Recently I caught up with Gabriel Medina, AKA Cisco, founder and designer of the underwear brand Yocisco. (http://YOCISCO.com) Yocisco underwear is both fashionable and functional. They are functional, because they are incredibly soft, breathable, odor absorbing and moisture wicking due to the bamboo fabric construction. This makes them perfect for everyday use from the office to the gym and everywhere in between. Also, they are fashionable since the designer uses bamboo in multiple colors and prints as well as multiple different styles and cuts. There is literally something for everyone. They are underwear you can be proud to be seen in. Lastly, Yocisco products are sustainable in a world where fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world. You can feel good about wearing a quality product that will last but also is made from a remarkably eco-friendly source.
As a special discount for Fashionable Entrepreneur readers, use promo code: FASHION for 25% off an order.
Where were you born and raised, what was childhood like, and what did you want to become when you grew up?
I was born and raised in Denver, Colorado. I grew up in a middle-class Mexican/Italian family so there was always great food, tradition, and a strong family bond. I am the youngest of four boys who are 12-15 years older than me, so I grew up very much like an only child. My parents were always very supportive of me and dedicated to my success. I guess I always wanted to be a soap opera actor. As a child, I was always dancing around to the latest pop music and putting on shows for my family, so it made sense that I wanted to be a performer.
What did your parents do for a living, and was there any entrepreneurship in the family?
My dad worked for the government and my mom worked in education. My parents were not entrepreneurial, but many members of my family are, which influenced me deeply. My uncle owned a construction company and my brothers own a marketing and advertising agency.
What does fashion mean to you?
I think many times the word “fashion” is misleading. “Apparel” is something everyone on the planet wears in one form or another. Fashion is not only a way of expressing yourself but it’s also a commentary on life, current events and ultimately the state of our society. Fashion is something we live our lives in and therefore is important to every person on the planet.
Describe your personal style.
My personal style is somewhat conservative. I am in business attire most of the time- slacks, blazers, button-ups. I think many times, personally, I get stuck in the same styles and don’t often take fashion risks. The risks I take are more in designing versus what I wear personally.
Who is your favorite designer? Why?
My favorite designer is Tom Ford. I draw many parallels to our lives. We grew up similarly as we both have roots in the American Southwest, born to a middle-class family and attended private schools. He is multi-talented not only as a designer but also a screenwriter, film director, and producer. I love how he worked his way through the industry and took risks, wasn’t afraid to humble himself and did what he had to do to climb the ranks at Chloe, Gucci, and Yves Saint Laurent. Tom Ford is not afraid to make a statement and be political. I feel when you are in a position of power, it becomes a responsibility to speak out. Lastly, I love how he has stayed sexy as he ages which is something I am aiming to do as I just turned 40 last year.
How did you get involved with entrepreneurship?
I have always been involved with entrepreneurship since I was young and watching my family pursue their businesses. I initially became an entrepreneur myself when I entered the mortgage industry in 2002. I worked as a mortgage broker until 2008 when the economy collapsed. I got a taste of what it was like to have your own business and after that, I was hooked.
What do you like most and least about being an entrepreneur?
I love the idea that the sky is the limit and you are only held back by your own limits, not a corporate structure that keeps you in line. It’s truly the American dream to own and operate your own business and be successful. No constraints. What I don’t like about being an entrepreneur, however, is the fact that many times you are a one-man band. Until you have at least 5-10 employees, you pretty much are doing everything yourself.
Talk about your business. What exactly do you do? What is a typical day like?
As the founder and designer of the company, I’m involved in every aspect of the business. I design and conceptualize all the collections, I have a hand in most of the graphic design work. Budgeting, strategizing, and building strategic relationships. I am also heavily involved and hands-on with our social media strategy. It gives me a direct channel and connection to our customers which I cherish. There really is no typical day for me. Some days are spent in strategy meetings, some are spent designing. As a business owner, you take on a lot which always keeps my days interesting. I said all that to say no day is typical.
Where did you learn about fashion? Did you go to school for fashion?
I’ve always had an interest in fashion but growing up in Colorado, fashion was not a major industry here. My degree is in Business. Many years after graduating college, I enrolled in fashion design school at the Art Institute of Colorado where I learned about design, color, sketching, sewing and merchandising. This allowed me to hone my innate skills as a creative and give them context and structure.
What is your favorite book right now and why?
I am not reading any books currently. Mostly I am either reading trend reports or political articles online- anything from WGSN to CNN.
Do you have any hobbies? What are they?
I love to work out. I am at the gym at least 4-5 times a week. It also keeps me healthy and invigorates my mood. I also love to cook which comes from my ethnic roots. One my favorite things to do come home from work, make a stiff drink and cook a beautiful meal for my family.
What’s one thing you’re passionate about?
I’d say I am passionate about being in love. I met my fiancé in Tucson around the time I was launching the line. It was a very challenging time in my life and I was heavily practicing the “law of attraction.” The way we met was so random since neither of us lived in Arizona. It took me 35 years to find him and since then, my life has literally been transformed. I guess you could say I attracted love to me by being open to it and believing it would happen.
What are your goals for the rest of the year
As the year progresses, we are looking to continue to provide our customers with quality products that are fashionable and functional. We will continue to grow our B2B relationships and have our eye on being more active in the international underwear market. The goal is to continue introducing our products to men from all walks of life.
What is your favorite quote and why?
“By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.”- Franz Kafka
I love this quote because as a designer, you literally create something out of nothing. It comes directly out of your own mind and the best way to make it materialize is to first believe in it with all your being. That is the beginning of the creation process.