How did it start?
There is nothing conventional about this story. It doesn’t really start at the start, and it really doesn’t end at the end.
In fact, the truth be told, it would be better to say it starts at the end. Well… at least the end of the recession.
We need to go back a little bit further, before we really get started… all the way back to Turkmenistan.
I was born in Turkmenistan and for 18 years I grew up in that crazy amazing country. My father and mother were both very hard working people. At school I was the sporty type. I was tall and athletic – so I ran (100m), did the high jump and I even played Basketball for my country. I also liked swimming and when I wasn’t competing or studying, I read a lot of books and had a hobby of photography, as well as made my own clothes. Even tried myself at music school – 3 years learning piano. Fast forward twenty or so years, and there was a time when I faced the very real chance I’d never be able to leave, but I’m skipping ahead again.
Keeping with the unconventional theme, it’s probably a good time to mention what this story is all about. Fit Droids is a unique fashion label, and it’s unique because the people I have designed the clothes for are also unique. And because starting just one line was always going to be too easy, I also created a range of fitness accessories like pill boxes and protein shakers too. My protein shakers are really cool too and they’ve already caused quite a storm. I can’t say too much at the moment, but someone important really likes them and hopefully I can tell everyone soon.
Fitness in this country is big business, in fact, the entire industry was valued at just under 4 billion pounds sterling recently. It’s an industry dominated by men. Hidden in this industry I found a weird anomaly, which I discovered almost by accident, and it’s this anomaly which is the crux of my new venture, before I explain though I need to take you back a bit further.
For the last 15 years I have lived an equally charmed and cursed life. Partly due to luck and partly down to hard graft, I ended up as a broker who specialised in uniting super yachts, private islands and private jets with oligarchs who love them. Things were great for me until the recession separated some of my clients from their fortunes.
Still, my life, charmed or cursed, has never been boring. Let’s talk about Turkmenistan. The country of my birth is an impossible place, as bureaucratic as it is beautiful and there are few places on Earth easier on the eyes. So I should have expected trouble when recently I returned there to visit my father.
My dad was well and it was a great visit until I tried to leave. Turkmenistan has seen a lot of changes in recent years and the danger with change is often knowing when to stop. As I made my way to the airport to return back to UK for the next round of travel to trade shows and expos, I was met by the full force of one such change.
They’d changed the immigration rules and my (dateless) passport was suddenly out of date. The problem was they hadn’t quite worked out what happened next, which left me without a way to leave the country or even to get a new passport. I spent days in the daunting post cold war basement of immigration centre, chatting to other lost souls, some of whom hadn’t seen their friends and loved ones for over a year. It was a dark space in my life.
As a broker who had helped the rich and influential. I had no choice but to reach out. Some were kind and helpful, but others turned the other cheek. With my options running low I turned to my closest client and in midst of the darkest winter, I finally had some good news. A client, whom I had helped purchase a sixty two metre super yacht, had a contact who could help me and who was flying into the capital that evening on his own Business Boeing Jet. I was supposed to meet him at the capital’s airport in 10 hours and I was nine hours away in the country, and of course all the flights were full…
Thankfully, my father has always been there for me and that day was no exception, he rallied the neighbourhood and before I could say slow down, 3 hours later I was heading for the capital at 160kmh with a local Michael Schumacher.
We made it in just 5 hours, driving on roads which kill more people every year than snake bites, and my client’s business associate arrived to meet me together with someone who looked like a KGB officer from 70’s Russia. If we set a record getting to the city in 5 hours, I beat it by leaving the country in just under two weeks. Sadly I had to denounce my Turkmenistan nationality which leaves me firmly as a resident of the UK and it’s in the UK where I plan to make my mark in the fashion market.
Fit Droids is a label dedicated to making clothes for dedicated people who work out. I recently started working out seriously and I soon found out my clothes just didn’t fit me anymore and other than buying jeans for men, which had a waist big enough for two of me, there was nothing I could do.
So I got to work and I came up with a plan and I reached out to some fitness model friends of mine and I took their measurements and that’s where the Fit Droid concept came from. I say concept because at that time I didn’t have a name and I wracked my brain trying to come up with the perfect one. Every minute I’d be searching my brain for just the right one and I had tried and given up on thousands when I came up with the Fit Droids.
The Fit part is obvious and the Droids part? Well I have to admit I love robots. I know it’s silly, but robots and cyborgs are cool and I could see the legend Fit Droids on t-shirts and as a logo and that was it, I’d nailed it.
So I registered the name and I started planning the logo… it was going to be futuristic and space age, all silver as aluminium and it was going to be epic.
One day the letter came… CEASE AND DESIST – WITHOUT PREJUDICE – all the way from Hollywood California, from Lucasfilm the company behind Star Wars. I felt beaten and stamped on. I loved my name and I had the perfect logo and suddenly I was being forced to throw it away to protect some multibillion dollar franchise.
I sat on my sofa and I felt like I’d been punched in the chest. I wanted to cry, but I went to the gym instead and I trained hard, and the harder I trained the more I felt the fight rising in me. I wasn’t going to just bow down and back away. I loved my idea and my name and my logo and I didn’t care if Darth Vader himself was going to stand in my way, I was going to use it! So I called my solicitors and we wrote Lucasfilm a letter.
We waited for what seemed like forever, but eventually they replied. I don’t know If they admired our courage, but in the end we reached a compromise and I had my name back.
Which brings us here… I have my concept, I have my designs, I have my name and I have my label. To bring Fit Droids to market I’ve had to fight Cold War Bureaucracy, Hollywood Lawyers and the might of the male dominated fitness world, but finally I’m ready…
Next stop EVERYWHERE!