Modesty is the best policy:
Out of all the people I’ve interviewed, I’ve never had somebody ask me at least four times if I was sure I came to interview the right person. Well, that’s exactly what happened when I met up with Bevin Elias the 22 year-old F.I.T student and manager of men’s boutique, The Brooklyn Circus. You may have seen him in the store or on the blog, but here’s a deeper look at what really goes on with him under the big top.
Words by Ganeka Gray for The Brooklyn Circus Blog
BKC: When did you first become interested in fashion?
Bevin: Freshmen year in high school, going to Manhattan and seeing people dressed differently than people in the neighborhood. I mean everybody likes sneakers and clothes but there’s a difference between clothes and fashion. There was a lot more experimenting, people were mixing patterns and textures and were more dramatic and theatrical with it, when you came back to Brooklyn it looked different so I wanted to find out more. I would read magazines and go to Soho and the East Village, as I got older I found new spots to shop at.
How did you first become affiliated with the Circus?
It happened about 2 ½ years ago, I met Ouigi ( The Bearded Man) and he told me that he was opening a new store, he said it for a while but I didn’t really take him serious (laughs). Running into him again later at the actual store, I was working at Tommy Hillfiger’s corporate office and I wanted to leave but I wanted a good transition so he (Ouigi) told me to come and work with him. I guess I took on more responsibility than everybody so he offered me the manager position and the rest is history.
Where are you from?
Canarsie Brooklyn, originally from Grenada,West Indies.
Coming from Grenada did you always have dreams of being a force within the fashion industry?
(Laughs) No, (laughs again) Not at all.
Is fashion a serious thing in Grenada?
Things are different, I’d say in the past 3 or 4 years American music and cable TV has influenced the Caribbean. Nowadays you can watch TV, but when I was growing up in Grenada there was only radio and local channels. It was when people would visit for Carnival in the summer that you would see different styles. People are more focused on work and politics, but cable TV has definitely influenced everything in Grenada.
How do you see yourself influencing the younger dudes when it comes to fashion and building a sense of style?
They have a yearning to buy clothes, but they don’t really care much beyond that, like what is the garment made of? A major thing is the fit of the clothes; the younger dudes want to wear slimmer clothes but they’re scared! I’ve actually helped customers go from a 2X to a medium. I also try to show them how you can mix things up, I love luxury brands so I show them that you can wear a t-shirt but throw it on with a nice accessory like a watch or a bag. Note: Fitted is not tight, it’s wearing your actual size.
What do you think about people seeing you as a local hero or celebrity?
I mean, I don’t look at myself like that, I don’t wanna say it’s work, but it is, we’re here all the time and there’s so many different things going on that need to get done and new ideas that come daily. Putting things together, trying to build this, trying to order that, it gets very busy. Sometimes it does touch my heart though when I see the high school kids and even the college students and they say “Yo Bev thanks for putting this together” or “I saw you on the blog, that’s fresh what you did, I woulda never thought of it” that’s cool to me. It just feels good to hear the clients come back and say thanks or that they feel fresh…Yeah.
The Brooklyn Circus has a way of making everything look fun and carefree. Is it always fun and games?
The more fun and carefree it looks, the harder it is on us. There are a lot of hours that go in nightly and before we open, there’s a lot of planning that’s involved, we plan everything to the tee because we don’t want to let anything pass. We think of the best-case scenario and the worst-case scenario and we work hard, it’s more thinking involved than physical work at The Brooklyn Circus.
Give me the average day for Bevin?
Wake up and do homework because I’m too tired to do it at night (laughs). Read all the emails and see what is really important and needs to be done ASAP. Go to 258 Bergen and prep the store and make sure the staff is ok, after that tend to the task list; see whether we need to ship goods, or if somebody had a complaint about an item, see which doors (wholesale accounts) need to be checked, find out about all the shipments that are coming in and need to be prepped for the next week, run any errands that need to be taken cared of. On top of that we have the customer who we still have to tend to and make sure they are taken care of. Some days are better than others, but it’s a lot, we do wholesale, we distribute and then we take in brands and then we have to reject brands…it’s a psychological strain for sure, but I mean it’s fun, I don’t wanna complain…. yeah, it’s fun (smiles).
How do you handle the everyday responsibilities of running The Brooklyn Circus?
In the beginning it was really hard because I had this point of view that it would be easy, Ouigi made it look easy because he’s cool under pressure, but lately I’ve become calmer, cooler and through experience I’ve learned to stop, evaluate the situation, handle it and move on. I mean, it takes a toll when you have to go to school, you’re still growing and you have to manage people 2 or 3 years older than you and worry about their growth as well. It’s a challenge for sure, but everyday it gets a little bit easier.
Where does The Brooklyn Circus stand in relation to other men’s boutiques?
The Circus tries to be a little more intimate, where we do know the customer’s names and their family lives or where they might be going with the outfit. We don’t want to just take the money and say go on about your day and not remember who they are, so yeah, it’s a bit more intimate.
Is there a silent battle between baggy and fitted?
Yes, I think it depends on the environment, depending on where you are certain things are more accepted. There’s so many different segments within fashion but for the niche we’re trying to create I feel that slim will take over because it’s more focused on fit, you lose the appreciation of the clothes that you’re buying if it’s too big. It is a silent battle, but the slimmer fit is winning because the dudes who once wore the 2X are understanding that the slimmer fit looks more put together, oversized is sloppy.
Who/what influences your style?
A combination of Kanye West and James Bond. Kanye’s edge and the fact that he experiments a lot and James Bond because he’s sharp! Anything he puts on he looks clean; I like the clean look, when you walk into the room people will go “that dude is sharp”. Brand wise I’d say Ralph Lauren, because he takes every element into account and he puts so much detail into his clothing.
What’s something people don’t know about you?
I’m a neat freak! The clients make me feel happy, there are certain clients that I’ve seen change and grow and it makes me want to work harder. Oh yeah, the same opportunity I got, I would love to give back.
The best part about working at The Brooklyn Circus?
The family environment
Tell me one thing you live by.
Walk by faith, not by sight.