You hear the word “Doozy” your mind turns to one thing. You hear Butterfly Effect by Travis Scott or Taste by Tyga ft Offset and your mind turns to one thing. Someone is being a negatron and your mind turns to one thing. You scroll through Instagram to check up on your favourite NRL players and your feed is all one thing. YKTR. The clothing line taking over the whole NRL community one t-shirt at a time.
A few years ago good mates Isaac John, Corey Norman and James Segeyaro shared a joke amongst one another. The slogan “you know the rules” would be thrown at one another so much that Isaac decided to print it on to a t-shirt with the help of one little application on his phone. From that shirt, came two then came two more and more and more until finally every second person was representing the four letters across their chest. An over exaggeration yes however the accomplishment is not in any way. While the three together are the creators of this line, the mastermind behind most of the success is former NRL player Isaac John.
“I had this feeling in my gut that footy wasn’t for me anymore.
“I had always had a creative and business itch that I wanted to scratch and now was the time while I didn’t have any kids or dependants so I said f- it, gonna give this clothes thing a crack.
“It combines the things I love the most in the world – creating, designing, travelling, and hanging with mates. Clothes are the vehicle to do those things.”
Once the business initially started finding itself they took it upon themselves to do anything they could to reach a wider audience and show not just NRL fans an insight on their lives, but potential business entrepreneur dreamers too. Isaac bought a camera, microphone and taught himself how to edit videos and thus the YKTR Vlogs were born. 70 vlogs under their belts and they have stayed true to their promise. We have seen the highs and lows of their business, lives and careers on the field away from the office. With the occasional cameo from other players such as Clint Gutherson and Jarryd Hayne, the three have ultimately shown the type of people they are and why people should invest in a small business like theirs. With the many positive views however, there always comes negativity especially in a booming society of keyboard warriors.
“I don’t give a f- to be honest. I reply to 95% of the people that comment to us across all social platforms (Instagram, Youtube, and Facebook). Haters included. I reply with positivity and it usually gets a positive response back.
“It’s a shame that fans think players should go into hiding if things aren’t going well.
“I can do nothing but praise Corey for turning up in our vlogs because going into hiding would be the easy thing to do.
“We promised our followers we’d document the good and the bad. That’s the shame about social media these days - we [society] only portray the best parts of our lives. The best photos of ourselves.
“I feel like that’s why we’re relatable to a lot of people because we show who we are all the time. None of it is fabricated and in return we’ve found people have wanted to support us.”
The greatest backing of support for YKTR has been the NRL players. Not necessarily the NRL themselves, but the players who continuously represent the clothing line and show off their new kits every time a line is dropped. The support that players offer goes a very long way however, as time has gone on, the company has been able to grow in ways that cannot be credited to footy in any way.
“At the start it [the NRL/players] definitely helped for sure. We would be ignorant to say it didn’t. But in saying that, it hasn’t been the sole reason behind why we’ve had minor success.
“You’ve just got to think – there are bigger players out there than Corey and Chicko in the game that aren’t maximising the leverage they have as a football player.
“Also, you have to think that if someone is a Parramatta Eels fan and support Corey there will also be 15 club’s supporters who may hate Parramatta or Corey. If so, they wouldn’t be buying off us.
“But I feel like we’ve outgrown their personal profiles at the moment which is ultimately what we always wanted.
“In saying that, if you want to start a business, offer your clothes to NRL players. They’re tight with money and love free shit so I’m sure you’ll have no issue with getting the leverage.”
A player who is not only offering leverage for YKTR but also learning about growing his own profile and making a difference away from the field is Clint “The King” Gutherson. Obviously mates with Corey at the Eels, Gutho has become close to all three boys behind the four letters and has decided to team up for a capsule dedicated to his profile.
“Gutho is just cool. I don’t know what it is about him but he’s just very likeable.
“The reason we’ve gone with Gutho was because our initial “PARRADISE” capsule was turned down by the NRL. We would have donated back to junior Rugby League however they didn’t want that. So with the way I explained it to Gutho was that he could make one of the best days of a kid’s childhood. If he used the money and bought them a pair of boots or took some kids to pizza or a movie – shit like that lasts a lifetime with kids.
“That’s what I want our brand to be about and especially the capsules we will be dropping.
“In terms of other players having capsules? Probably not too many in the future. I have had brief discussions with Kalyn Ponga so that we could do something similar but we have capsules lined up with charities as well.
“We want to use our brand to make a difference. This shit is bigger than clothes.”
The future for YKTR is an exciting one. No one can predict what will happen however that won’t stop Isaac and the boys from planning and dreaming big. Whether or not Corey and Chicko will be at YTKR forever once they're done with their football is unsure however, they have the opportunity. Many NRL players focus solely on the football that when their career is over – God forbid it be cut early due to injury – they find themselves lost.
“The boys still have a good couple of years to go. They’re footy heads and both want to win a premiership. I’ve been around a lot of players in my life and I can’t say that about a lot of footy players but I can about these two.
“Chicko has his own dreams and ambitions for starting a business. Corey is just a drifter – he’ll go wherever the wind takes him. I think he’ll end up in YKTR if all is going well.
“YKTR gives them a genuine option into life after football. How many footy players have the option of getting a job in their own business day one outside of football?
“I’ve seen a lot of football players struggle after footy because they lose their identity and depression can usually follow that. I’ll be trying my best not to let that happen to us three. I don’t want to see my friends struggle.”
It started as a joke between three friends but has grown to be so much more. So much more than just clothing on a person’s back. It's an avenue for friendship, change and the potential of greatness.
“It’s all sort of just happened. It’s crazy having people walking past you on the street representing your brand. I know exactly the process and design and timing of the t-shirt you are wearing. Where I was when I designed it and stuff like that.
“It’s been a cool journey thus far.
“In saying that, even though we pump out a lot of content with our vlogs, blogs etc, a lot of the time I’m sitting in my office alone so you don’t really realise how far your content can go and people they can reach.
“I’ve had people come up to me and go “I’ve never bought anything off you but I love coming home after work and watching your vlogs cause they give me a laugh.” That gives me chills more than a sale.”
YKTR. It’s the clothing line that continues to take the Australian small business industry by a storm. All of the t-shirts, hoodies, caps and even socks aside – YKTR is just three mates with passion, motivation and drive having fun and inspiring change through clothing.
“How do we stay grounded? Easily. By waking up every day and realising this could all be over tomorrow.
“It’s exciting times and plenty of hard work has gone into it. We’re enjoying the ride at the moment without taking single sale or day for granted. I don’t take a single thing about YKTR for granted.
“People are our business and if we lose that connection, we lose YKTR.
“That’s why I spend up to 2-3 hours per day replying to everyone and saying thank you because I know without them there’s no us.”