08:53 - 10th July 2015, by NEO Staff

Genki Gear Q&A

NEO interviewed Lydia English of Genki Gear to find out more about the company’s decade in the design business!

NEO: You’re reaching ten years in business this year – how does that feel?
Lydia English:
We both feel really happy and amazed to have reached our tenth year, especially as the time seems to have passed so fast for us. It is fantastic how much support we have had over the years from our customers, other traders, family, friends, and also from events and media. Without that support, running Genki Gear would be much less fun. It has also inspired us to look at what we can do with the next ten years, and we are really excited by that.

NEO: What did you do before you started Genki Gear?
Phil worked as a colour separation artist in the home furnishing industries getting designs ready to print, and he has always been a keen artist in his spare time, whilst I worked in a variety of management roles in retail and across the call centre industries.

NEO: Why did you decide to start this business?
We had always talked about doing something together and had mulled over a few ideas for a while. I particularly felt that Phil should be using his artistic talents and whilst I can’t say that we had a single eureka moment, it was more that the idea slowly developed. It started with a conversation we had at a memorabilia show about 15 years ago about how hard it was to get really good women’s T-shirts at that time: T-shirts that fit and were quirky, but that I would not have to explain to everyone I worked with. It took a few months and a lot of ongoing chats with friends who encouraged us, but we eventually decided to take the plunge and do our own range of T-shirts. Having come from a background of attending comic shows, gaming and watching anime, using those influences and attending related shows just seemed the natural thing to do.

NEO: How did you decide on your name? What special meaning does it have?
We tried out a lot of names and had loads of ideas! For a while we were going to be called “Too Much Sushi” because we used to joke that you can never have too much sushi.
We chose Genki Gear because genki has a lovely meaning in Japanese, and we like the idea of us and our T-shirts being full of spirit and wellbeing, while being aware this may not be its most exact translation, of course!

NEO: What’s been your most popular design?
Our most popular design is Attack Kittens: it seems to have struck a chord with so many people, and I think it’s simple but really effective. Second to that would be the Evil Fluffy Bitey thing: one of my own personal favourites as well.

NEO: What’s your proudest achievement with Genki Gear so far?
That is a really hard question to answer! We were both really happy on the day that we got to give up our day jobs and work for Genki Gear full time. That would probably be followed by being asked to collaborate with the MCM group to produce their official London Comic Con T-shirts. Finally we have to mention winning the NEO Retailer of the Year Award, as we are very proud to have so many people voting for us!

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