About É Nóis
WHAT IS E NOIS?
E Nois [Eh Noyce]
É Nóis is a Brazilian Portuguese phrase that literally translates to “It’s us,” although as slang it can also be used to express “I’m with you," or "We got this.”
For The Next Generation | Para A Próxima Geração
É Nóis supports making Brazilian Jiu Jitsu accessible to as many children as possible; in this country and abroad regardless of socioeconomic status. Currently we are teamed up with Alley Cat Fitness Foundation in Panama which is a nonprofit that provides free training to underprivileged at risk children in the historic Casco Viejo neighborhood.
Quality Of Craft | Qualidade E Artesanato
Based out of Los Angeles, we are artists and craftsmen/women who are passionate about the process of creating our own pieces, often times by hand in our own studio. We favor unique design and tend to turn left when the rest of the traffic is turning right. And we tightly control our in-house printing process to guarantee that the print preserves the ultra soft and natural feel of our apparel. As we say here at É Nóis, "so soft you'll want to slap your grandaddy".
Diversity In Jiu Jitsu | Diversidade No Jiu Jitsu
É Nóis also supports diversity in our sport. We believe Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has amazing potential to connect people of diverse backgrounds. We believe that everyone should be welcome in our community regardless of race, gender, socioeconomic status and/or sexual identity.
INTERVIEW WITH THE FOUNDER | DAVID MELIK TELFER
Tim Peterson, David Melik Telfer, Giva Santana
What Is Your BJJ Background?
I am currently a black belt under Giva Santana and Tim Peterson of Lotus Club BJJ. My first encounter with BJJ was in 2003 when I was studying abroad in Sao Paulo, Brazil. I was totally ignorant regarding martial arts and was lucky enough to be in Brazil when I decided to take up a martial art for "self-defense." I started at an academy in my Sao Paulo neighborhood under a black belt named Guigo. After finishing my time abroad, I moved back to North Carolina (where I grew up and attended undergrad). I continued training in North Carolina at a Royce Gracie affiliate until I moved out to Los Angeles in 2005 for law school at UCLA.
At UCLA, I met Tim Peterson in the BJJ recreation classes they offered. Eventually Tim and I took over the classes and started a club team. Upon graduation from UCLA we opened a gym (after a short stint at a law firm) called Robot Fight & Fitness in Santa Monica as part of Lotus Club BJJ and under Giva Santana. I competed a fair amount at purple and brown belt and earned bronze at Nationals and World No Gi Championships (both at Brown Belt). I don't compete much these days, but I love training with our comp team and I love going to watch all competitions.
Why Did You Decide To Start A Clothing Brand?
Honestly, the question for me is why I didn't start a clothing company before. I have built things since I was quite young and creating a clothing company has been my single biggest dream since I was about 16. Unfortunately I let my fears and doubts prevent me from committing to that dream and I pursued a more stable career. I ended up going to college and then law school, worked at a law firm and then grew enough courage to drop the law career and open the gym. The more I progressed in BJJ the more comfortable I became with the possibility of failure. Finally, I sold my share in the gym and with that seed money I went all-in on É Nóis. Win or lose, nothing brings me as much pleasure as the creative process and magic of making functional art, i.e., clothing.
What Is The Meaning Behind E Nois?
É Nóis (pronounced Eh Nois or Eh Noish depending on where you are in Brazil) literally means "It's Us." However, it's a slang expression (the correct spelling is "É Nós.") I would compare it to "oss," however it is not directly linked to BJJ or martial arts. It would commonly be used to express "I'm with you," or "I get you." With that said, I prefer the literal meaning - “It's Us.” BJJ is us and our overarching goal at É Nóis is inclusivity. We think everyone should have the opportunity to train regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and/or socioeconomic status.
How Would You Describe Your Brand Style?
Our style is raw, subtle and craft quality. We like clothing that looks like human hands took part in its manufacture and that is utterly unique and fashion forward. We also think it is important to share the process with our customer. We print our own shirts and I personally print every new sample. This is because the print process is the creative process. I've never walked into the studio and walked out with the exact product I had in mind beforehand. The printing process is where I get to experiment and get my creative juices flowing. When you separate the designer from the process you lose 50% of the creative opportunities. That is why we are currently moving toward a model where all our products are finished in our studio.
As far as imagery, I think BJJ clothing is already beginning to mature and eventually we will leave behind the less subtle wording and graphics like "tap or snap." We are bigger than that and smarter than that and we can express our culture without yelling about it. That's why we try to use subtle and abstract wording and let our images speak for us.
Who Else Is Part Of The Team?
The É Nóis creative and business team is pretty small. I have two advisors who are MBA's at USC - Mohammad Alhusaini and Jeremy Klein. I also have some other friends I call on for advice and my brand ambassadors (I'll discuss them more in the sponsorship category). Dave Gieselman is our sales rep.
Who Are The Artists And Designers?
The artsists are… me. I design everything currently – website, logo, t-shirts graphics, new products, etc. The creative part is what I enjoy the most. If I could outsource everything expect product development and other design tasks I would gladly do so.
Do You Sponsor People?
The short answer is Yes. However, we have different sponsorship forms.
Scholarships: A big part of our mission is helping kids from underprivileged backgrounds access BJJ which is more of a scholarship than a sponsorship. We work with Stephen Crissman and John Boyle at Alley Cat Fitness Foundation in Panama City, Panama where they have an entirely free kids BJJ program for underprivileged kids in their area. In fact (little plug), our next gi will be the Alley Cat Kids Gi and we will send the kids down there one gi for everyone that we sell here (think Tom’s Shoes). We are even planning an open trip for peope who want to help us bring the gis down there and take a little training vacation in Panama.
Brand Ambassadors: We have several brand ambassadors. We look for people who really believe in our product and our mission (inclusivity in BJJ). It’s just as important for us to work with competitors as it is to work with individuals who are out there working to make the BJJ scene a better place. Currently we sponsor Yoshihiro Yamada in Japan, Marco Cruzatt in Los Angeles and Luke DeRobbio in Los Angeles. Brian Castillo in Arizona is a Brand Ambassador.
What Are Your Goals Over The Next Few Years?
We have a lot of goals for the next few years! Our first goal is to solidify our Assembled in the USA model. We are working to vet vendors abroad for the basics and set up our studio here so we can assemble/finish our products in our LA workshop where we have more creative and quality control. Of course we’d also like to grow our sales domestically and abroad and we’d like to expand our offerings into more casual/street wear.
And just as important, we want to start a charity that helps underprivileged children here and abroad gain access to BJJ. We will start with our partners in Panama and expand that program as we learn more about the process.