Geedup Clothing partners with Confit Pathways to help at-risk youth in Sydney’s west ‘belong’

Geedup Clothing partners with Confit Pathways to help at-risk youth in Sydney’s west ‘belong’

Geedup Clothing co-founder Jake Paco (provided).

“It’s very hard to conceptualise a sense of belonging just by wearing a hoodie, but there are kids out there that put a Geedup hoodie on and do feel that." - Geedup Clothing co-founder Jake Paco.

Once a month, Sydney-based streetwear brand Geedup Clothing releases a ‘drop’ of clothes to an eager base of hardcore fans who scramble to buy its coveted items that often tend to completely sell out.

But today’s release is different; Geedup has partnered with not-for-profit Confit Pathways and has pledged $250,000 from sales of the ‘BLACKOUT’ drop to build a gym in Parramatta and bolster the organisation's mission to help formerly incarcerated youths reintegrate into society.

It is a mission that is very close to the heart of 33-year-old Geedup co-founder Jake Paco, who spent his early 20s watching many of his close friends being put behind bars. 

Having established Geedup Clothing in 2010, Paco told Business News Australia that the business was the place where he ‘found a sense of belonging’ - something many young Australians struggle to discover, leading them to crime and eventually incarceration.

Since then he’s turned the business into a multinational retail hit, with offices in Sydney and Los Angeles, California with a reputation for high-quality, street-ready garments. According to Paco, the brand turns over more than $20 million in sales per year from its drops that often sell out.

As such, with Confit as a partner, the co-founder is giving back to the community and helping at-risk young people find their own sense of belonging in a society he believes puts them into boxes.

“I’ve walked similar paths to these kids - I’ve come from what you would deem a broken home. Mum did do her absolute best and I’ve got a great mother in that regard, but I did find myself at an early age searching for a sense of belonging in all the wrong places,” said Paco.

“That quickly leads you on a path where you either end up in jail or in a box in the ground.

“It was during that period where I had Geedup - it was my place of peace, something away from the chaotic life that I found myself embroiled in - and I found that Geedup for me was that sense of belonging I had been searching for.”

To mark the collaborative occasion, Geedup’s ‘BLACKOUT’ drop is a special one - brand logos and designs will be toned down and instead the message of ‘Don’t let them put your mind in a box’ will be front and centre.

“We wanted the attention to be on the message and cause of this collection to gain traction and raise as much as we can and have another sold-out collection,” Paco said.

“The attention is not on the product as much as it is on the message.

“We’re almost programmed to think a certain way, so ‘Don’t let them put your mind in a box’ is encouraging free thinkers to think outside the box and to think outside of the confines society and circumstances inevitably place upon us.”

A sample of Geedup's 'BLACKOUT' collection
A taste of Geedup's 'BLACKOUT' collection. (Provided)

 

At the centre of Geedup’s contribution to Confit is the construction of a new gym in Parramatta. Though fitness culture plays a part, Paco said the intention behind the build is to give young people in Western Sydney a place to make their own.

“It’s very hard to conceptualise a sense of belonging just by wearing a hoodie, but there are kids out there that put a Geedup hoodie on and do feel that,” Paco said.

“I feel very strongly about the same sense of belonging being felt once the gym is built, and that translates well into the tangible space of the gym.

“Furthermore, it gives us space for first-time employment and things like that.”

The brand’s commitment to Confit is not just monetary - Paco and Geedup team members will also be mentors on rotation to at-risk young people.

“Every one of us from my team will be on the ground. We’ll be visiting the schools - so we’ll be in Cobham [Youth Justice Centre] and other juvenile centres for the foreseeable future on rotation,” he said.

“We’re really getting on the ground with Confit Pathways to do the work with them in hopes that this $250,000 will drive exponential growth and expansion for them; not just statewide, but countrywide.”

The Geedup Clothing team with Jake Paco front left.
The Geedup Clothing team with Jake Paco front left. (Provided)

 

From Western Sydney to the world

For Paco, the move to support Confit Partners follows a storied 13 years in business during which he turned a re-seller of sports gear into an internationally recognised streetwear brand.

Though the duo now boast a multinational presence in Australia and the US, with a London office soon to come, it wasn’t always easy for the pair.

Paco said the business started as a reseller of basketball jerseys and snapbacks, but naivety quickly undid those plans.

“Being young and ambitious, we were unknowingly purchasing counterfeit goods,” said Paco, who co-founded the business with Beau Saywell who is no longer involved with the business.

“We were hit with a cease and desist pretty quickly.”

This experience led to the pair realising they had a passion for retail, graphic design and streetwear, ultimately ushering in the birth of Geedup.

To launch the brand to their followers that stuck with the duo from the reselling days, the co-founders came up with the idea of putting some designs up for pre-order online.

“I went out for lunch and came back and we’ve sold 10 of them for $90 each - that’s $900 there and I had to find a screen printer to print garments,” he said.

“We were thrown straight into the deep end.”

That small order got the brand started though, and over the next seven years Geedup opened two flagship retail stores.

However, Paco said that Geedup was eventually hit with a court case from Westfield about a technicality in a lease agreement. Though the founder was unable to talk terms of the settlement, he said 'compared to what they wanted from me I walked away with a win'.

"A costly one - but a win," Paco said.

“The court case really shook some trees, so to speak. I found myself manning this business that I didn’t know how to take to the next level.

“It was around the same time that I had my first kid in 2017, and I was struggling a lot with my own mental health at that point. It’s pretty scary as a 27-year-old having a child come into the world and what was deemed a failing business too.”

So the founder took some time off to regroup, recuperate and restart.

By 2019, the brand relaunched and has since gone on to succeed in ways that would’ve been impossible to Paco at 27.

Beyond the push into London, Paco is excited about Geedup’s push into cheaper essentials - think tees without the logo-heavy vibe the brand has perfected to date.

“They’re super basic, not heavily branded, no contrasting colours and the line will stay evergreen for three months of the year,” he said.

“There’s a lot of people who land on the website who are super eager to buy something at an entry-level and that’s just not there for them yet.”

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