Lakesan “Styx” Siva is a recognized break dancer in Toronto’s community, and recognition doesn’t come easy as a bboy. Let’s just say break dancing itself is not one for the faint of heart – the physical toll, the potential for injury, the need to perform under pressure – nothing about this art makes it something you decide to just “pick up”. Sure a lot of people say they “break dance”, but for serious bboys and bgirls, mastering the art is something they dedicate their lives to. That’s how long it takes to (maybe) perfect this art form.
You get the drift. Break dancing is hard and risky. Anyone who can excels at it has exceptional risk tolerance and determination – exemplary traits of an entrepreneur.
Styx is no different. He’s got the drive, he’s got determination, and he’s quick to put himself in money’s way. “I’ve always had side hustles I guess. In middle school my friends and I wore these trucker hats and everyone in school seemed to want them too, so we set up an “online shop” on Piczo, nothing sophisticated, and people started buying them. We made like…$100 each? Not much today but back then as a 13 year old it seemed like a lot!” And when it came time for this opportunist to find an unpaid internship, a program requirement for his Ryerson University Graphic Communications Management degree, he didn’t really like the “unpaid” part.
“I went to my prof and asked if, instead of doing an unpaid internship, I could start my own company and work for myself. He looked at me weird and told me no. I didn’t like that “no”, so I went ahead and started my own company anyways. IronPatch.” The downtown Toronto native has always been good at drawing, and when the technology became available he started putting out work with MS Illustrator. “I had all these designs and they were just sitting there in a file on my computer. I wanted to take my designs and give them a physical form, so the idea of doing patches seemed perfect.”
IronPatch, a catchy name, and a perfect description of what the company makes: iron-on patches. “I love the idea that people can put them anywhere – hats, jackets, shirts, backpacks, possibilities are endless. It allows for self expression that can be evolved and customized with ease.” Sure enough, together with his co-creator Jane Souralaysack, the two created the brand, sourced the supplier, set up and online shop and was ready for business. “The day before our deadline to find an internship, I went to my prof and handed him an envelope full of patches. From there I think he knew I was dead set on doing this, so he made an exception and allowed me to “intern for myself.”
Styx and Jane’s patches feature designs reminiscent of flash art tattoos. Appropriate, since the patches are essentially tattoos for your clothes and accessories. “I’ve seen other companies do patches, they’re usually sold as an accessory, tucked away in a corner or a small section of the store, often overlooked. We wanted to design patches good enough to stand alone. When you buy a patch you’re buying something we’ve put hours, days, weeks into designing. It’s no different than purchasing any other form of art, it’s just with ours you can wear it!”
Though still in the beginning phases of its journey, Styx has a gutsy vision of what the future holds for IronPatch. “I want IronPatch to be the world’s go-to for highly quality artistic patches. I want it to be the No.1 patch shop”. Hearing this, I couldn’t help but ask if he might be overreaching a little, to which he replied, “Why settle for good when you can be amazing? Have you ever met someone amazing at what they do and someone who was just “good”? Which person inspired you more? When was the last time you were inspired by “good”?
To shop Styx and Jane’s creations, check out IronPatch’s onlineshop.
New designs are rolled out constantly and sell out fast!
This interview has been edited and condensed.