CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Shawn "Speedy" Lopes wears one of his logo shirts, while Tia Casella wears a Threadless T-shirt ($17.99), denim short ($7) and belt ($9), all from Shawn's store, Stylus, which turns 3 Saturday.
Three years ago, you might have seen Shawn "Speedy" Lopes' name here as a byline rather than as a story subject.
» Third Year Bash: 11 a.m. Saturday
» Featuring: DJs Monkey, Toki and Ms. Angel, food, drinks and prize giveaways
» Place: University Square, 2615 S. King, third floor
» Admission: Free
» Call: 951-4500 or email email@example.com
» Note: Stylus Honolulu T-shirts will be given away with all purchases over $25, while they last.
The music and feature writer had long dreamed of running his own record store, and despite the perils of leaving a relatively cushy job for the unknown, decided to take the plunge into the world of entrepreneurship to start Stylus, a lifestyle boutique selling new and secondhand music and fashion.
Saturday he's celebrating his third anniversary with DJs, food and prize giveaways, at an 11 a.m. party open to all. Party-goers will find the boutique is created out of his own philosophies and image, though all my co-workers would agree that his image is a lot more stylish than when he haunted the newsroom in oversized T-shirts and baggy shorts.
Before entering the fashion fray, he took a typical guy's approach to clothing. "We wear stuff until there's a hole in it, and then we'll think of buying something new," he said. "Girls understand what happens when you look good. I realized when I started dressing differently that people treat you differently. Plus, I couldn't come to work the way I used to dress at (the Star-Bulletin).
"I made a conscious decision to go a little past my comfort level with trying on new things. I think that's a good way to learn what looks good on you, by going past that threshold."
He's glad he made the decision from the beginning to include fashion in the mix of merchandise, even though music remains his main passion.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Tia's entire ensemble cost less than $30 at Stylus. Her top and skirt are $9 each. The belt is $4, and sling purse is $7.
"When a big company like Tower Records goes under, you know something big is happening," he said. "I always thought that DJs would be the last holdouts for vinyl, that along with the collectors, they would be the last to support vinyl. But since Serato came out, a lot of them are converting to the new technology."
Serato allows DJs to integrate their digital music files with real turntables.
"A lot of what I do is based on Jelly's model. They sell records and books, but they also carry cards, comic books, games. I wasn't interested in that, but I thought, in 100 years a used-clothing store would still survive, as long as there are guys and girls who want to look fashionable."
He's won a following among the university's 20-something crowd by carrying current styles for $20 or less; this would include consignment pieces by start-up designers looking for a venue to test the market. A majority of secondhand pieces are priced at less than $10, making it possible to go home with an ensemble of top, bottom and belt or purse for $25 or less.
He offers Threadless T-shirts at $17.99 and sells his own Stylus designs for $16.99, a fraction of what most brands charge.
"I know what it was like to not have a lot of money at that age," he said. "I hate $50 T-shirts and denim shorts for $80. That's ridiculous. I know it's worth whatever a person is willing to spend, but I think you can get creative for less.
"A lot of my things cost less than at Goodwill," he said, letting loose a string of words he knows are not printable, along the lines of his role sorting out "stuff" so buyers don't have to wade through a lot of "junk" to get to the good stuff. He's careful about screening merchandise that he buys for 15 to 20 percent of his sales prices, saying, "It's easy to look ghetto when it's all used stuff."
He doesn't have any regrets about leaving the ink trade, though he says, "Like everything in life, it's a tradeoff. I'm my own boss and I've realized one of the dreams I've had since I was a kid. But there's no steady paycheck, no weekends off, and all the responsibility is on me. I sink or swim with my own decisions, and I'm fine with that."