Erika here, with another edition of “Have you heard of...?” featuring Mayamada. A truly clever, London based brand that mixes humor, much like that of Looney Tunes with the bold visual elements of anime, that fans are all too familiar with and love. You may recognize the name or have seen Mayamada in previous WORD posts, but in this one, I get a chance to pick the brain of Nigel, a founding member, to see just how this brand ticks and how they go about creating such a unique product. So sit back, relax and get comfortable as I formally introduce you all to Mayamada.
My name’s Nigel, I’m one of the founding members of mayamada. To put it simply, mayamada is an anime inspired t-shirt brand set in a fantasy television network...with an all animal cast :-)
You can think of us like a mashup of Looney Tunes and Japanese TV.
Mayamada, interesting name, how did it come to be the name of your brand?
The name came about in the early days when we were still throwing out ideas for making t-shirts.
We started in a completely different direction and originally wanted to call ourselves “Mayazuki Yamada”, but ended up shortening that to “mayamada”.
Don’t ask me where “Mayazuki Yamada” came from though!
Initially, what influenced your decision to create a t-shirt brand?
The decision came from an email discussion between our friends. The idea to make t-shirts was suggested and a few of us jumped on it.
We didn’t know much about branding or business and just wanted make tees to sell at our university. We didn’t even get that far though...
We quickly discovered you need an actual plan if you want to do things properly (go figure), so we sat down and thought things through. That’s when we came up with mayamada as it is today.
Anime is definitely a central theme or love that is evident in your tees; explain its significance in inspiring you to create your brand around it.
We watched a lot of anime growing up (I got sucked in through Dragonball Z). Anime is really visual and we thought the style would work well with tee designs.
My personal favourite thing is it has its own distinct personality that matches well with us as we have some “unique” ideas too.
Are there other things, besides Anime, that inspire or influence you creatively when creating and designing tees for your brand?
Humour is a big influence for us. We try not to take things too seriously and we want to get other people smiling too.
Food is a big part of the brand as well. If you haven't noticed it yet you will! We travelled to Japan a few years back and spent a lot of time sampling different great dishes...cakes especially.
Being in the Indie tee scene can have its many obstacles, what is the most challenging obstacle your brand has faced and how did you work through it?
Finding our audience was a big challenge for us. When you're starting out, getting recognition is a hard thing to do. We made the effort to go to the major conventions in London and meet people into the same things we are.
Organising our own events has helped too as we've met a lot of great people that are into what we’re doing.
In looking at your site, I noticed your brand is also in the process of producing a manga book; tell us about it and how you think it may impact the success of your t-shirt brand.
As well as clothing, we like creating stories. It's the reason we came up with the brand we did and can’t wait to start creating more volumes after this first one.
The book will allow us to tell the story of mayamada so it's not just limited to t-shirts.
As mayamada is based on the idea of fantasy television shows, we’ll be creating manga based on each of them. The first one is the Samurai Chef: A cooking show where the Chef judges contestants food by attacking it.
Ultimately this will give people another thing to enjoy and bring them into the world more and more. It might even get them into manga in general. If they pick up the books we make they might be drawn into it and check out some other stuff too.
We want to create a very cool and positive brand that’s known around the world for great t-shirts, manga and events. Oh and a store in Japan! When we get to that point then we're happy.
Aside from that we want to be able to create animation based on the character stories. That's another of our long term goals.
What do you think separates Mayamada from other brands?
The world and the characters for one. A fantasy television network and animal cast is a little out there so I can't imagine too many people have thought of it before!
I think that plus the mix of clothing, story and events are something that separates us too.
Let’s say you’re walking down the street, you slip on some melted frozen yogurt, bump your head and travel through time (not necessarily back in time), what are three places or time periods you would like to end up in?
The Renaissance period would be one. There were a lot of new things happening at once. It would have been a great period to learn and discover new things before computers existed.
I’d like to also travel forward to a period where we’ve figured out space travel (I don’t want to be the first to try it) and we’re zipping around from planet to planet Futurama style.
Lastly, I would go back into recent time and find out who wasted perfectly good frozen yogurt!
What are two things you never leave home without?
My phone because it is how I do a good chunk of work on as well as keeping in touch with friends.
The other is my mp3 player. I think I'm one of the few people that still carry a separate device for that but it goes everywhere with me.
If you could trade places with ANY one person (celebrity or non) in the world, for 48 hours, who would it be and why?
Tony Hsieh of Zappos. I read his book which was a great read. He created a great company from something so simple and has customers and employees happy to be a part of it. It would be great to trade places and get to better know how he thinks.
I have a few favourites. There is a cool video game inspired brand called Insert Coin Clothing that is based in the UK. We met them at a convention last year and I really like what they are doing.
Looking at the US, I'm also a big fan of Ugmonk. There's a level of genuine quality about everything they put out that’s great to see.
My personal favourite is Johnny Cupcakes. I love his story and it was a big inspiration. I also like the element of fun that he's put into his entire company plus the fact it’s run by family and friends. A great example of an indie brand.
Now for a round of “this” or “that,” ya ready?
Crew neck or V-neck
Scrambled eggs or Over-easy eggs
Retro Jordans or Vans
Aston Martin or Range Rover
Death Note or Deadman Wonderland
Vinyl or Digital downloads
I'd love to say vinyl...but digital.
Hip Hop or Dubstep
Vintage or Modern
Distressed denim or Classic khaki
Red Bull or Espresso
Early Bird or Night Owl
Any shout outs?
To our friends and family that have helped us get this far and to the people that come to us at conventions and events and show support for mayamada. It’s the reason we keep going!
There you have it guys, another edition of “Have you heard of...?” featuring Mayamada. Make sure to stop by their gift shop and check out all the dope gear they have to offer available now!