At first glance, Bryan Benatou seems like your average surf-stoked high schooler. But, in addition to class, homework, choosing a college, and surfing, he is running Keto Clothing with his friend and classmate, Chandler Abbey. Here Bryan takes a minute to share with us what it’s like to be one of the young entrepreneurs behind a new Southern California clothing brand.
Give us a little background on yourselves. How did you guys meet? How old are you? Where do you go to school? What gets you stoked?
We met at school last year, in math class. We were sort of friends but not like we are now. We’re both 17 years old and go to Pacific Ridge School in Carlsbad. We both surf a lot and the stoke is basically from good music, good waves, good food, art, photo, and design.
Take us back to October 2011, what got you guys going? How did you use social media? Where did you go from there?
I messaged Chandler on Facebook one night because I thought he would be a rad artist for a company. We came up with a name and dove right in from there. We printed an initial round of shirts that we sold to friends and family and it just got bigger from there.
What does “Keto” mean?
“Keto” means “Sea Monster” in ancient Greek. Keto (Ceto) was also an ancient Greek marine goddess who represented the perils of the Sea.
What is the inspiration behind Keto’s designs?
Chandler: Usually it’s just however I’m feeling that particular day. My best stuff usually comes out when I’m either super stoked or not feeling too hot. If my psyche is extreme in any way, then my art is on point.
Describe a typical day for you guys, as you balance your life with running your own business.
We are always working in some way. Whether it be designs or running around to different stores, we’re always checking emails and dealing with financial responsibilities. At the same time we have school, college stuff and loads of homework, but Keto never really gets in the way. We also surf basically every day, which takes loads off our shoulders.
It’s been almost a year, what has been the most rewarding aspect of starting your own clothing line thus far?
The most rewarding time for us was when we first got into Surfy Surfy. We lucked out with the managers being so rad, props to JP and Summer! Unlike other stores, they took us seriously and gave us a chance to show our capabilities.
What challenges have you faced as young entrepreneurs? Is there anything you would do differently?
The fact that we are young either means people give us props, or they assume we have no idea what we are doing. We have learned so much from successes and failures, and, considering where we are right now, we would not have done anything differently.
Do you have any advice for other youngsters out there looking to start their own business?
Do research and have a bit of knowledge before you start. Don’t underestimate the business because its not just a walk in the park and you WILL make mistakes. Take your time and have fun as well. It’s a kick-ass and rewarding job so don’t stress too much. Lastly, be yourself and don’t pose as a different brand. You will have a much more successful experience if you aren’t constantly trying to mirror someone else.
What are your future plans and aspirations for Keto?
We both would agree that making a good profit would be nice. It’s not all about the money though, we want to get into a bunch of stores around the world, expand a little bit and keep our same style and stoke.
The two of you are young, and the world is at your fingertips. Where do you see yourselves a few years down the road?
I see us together working with Keto and collaborating on projects. We both work well together and have similar styles. I am leaving for college next year, and I want to be in a good business school. I am hoping that I will end up somewhere local where I can surf and come home for the weekend, such as LMU or USD.