When I arrived at 34th Street and 11th Avenue to meet with the creative director and founder of good hYOUman, 31 year old Brett Novek, I thought I was going to ask him a few questions and jot down some notes about his clothing line. I would then leave and write up a nice profile about him and his work. That would be the end of it. However, after the interview was over I hadn’t merely learned about a Los Angeles based t-shirt company. Instead, I had walked away with something more valuable.
Novek was born and raised in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and went to college at the University of Central Florida where he studied marketing. After graduating, he worked as a model with an agency in Miami. Then, at 24, he traveled to Los Angeles to audition for a soap opera. Novek didn’t book the job, however hedid settle in Los Angeles, which would later become the birthplace of good hYOUman.
That same year Novek’s father, David Novek, passed away. In an effort to keep his memory alive, Novek created his own clothing line, calling it: good hYOUman. Ordering a screen printer from an info commercial one night, he made his first shirt which read, “my life story is going to be a good one.” Today, four years later, Novek’s company makes all of their own patterns, sources all of their own fabrics and manufactures, from the design table to the sewing machine, over 10,000 shirts a month in Los Angeles.
Now, sitting on the floor of the Javits Center leaning against a booth at the Intermezzo trade show, Novek taught me 10 things about life and loss, the fashion industry, and what it means to be a good human. He did all this within the span of 30 minutes and although he might have said things we've all heard before, he spoke of lessons that we could all benefit from hearing one more time.
1. Everyone has a story – “We all have our own stories, we all come from somewhere and we’re all insecure and just trying to do our best,” said Novek. “Don’t judge, be open minded, and love humans.”
2.Everything happens for a reason – “It was terrible but it changed my perspective on life,” Novek said of his father’s passing. “That’s why I started good hYOUman, I started it for him.”
3. Call your mom – “She’s the biggest fan of good hYOUman,” Novek said of his mother. “I talk to her a couple times a week and keep her posted.”
4. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – “I knew nothing about anything – about fabric, about draping, about fit,” said Novek. “I kept messing up and I learned, and now I think we have a pretty damn good product that I’m pretty confident about.”
5. Everyone can make a difference – “Why not buy something even if you’re paying a dollar more,” said Novek when speaking of ethical fashion. “It’s changing the world for the better – it’s gonna come back around to you as a consumer.”
6. Fair wages are important – “There’s nothing more fulfilling as a business owner than to see that you’re employing people,” said Novek. “It’s not just shirts we’re making, these people, we’re giving them jobs and they’re able to put food on the table.”
7. Business should transparent – “We’re not hiding anything and it’s great,” said Novek. “Ask me anything – I stand behind our product and I stand behind our values and what we’re trying to achieve.”
8. Treat people the way that you want to be treated – “I know it sounds cheesy but, treating people how you want to be treated,” said Novek when asked what it means to be a good hYOUman.
9. Be curious – “Ask people questions, be interested – and genuinely interested,” said Novek. “I think there’s something about everyone that’s definitely interesting and that you can learn from someone.”
10. Live in the moment – “Try and step back, it’s not easy but just be in the moment and be like, ‘this is a special time’,” said Novek.