STAR CADET X COOL KID DINO
A snapshot into the world of production, marketing, and e-commerce services provided by Star Cadet, in collaboration with Kid Dino.
STAR CADET X COOL KID DINO
Some things are simply written in the stars–a kismet circumstance bringing two people together to create something amazing. We could argue that the creation of the Cool Kid Dino brand was just such an example of something written in the stars. What you see now are two fully realized brands: Kid Dino and Star Cadet; but what you may not realize is the interesting story of how Devin Roth, known as DVO, connected with Rachel Rogers, and how they were able to work together to flesh out the funky dinosaur bespeckled brand. If you’re interested in learning more about the services we offer for building and developing e-commerce stores and brands, continue reading! We’ll give a run down of the entire process that took place to bring Kid Dino to fruition.
DVO and Rachel met because of Final Space–the comedic, space-opera animated series created by Olan Rogers that DVO credits as one of his proudest animation projects to date, on which he worked as Art Director. However, before we learn about how DVO and Rachel met, it’s important to know a bit more about the beginnings of the concept in DVO’s mind.
Having landed his first animation internship at the age of 16, DVO had established an interest in art in kindergarten and grew up with support and encouragement from his father and family. He admired animation and comic books and dreamed of being able to follow those avenues to fulfill his desired artistic career goals. DVO also details an interest in 80’s patterns and aesthetics, dinosaurs, and sports, saying, “Through all these different passions, I had always wanted to create a clothing line that invoked all of my loves into one thing that I could actively challenge myself and experiment with.” With this in mind, he needed only transform those thoughts into reality–couldn’t be too hard, right?
Rachel Rogers had experience bringing ideas to life having worked with her husband and business partner, Olan Rogers, on the creation of the Star Cadet brand. DVO was then brought onto the production team for Final Space, and Rachel and DVO worked closely on the Style Guide for the show. When they met, DVO’s vision for Kid Dino was all she needed to be able to develop the roadmap that would eventually lead to the launch of the brand. Rachel states, “I think my favorite part about working with DVO was that he created the artwork and communicated his overall vision and goals, and then just let me run with it when it came to how the designs were embellished [...] this provided a lot of opportunities for us to try a lot of new things.” Knowing that he wanted to include nods to his childhood interests like Jurassic Park, Dino Riders, and an all-around 80s aesthetic, DVO provided some artwork to be turned into designs that were commissioned by different artists, including Jamers Design, Jappy Agoncillo, and Ninepardon Design Studio, and then the product development portion of the collaboration began.
Once the team had their hands on some wonderful commissioned designs, Rachel began working on mock-ups: essentially, rendered previews of what each piece of apparel would look like as a finished product. She explains, “Step one is understanding what the client vision and end goals are for the collaboration. I usually have them send me images that encompass their desired aesthetic for their products. With DVO, he had a very clear vision for where he wanted to take his brand: a classic 80’s look with dinosaurs.” Rachel centered her creations around these guidelines, and then shared the designs with DVO, working together to make any edits, or to add or cut anything from the line. She continues,
“The creative process timeline can vary drastically depending on how extensive the collection of products is. With Kid Dino, we worked on his latest collection over the course of a few months, starting with new designs, sourcing new products, sampling, and photoshoots. [...] We started with basic t-shirts and hoodies to establish the brand and customer base. Then, by the second collection of products, we really pushed the envelope by adding in color changing t-shirts, pigment wash hoodies and pullovers, long sleeve t-shirts, and tie-dye items. Then we also began experimenting with new printing techniques and inks via puff additives and glow in the dark inks.”
After agreeing on designs, placement, and types of apparel items, the process moves onto Skip, our screen printing manager. Skip takes care of adjusting the designs in ways that will fit on screens, transferring those designs to the screens, and making sure that the designs come out well when printed. Skip explains, “Screen printing in and of itself is pretty straight-forward. When I get a design, I have to break it down into its color components, separating them, and making each part into its own screen. The separated screens are then layered onto a shirt one at a time, coming together to complete the original design I was given.” Just as Rachel was happy to work with DVO and appreciated the level of creative liberty the team would be afforded, Skip also experienced a sense of experimentation and freedom that led to testing new methods for printing with this project. He says,
“For the Kid Dino collaboration, the designs were so unique and colorful in comparison to other projects, so we decided to experiment with the printing techniques to really bring the Kid Dino character to life. We ended up trying a little bit of everything in terms of printing techniques–from CMYK for a more comic book feel, to puff additive for the raised texture, to discharge which really fits the whole aged-athletic-wear feel of the Hockey Club design. Every design and technique brought its own challenge in execution, however my favorite outcome by far was what the puff additive brought to the design. Giving a normally two dimensional design a third dimension elevated some of the simplest designs, giving a feeling of quality and novelty that I think made them some of the most popular and interesting designs we did. The puff additive is also one of the easiest ways to modify a design, making it easy to test and use in a variety of applications.”
Once the testing stage of printing concludes, we send the samples out to the client for approval, and for any last minute adjustments to design, placement, or blanks (the apparel pieces on which we print).
MARKETING AND WEB DEVELOPMENT
After designing, testing those designs, and confirming things between all parties, the project moves into marketing. Amberle takes over the majority of this step in the process as our resident photographer and social media manager. Star Cadet has high standards when it comes to presentation and overall aesthetic, and Amberle is largely to thank for that. When asked about keeping things fresh in photography and marketing, she says,
“There’s definitely a lot of research involved; I’m constantly looking at other brands and what they’re doing, and I’m looking at influencers who are based in fashion to see what trends are happening and what their followers are looking for. But I think the real secret is to be organic, think like the human who is going to see this post and not like a corporate marketing robot that’s trying to ‘find the secret’ to social media marketing. It’s important to ask myself if this photograph or this gif would make ME want to buy this product. And if the answer is no, then I keep digging. With Kid Dino, a lot of DVO’s work is bright and colorful and playful, so I definitely try to play to that. [...] DVO gave me a lot of creative freedom, and that was both super exciting and a little scary. I got to try a lot of new things and it was a huge learning experience for me, and I’m super grateful for the opportunity to do that.”
When it came time to prepare marketing content for Kid Dino's collection, we brainstormed a lot about how best to showcase not only the products, but the feelings that inspired them. When we found out there was a skating rink down the road from the shop that let you rent the building by the hour, we knew we had our location. Rachel and Amberle rented out the Rivergate Skate Center for an hour, hired our trusted Sam Katz as the model, and got to work on the shoot. The results were exactly what we were looking for: showcasing a brand that's bright, happy, and playful.
Cool photography is not the end of the road in the marketing department, however. Rachel helped to guide DVO through the entirety of the development process for a fully-functional e-commerce website. As Star Cadet has been operating and distributing apparel online for the past several years, DVO trusted Rachel to help him build his online shop. Rachel says,
“We advised DVO on best practices when it came to designing his Shopify store, not only aesthetically but operationally, to make his website function for his customers. In addition, we provided live images that took the products from a flat lay image on the website to tangible products for the customer. It was a lot of fun to do for someone else what we’ve done for ourselves over the years, and to have a client that just let us do what we do best.”
Before his work with Rachel and collaboration with Star Cadet, DVO had simply an idea; he was in search of direction and guidance in order to bring his brand to life in a way that mirrored his dream for it.
[The Star Cadet team] has given me the opportunity to do something that I thought could only happen in my dreams. I have always wanted to make my own fashion line and they have been so supportive and so on top of giving my brand a professional look that I don’t think I would have been able to do this without them. The amount of professionalism and talent that this team has is insane and they are always coming up with new ideas and quality content that has more than exceeded my expectations of what my brand can do [...] Kid Dino is still in its infant stages, but I think it has the potential to go even further beyond my wildest dreams, and I have nothing but love and thanks for everyone at Star Cadet for believing in me and giving me this chance and opportunity to work with this wild idea. Anyone that has the chance to work with this creative and talented group is in for a great experience.- DVO
Star Cadet is proud to have been able to work with DVO on the Cool Kid Dino brand. We've said it before and we'll say it a thousand times over: We wish we could work with people like DVO all the time. He trusted us wholly with his vision and allowed us to learn, grow, and push the boundaries of what we're capable of at Star Cadet. Thank you, DVO!
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This blog was written by Kirstie Frank, edited by Rachel Rogers, and designed by Amberle Phillips.
All photography by Amberle Phillips