I had the pleasure of interviewing Jared Vinik, founder of the Brooklyn-based streetwear company FLAN (Forever Laughing At Nothing). The brand is just as sweet as its namesake with colorful, comfortable and fun streetwear for all. Let there be coziness!

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path? Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Due to popular streetwear becoming less and less accessible, I wanted to create a clothing brand that stood out from the others on the market. I wanted to inspire all to stop taking themselves so seriously by adopting the company’s value of Forever Laughing at Nothing.

I remember my first big deal. I was in Tokyo, Japan in a corporate high-rise. I always try to remember the feeling I had when I walked into that boardroom.

I wore short tie-dye shorts and a tank top with crazy sandals, which perfectly represents FLAN’s brand mission of providing stylish comfort in all settings; whether it’s a plane ride, an important business meeting or a night out.

Can you explain to our readers why you are an authority about Social Media Marketing?

Right now, it’s about building a relatable, real life brand that surrounds social media. Reaching out to some of the biggest artists/influencers/celebrities in the world is a great start, but that’s not the full strategy behind FLAN. While it’s great for the artist to wear the product on social media, it’s just as important to get their community and people surrounding them actually wearing it.

People today are hit with ads every second of every day and the ad space isn’t the same as it’s always been. Having people wearing FLAN in real life is the real strategy behind the social media. Natural buzz combined with organic, user-generated content is better than that manifested through paid marketing.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In the first collection, we created a diner-inspired t-shirt. I put “Famous Since 1960” because I thought my dad was born in that year, but he was actually born in 1959…

If anybody reading this was born in 1960, I have the perfect t-shirt for you.

Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?

Definitely Instagram. One example — posting high quality product shot grids is a great way to very clearly and simply display your product, while the caption section allows you to include any relevant specs about the materials of the product. We always post product shot grids of our releases, sometimes on the day of release and sometimes a few days later, to refresh our fans’ memories and keep the excitement going.

Let’s talk about Instagram specifically, now. Can you share 6 ways to leverage Instagram to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Giveaway contests with other accounts — We’ve had a lot of success partnering with other accounts on giveaways where in order to enter, you must follow each account and engage in various other ways. This is a great way to get in front of a specific audience outside of your usual following.
  2. Question stories — This is a great way to engage with viewers. Posting something like “Whoever responds with the best joke receives a free sticker,” drives engagement and becomes something fun that people can expect periodically from your brand.
  3. Poll stories — Polling your followers gives you another avenue to talk to your fanbase, albeit from a more passive manner. For instance, you can ask which colorway of a product is preferred, and thus know to order the most desired colorway for that product in the future.
  4. Responding to DM’s — This is obviously not public-facing but responding to DM’s and private messages on Instagram shows your audience that you’re not just a robot — you’re a real person reading their messages and willing to respond. A little effort and engagement with your audience here can definitely go a long way!
  5. Reposting Stories — Anytime someone tags and posts a story wearing FLAN, we repost onto our page. We do this to both show appreciation for the support and to spread the message that if you buy FLAN and tag yourself wearing it, we will repost you. This adds a little bit of incentive and shows our followers that we are listening.
  6. Commenting — Commenting on other accounts is a really valuable tool for us and is yet another way to give the Instagram version of FLAN more life and soul. We always try to actively comment and engage on our friends’ and other brands posts.

Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to push the “don’t take yourself too seriously” or even the “kid at heart” movement. The entire FLAN team is truly kids at heart, and it’s our belief that everyone else is, too. The idea of not taking yourself too seriously means appreciating the beauty of life, it means spreading positivity and it means withholding judgement of others. We’re all in this together, so instead of judging differences, we should not take everything so seriously and all just join up, have some fun, and stay Forever Laughing At Nothing. Maybe one day!

Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them

It might be hard for you guys to arrange this, but:

Salvador Dali. You never said if they could be dead or alive. First things first, people don’t know that Dali literally NEVER paid for meals. Imagine that. He drew on each of his checks, and said the art was worth more than whatever he had to pay. The king of social campaigns that go against the status quo. Drawing close analogies between food and sex and to never stop innovating. Just imagine his strategy to approach influencer marketing.

Also, he never left his pet leopard. I don’t have a pet leopard, but my dog Gabe never leaves my side. He’s FLAN’s first full time employee. So, make it a reservation for four: me, Gabe, Dali himself and his pet leopard.

Thank you so much for joining us!


How to Use Instagram to Dramatically Improve Your Business, with Jared Vinik and Candice Georgiadis was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.