It’s not every day that you meet people from interesting backgrounds, further still, members of society that truly inspire you. However, it was by chance that I met Jay Kloss, Sales Director of The Bowery Collective, who despite heading a successful marketing and communications firm, quite literally started from the bottom. But its what he did in the interim that defined his career.
ICON: Can you briefly tell us what you do for a living?
Jay Kloss: “I own and [run] a couple of businesses which keeps me pretty busy. My main focus is a media agency, The Bowery Collective. We focus on creative design and production for commercial/retail real estate assets… In layman terms, we create content for marketing agents and their clients. [We] market skyscrapers, shopping centres and other retail assets. We produce videos, brochures, websites and ads for them before they go to sale.
Secondly, I’m involved in a business called Dough. Dough is a high-end sneaker reselling website. Again in English, we sell shoes & sneakers that are rare, exclusive and limited edition.”
ICON: You’re just 28, what’s your background and what were you doing in your early 20’s?
JK: “I grew up in Coburg. I didn’t finish high school. I thought I knew it all. Guess what – I didn’t…and found myself wondering what I was going to do with my life. My main concern, really, was what I was going to do for money.
When [I was] 19…I got a factory job and worked my arse off for well below minimum wage. I quickly realised that hard work doesn’t always mean you’re going to get ahead but I didn’t really have any other options. I worked six days a week and went to as many interviews as I could possibly get – inclusive of jobs I have no experiences or qualifications in. Finally, after eight interviews I landed myself a job at Carsales.com.au. This is where I spent a year in the call centre until I talked my way into a digital sales role. Involved in this role was selling digital banner ads. I did that for four years until I moved on to MSN.com.au. I spent a year there before I was made redundant. I spent six months trying to get a job [and] ended up working at a small video production company. From there, I realised that working for other people was never going to take me to where I wanted to go… I left and put every cent I had into The Bowery Collective and worked from my kitchen and here I am four years later.”
ICON: What’s the biggest lesson you have learned from that experience?
JK: “Hard work is the only answer… I guess never take life too seriously… Don’t get me wrong, I understand that this a major cliche and a lot harder said then done. If you work your fucking ass off and you work harder then anyone else, you’re more likely to get ahead… Nothings “just going to happen for you”. If you put the time in and work your ass off only then it MAY happen.
If you’re up working while everyone else is sleeping you will get ahead. While everyone else is posting their skinny tea and their teeth whitening you’re going to be ahead. Your teeth just won’t be as white. You can’t do something solely for the money… I went into it for the opportunity… Opportunities lead to money.”
ICON: What did you learn about friendships & relationships when growing up. How did it make you, who you are today?
JK: “Lots. Maybe more than I wish I’d learnt. I feel like I’ve seen the best and the worst in people all very quickly – and maybe at too much of a young age. It’s easy to hang around a winner – it’s hard to be there for a loser. I think that too many people hang around during the good times and go missing when things ‘go wrong’. I mean, that’s part of growing up, that’s part of the real world. I went from a 17-18 year old with 200 friends to a 20 something old with 3-4 super close mates and a few I shake hands with and say hi to… I learnt that loyalty is a hard quality to find and it’s even hard to find people who like you at your best and at your worst.”
ICON: You work in the digital industry. What do you think of social medias and the effect on the new generations?
JK: “To be honest, I feel as though social media has lost its way – it’s taken a higher level of importance over general socialising behaviours.”
“I have a love/hate relationship with social media these days. As much as it’s enabled me to create relationships with people I maybe never would have otherwise. I feel social media has taken priority over general communication values. But then again in saying that maybe, it’s also taught us the true value of communication… I just feel like we are taking it a bit too far. I definitely draw a lot of my inspiration from Instagram. Although, everyone is just trying to reenact something that someone [has] already done. For example, 10 years ago, no one was going to Positano. Now, I see people in Positano at least 10 times a day… I like people who do their own thing and are on their own way.”
ICON: What’s next for you? Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
JK: “It sounds narrow minded to say this [but] I don’t really have long term goals. It’s never really been in my vision to look past 6 to 12 months. I guess five years is too far in advance for me.
“In the next 12 months I’ve got some plans on relocating, ideas for new businesses and to build on existing ones. My most immediate plan would be to open a retail store for my sneaker business, Dough. Ideally, the first store would be here, in Melbourne. After that, opening a second store by mid-next year will hopefully fall in place after that.
Other than that…I want to go and ‘experience new things travel the world and enjoy myself’ (I read that on a poster behind the cubical door at the airport). It’s definitely on my to-do list to just get out there and experience things. I just got back from the World Cup in Russia. Lets just say that was an experience. Things like that are the opportunities I wish to experience more of. That is what I would rather spend my money on.”
You can follow ICON’s Street Editor, Roberto Malizia on instagram @this.is.malice