Peer Portraits: Tim and Johnny, Cult
Tim and Johnny are the two man team behind Cult. What began over three years ago with Tim making t-shirts in his apartment is now a thoughtfully curated multi-brand boutique in Chicago. When Tim was ready to take the next step into physical retail, he convinced his longtime friend Johnny to move to Chicago and together they launched the store earlier this year. We caught up with them both a few weeks after retail reopened in the city.
We’d love to know more about your background, upbringing and the road that brought you to where you are now, personally and professionally.
Tim - I moved around a lot as a kid. Born in Kansas City, then Texas, then Florida. I never lived anywhere that people actually cared much about fashion or the way they looked in general so I was always a little bit of an outsider in that sense. I moved to Chicago about 4 years ago and found it to be grossly underserved from a fashion standpoint so I decided to open my own shop to help bring brands to the city that deserve to be here.
Can you tell us about the name of the shop?
Tim - I absolutely LOVE the name of the shop. I’m sure I’m a little biased but I’ve only grown closer to it as this project has evolved. To me, cults only exist because a like-minded group of people got together, had a good time and decided to do it again. It’s caught this “dirty word” feel because of some of the scary stuff out there but if you use my definition everyone is already in a cult. You like a certain kind of music - you’re in a cult. Belong to a book club? - Cult. Have a favorite sports team? - Cult. Ours tries to ditch all the annoying parts of fashion. No barriers to entry, no noses in the air when you aren’t wearing the “right” stuff, no RSVP required. Just a couple dudes who are into clothes and would be happy to have you join the conversation.
What is something you believe everyone should experience in their life?
Johnny - I believe everyone needs a bit of hardship/challenge - it builds character, puts you to the test, and really exposes who you are at your core to yourself and to the ones that are close to you.
Tim - Coming from a place as shitty as the South, traveling has really opened my eyes. Experiencing other places has really helped me evolve my personal style and my sense of the world. It’s so easy to get boxed in here, fall into being too comfortable. Getting outta town and a little uncomfortable for a while can do your soul a lot of good.
What was your favorite moment today and do you have any favourite grounding rituals?
Johnny - My favorite moment of today so far would have to be the chaos that is with me every morning in my routine. I always budget enough time to workout, make some food, shower, skincare, & pack lunch but somehow I always manage to run just slightly behind yet still make it to work on time.
Tim - My favorite moment of the day (other than waking up next to the love of my life) was my phone call with my lawyer. I know that sounds super weird but I’m so lucky to be able to work with all my best friends. We talked about serious stuff for all of 3 minutes then got to catch up about all the important life stuff, it was awesome. Miss you, Abe.
Weird enough my favorite grounding ritual is mopping the floor at the shop every morning. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to have seen my dream come true and it helps me remember that there’s no such thing as an off day if you really love what you do.
Work from home essentials? How are you coping with this new reality?
Johnny - Work from home essentials certainly include my sketch book, iPad/ pencil, and noise cancelling headphones (Beats). As far as readjusting to what life is at the moment I’m really grateful to be able to continue working and to have a place to be at everyday. I need some kind of structure in my day to day.
Tim - As of mid-July we’re back in the shop full time which has been great. It’s crazy how much I missed working every day. My work from home essential has to be my French Press, though. I love making coffee in the morning.
Any advice you can give to people just starting out in their fashion career (in and out of the current context of the virus).
Johnny - Take your time and make sure things are the way that YOU want them. Don't be afraid to take risks and make moves. You can learn something from everyone.
Tim - Don’t get ahead of yourself. Start as small as you can. Everyone will hype you up but someone saying “Oh, that’s so sick!” is way different than someone actually buying it. Make the absolute minimum amount of your products when you’re starting out. That way you don’t have boxes of clothes sitting around your apartment for months and if/when it sells out you can hang it over the sleepers head. That, and never make anything you wouldn’t wear every day. You’ll always be your own best salesperson.