January 27, 2023

Michael Cherman was always a con artist. His high school nickname was Mikey Merchandise because he sold t-shirts from his car.

He said, “I was just a kid, that if you sat down next to me and said, ‘I want you to draw a dragon, dip a basketball, on the back of a jacket.’ I’d have it done for you in five minutes and I’d spin my computer around and say, ‘This is what it would look like. In a few weeks you’ll have that piece and it’s done.'”

After high school, he attended the Parson School of Design, but dropped out after a year. He had to figure out a way to make a living or he would have to move back home.

He started working at a shop in SoHo called Good Wood where he learned his chops.

Cherman said, “Every day I was in the basement: embroidering, screen printing, digital printing, etc. You name it and I was just learning how to do it. Just designing the 10,000 hours, making the 10,000 hours and the 10,000 hours just creating.

But that process is so rare in this industry that I think a lot of people just sit in front of a computer all day and just send the orders to China.”

That job led to a job at Nike, where he worked with celebrities and basketball players on influencer marketing.

When the location closed, he bought some of their machines and started the ICNY brand.

The company was born after being hit by a car at night while cycling in New York City. He saw a need for reflective clothing. So he started making reflective socks. That led to an entire company built around reflective clothing.

The company was a success, but eventually he was fired by his investor.

All that hard work went down the tubes.

While others would simply get a job and remain bitter for the rest of their lives, Cherman decided to give it another try. This time he took no investors. He bet on himself.

He said, “I started Market with a credit card. I made five t-shirts and five hats and put them on a credit card. I maxed out the credit card to $20,000 and I rolled the dice. I went to the first ComplexCon and I just remember that first day when we did $15,000, and the next day we did another $15,000.

I remember going back to the hotel room, with my girlfriend, and we were lying on the bed throwing up all this money. It was one of those moments, after all the pain and all the struggle and questioning myself, when I could finally say, ‘I can do this.’”

Market quickly became a sought-after streetwear brand. Known for their signature smiley face logos, their innovative designs and their incredible collaborations with everyone from Crocs to The Beatles, he has managed to stay on top in the incredibly competitive fashion industry.

It stems from a deep passion in him.

Cherman said, “I really, deep down, just want to make T-shirts every day. I want to be creative every day. I’m grateful to do it. And if I can help those around me, and a little inspire, then that is the dream.”

Cherman’s advice for young entrepreneurs?

He said: “I think being an entrepreneur, or just being an employee, is not easy. And I remind everyone out there that it’s one day at a time and you need to wake up each day with a newfound sense of why you do what you do. It’s easy to doubt yourself and your worst enemy is you. You have to believe in yourself before someone else does.”

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