Community, inspiration, creation: Tyler Jordan’s High Note Collective

Olivia Blumenshine | Contributing Writer

Washington University senior Tyler Jordan has always been passionate about developing something that can serve as a source of community and artistic inspiration. Jordan’s aim is to build an international business fueled by creation, and as founder and CEO of High Note Collective (HNC), he is doing just that. HNC is a fashion marketplace for music-inspired apparel, pairing music-inspired clothing and artist merchandise.

Music-inspired fashion, as defined by Jordan, is “stuff that you would wear to concerts, music festivals, music-inspired events [or] parties. Just anything that involves music and community.”

An off-shoot of the HNC is the High Note FAME Program, which allows artists to design their own clothing. Artists and independent creators are able to design and produce their own merchandise and advertise their products on a platform which reaches over 30 countries, at absolutely no cost to the artist.

Courtesy of High Note Collective

Student Life:

So how does that work? How are you able to support artists without any cost to them?

Tyler Jordan:

We have the ability to do it on an on-demand basis so that the artist doesn’t have to go to the print shop, buy a bunch of shirts and have to sell them the old-fashioned way. So it’s great. It’s one of those things, artist merchandise, that has become one of the biggest revenue sources for artists, too…It’s really cool to provide artists that don’t have the initial capital or don’t want to take the risk with those opportunities to create something great.

SL:

Would you say that this is one of the reasons why you started HNC? Is this one of the things that inspired you?

TJ:

Yes, I think it’s really closely aligned with my values and the reasons I love music in the first place. I’ve always loved how music has been able to cross different boundaries, and more importantly how it’s been able to bring people together, to become inspired to create things that are bigger than themselves. HNC, I feel like, is able to do the same thing in creating opportunities for people that have a message, people that want to voice an opinion, a passion beyond just the confines of their bedroom, to expand their reach, create something great, something for other people to wear and share and be inspired by.

SL:

How long had you been thinking of creating your own business?

TJ:

I’ve definitely had an entrepreneurial spirit since I was a little kid. And I’ve always loved the idea of creating something bigger than myself. As a kid, I loved socks, so I actually created this sock company in seventh grade. I showed up in a little suit outside the factory doors of a Nike distributor in L.A. with these totally amateur sock sketches in one of my dad’s old briefcases and they looked at me like, “Okay, kid what are you doing here?” And I said something like, “I want a meeting!” They were really nice. They sent me home with this high-tech drawing paper and super complex instructions. And I’m sure they thought they would never see me again, but fast forward, I was able to create custom sports socks for my middle school and other high schools in the area.

SL:

I really like your tagline for the FAME Program: “Eliminating creation boundaries worldwide.” Can you say a little more about what that looks like to you?

TJ:

Well it goes back to the upfront costs of having to pay for merchandise before you sell it. That’s a boundary that people just can’t get over. It’s a huge risk. So I think that if you’re able to kind of eliminate that, you’re able to open a door for a lot of people that didn’t even know that door was there. So, we’ve started a pilot program with Wash. U. artists, and there are a lot more here and around the area that we hope to open it up to, and from there we hope to just expand.

SL:

What do you see for the future of HNC?

TJ:

I hope it continues to grow and create a larger footprint on not just Wash. U., but also beyond. And the more we grow, the more we’re able to come up with new ideas and platforms to give other people opportunities. That’s what I love doing. I love creating opportunities for other people, doing exactly that. The artists I meet have the capacity to change lives. But that said, there are some artists who have the power to change lives who don’t necessarily have the resources to do so. And so hopefully my work at High Note Collective can help bridge the gap between people and the artists who inspire them. That would be great.

SL:

What would you say has been the most challenging piece of creating HNC?

TJ:

Probably the amount of time it requires and the discipline. Knowing that because I’m doing this, I’m not necessarily going to be able to be with my friends as much or spend my internship money the way I did before because I must invest in and maintain the business. Definitely a paradigm shift. Another tough part, it’s not necessarily the hardest part, but I’m dealing with a lot of different people that live in different time zones, so talking to the agency guys in London or factories in China. I’m getting up at all hours of the day just to make sure that things are running smoothly and people are doing what they’re supposed to be doing.

SL:

Have you been successful at managing all that? It sounds like you have.

TJ:

Yeah, so far. It’s funny, y’know, we’ll just joke because I’ll be waking up and FaceTiming [someone] in my pajamas and he’ll be in his nice night attire right outside the club in Hong Kong at 11:00 at night. So, it’s funny, it’s kinda cool how technology has been able to bring people together and make this world smaller.

SL:

Is there anything that you would say has been the most fun or the most rewarding about starting your own company?

TJ:

Waking up to sales is very cool! Knowing that someone appreciates something you’ve made is an awesome feeling. I also definitely Iike seeing the excitement on artists’ faces when they hear that they’re able to do the FAME Program and create their own merch. But I think the most rewarding part has been just creating something bigger than myself, and something that will hopefully give a lot of people the opportunity to create something bigger than themselves.

If you’re interested in learning more about getting involved with FAME and High Note Collective, make sure to check out highnotecollective.com/fame.

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