Don’t let your inner child die.”
22 year old Annie Van Horn is the owner and childhood restore at Blvucci (pronounced blue-chee), a clothing brand. Cozy Kids x Blvucci is your modern day childhood thrift shop, where vintage surf and skate culture meet nostalgia.
Cozy Kids x Blvucci believe the 90’s and early 2000’s is the greatest fashion era of all time, and they are bringing it back for those of us who enjoy it. They’re inspired by the colors, graphics, aesthetics, and everything we enjoyed as kids.
Blvucci is a mindset that was created to remind you to keep a childlike imagination and believe in yourself like you did when you were 5.
We at For The Punks are excited to have Blvucci as our August 2020 business of the month. Continue reading to read the interview that I had with owner Annie Van Horn!
Tell us about Cozy Kids and BLVUCCI and what inspired you to start the brand. What’s the story behind the brand & the name?
I was raised by a single mother that worked day and night to provide for my little brother and myself, and supported every crazy idea I had full force. I got my first job at 15 and went straight to ebay to buy clothes, I grew up on thrifted fashion. I always admired high fashion brands I could only ever dream of affording one day, and it broke my heart seeing the racist scandals/garments they released. I wanted a brand that incorporated thrift, colors, and nostalgia owned by someone who looked like me, so I brought it into the world. I started this brand for 3 reasons, to repay my mom for everything she’s ever done, to give my family the life we never had, and to awaken the childhoods of an entire generation. The story behind the brand is simple, the 90’s was arguably the best fashion era of all time, and the days of our childhoods were unmatched. When the only stress you had was deciding what cartoon and cereal combo you would pair together on Saturday morning. When you played with everyone on the playground regardless of what they looked like or how much money their parents made. Everything you looked at was a mystery and your imagination would run wild, you could be anything and do anything. You believed in everything, most importantly yourself. It’s not until we get older that society shuts this down, we trade in the crayons for pens, recess for standardized testing. No more field trips, no more field day. Who said we had to grow up? Age is just a number, and nobody is too old to be a Cozy Kid. You have to keep your inner child alive, when you see a pile of leaves, you better jump straight into it, not walk around it. The meaning behind the name Blvucci (blue-chee) is Black Vintage Luxury. The “ucci” is purely for aesthetic reasons, I like the way it looks and the way it rolls off the tongue!
What does this business mean to you? What do you want it to mean for others?
In the least cliche way possible, this brand means everything to me. Anybody can throw a logo on a shirt and sell it, but not many people can create a garment that evokes a feeling when you put it on. Blvucci is the story of our childhoods that we wear everyday, it’s your modern day childhood thrift shop. If we all had debit cards when we were 6 haha. Regarding what I want the brand to mean to others, I like to think of it as I give people the dry ingredients, and they can bake it into anything and everything they want it to be. For example, some people have told me they were scared, or literally not allowed to wear bright colors that truly expressed who they were, and now they finally can. Some have simply said it helps them remember and embrace the good ol’ days. Regardless of what it is, I want people to feel something when they wear Blvucci, every single time. Garments that will last forever, with our memories that will last a lifetime.
So the brand is inspired by the 80s/90s and takes people back to their childhood- which I absolutely love. Every single time I see one of your items, I feel like I’m transported back. Tell us about some of your childhood favorites, whether it was a show, movie, store, food, toy, etc.
My favorite childhood memories were the parachute days in gym class, and playing kickball at recess. It can make any kids heart swell when you’re up next to kick and you hear “Back up, she kicks far!” I also spent a ton of time on Club Penguin and Webkinz. When I was old enough to realize the Tooth Fairy would drop a bag every time I lost a tooth and I could buy a toy, I had almost all of them ripped out of my face by the time I was 9! Believe it or not, my favorite food was spinach, I was obsessed with the Land Before Time and felt like I was eating Tree Stars! Every mother’s dream come true. Rugrats was my absolute favorite though, respectfully.
What’s your favorite childhood memory?
My favorite childhood memory was helping my mom change my little brother’s diaper one day and he started peeing on me, I was traumatized. From that day on whenever it was time to change him I would throw the diaper towards her then run to the other side of the house!
Since the brand focuses on the 90s/early 200s, what thoughts do you have about the newer television shows, toys, foods, etc., for children?
On one hand, I think the new television shows are completely terrible. I’ve never been able to sit and completely watch one. On the other hand, it kinda breaks my heart that kids growing up now will never get to experience the same quality of shows that we did. It seems technology has taken over, and instead of parents buying Bandaids for Razor Scooter wounds, they’re buying Silicone cases for iPads. As far as food goes, kids now will never experience Yogos, Dunkaroos, or those little Strawberry candies that no one ever bought but they were always at your grandmas house.
Along with that, do you think it’s important for kids now to have a brand like this to experience and/or learn about the 80s/90s/early 2000s? Why?
I think it’s essential for kids now to experience the past through a brand like this just to know the history, even if they weren’t here to live it. They’re growing up faster than ever and not being able to stay kids for as long as possible. When we were 12, we were still wearing the Chapstick that smells like candy, editing our Facebook photos on Picnik, and thirsting for the Motorola Razor flip phone. Kids now are going straight to makeup, Photoshop and FaceTune, and getting the latest iPhone. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with it, I just wish they were able to enjoy their full childhoods before they’re thrown out into the real world.
Tell us about your newly launched summer collection. What was the process like for creating new items? Were you inspired by anything in particular? What’s one of your favorite item and/or outfit combination?The process for creating the Summer ‘20 collection has been in the works since February, and as with every collection, the process was difficult, but in the best way possible. The designs aren’t quickly drawn up and sent into production, each piece pulls inspiration from something, and for our cut and sew items each color is specifically chosen, or custom dyed if it’s not available. I’ve had people requesting crop tops for a while, and just like the 90’s I wanted to bring back and normalize dudes wearing crop tops, so they were designed with bolder colorways in mind. The Skating Rink Jacket, Birthday Confetti Jacket, along with their corresponding shorts are by far my favorite pieces. The nights at the roller rink shaped our childhoods and being able to recreate that into a physical form is a dream come true! It took several times to get the quality and feel just right to get the polyester fabric and length for the shorts just right! They can be worn playing a game of ball, just chilling, or even swimming! They also have a classic above the knee fit. The Party Bucket Hat takes a close second, it took 14 hours to personally hand dye all of them in my front yard, and I had a blast doing it. I actually don’t have a favorite outfit combination, whenever I’m packing orders I see people get combinations I would have never thought to pair together!
You just announced your texting service and you have been doing a ton of giveaways! What does it mean to you to have this connection with customers/supporters?
Being able to connect with the Blvucci Family on such a personal level is amazing. Our social media, emails, and ads are flooded with companies fighting for our attention, and more importantly our dollars. Our texts are the closest things to us on our phones, and having people trust me to let me in is awesome. I don’t use it for marketing, I send out inspirational messages just to let people know they should be proud of themselves and do whatever it is that sets their soul on fire. Even though it’s a mass text, I want them to know they’re addressed individually, and there’s even a feature for me to respond back! They send GIFs and memes too sometimes and it makes my whole day. The connection is everything, I’m making them a part of my journey, and I want to be a part of theirs. There’s hundreds that have our post notifications on for Twitter, and I actually sent out a tweet the other day stating that no matter how big or successful the brand gets, I don’t ever want to lose that personal touch with them. They know my name, I know a lot of theirs, I know my biggest repeat customers, I know my biggest supporters on Twitter, and I get DMs from international customers asking if I ship to their country. Once I reply “yes, we ship worldwide!” I’ll get an order from Japan, or Australia, or some other cool place I’ll have to visit one day, and that feeling is indescribable.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in starting their own brand/business?
To anyone starting their own business, the market is saturated. Laser focus on who you want your target customer to be and cater to them, but don’t lose yourself in the process. Don’t get caught up in the vanity metrics, I remember not too long ago there was an influencer with 2 million followers that couldn’t sell 20 tshirts of merch and it made the news. Likes and followers don’t equate to sales. You only need 10,000 people to spend $100 and you’ve made a million. Take care of them and everything will fall into place. Work hard and never compare your day 1 to someone’s day 1,000. There’s someone out there waiting for whatever it is you put out into the world.
What plans/goals do you have for the rest of the year? Next year?
We originally had a fashion show and another popup in Atlanta planned, as well as actually transforming a party bus into an icecream truck/mobile Blvucci popup and traveling the country selling icecream and exclusive garments. With Covid-19 all of these events were canceled as safety comes first. The plan for the rest of the year now, is to just focus on gradual growth and deepening the connection with the Blvucci Family. June had a huge surge in business that I’ve never seen before, and was the best month to date in the 5 years of Blvucci. I’m studying my new analytics to properly increase order quantities to meet demand, and brainstorming new extras. Right now I’m in the process of creating Blvucci scratch-off lottery tickets, where people can win discount codes, gift cards, and free clothing. Next year, it’s always been a dream of mine to eventually transform into a high fashion brand, but I will always remember where I came from. I plan to release a full capsule of $15 tees, $30 hoodies, stickers keychains, socks, toys, etc. for the kids like me whose pockets don’t run deep. Virus permitting, I’d love to host more pop up shops where people can listen to music, have gaming tournaments with Mario Kart, Rockband, 90’s R&B karaoke, eat some childhood snacks, chill, and shop the collection. I’d even love to have a backdrop and a photographer so people can get professional photos repping their new gear. I like to transform a space to make people have an escape from reality and just go back.
Along with this, what is the long-term goal for the brand?
The long term goal for the brand is to expand outside of clothing. One day I’d like to create a power sports line focusing on bringing back retro jet skis, drive in movie theaters, a tv series featuring a Blvucci adult summer camps with kickball competitions and other childhood games, jewelry, retro diners, creating cereal and sour candy, adult skating rinks, and even creating an affordable amusement park that’s bigger than Disney. These are just a few things on the checklist, but with the support, I know it’ll be able to become a reality one day!
Is there anything else about you and/or Cozy Kids x BLVUCCI that you would like to share?
To whoever is reading this right now, don’t give up on whatever dream it is that you have inside of you. Don’t let your inner child die, they know exactly what it is that you want, you just have to take the time to listen. Keep going until you have everything you desire in this lifetime and don’t let up. You wouldn’t be reading this if I had given up. Stay Young, Stay Childish, Stay Blvucci. Oh yeah, and we offer plus sizes at no additional cost! It’s just a little extra fabric, no big deal. 🙂