Steadfast Brand: Q & A
Aurora Ansara , one of the creative geniuses behind Steadfast Brand, chats with Inked Magazine about the birth of Steadfast, the artists that are a part of the ever-growing brand, her own ink and even her random meeting with rapper Ice-T.
Inked: Steadfast Brand started as a few close friends. Tell us a little about the brand, how you got started and how you chose your name.
Ansara: The owner, Chris Collins, and I had known each other for a while through mutual friends in the tattoo industry. We eventually began our first bit of work together, splitting booths at conventions in Florida. When I was nearing graduation for my second degree, I completed a business plan for one of his endeavors as my Senior Project. He called me up a few weeks after it was done and started discussing this idea that he had for a new business, as well as what he was going to need as far as employees. The longer the conversation went on it became clear we would make a good team.
Choosing our name was one of the most difficult parts of the process, but after a conversation Chris had with longtime friend Joey Desormeaux, it all came together. Chris was venting about the difficulty we were facing getting everything in motion and Joey said we just had to remain steadfast. Chris recalls smiling at that moment, knowing we’d found our name. After six months of industry research and initial design work, we officially launched in January 2007.
Inked: Webster defines Steadfast as “firmly fixed in place, immovable. firm in belief, determination or adherence” – do you think you represent this as a company?
Ansara: Absolutely! Our timing was a little less than golden—with the recession in full swing by 2009. Our determination and drive combined with amazing support from our colleagues, fans, and friends has and will always be what keeps us going.
Inked: You use a wide array of artists, how do you choose them?
Ansara: As I mentioned before, we’d been part of the industry prior to launching Steadfast Brand. The artists we were working with in the beginning were friends and colleagues Chris had met from owning a shop and working the convention circuit. Jime Litwalk, Danny Knight, and Gunnar Gaylord where some of the first artists onboard to help form the brand. Since then, our family of artists has grown exponentially.
We don’t have a set selection process. It still happens pretty much the way it did in the beginning. There is an introduction or an interest in the style of art a particular artist is working on. If we can all get on the same page and put something together—we do!
Inked: You sell everything from Dog Leashes to T-Shirts… How do you decide which canvas is best for a particular piece of artwork?
Ansara: Some pieces in our collection are naturally universal. We take time with each piece before it ever reaches the final product to make sure it does the artist’s piece justice. We’re also continually experimenting with new products and avenues for the brand. Our latest product endeavor is 12”x18” art prints. I have a background in printing and it just made sense that this was our next step. The best thing about expanding into art prints is that we can share art & artists with our fans that they may not have seen before, but that would not have translated well onto a garment.
Inked: A lot of your work is obviously tattoo inspired or inspiring, could you tell us the relationship in your own words between what you sell at Steadfast and the tattoo world?
Ansara: Tattooing is part of our personal lifestyle and an industry we take pride in being a part of long before Steadfast Brand. Steadfast is a reflection of that life we live and people we know. As our industry becomes inevitably more commercial, we have to take the future into our own hands or we will all work for outsiders who have no love or concern for the business at all. Chris put it best, “Diversify or be left behind.”
Inked: Do you design anything for the store? Tell me a little about it. Tell me about your own ink.
Ansara: Every design that we’ve ever made has to come through me first. I handle the editing and final production of each item. I’ve designed a few shirts within the line together with Chris as the “Steadfast Brand Design Team” –homage to our origins of being the original team. I have a lot of liberties within design and my thoughts on trends are always heard. I’m also in charge of our graphics, advertising, and web development. My background is in the applied arts: fashion marketing, graphic design, and advertising. So, most of my design work can be showcased best there.
As far my own tattoos go, I started getting work done almost nine years ago. My first tattoo was a set of Day of the Dead skulls on my chest by Nic Montgomery. I really like tattoos that flow with the shape of the body. A good example of that is the mermaid I have on my left side that goes from hip to knee by Jime Litwalk of Massive Tattoo Studio in Las Vegas, NV. I’m currently working on getting my right 1/2 sleeve extended to a 3/4 sleeve by Nick Stegall of RedLetter1 in Tampa, FL. It started as a monkey sitting in a tree and he’s adding more flowers and two finches. I have plans for many more, but I like to space them out over time. I meet so many amazing artists that I wouldn’t want to run out of room!
Inked: Any great stories associated with any purchases made from Steadfast?
Ansara: I’d have to say the first and most memorable sale for me was at the Meadowlands Tattoo Convention in New Jersey sometime after we had just launched as a brand. Ice-T & Coco were there as celebrity guests. The last day of the show, they were walking through with their entourage. Ice-T walked past the booth while I was standing in it, stops his entire group two steps ahead of our booth, turns around, points, and tells me, “I have to have the shirt.” He was pointing at our X-Ray pistol shirt, one of our best sellers at the time. It felt great to be making something that someone who was getting thrown freebies actually wanted to buy!
To see more Steadfast Brand clothing and accessories go to the InkedMag Shop at www.InkedShop.com!