The clothes we wear speak volumes about us as individuals. While a well-cut suit can give off an impression of authority and ambition, a pair of jeans and a loose shirt can hint at a casual, easy-going lifestyle. Fitness and sportswear usually suggest a disciplined, focused, and unwavering commitment to physical prowess and athletic endeavor.
Household brands such as Nike and Adidas have long been associated with overcoming obstacles and achieving goals. Fitness brand Young LA has taken this notion forward and raised the bar. The founders, brothers Gurmer and Robby Chopra, took time out of their busy schedule to give us the lowdown on Young LA’s growth into a leading brand and their journey thus far.
Q: First off, Robby, I’d like to ask you how a business that began selling bodybuilding shorts on eBay and Amazon grew into a runaway success, with a massive team and 25 professional athlete endorsements?
A: Sure. It’s simple, really, and it’s a winning formula called hard-work and integrity. Early on, Gurmer and I identified a need for good quality but affordable fitness apparel. We both came from a business background. It seemed a natural transition for us to go from selling on other sites to founding our lifestyle clothing range for men in the fitness world. We started small, without any loans, and just kept reinvesting all our profits. We shipped everything ourselves. The ethos was to keep our customers beyond satisfied by giving them the very best.
Q: Well, it’s worked! Gurmer, like all good clothing brands, there’s now a unique culture and buzz surrounding Young LA. How much of that is in part to the athletes who wear your products?
A: They’ve played a considerable part. A big turning point in our brand came when Jerdani Kraja came on board. He was our first big name, and through him, we reached a whole new audience. When athletes like that showcase and promote your clothes, it is priceless in terms of marketing because of the positive associations it entails for your brand. When we first started, it was all trial and error to find the right people to model our clothes. Still, not long after we created our Instagram page, a guy named Alex Tarasov contacted us out of the blue and asked if he could model our clothes and be featured on our page. We said, ‘sure,’ and to this day, we still send him clothes, and he’s a familiar face to all our customers. It just goes to show opportunities can come in the most unlikely guises.
Q: Robby, Young LA prides itself upon fulfilling all orders the same day or at least within 24 hours. I suppose this can be quite challenging at times?
A: It can be, especially in the early days, but it’s all part of Young LA’s commitment to our customers. How can we justify working in the fitness industry if we’re not on the ball and exceptionally organized ourselves? In the beginning, it was just Gurmer and me working from home, but in 2015 we moved into our first 1,000 square foot warehouse. Last year we moved into a 10,000 square foot warehouse, and in 2021 we’re preparing to go even bigger yet again. The lesson here is hard work pays off every single time.
Q: So Gurmer, business is booming, you’ve coped admirably during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the future looks bright for Young LA. Any words of advice for any would-be entrepreneurs out there?
A: Everyone’s path is different, but I believe building a successful business is no different from physical exercise and training. You only get out what you put in. If you want to develop muscles or improve your sporting skills, you’ve got to be prepared to put in the hard yards and push yourself to the limit. The same rules apply to business. It won’t happen overnight, and it won’t come easy. Yes, they’ll be setbacks, yes, they’ll be times when you have to pick yourself up off the floor and carry on when it all seems hopeless. It will involve considerable sacrifice, but if you stick to the plan and stay true to yourself, the pay-off is well worth it.