogan “Just Be – The Rest Will Follow” really came from.
I am an artist, a drummer, a (now) celebrity fashion designer.. I mean who would have thought?!
So with that said, YES! Risk taking is a must.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Because there are 2 sides to GhostCircus, we (luckily) stay pretty busy throughout the year..
Meaning, as most people have come to know the face of the brand, GhostCircus Apparel and helped us become a massively growing online apparel company that provides some of the most Amazing, Comfortable, Unique, Cool and Stylish Clothes made right here in Los Angeles, CA.. We’ve also expanded our services to help other brands and companies grow their visions as well.
Hence, GhostCircus Merch was born under the umbrella of GhostCircus Apparel in early 2016.
So what does that mean exactly?
Well, we have over 60+ wholesale clients (and growing) that we do brand customizations for, like embroidery (ie hats, beanies, hoodies, joggers etc..), we do cut and sew services from scratch for many brands from all over the U.S. and we also facilitate packaging for them as well.
Really anything a brand may need, we do at GhostCircus Merch.
And many people agree, supporting our small and/or local business(es) is important to not only us, but our economy as a whole.
So, when the dips of seasonal retail come and go, our wholesale side stays pretty busy to help us keep our lights on.
When the pandemic hit, we were at a really good place for making garments from scratch.
I decided to make myself a mask in March of 2020 and my wife (Tara Conner) said I should put them up online .. it could help a lot of people and we could sell a few in the process.. I decided to put them up thinking we could help a handful of people.
Here’s an excerpt from a press release, that tells the tale:
“When Los Angeles shut down in March of 2020, one man traversed the abandoned streets of downtown, pounding on doors in back alleys in hopes that one might open. What started as a helpful post on his apparel brand’s Instagram, quickly became, for lack of a better term, a viral sensation.
Celebrity fashion designer, eli james, started GhostCircus Apparel in 2015 as a way to cultivate the artist’s need for unique, edgy stage-wear. As a touring drummer himself, eli raised eyebrows and turned heads wherever he would go. Whether he was walking down the street, putting in time at the gym, rocking out on stage, or just grabbing some groceries, people would stop him to ask where he got his clothes; to which his reply would always be, “I made them.”
After 5 years of hard work, dedication and endless creativity, GhostCircus Apparel evolved into a powerful multi-faceted, one stop shop for both designer apparel and merchandising, including custom embroidery, wholesaling and design work for other companies. When the pandemic hit, the days were not much different for eli and GhostCircus Apparel, with one exception, wearing a face mask. With all the noise about not being able to find a face mask, he thought making a few for his friends and family would be a good way to help out. On the first day he posted, 56 masks were requested. The next day, 93; then over 700 in a single day. Within a week, eli quickly realized this was more of a problem than he initially thought.
With China halting its shipments and all the sewing houses closing their doors, there was no one left to get people their much needed face masks. Without hesitation, he did the only thing he could do and hit the streets. In what some would say an almost post-apocalyptic Downtown Los Angeles, eli james went door to door seeking anyone with fabrics that met the standards that hospitals and the CDC were asking for. He filled up his pickup truck with roll upon roll and got to work, sewing in his home design studio.
As dedicated as he was, with sleepless nights and a constantly running machine, he still couldn’t make them fast enough. In addition, the amount of slanderous hate from every direction online was both emotionally and spiritually taxing. But finally, right before he was forced to close his doors, he got the green light as an essential business and extended his voucher to more local connections, which very soon created jobs for upwards of 60 people who were struggling to find any work amidst the chaos. GhostCircus Apparel turned into a household name, practically over night.
With eli’s direction and incessant ear to the ground, he pivoted to create masks for people that was completely unmatched. He created masks for people with beards, glasses, kids, large heads and small heads. The messages poured in, about how these masks allowed other essential workers to get out there and put food on the table for their families, how small businesses were able to provide masks for their employees and open their doors, restaurant workers, healthcare providers, police and fire fighters, the list goes on and on. This was a moment for eli to rise to the occasion, and that he did.
Now, over a year later, as things are calming down and face masks can be found in nearly every corner store, things are getting back to normal at GhostCircus Apparel. Normal, for eli james is a never-ending hustle. He’s a creative machine and has just launched two new collections: GC6 Essentials and GhostCircus Signature Vintage. With all the work-from-home employees, virtual schooling and zoom meetings becoming the new normal, he wanted to combine comfort and function with a unique twist.
GhostCircus Apparel is all about the lifestyle, clothes that move with you as you move through life. If you can wear one outfit and accomplish any possible task that gets thrown at you, why not look amazing while you do it?”
We still sell masks to this day as there are a ton of essential workers needing them for work.. plus people LOVE them.
With all that said, We are truly and extremely grateful and appreciative for all the orders online and also all the work people have for us (GhostCircus Merch) and continue to bring us.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well this is a different kind of world now.. before the pandemic it would be a lot more.. but let’s try.
Loz Feliz 9 hole golf course is super fun! Arclight Movie Theater in Hollywood (RIP). Echoplex for a show or maybe The Viper Room and Toi on Sunset for good Thai food. Santa Monica Pier is always a must and also the Sunset Restaurant in Malibu is a great place too. Griffith Park for a walk and/or a hike and maybe an LA Kings game would be dope too! I mean LA has it ALL and it’s definitely a shame to see it the way it is now.. BUT there will be a better tomorrow, one step and one day at a time, we will get it all back together in an even better light!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Wow.. well it is always a team effort.. even if the people involved don’t think of
Wow.. well it is always a team effort.. even if the people involved don’t think of themselves being a part of the team.
I have to thank my beautiful wife Tara Conner (Miss USA 2006) for always supporting me in anything I dive into!
I also have to thank all my Musician Friends/Artists, Magician Friends/Artists, Actor and Model friends.. From Adrian Young, Frank Zummo, Josh Dun, Kellin Quinn, Joseph Réohm, Joel Meyers, Tim Skold, Nadja Peulen, Amir Derakh, Ryan Shuck to name a small few.. and my team behind GhostCircus Apparel (Dylan Melody, Amerigo, Gail, Bruce, Anna, Caitlyn, Jose, Shane, Nury etc..) without them, there is no me and all the GhostCircus Apparel GROWTH!
There are SO many others and over 60+ clients and growing.. I am ever SO grateful for everyone involved that has helped through the years. Just wow!