Bee Inspired Clothing is a contemporary menswear brand based in Glasgow who pride themselves on unique and relevant design concepts and have a rapidly increasing product offering. Bee Inspired was created in summer 2013 by ex professional footballers Mark Corcoran and Steven Robb, targeting discerning fashion conscious customers looking for stylish clothing that is uniquely designed and manufactured to the highest quality. Worn by some of the highest profile actors, sportsmen and musicians in the UK, this has allowed the brand to expand and develop much faster than they could have imagined.
In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Steven Robb & Mark Corcoran, Co-Founders of Bee Inspired about their background being professional footballers and how observing the menswear styles in the dressing room gave them a unique insight into men's everyday wear. Our host Peter Brooker and the co-founders talk about bootstrapping the brand, creating relationships with manufacturers, mixing streetwear with sportswear, gym style trends, and the importance of repeat customers.
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Hello, welcome to another episode of the menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete Brooker today, great episode for you today talking to the cofounders of Be inspired Steven Rob and Mark Corcoran. These These gentlemen are ex professional football players in 2013, they hung up their boots, and embarked on a journey to change the landscape of streetwear. From their humble beginnings as a bedroom brand they dedicated every day to becoming the industry leaders in fit, feel and quality. And you can check out all of the clothes, jeans, hoodies, tees, and more over on the website be inspired clothing.com and be spelled B E all the links over at Menswear. style.co.uk but in their own words, here are Steven Rob and Mark Corcoran to talk about the brand. I think what we're looking to do is build on our brand, our brand story which is quite unique. Coming from a football background that we've we've always been interested in fashion and what guys will return in the dressing room. And in Ireland football so we kind of want it we always think ourselves maybe like the athleisure like lifestyle brand of like you can read other stuff too, like football and green and then that sportswear element with also an element of our stuff being suitable for like our everyday we'll have like jeans and jackets and hoodies, and kinda a little bit of something for everyone. But with that air, we'll still have almost you can wear it to play sport, we'll call it football even where to play football. And but then we've also got product to wear to watch the football as well. And you guys, you can't even wear Puebloans on the same team back in the day. Now almost a crossover by basically I left something and then Stephen came to play for somebody. But we play in the same possession. So it was about about and there's no rivalry there. But all in a Can I ended up in the same softcore friends. Right. So it kind of started from the hours after trademark whispering still cleaning Glasgow for plastic so on. And I was at St. Milan, based in Paisley. So we'd meet up after training to be a group of us like kind of a coffee club and just be gone from like just discussing ideas for after what we're going to do after football league League, when is it at that stage? And knowing that football isn't going to last forever, especially playing played in Scotland. There's not that opportunity to just retire when you're finished playing and maybe you get when you're playing an English Premiership? Yeah, yeah, it's interesting when as I'm in my 40s now, but when you're in your 20s, and you're making a go of it, and you kind of have that fearlessness of being young and indestructible, you never really put too much track in front of you for the rest of your life, because you're just kind of focused in on what's going on now. So when I was in my 20s, I was in bands going up and down the country and not really giving her crap about anything else, especially not making plans for my 30s and 40s. I'm just curious how, like, are footballers now more focused on laying plans for when they get into their post 30s and 40s? Are they more conscious of it now? Do you think than they were when you guys are honest? No, I don't think so. I think footballs like, like you're saying, I think that in the moment. And I think it's a funny thing, because you do get paid quite well for what you do. Like obviously I'm not like certainly not anything to retire on in Scotland. But when you're in it, you're getting paid a decent wage and you've got a decent life. So you're not really thinking about what's happening next, just like going contract to contract really like just like on playing football live in the dream a lot. And don't get me wrong. It was It wasn't all it wasn't all plain sailing, but it was a good life. You grew up wanting to do that. You get to run a boat exercise pick up all about for 11 You're not really thinking, what am I going to do in the future? You're just like, can I make this last as long as possible? So I don't think people because it because it's such a good, good living a good job. You're not really thinking about the future, because you're like, oh, it's not gonna be as good. And I think a lot of people think, well, I'll just try and stay in football, I'll go coaching or do my badges. I'll coach kids, but when you come to the end of your career, you realise well coaching kids isn't really gonna keep paying you what you're getting paid. Like, and there's very few players go from playing football to coaching and managers. It's not as easy as you think obviously like it's quite difficult and I think the pressure of money there's more players interest as well people and players and what players like that, like I didn't manage myself I think I think we were, there was probably five of us that got together and we're just starting to so I think quite one of them actually went on to play for Crystal Palace and do really well in this key and another way. Yeah. Andy Dolman and they went down to south and he played for Sheffield. He did well. And, again, again, I'm again. So basically mean Robert with a rubbish one. Yeah. Again, Nick, we're talking about my brother's joining again. Yeah, okay. Yeah, I've had the names. I'm just trying to play some face wise. But I mean, surely the best, the best gig I always think of this for footballers is to rather than go into coaching is just go straight into commentary. Because you don't have all the pressure of, you know, having to answer to people and you know, being worried about your job. You know, you're about five games away from being sacked at any point. So if you're just Jamie character or master the day you brought, you're still riding that gravy train right into the sunset. Look at Chris Weidman. He said one thing wrong and everyone's gonna jump in. So I think you still have that. You still have to you have to be I think commentary is quite difficult in a way because you have to see stuff controversial to get engagement but you can't say anything do controversial persuades not men. Like as a footballer, you know what he means but like, foreigners have taken it the wrong way. I think he's obviously just meant getting about him. Like a bit of pressure on him like that, you know, he basically said something about making acres masks. He never tested his mask. And obviously it comes across really bad, but he's just mentally again. Oh, I mean, go back pressure on. Across really bad way by double fracture. Yeah, we were fractured his chair. I think we I think he's come out and said, Look, He's fooling me said look, I apologise. That's interesting. Yeah, I think it like well, Roy Keane kind of wants to say things controversial at the time, I think but you can just tell with the likes of Roy Keaney shooting from the hip he did as a player, you know, that that tackle that he left on? Was it Chris Harland. We're gonna say yeah, I mean, he wrote about in his book and just said, Look, I'm gonna end this guy's career when he gets back on the pitch pretty much did it. And he's just carried on being Roy Keane, like, as a commentator, so you just know that he is just anyway, I'm going off on a bit of a tangent. So I think maybe this is what you guys needed a bit of controversy, you know, maybe a couple of social media videos where you're having arguments in the office, and then you can just so what is that dynamic worker? So your good friend, obviously, and have been like, for your playing career? Or what's it like now, I guess, nine or 10 years into the relationship of the business, we're pretty similar with, like, Mark still trying to play football amateur level, still can't sell it for. But we've both we've both developed a passion for golf. And me simply because I've gone by knee that I can actually play play for can twist and turn and run anymore. So I'm able to play golf. So kinda like, away from the business. It's like, we've got a shared interest as well, I think I think is where like, business wise, we're both fairly similar people. So yeah, we will, Becca and we will argue about things, which I think is healthy. But then I comment from that football background, you don't hold a grudge. I mean, you went after a game and the manager will man, a lot of people will be arguing with each other, but you're all in it together to try and get a result. So then by the time the next economy roll, you're all together, try and get that result again. And I think that's sort of what we've incorporated in our businesses both got the same more thing. Yeah. And I think that's we've always had the same goal. So we are laying each other on the business. So it's like, that's what our targets are. So that's where we need to get to. So that's probably our football backgrounds probably helped us subconsciously. And, like you say, effects can can like take criticism, like, just like driven, like to succeed sort of thing. So that's kind of what we've taken in the business. Right. Interesting. And you guys now how did the like the capital come about for getting the brand off the ground? I think I've read some stories about that. Maybe new, Stephen, that you're wrapping up so many parcels during your lunch break on another job. And then so that used so you know that I mean, he was he was living the life in Thailand and I was dropping all the orders. I was based in Bangkok, and I was playing football there for three years. So I started making friends with suppliers and I just was interested in like, on my days off and not even even my days off just even in the evenings going and looking on the market store was doing about research and because we're looking for we're looking for something. We're looking for that sort of business idea like I was still in touch with Steven Laval. He was over there. And both like, there must be something in Thailand that we don't have here. And that's the way we were sort of thinking at the time, it didn't transpire, like that was everywhere. And so he was obviously had that in his mind when he was looking. Okay, that's it. stuff back to Mark. And he'd be like sale. That's how the initial initially started as we decided to come on and start our own brand. Took a back convince employee board twice, we're like, okay, let's give it a go. So we initially start over like 300 pounds each. And we made four, we made four designs of T shirts, because I was friends with the manufacturer, so I was able to get really low numbers. So it was like a graphic printed on a plain white t shirt, made the made the labels and save them on our food, phone. And it was a case to just like, strip them back DHL that here, they're here now, a couple of days. And Mark, we'd set up like a big, big cartel website that we've done ourselves. And then we just started selling them on like Facebook and Twitter to people try to promote them. And we mark was still in decent shape then. So we were kinda like promoting them as if we were real, no. So okay. There was maybe a wee bit easier, we were kind of the models to begin with. And so we got a bit lucky was when Steven no one disappearing for that we're actually sending like images that we had designed on our phones. And he's like, if you sent that to, if you didn't know the supplier and sent it to a real supply, like I'm not printing that, because it wasn't like a good enough quality. But because he was friends, he's like, Well, I'll try and print that for you. And obviously, he made a decent enough job of it, it wasn't perfect by any means. And obviously, the quality is come on a million times, looking back on some of the stuff we made like X Men or we made, it just got off the ground. And it was just like, like people see, you're just kind of hustling and yeah, just trying to get samplings and stuff and then use that money to buy more stuff and got better and better and better as time went on. So we're just for the first few years, but we'll just reinvest in all capital, just anything we sold went straight back in the business. And for the first when I came, I came back fully like the squat on the move back in to march flat. So we were running the business for 10 months from March flat economic elephant and then livestock. So sell what come with their factories. And Thailand basically just ordered in stock and went through smoothly sold half of that. So our orders and quite quickly increased 100 pieces of a style instead of and then read over like once the sold half gone to another another batch and added a new design. And I think we might we're probably lucky that we still had we're still playing semi pro. So we still had a bit of income coming in and rebar for the job and recruitment and the say. So we'd walk to our week would literally be like Monday to Friday, work a nine to five and then we train twice a week game on Saturday and any experiment that we had, which would be inspired time so and you see that some of the original designs some of the original tees knock around? Yeah, I think we bought a couple of them. A customer actually sent us one they still had a tag on it. No, I said they on our eyes just No. Doesn't fit me and whatever I made it just be sitting in this cupboard. So let's set an office just know, I've got a couple of macabre as well. That's really cool. So I mean, you've already got an archive now, I mean, you're coming up to about 10 years. So you've got your archive starting with that one. And do so do you have now like an idea of where it's going in the future in terms of the designs? I know you said you're into golf now Stephen You got a golfing range on the website is is there a plan to kind of develop ranges in different sub genres income we've kind of like it was kind of like all amalgamated a little bit about sports he kind of casual whereas now we're kind of split a little bit more so we've actually got tailored sportswear collection so it's like fed tops and train and wear and the thing I think that sets us apart from other people as it's like fashion as well so it doesn't it doesn't just look good. So it doesn't isn't just functional for the gym actually looks good as well. So yeah, you can wear it to the gym and it's functional but you can also went out of the gym because I feel so that's quite a big trend and I was like Jim we are sports where people are waiting because they want to look comfortable and and sort of like smile at the same time. If you're not I mean so. Like we've seen like athleisure active wear so we've we've really sort of focused on making nice designs in that space. And then obviously we've got like car jeans, jackets and hoodies so loungewear that sort of a nice vehicle for replicating kind of the quality we had from our car jeans and our tracksuits and our T shirts but replicating that quality and and the sportswear as well. Manchester, we've got a sales agent Dona Manchester and when we went in the showroom last week, it just stood out like a sore thumb this sports word on the reel because it was different, but like the quality was amazing qualities and we always want to Have the brand sort of attached to sport like, especially because we came from football and it was kind of like that's that was that was kind of what we did styling was like fitted sort of athleisure clothing because like that's kind of what football tops and football strips and, and tracks, it's sort of bad like and that's what we wanted to take in the sort of street. Right. I think it's interesting how an hour I don't know if it's just me but guys in general now are more conscious of looking good when they're working out. Right for me back in the day, it was all about clothes that I'd work out in, go to the boxing gym in, we'd all be the stuff that I just wear on the construction site. You know, it's like, I didn't want to get any new tees day and I didn't wanna have to go out and buy a new stuff to workout in. So it's okay, I can just wear this it's got 10 holes and, and, you know, and then that would be that would just then become something that would bleed the radio waves. I get as much use as I can out of warranty. But I don't know how when it changed but guys now more and fused about wearing stuff that they're going to work out and it almost inspires them to work out because they they now have the right gear and they have like the quality gear to go out and do that. Do you think that the Germans stuff see as a social thing as well? No, it's not just like I'm just going to walk covertly, especially in the last couple of years for COVID and stuff like they want them to act with people so they want to look good and feel good when they're in the gym. Just in the gematria equally nice Jones like dramas like David Lloyd and they like DWI like JD there's probably more members of the opposite sex in the gym as well so they're both trying to look good for each other I mean this time because you know that maybe that's like an older the gym seat and you just want to turn up looking like a bag of washer now it's just like I'm actually it's like there's almost more of a social event like kind of FFP coffin in the gym jogging you're going there to look good it's to walk out kind of a battle maybe get a week off it after and then you're on the road that's how it's done guys back in the day the gentleman and you got coffee which isn't a euphemism by the way it's literally just but yeah, it is interesting now that I think about it I never the guys that are really in shape that I see in the gym are never wearing any crap or anything that's kind of oversized or you know stuff that looks 20 years old you know so I think if you are serious about your fitness you do pay as much attention now to what you're wearing down the gym and like you say guys, you know that people are watching you more you know more eyeballs on you more photos being taken all the time. So I kind of was getting taken all the time No. Camera phones are so accessible now compared to what they were 20 years ago then like people are always like conscious like on Sundays I'll take a photo or like they'll ever be wanted to live the best time I think that's the point I was gonna make a point there I think like obviously like go to the gym like healthy body healthy means ugly and stuff like that. But I think maybe a lot of people went to the gym before for all the reasons right now I think it's to look at Job mean people are going to the gym to look good so like they're gonna wear stuff that makes them look good while we're trying to look at if you're in the gym trying to work out so yeah, I think it kind of goes hand in hand a bit because I think like offering we've got the jeans and hoodies and jackets and stuff it still have that same same feeling whatsoever guys feel look good in the gym. We are in the sportswear stuff they know what they're almost want to get from our our stuff our day. We are on an evening. Well, so like they I think that's why we've got so many repeat customers. What is the what is the fruit? Sorry, Mark. Yeah, what is the fruit line there? Is it the fit? That's the same in terms of the jeans and the tees and hoodies or is it kind of the designs? Let's see what sort of fairs wherever we like we obviously do do some more realistic things as well. We've tried to have that sort of like tailored sort of feel without actually getting Neyland. germini. So it's like it fits nice. It's like it's not like hanging off. Yeah, like it kind of fits the shape your body a little bit as well. So all the products have got plenty stretch in them to give that feel as well. So if someone's like, Oh, it's a bit like do Lego like tires. So all the all the products, they'll mix it like fit in that way? Right? Okay, that's interesting. You know, might as well he did that purposely so you're sending things out if they don't have any stretch, and they're gonna come straight back. So as an online company, in fact and stretch and our product that yeah, maybe some signs a little bit. It's not in certain places, but it stretches and obviously, it just fits you nicely. I think we're still on like eight or 9% McDonald's, which is Oh wow. as well. Yeah, I used to work in an independent fashion shop just outside of Cambridgeshire me and my best mate from school set it up and listening to the podcast would have heard this story 1000 times the worst thing you'd see as a postman coming back through the door in the morning with the return parcels. But when, as only 9% scissor? Yeah, you never, you never like seeing the guy in that he can't shoot the messenger. But you do just want to tell him to hit the brakes and take the first. But yeah, so that's that I mean, but our return percentage, we were dealing with other brands that kind of have that notoriously come up small, our you know what I'm saying here, but the the label brands or household name brands, they've kind of all offered their sizing. So one over here would typically come up small, whereas another over there, you'd probably have to go up a size where it might kind of sit in the middle. So having confidence in a brand, like you were saying earlier, having, you know, repeat customers that know what they're getting in terms of fit and size, whether it's a hoodie, or a pair of jeans, you know, having confidence as a buyer, especially online is key. Now, gents, I've got a last question about fitness, if you don't mind before you go. So like, how old are you? Jen's knafeh Milsons. Fitness. Okay, so yeah, I'm 43. And I always figure that, like footballers, especially had, they kind of go either way with their fitness when they retire. It's like, well, has the discipline now kind of bled in so much that you just have it as a way of life where you get up and do 20 laps around the track in the morning. Or do treat it like 15 year old does with algebra, you know, now that you're in your 30s There's no need to learn algebra anymore. So you just kind of knock it on the head and you know, get a bit comfortable in life. What's the what's the secret? And you guys I think you guys are more into the fitness element, obviously, but what's the secret to kind of really just having the mindset to stay fit? I think it's just so quick body conscious. Like I think if I if I get like if it goes up it was like three weeks and I'm actually not done nothing and actually physically notice that I'll then train for the next three weeks and then taking food off the gasseri but that's still about like this and I do go through stages of like I've got a block of a month I'm just going to train and then I'll for the next month or not and then I'll get to the summer I'm playing golf so walking woods, so it does it does just stay inactive is probably the thing that keeps me going I think the one thing I do you mess around I don't really mess play in football because we've got what we've got one thing I do miss is being really fair, I like being fair, like I still try to play to us. I'm still trying to play football, like both my mom ate and like I like to be the best and I like to be fair, like even when I played football like that sort of like I could run all day. I mean that was a thing that was so good. It's like yeah, I'm very body conscious as well. I mean I want to keep myself looking nice and probably quite a bit vain you know I mean but yeah, I want to keep myself looking do I want to keep fair I want to be able to do things and be active so that's that's kind of yeah neither was really sad about we're not really people that live our setup I will relax too much to be honest no one for this setting all day and like on my day off and just watching TV or wherever I'm on the go and I've got a 14 year old kid who's well daft and try to get them in the golf as well and then a little bit late Mrs gives me a hard time all the time so you never just sit down and do nothing like just you never stop You're always like 100 miles an hour which isn't a good thing but just saw some things and then you just take your shirt off and go well this doesn't grow on trees we keep moving the Fit Model video I'd like to say is because like what the gentleman buys it's interesting when I you know I follow Liverpool Football Club and you know the likes of Mo Salah just coming back from F con now and he's played like 120 minute games I mean four or five in the space of two weeks and now he's saying to club look just put me out there and ready to go again and pick it these guys are just like Matt they're in fighting shape all the time like boxers would have like walking around shape fighting shape. Thank you. Oh there is Yeah Nice. Nice so I I'm just constantly amazed that these guys can just peg it about like and play two or three times a week. I mean, some players are like that that salad like that. Man is like that. I mean oxlade Chamberlain I love but he kind of breaks down every 10 minutes that you have had some players that have the mental commitment to it, but the bodies just don't want to keep up with them in terms of their fitness and some sometimes you can get like an injury and then that just like sets you off so like money and salary I suppose so if I had a shoulder but it's not I never really had an affair with his legs or his his body that way but yeah some people are just machines and they just keep trying to let you see you got it feels like the opposite but it's sometimes is that just the weakness in the body or some people just their bodies just won't let them deal I never really got injured until like the end my head my head gave way so I've got the same thing as on the body and stuff as my head so that's why I had to stop but up until then I never really really missed gains or injury but Stephen on the other hand probably works equally hard if not harder and his he just kept sort of breaking down his body just couldn't get cannot obviously to move and get you play three games and then you like Mr. And then come back there were never like serious injuries. But luckily like my body just couldn't maintain it at that level. Never ever got to the bottom of the problem I was happening. And was that your name? Right it turned out but I've actually not ACL my left knee is just what all the way. Because we were playing pipe season, what crazy stuff I worked in. So every Thursday night, we'd go and play and play together and pop in money and it turned out to be a total of Cartledge money, but the scan actually showed up there. I never had an ACL, where there's just like, oh, well, then it is a previous injury but I never had like a knee problem. So a big problem perhaps my hamstrings sort of I say no, that was probably contributing to their the issue. Yeah, that's crazy. But it's it's a great story. I love the fact that you you two gents have had the careers you've had but also stayed mates. And then business partners afterwards. It's like a brand that's got like a romantic story behind it. And they've also done well. So congrats, some contingent like story and where we've come from and what we're going to be doing going forward. So yeah, no, and I think people gravitate to that as well. Just knowing that there's a story behind the brand. It kind of gives you a bit more purpose. Let's be inspired. clothing.com by the way is a place that people can go and check the brand out. We'll put all the links over on the show notes over at Menswear. style.co.uk In the meantime, gents. Thanks for indulging my 50 questions and taking time out to watch and hope to see some of this stuff on Bobby for me. No sooner had he Well, he's already got it on right. Yeah. And, you know, people got to see him back and he was he was when I was asked to get on because he was my favourite. Oh, yeah. Magic Man. That's what he's known as around this house. Magics turned up, he's put another one in the box. That's our message because are you talking about 13? Yeah, yeah. Number one from Barcelona. Well, yeah, that's the we'll have to record another hours worth of work. 10 years. All right, but I realise you guys gotta live to get on with but great talking to you gents, and then speak to you soon. Yeah, Cheers, mate. Thanks for much. Thanks. Thank you. Bye, bye you've been listening to that menswear style podcast be sure to head over to menswear style dot code at uk for more menswear content and email info at menswear style dot code at UK if you'd like to be a future guest on the show. Finally, please help support the show by leaving a review on iTunes or wherever you're listening to this podcast. Until next time,