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Q&A: Concrete Hills founder Drew Frank on young entrepreneurship and collaborating with Lil Yachty

Taking the fashion industry by storm, Drew Frank is a Duke first-year who started clothing brand Concrete Hills during his sophomore year of high school with his younger brother, Jamie. Since then, the brand has been worn by celebrities like Lil Yachty, Meek Mill and Jalen Ramsey. When Frank started at Duke University in the fall, he decided to expand the brand beyond clothing.
The brand is collaborating with Lil Yachty on an exclusive concert held Feb. 19 at The Fruit.

The Chronicle sat down for an interview with Frank. The interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The Chronicle: How did you start your brand? What was your inspiration?

Drew Frank: I started my brand because my brother and I wanted something more creative where we could fully produce whatever we wanted and make clothing that we would want to wear. I was always interested in working with factories and making an entire company myself. That’s how it started, and it’s just grown from there. 

TC: How has your original project, Kickpin, helped in the formation of Concrete Hills?

DF: When I was 13 and my brother was 12, we started our first sneaker business. We had hundreds of pairs that we were selling, all the exclusive Nikes and Jordan shoes. Then, we decided to open a retail shop in El Paso, Texas [that] took off when I was in eighth grade. People would camp out all night just to buy the shoes. We would do a pop-up once a month every month [for] four years. We [made] a foundation when we first started the company. We donated about 5000 sneakers to underprivileged children in El Paso, Israel, and all around the world.

TC: What role did your family play in the creation of your company?

DF: My grandfather has been a huge influence on my life. He was the one that really encouraged me to start my own business because he started his first business when he was 14 or 15. 

TC: Your brand has developed quite the celebrity following. Can you talk more about those connections?

DF: Through the brand and [being around the music industry], I have been able to build a lot of connections through Lil Yachty and other artists. [I am] able to offer them something that other people can’t. Being so young in that space, you stand out a lot more. 

TC: Clothing, particularly streetwear, is certainly a saturated market to enter. How do you ensure that your brand stands out?

DF: You have to have a story around the brand which we started to build a lot. Anyone nowadays can go print a name on a t-shirt or sweatshirt. It’s really the story and the quality of the clothing that people are buying: a whole identity that they are wearing.

TC: What is your design process?

DF: I work with another guy who is a graphic designer. I just think of ideas all day and then he just sends me actual mock-ups of what that would look like. [Then] I talk to factories about what it would look like and what fabrics I should use. I don’t really know how to use graphic design so I give it to someone else who can formulate it into a design. 

TC: I saw that you will be having a concert at The Fruit. What inspired this transition from clothing to entertainment? What does it mean for the future of your brand?

DF: [On the point] that it has to stand out and have an identity, I was talking to Lil Yachty one day about what is something interesting to do that also ties well to the brand. So, we decided on doing this concert. I’d love to be able to keep doing that and see what happens.

TC: What advice do you have for people interested in getting into entrepreneurship?

DF: You just have to take the risk. It doesn’t matter how young you are, you just have to do it. If you believe in it, it’ll work. Everything always works out if you believe in it and you put enough hard work into it. 

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