Ghetto Viking Music and Clothing are an independent company founded in Bristol, UK. They create clothing, accessories, music merchandise and run event nights whilst promoting bands and artists along the way.
Hello Ghetto Vikings! Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed for Warrior Women Magazine. You are our Small Business of The Month! So, tell us a bit about yourselves:
Kat: I’m Kat, I handle all the legal and financial challenges and tasks that come with running a company. Currently I also handle orders and web-design, communication with potential investors, customers and suppliers and generally smooth operation of the business. I’ve experienced a lot in a short time, and have had a degree and no use for it for a while so Ghetto Viking gives me an outlet for my knowledge and skills.
Kyle: I’m Kyle, the guy with the initial idea that was, is, and hopefully will continue to be Ghetto Viking as a brand. Not overly sure what to tell you about myself, other than my brain works faster than my physical ability, and my personal talents don’t match it at all. This is why I am blessed to have Kat as a best friend and business partner, as she puts me in my place and keeps me progressing. Kat often tells me she wishes she could spend a day in my head to understand how it works, as my creativity amazes and confuses her. Which is weird because she’s generally a lot more than myself in regards to brain power.
Ghetto Viking Music & Clothing is a collective of artists in all mediums, as well as general every day misfits banding together. We’ve created a family of people that care for one another, and want to help each other build to that ‘ultimate goal’: self-sustainability.
We’re not looking to create riches, just comfort, and are of the mindset that we all eat together, or no one does. No time, nor place, for people who want to use and abuse for self-gain.
Ghetto Viking Music & Clothing, also known as GVMC (a play on the brand name, as well as Ghetto Viking Music Crew) is a collective of heavy metal to hip-hop and all genres between, tattooists, artists, and general fans of those art forms, banding together to build something new. We base a lot of our overall imagery and ideology on the old Norse teachings, specifically the 9 noble virtues:
Strength is better than weakness
Courage is better than cowardice
Joy is better than guilt
Honour is better than dishonour
Freedom is better than slavery
Kinship is better than alienation
Realism is better than dogmatism
Vigour is better than lifelessness
Ancestry is better than rootlessness
We’re aiming to change the world in regards to self-respect, and respect of others, and more importantly giving people the comfort to be themselves, among like-minded people, to be safe and free.
Along with that, we’re very supportive in aiding survivors of abuse and rape. The word “victim” gets thrown around a lot, and we at GVMC are more of the mind you’re not victims, but survivors, warriors that faced things and came out the other side. This is the inspiration for “The Valkyrie Project”, which is due to launch officially this year, as a support charity for survivors.
I appreciate GVMC is still growing and isn’t a full-time gig just yet, what do you guys do outside of it and do you have any other projects/hobbies on the go?
Kat: I work in Palliative Care, and in my free time am putting a lot of effort into building the Valkyrie Project. I’ve started to support survivors through their court processes and in finding relevant assistance in the journey of overcoming related struggles. I’m also due to start my Master’s degree and have been putting in some preparation to get through that with as much ease as possible.
Kyle: I clean and fix things to earn pay to keep things growing. I’m not going to give any credit to the company for whom I work for, as they are the worst. Minimum wage slaves are the common term thrown around by me and my peers in that place. Other than that, I was the frontman/vocalist of a Groove Metal band for 5 years, even played some pretty big shows in support of Onslaught, Malefice, and Breed 77, until we split (all musicians can be divas… myself included) due to personal and professional differences. I’m aiming to start up a new unit as soon as possible, I do miss the stage and lights, the pageantry of putting on a show and the general overall health benefit of venting in creative form. Just need to find members...
I am also a keen artist, loosest meaning of the word, I constantly design and draw whenever I find myself sat still with a pen/pencil and paper to hand. I am the lead/head/sole designer of all GV products, though I incessantly bother Kat for her opinion.
Acting, and related somewhat, wrestling are also massive interests of mine. I’ve done a lot of extra work and being on set is one of the greatest things anybody can do. Even if you don’t have the confidence to be front and centre, being a part of a creative team to achieve an overall product people can enjoy feels amazing.
What led you to start GVMC and how long has it been running?
Kat: I was originally just a helping hand to Kyle, helping him legally start a business and setting up the business accounts and such for him. Then, one day when I referred to GVMC as his business he looked up and said “our business, this is as much yours as mine”, and now just over a year on I am fully invested and running the company alongside him.
Kyle: GVMC has been around for just over a year now. It’ll be 2 come August, 2017.
The birth of GVMC effectively came to be during the remaining days of my old band as an idea, to give bands the ability to actually get paid for the shows they play. I set up two shows at The Hatchet Inn, Bristol, for 6 bands over two shows, from within and surrounding areas of Bristol/Gloucester and every band walked away with equal cut of, I believe, £30 per band. This doesn’t sound like a lot, but a lot of bands don’t get paid at all, at sometimes get £10-£15 tops from promoters that raked in a good couple hundred. The thing is, from what I found and experienced, most promoters (and I stress most, but NOT all) like to pocket most of the income on a night for basically (and excuse my language on this) f&*k all work put in. They’re promoters and they make the bands do the promoting for the better part. I didn’t care about the personal income, I think for both events I personally walked away with £9 one show, and £7 the other. I just wanted passionate people to be compensated for the hard work put in. Fast forward after a lot of personal problems, joblessness, homelessness, friends and family conveniently leaving me neck deep in the water, Kat came along and pretty much kept me above that water. She is a queen.
From there, with the idea I had already in place, we sat down, bounced ideas around my Nan’s kitchen one day (I was crashing on her sofa for a couple weeks at that point) and GVMC came to be. An idea of a brand, that is the flag for a collective of people to rally to. People you can’t really box in to any stereotype of genre classification. From there, it’s slowly growing and people are starting to claim GVMC pride, and “family love” all over the place, and honestly it’s humbling.
What IS Declaration 127 and what significance does it hold for you?
Kyle: To put it bluntly, a very harsh and horrible time in human history bastardised a lot of the old world imagery and meanings, and because of this the Norse pantheon, along with their symbols are often used, and mistaken for, Nazi symbolism.
Sadly, there are a lot of people who follow the Old Ways and the Old Gods, that do hold those extremist ideas and personally speaking they are entitled to them, but we are not that. We are aware that the colours associated with our brand, along with our imagery can sometimes be considered close to what is known of the 1930’s-1940’s Nazi party of Germany, and all subsequent parties that idolise them, we just want to make clear we are NOT affiliated with anything of the sort.
Declaration 127 is a collective itself, of Old Way followers stating they want nothing to do with, nor condone the actions of, other Old Way collectives that fall under extremist beliefs and or views.
Our view is, if you’re worthy, you’re with us. Like how the Vikings of old use to go out, claim thralls by enslaving people, and more often than not end up freeing them through finding them to be loyal or talented, and then becoming shield brothers and or sisters, sometimes lovers. The base concept is, if you’re willing to work with us, for us, as a collective, for the same common goal, you are a Ghetto Viking. If you’re against that idea, because of some other opinion, go away, because all that is sacred and wonderful of the Old Ways already has a bad smell and one too many a blemish to a lot of people around the world, and we don’t need to continue that. We don’t want to continue that. Declaration 127 is that. The difference between positivity and negativity.
Kat: As a descendent of a Scandinavian family highly invested in Old Norse culture, Declaration 127 is hugely important to me as it shows that the imagery we use, and that my family still hold in high opinion, is intended for its purpose; not to promote racism or bigotry.
What are GVMC’s aims, what are your driving forces?
Kat: To reach a point where the company sustains us comfortably and gives us the ability to work solely on what we love. I’m driven by that image, that one day my life will be devoted to helping others and (laugh away) number crunching on a daily basis.
Kyle: Self-sustainability for ourselves and those we care about.
To do something! Leave a page or two for the history books.
Have you come across any sexist issues in the owning/running of GVMC along the way?
Kat: I can almost guarantee no one recognises me as a driving force behind GVMC. Very often people either don’t acknowledge me in the role I play, or refuse to accept that I’m not just associated with it. It’s a constant battle to be recognised as a leading woman in an industry dominated by men and I often find myself being spoken over regularly as people seem to feel that my opinion is inferior.
Kyle: So many times, I’ve had to remind people that I am but half of the leadership of Ghetto Viking. It seems everyone always overlooks, or forgets entirely that Kat is my business partner, partner being the vital point of information there, with that she is more than capable. More capable than myself in regards to most things and is there to discuss business also. A lot of people just focus on me and although it is a bit annoying, it aids us greatly in the fact that people’s attentions are usually on me, while she listens and learns. I may be the King of GV, but what’s a King without a Queen? Nothing.
With that said, people that pay attention know what’s what. But the point is, people need to realise that without a great woman, a man is nothing.
Is there anyone around you that you would consider a Warrior Woman?
Kat: I have a very dear friend who suffers with a multitude of chronic illnesses and is bedridden almost daily, but who still wakes up and spends her time looking out for and motivating others with similar illnesses. She is a true warrior. Despite her pain, others always come first. I’ve met some wonderful survivors of abuse also, who have come from dark places to shining bright and achieving all their dreams. Genuine, modern day Warrior Women.
The women associated with, and representing GVMC are all warriors too. I can’t think of a single one that isn’t facing a personal battle of some variety, but without fail, they are always there - supporting everyone around them.
Kyle: My business partner, and my mother. My nan too, hell my whole family. I come from a women majority family and they’re all fighters. Along with pretty much all the women out there that represent GVMC as a whole. Wonderful women, the lot of you.
Running a small business can’t be easy. What would you say are the pros and cons for you?
Kat: It’s a lot of sleepless nights followed by very long days, and lots of waiting for other people to get back to you but every time I see a new item of merchandise, or a smile on someone’s face because of something we have done, or someone telling me they’ve loved the club night... that makes it all worth it.
Kyle: It’s very, very far from easy. But it is worth it. The stress, the aches, the pains, the sleepless nights, the running around not knowing whether you’re coming and or going, it’s all worth it. Simply for the one reason; you’re watching your labour of love become all that it can be. You get to create, build and watch what you put in, flourish.
What and/or who inspires you to steer the Ghetto Viking ship?
Kat: Simply put, knowing that I have a platform that I can use to spread awareness of issues close to my heart and help people get through things with the doors that GVMC has opened.
Kyle: Again, my business partner is up there, definitely. But along with her, I find great inspiration from a lot of musicians and their ‘from nothing, to everything’ stories of life, along with countless historical figures that dared to break away from the norm, and try and change the world. I wish to emulate a fraction of anything and everything they all managed to accomplish.
What advice would you give to anyone starting their own business?
Kat: Do your research beforehand, know what you already have and what you need. Set up a business plan rather than winging it as you go. And know that there will be people who don’t want to see you succeed, people who will claim to support you but never be there, and people who will milk you if they get the chance. If you’re working as part of a team make sure you trust everyone on board, and that you all have a similar goal. Keep your plans to yourself and if you hit a roadblock don’t quit. There is ALWAYS a way around it.
Kyle: Be aware of those around you. A lot of fair weather friends, and family both, all come and go. Do not let that dishearten you. You can’t sail a ship with anchors bulking you down. Be more aware of the people that suddenly see your success and come flocking. Sheep are good to have, but you don’t want to trample your homestead into nothingness.
Stay focused too, don’t lose the passion and/or the goal… and if you succeed in that goal, get another one.
So, What’s next for Ghetto Viking?
Kat: For now, growth. We’ve done a lot in a year but there are more mountains to climb before I’d say ‘we’re there’. We’re looking to venture to new towns with our club night, increase our merchandise range and sales of our stock, support and promote more bands and artists.
Kyle: The world is out there and there are many more shores to visit. At the risk of sounding egotistical and/or bigger than my boots, there’s a lot of land to claim for the GVMC kingdom and all the benefits that come with it.
You can find all associated Ghetto Viking pages on Facebook, or you can check out what they are all about at www.ghettovikings.co.uk