Gabriel Flores 0:00
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the shades of entrepreneurship. This is your host, Mr. Gabriel Flores. Today I am here with the founder and creator of Il topia, Steven Christian. Steven, what's going on boss,
Steven Crhistian 0:14
man, you know, just living life
Gabriel Flores 0:16
living life. Let's so I'm excited, very excited about this because this is very interesting. I think it's very novel what you're doing and it's like, you have to be like super creative, I feel like to do something what you're doing. So let's talk about ill topia first introduced the world to Steven.
Steven Crhistian 0:32
Yeah, so, you know, I'm Steve, I, am I, I used to say I'm a jack of all trades, but. And then I used to be known as like a generalist. And like art turns, it's like, you sort of like, can't settle in anything, you're indecisive. But right now, I am a interdisciplinary artist. I mean, immersive artists, essentially, is sort of a catch all for generalist, but better term. And I'm getting ready to start medical school. And nice I am. I own. I founded two companies. And, you know, it just does I have time on my hands, and I grind and do a lot it Yeah, just grinding. I like it. I didn't know why.
Gabriel Flores 1:15
So well. First Company, let's talk about that. First, before we get into utopia. What was the first company? So
Steven Crhistian 1:21
interestingly enough, right. When I was playing football, I just wanted to just like, have my own cartoon. And so I started this blog called stucco in Ireland. And it was really me it was an outlet for me to sort of balanced the sort of the trials and tribulations of like, being living in Hawaii and not having money and being, you know, playing football, but also being injured and all that stuff. It was so at the intersection of all those things. And so, in the vein of like the boondocks, and all these, like cartoons that I admired, I just started to just like, have my own version of it. Create, you know, my own little world. And so first started off as stuck on an island that sort of follow me. Interestingly enough, like actually, I incorporated ill topia, which is sort of like a branch of, of one of my web comics. And I just recently actually incorporated stuck on an island, like probably a couple of months ago. Oh, really? Yeah. We'll circle. Yeah, so the project has been the project, I always consider these things projects, and like, the project has been around for probably about, yeah, this is like the 10 year anniversary of it. And on the 10 year anniversary, the year that I, yeah, 10 years to the year, you know, I decided to incorporate and be like, Okay, this is clearly not going anywhere. I can't you just let me just try to make it legit.
Gabriel Flores 2:54
Just just pivot on.
Steven Crhistian 2:57
I would say it the stuff that I do with the Autopia because I do so many things, the the stuff that I would normally try to fit ill topia in I realized that I'm constantly trying to fit ill topia in beyond the scope of what it was originally made to be. And so and so instead of trying to make Utopia work for Mazal just started another entity.
Gabriel Flores 3:24
Yeah, so let's, let's, let's tell the folks at home what is ill topia and what does it do?
Steven Crhistian 3:28
Ill topia is pretty much a, like a publishing house. It's a publishing company. And, and it's really focused on publishing, comics and cartoons. And that focus around black experiences. And that's what I've personally done with it and built it up into that point, and mainly to just fill the void in x in access points for creators to get their stuff out there. You know, so I, you know, me as a creator, I create work in then I publish it through ILL topia, and it just so happens that I, you know, I'm the founder of utopia. Yeah. And so, and so that's where it'll topia sort of fits in minds. Gotcha. And, and, yeah, yeah, you know, it's been a it's been a very informative journey. As a business person, that's also a creator. Because I have to look at things in a different way to get my own work out there. Now. Yeah, think about.
Gabriel Flores 4:35
And so, you know, one of the things you mentioned earlier is the fact that you played football. Let's, let's take a step back a little bit, because I want to talk about the struggle a little bit because we were talking a little bit earlier about, you know, how you kind of got here so let's, let's take a step back. Where did you from? You went to college? What How did you how did you find this passion for this?
Steven Crhistian 4:55
Yeah, so I am from Northern California. knew I've split time between the Bay Area primarily like Richmond, California, and in Sacramento. And so, you know, from there, got a football scholarship, well had a lot of football scholarships. But um, you know, one of the top guys coming out in Northern California around that time, and I ended up going to the University of Hawaii. And so and so this is like around the end of like, June Jones years and called Brennan rip, and, and like, all that stuff. And so and so from there, you know, the goal is to just go to go to college, because you had to do that. And then, you know, from there, go to the league, and then, you know, Figure Figure out what, figure out the new path in life, by the time I'm 27 or something like that. Right. And, and when I got there, I, you sort of, you quickly see the, how sort of disparities sort of are perpetuated in higher education. You know, because I was sort of that quintessential, you know, black male, goes to a predominantly white school on a football scholarship, and the football scholarship sort of dictates your experience your college experience, right? Yeah, you get, you know, the, I guess the perks of being an athlete on campus, but you, those perks don't necessarily lend to having agency as a student. And Salba, you know, I went there wanting to be a math major, quickly learning that, you know, the athletic department didn't necessarily want that, or the coaches didn't want that. And then the professor's had, you know, their, their biases towards athletes, and, you know, they just made it to hell for you. And so, and so, you know, after my first my first semester, my first year, doing that, you know, I sort of had to make a decision of like, okay, like, maybe this pathway isn't isn't for me, and not because I don't have interest in it. Right. And, and that that's sort of, you know, being a continuous thing that happened. And in from there, you know, just navigating, getting getting classes done and in making relationships and not trying to get in trouble and all these different things. And then also, oh, yeah, we're going to be playing on ESPN next week. Like let's not get embarrassed. Right. And so it was a you know, the, it was exhilarating like you you get to travel you get to meet people never know who's going to be a future Hall of Famer like all those things are great, especially if you're winning you know, comes with those perk but it really felt like you're like walking on eggshells, right. Like you crash your you crash your moped into somebody the back of somebody's you know, like truck and it causes a dent and there's a police report that's written about it. And then you find yourself on ESPN because of x y&z Yeah. And like, the internet wasn't as bad as it is now. So yeah, it won't be like Twitter threads. But like, that's how that's how it was like, you'd be like, oh, yeah, so and so got, you know, caught doing this, and so and so did this and stuff like that. And so, it, you know, it was, it was it was what it was, right, like, you sort of had the highs and then you have the like, the highs and the lows. And so the sort of mundane life of like college life was, you know, it, it came and went. But yeah, like everything was just really focused around sort of football in in being broke, and not being able to do anything about it. Right, like it, they always presented it, as, you know, this is an investment into your future. And the future is you doing well so that the team could win so that you can have a shot at the NFL. And your big payout is if you do well, then you will have a better life in the future. But you got to do all the stuff first. And then eventually you'll you'll have you'll be able to celebrate and stuff. So it's a it was a lot of that. And for me, I I always had this interest in wanting to, you know, just do more than just like being a football player. Yeah, nothing. I think that if I would have focused less on doing other things and focus more on doing. You know, being an athlete or a football player, I probably would have had a better college career. But I also had two hip surgeries. And if I didn't sort of explore the things I I'm not really sure, you know, the end of my college career would have would have been as hopeful or optimistic.
Gabriel Flores 9:57
You know, we've kind of discussed that. When we were first, you know, before we came on the air, kind of, you know, it's like, oh, yeah, well, you got you got college paid for. But you know, one of the things you you highlighted for me, which I didn't realize, and I think my listeners probably don't realize is like, No, you paid for that with your body.
Steven Crhistian 10:15
Yeah, yeah, I, um, interesting thing I was, I think one of two or three, division one college athletes, I think I was the only black one that, um, that was a second year grad student that had honors. And, and by that time, I had to take out probably 20 $30,000 in student loans to, like, help me do that. And that's just because there is this, there's a sort of, I wouldn't say it's a it's, it's marketed as, you know, like, you get this free ride, right? You You have everything paid for it's like, no, you actually don't you only get room and board pay for and you get any good like classes paid for you can have a job, yeah, you can't have a job, they will actually punish you, if you do get a job. And that you're making above like a threshold for pretty much like your, like a student athlete is supposed to be below the poverty line by intention for because a lot of the things are like federally funded and right. And so the thing, the thing that they don't tell you is that any incidentals you have to come out of pocket for and so it's like you need to pay for deposits for for like housing, you need to pay for art supplies, and studio equipment or whatever for your courses, right, like all those like incidental fees, you have to come out of pocket for you got to eat. Yeah, you know, like, you know, training table, perfect sample like training table. When I was in Hawaii, they would give us $108 a month for for just to live off of outside of everything, right. And so we would, we would have, like, we would have to workout at like three to four. And then we would have like film from like, 430 to like, like 630 or seven. And then we would have to, we would have study hall at like eight, from like eight to 10. And so and so it's in the dining rooms with would close at nine. And so if you didn't rush to like, and they were kind of stingy with, like, letting you take out food and stuff like that. And so, um, could you not like every day, like pretty much every day of the week, they, we had to figure out something to do after after study hall because everybody would be hungry, because we didn't have enough time to like, go across campus to like, eat up the eat at the cafeteria, or bring stuff home or bring stuff with you. Right? So like, everybody was just like starving, you know, and then you have to make weight and stuff like that. So like, everybody was like call and parents be like, hey, you know, like, we need food. Like it's a, you know, it's a kid you that like it's I've never been so hungry over, like chronic hunger is, is. That's what comes with being a student athlete chronic hunger, and in finding ways to, to make ends meet without being without getting in trouble. Like, that's how that's how every day was.
Gabriel Flores 13:34
So how did so you mentioned you wanted to take me out of class and in that and you went to grad school? How did and you're going to med school, by the way? Yeah, amazing stuff. How did how did this all though, kind of translate? Or where did you find the passion or the time really, to do l topia.
Steven Crhistian 13:52
Um, so I had a two hip surgeries when I was at Hawaii. And when you and so the second hip surgery, I actually ended up quitting the team. And, and so when I, yeah, the week that I have my second hip surgery, I quit the team. And so I got my release and everything. And so technically, I and I quit the team in the fall. And so until I pretty much recovered, and had spring had pretty much had spring semester from like January to like, May, to just, I will just a student, right, it was just sort of a lame duck period, and Salwa and so I had this idea of like crap, you know, like, I don't know what to do with my time. I don't know what to do with anything because football just sort of took so much life that like there is just a big void there. And and I had the liberty to sort of just like explore and figure out figure things out. And so I was like, I just want to like create the boondocks, I just want to create a cartoon I sort of narrowed down like, what do I really care about? Like what do I have to offer the world outside of my The body, right. And so I just sort of settled on cartoons. And so, you know, out of all this stuff, right? cartoons, cartoons, so and so I remember going to Borders Books back when Borders was still Yes, I remember borders and, and I got this book called web comics for teens and I just sort of like write it, like, front and back probably the first book that actually like, had the intentions of reading. Right? And, and I just spent, like, a couple a couple of months, just, you know, trying to find to figure out what I was trying to do realize that making a cartoon or animating is a lot harder than it is to figure that out in a couple of months, especially in 2011. You know, we just weren't there yet. Right? Like the blender wasn't popping like it is now. But I just kept I just got just being diligent and, and so it allowed me to sort of just take my mind off of things, mind you, I had hip surgery, so I couldn't, I wasn't walking, I wasn't doing anything. I was just sitting at home, sitting, sitting at home and just trying to figure stuff out. And so, um, yeah, I just kept, I just kept just putting ideas to the paper, I am a big Boondocks fan. So I kept, I just looked at his path, right? He started off on he started off making just a, just a comic strip, he decided to get that in the school paper. And then from there, it started to pick up more Yeah, and then from there, he just got a cartoon or he he had like this, you know, YouTube show, and he did all these different things. So I just literally just replicated that. And, and so from there, I just create stuff, put it out online on DeviantArt on Facebook, and, and then people just started to like it. And so then I had the opportunity to get on with the school newspaper, you know, then I got the, you know, got used to getting published and then I was like, Oh snap, like, that's all you got to do just do stuff and then put it out there. And, and then when I left why I got to Oregon State and pretty much just decided to continue that. Right. So I got on with their their school newspaper, kept getting published, you know, start doing some more stuff for YouTube, put out some more cartoons. And then you know, when I I ended up going to Portland State to, to like for the pre med stuff. And I just kept doing all that stuff. Right. And then now I'm like currently in the Willamette weekly, yeah, I'm doing stripe in the Willamette weekly. And, and that's just sort of what I've learned is, you know, just, you have to have a desire to constantly create stuff and share with people. Yeah. And the life of a creator is that of literally creating for an audience that, that you often don't see. And so and so just sort of, for me, if one person reads it and enjoys it, cool, we'll have nobody else reads it, but me cool, at least I get at least on getting published, and and getting published 100 times is better than then having an audience to me. Yeah,
Gabriel Flores 18:06
so what what, what all the different avenues, you know, for the folks at home, that maybe are interested in making publishing their own work, other than Facebook, you know, we kind of know that general medians that are available to us as social medias. But what other avenues are out there that maybe people don't know about?
Steven Crhistian 18:22
Um, I mean, it's, it's really, depending on if you want to go the digital route versus the print Route, Route, you really don't have all essentially the print route, you can do it all yourself. And you will spend time trying to figure out all the stuff you got to figure out dealing, right getting the ISBN number, getting, you know, building relationships with, you know, different stores, unless you have a following, then you're essentially just marketing yourself. And then from there, yeah, just, you know, you put it out there, and you give people a way to buy stuff. And then people will buy it. Yep, that's essentially what I found. Right. And, and, and so you kind of have to know how to do that you have to know somebody that knows how to do it, or you find a company that, you know, has an audience already that just has that sort of formula already. Yeah. Well, you are essentially you're creating value. Yeah, you know, it's a, it's, it's one creating something, then adding a value, like putting a value on it, putting it out into the market to sort of, you know, verify whether that value is what it is. And then and then you create an access point for people to to you know, sort of claim that value,
Gabriel Flores 19:52
right? Totally toy. So let's let's let's kind of get into the business part of of Utopia, bit. So you started it kind of like in your dorm? Seems like,
Steven Crhistian 20:04
II? Yeah, essentially Yes, I started in my dorm, um, and it was actually the byproduct of, I had no intentions of I had no intentions of like starting a business like, kids, you know, I had no intentions of starting a business. But one of my mentors, after I after I did a Kickstarter for, for one of my books, because I figured like this is during the time where, like, independent publishing started picking up as Kickstarter got, like, started getting bigger, right? And mainly, and I was part of that whole, like black Creator Camp that was like actually getting books, like, funded through Kickstarter. Because like, in the publishing industry, like, you know, black people just don't get published. Yeah, it's not what you know, to, you know, in the publishing industry, like, is like, black people just don't get published, right. But there's access points, if you know how to navigate them, you know, you could buy a ISBN number for like, 150 bucks, or whatever, or 10 for like, 250. And then you find a printer. And you, after you find a printer, you essentially just design everything, everybody uses Adobe InDesign at this point. And, and you just send it to them, they print it, cut it, and then they send it back to you, and then you sell it. You know, and, and with conventions and stuff, you just everything is, so there's an ecosystem that people sort of found to navigate. And, and so that's pretty much the world that I was operating in. And then you know, my mentors, like, well, if you know this, and it's that hard, then there's clearly an opportunity here. Yeah, right to do that, for other people were to scale or whatever. And I was like, Yeah, you're right. So, you know, like, you just like, let's just start a company and yeah, and do that. And so I was like, okay, cool, you know, and, and I know what that guy was doing.
Gabriel Flores 22:04
Yeah. So your LLC, S Corp. C Corp.
Steven Crhistian 22:07
Yeah. Yeah. So escort. So S corp fail, topia. And so it's technically it's il topia studios. And so there's a there's il topia, which is sort of the world that I created. And that's sort of the intellectual property that like, I started, then there's il topia Studios, which is the studio that that creates, that publishes all of the creative works of ill topia, right. So think of like, it'll topia's like Mickey Mouse, and then it will help you studios. It's like Disney. Right. Nice. That's, that's pretty much how I like it. Like, that's
Gabriel Flores 22:41
a great analogy there.
Steven Crhistian 22:42
Yeah. And so and so it'll topia without the studios is the IP? And then it'll Yeah, and then it'll topia Studios is the is the Escort and why did you go with escort? Um, like I said, you know, I, it was just one of those things that I pitched it, I pitched the idea with my mentors, like, you know, this is something that can really, really, it can get to a point that like, has an impact. Yeah. And, and when I talked to him about just the impact that I wanted to have not only in for black creators, or just, you know, just black people in general, the community? Yeah. I want to address certain things that, that a corporation would have had the opportunity to do. Yeah, you know, that goes beyond just one person. And so and so from there, just the just the opportunities for expanding the way that I envision it being Yeah. You know, I either sort of like go the grant route and try to, you know, be a nonprofit and sort of go that route, or I just have a corporation that, you know, will have the agency of Amazon. Yeah. So
Gabriel Flores 23:56
so how did you go about funding? Did you grassroots efforts to go venture capital?
Steven Crhistian 24:00
Yeah, just grassroots, just, you know, at some point, I was working, like, just grinding six, seven jobs. And then I got to a point where I didn't have to work six, seven jobs. The point now, where I'm like, Hmm, I could take on this project, but I really need to, because, you know, I got money coming in from here and here and here. I like it. All that so it's, uh, yeah, you know, funding is, you know, funding. It's a slow burn. It's a slow burn, but, um, I, I, the thing that I really enjoy about this is that I have the confidence to I just have the confidence to be like, Okay, I want to do this. I'm gonna just do it. Yeah. And I know how to, uh, no, I'll just figure out how to how to get it done.
Gabriel Flores 24:51
You know, being I think that's important, you know, having the confidence of that that high risk tolerance. Yeah, right. How do you create New ideas, how do you generate new ideas?
Steven Crhistian 25:02
Oh, that's living at this point. Like, the problem that I have is that if you give me if you give me enough time. And if you give me enough time and problems, I will figure out a solution in a way to scale that solution into something viable. And and that's pretty much been the pandemic story for me. Yeah, right. I kid you not like, like, march 15? No, it was March 15. It was like March 17. When people were trying to like find toilet paper and stuff like I was I went to the minibar and tried to get when i Whenever I'm stressed, I have this thing of like eatin Ben and Jerry's ice cream. Nice. I. So I went to the mini mart, Ben and Jerry's ice cream. Cause what like, a pint cost? Like,
Gabriel Flores 25:58
what? 599? Maybe? Yeah,
Steven Crhistian 26:01
like, no, like, it's like, 343 or something like that. And they go where you're shopping? Yeah. Like it's, you know, is a pint. Right? Can you not go there, not trying to get toilet paper, just trying to get a pint of ice cream. Because I was stressed out like everybody else was try to run my card card gets declined to run my like, Mother card card gets declined. And I'm looking at my bank statement like, dang, or like the online banking thing. I'm like, negative $5 in my account. I'm like, Dude, I got you know, Project sticking come in. Nothing like, like, I don't have any money in my account. I can't get any ice cream. Like, that's where I was at. Right? Yeah, I had to dip out of my savings, which only at like, 60 bucks in my savings at that point. And, and I was like, Who? Like, I need to figure something out. Right. And, and it was really just like, from that point, it was just grinding. Right? It was just grinding, grinding, grinding. I was like, playing around with like, some podcast stuff. I was like, oh, you know, a lot of people were asking me how to start a podcast, right? So I just made a course. You know, just recorded myself. It was like a, like a two, three hour course, walking people through, like what my process was. I just put that out. You know, people started to tap in with that. Then I was like, Oh, snap, I'm learning this other creative things. Yeah, he just record myself doing that. And, and so, you know, at first, I was just sort of creating cartoons and trying to publish those and then sell those at, like markets. And then I was publishing tutorials, because I just, that's what I had. Yeah, at the moment. And then, you know, at some point, I would just like, Well, I'm gonna just be the, you know, the black guy, you know, on YouTube. That's like, teaching you how to do a podcast, and then yeah, some AR stuff and all these different things. And, and that and that, that's pretty much just how it started. I was just like, I needed to buy some ice cream. So like, you know, me and Ben and Jerry's is good. Yeah. Right. Like it's life. Yeah. Like, and that and that's just that's just how it goes. Yeah. For me, yeah. Just responding to the things that just happen. And, you know, you're either going to succumb to the adversity or just those things that that happen, or you or you find a way to, you know, to come out on top.
Gabriel Flores 28:27
What do you feel was like the crux or like the the tipping point where you're like, you know, what, this business venture, I made the right decision. Are you there?
Steven Crhistian 28:39
I think that it hit me that I made the right decision when I I mean, I think the pinnacle of it was really the being featured in The Wall Street Journal. Yeah. I mean, yeah, let's, let's
Gabriel Flores 28:56
talk about that. You were featured. So you keep on dropping these gems. You keep trying to like to hide, like, journalists talk about that one.
Steven Crhistian 29:07
So I did this thing. So during all the craziness of, of have, like June 2020, June, July, yeah, June 2020. Where everything was just like all the protests and everything. We're getting hit in the face and snatched up by the Feds and all that stuff, right? Like, I made this project, or I started thinking about like, okay, like, people are going on protesting, but it's COVID. Right? Yeah. Then, you know, I'm still applying, I'm applying to medical school, like all this stuff was happening. And so I was like, do I want to, you know, do the stuff because I'm black. And this affects me and I want to, you know, be a part of it. But I can't I can't afford to get a case. They not let Black people in the medical school. And they definitely not going to let Black people in the medical school. They got mugged. Like, he's just not happy. My dad works in law enforcement, like my family is deepen, like all that stuff. I know, like, I know, they're telling me they know like, it's not it's not like this isn't a game, right? And so. So I was like, Okay, this whole thing with like, AR I'm learning good, I'm getting better. I know peep. I know, this is where things are going. Right? And, and so I was like, what if I, instead of making a mural or making a statue or anything to sort of pay tribute or honor, or show solidarity? What if I made the sort of AR experience that, that allows you to still take the pictures, right? Everybody at this point, like the whole movement started off with pictures and videos, right on Twitter and social media. So it's like, why not lean into that, right? Use AR do all these things, put them in the context, provide context, and then also create the experience and share it right. So I made this AR experience where you put a 3d model of George Floyd that I found on the internet, and all over these hotspots in Portland, right 30 foot monument, it would take, you know, you would have to get permits have to do all these things that would get vandalized all that right? In AR, I just whip whip it up in like an hour to 30 minutes, go out there have a joyous, joyous time, have my phone out there and place the model, and I'm able to do everything that I want. And I wouldn't have to subject myself to the attention and all this stuff that would come to it. Right? Yeah. And so did that document it just like made it into a course, created the app, put it out there, just put it out there. Right. And, um, and then people kind of I, I tried to put it out there at the time, so that it could sort of raise money and do all the things and teach people how to do it and introduce this, this novel way of using technology to, to participate in social issues and push the culture forward, right? didn't raise a lake of nothing like it, you know, like five people downloaded, it ain't nobody. Ain't nobody contributed to no fines or anything like, oh, it's like, this is a complete failure. Right. And so, so I ended up applying for like, one of the grants like everybody else was doing and ended up getting this grant to work on the next like, variation of like, Island fear, which is sort of like the ill topia sort of, like storyline, but for like, AR and, and so from there. This company called Unity, which is like what people use to, like, build these experiences out. There pretty much like the Adobe for like game engines, right? And so, um, and so I got on their radar for for the grant as a winner of the grant. And, and they're like, oh, yeah, let's do like you mentioned, you had did this project. And so that talking about the project, and they sort of featured it on there, like Unity for humanity Summit. And then, and then people started to catch wind of it, like months later, I think has been out for a minute. But it's been out since since June. But people were only just now catching wind of it in like September, right, like, after everything after the fight, like everything is done, right. And so then from there, like in January, The Wall Street Journal just like reached out to me and just like sent me an email, it was like, hey, you know, like, there's this opportunity, this thing called the future for everything us conference that we do, it's going to be the first virtual one. And, you know, we'll have Paris Hilton Gabrielle Union, freakin the guy that started only fans, like all these years, right? Like, it's gonna be a part of it. And we wanted to know, if you would be interested in like, you know, telling your story. And we heard about the George Floyd project and all these different things, and we think you you will be a good person to, like, join the crew. And I was like, yeah. Yeah. And so. So, you know, after a couple of conversations and stuff like that, they're like, Yeah, we think you will be perfect to be a part of it. And, and it was, it was, it was a pretty, it was pretty crazy experience. That is, no. Yeah, it was just, it was just a very interesting experience, you know, like being a part of that. And then, you know, typing in my name, and then it's like, Wall Street Journal, Steven Christian doing this. Yeah. You know, after I finished and like, Paris Hilton went on and like, did her thing and before I did that the Surgeon General was doing his thing. I was just like, do like, if I don't get a blue check after this, like, oh, no, what else? Right and, Jake? Yeah, it's, uh, you know, I you know, it's like, just that stuff just happens, right? Yep. Like, again, I just got another got another email a little while back. of getting invited to speak at the augmented world expo, which, for me, I've been watching, I'd be watching their videos on YouTube all the time, love Oh snap, I want to see that and now I'll be speaking at it. stuff. So it's like, this is this is my life now. This is your life, this is how it goes. goes. And so it's uh, I always think back like, Kid you not like, this time last year I was like how do I you know, how do I afford ice cream? And now it's like, how do I how do I take a vacation? Yeah, yeah, grind
Gabriel Flores 35:31
it. And so we, you know, for the folks at home, you know, or younger entrepreneurs folks kind of following the same footsteps or even your younger self? What advice would you have,
Steven Crhistian 35:40
um, don't listen to people that that first and foremost, people, people have no idea what they're talking about. And if they knew what they were talking about, then they will be doing different things. Yeah, that's pretty much how I feel about it. But also listen to people, you know, people will give you very, very valuable advice. On, on what to look out for, and what to be aware of. Because people also have experiences. And so and so it's, you know, it for me, I think the valuable thing is that I've always, I'm always talking to new people, like I meet a new person maybe every two days. Nice. And with Zoom, it's so much easier to just, it's so much easier to meet people in France, and, you know, all these different places, because everybody's sort of grown accustomed, like, all the Skype commercials that we that we, like have seen over the past, like 1520 years are finally a reality. And the biggest and the biggest people that are benefiting from that is not Skype. So it's a, you know, for me, it's the thing about the pandemic, it showed that as long as you have a computer an idea, and a level of conviction, that the only thing that you know, the things that often would get in your way are democratize now. Now, I would say in like, a couple years, it's going to be about saying, but like now things are sort of up in shambles. And institutions are trying to find a way to bring it back to some sort of normalcy, which, you know, sort of perpetuates disparities. Me, I said that I live in, you know, sort of like low income housing, and I have skills that can you know, that people that are sought after, even if I even if they even if I haven't been able to tap into the, into those access points now, I have an opportunity now. Yeah. Because, because people were thinking about other things. I'm still thinking about those things, but I'm sitting on something right now that I can put out there and sort of fill voids that that, you know, people people are just looking to fill. Yeah. And so and so whether it's animation, whether it's, you know, books or comics for their kids, whether it's online courses, coloring books. You know, I was I, I was really just using what I knew, you know, leaning into my strengths and and trying to fill those voids. Really Yeah. And, and yeah, yeah, you know, just don't put limits on yourself. Like, I literally, I make stickers. And I go to medical school. Right, like that's, oh, eventually I'll be making stickers. Stickers for people with metal pens. I'll
Gabriel Flores 39:00
be a doctor. Yeah.
Steven Crhistian 39:04
Like a kid you not like I was paying bills off of stickers. Like I make books. People don't people don't buy as many books. Yeah, people buy a lot of stickers. People, people, people will buy a book, a books worth of stickers. In
Gabriel Flores 39:19
fact, if I buy a book, I will probably get a set of stickers sent with the book every time it seems like I get stickers. Anytime I buy some I get a set of stickers.
Steven Crhistian 39:26
What I found I I started making stickers, because people would see the prints and be like, Oh yeah, that's cool. I wish I could put it on my laptop.
Gabriel Flores 39:41
Yeah, that's the big thing. I got a bunch of stickers on a laptop.
Steven Crhistian 39:43
Yeah. And so from there, I was like, oh, there's something there. And so I would I used to do like street art. Like when I was in Oakland when I was like living in the Bay Area, right? Like I used to do these like street art things. And so pretty much I just have a tenant and I just have a whole bunch of just like artwork and stuff. I just I was just killing trees. And so I was like, Okay, I got these prints, I got this original art, and I have these like stickers here, it's whatever, but like, I would just play around with it, people would always buy the stickers. And I wouldn't sell any of the art, right. So like, probably a couple original pieces, but like, I wouldn't sell any of the prints and stuff. And so I'm thinking, like, dang, people are gonna buy these prints, you know, like, they're really easy to make and stuff like that. I'm not thinking about the stickers, but then I started, you know, started just listening to people and seeing the stuff the responses that people had. And then I sort of just said, Okay, well, if people are constantly thinking about, okay, I want this sticker design, I want this, I want this, I want this. Now, I was like, what if I just give it to them. And it I mean, obviously, like, it's a lot cheaper to make stickers and prints, right and stuff. So then I just said, Okay, how many, let's see how many stickers I could sell, you know, oh, I sold out of these. Let's see if I can make more sold out at least let me see if I can, like more, before I knew I was like, screw the prints, I'm gonna just start making stickers. And then, and then, at some point, it's like, if you guys buy enough stickers, I'm gonna just throw the books in there. You know, and, and people would do that people will literally come to my table and just clean out all like certain stickers. Wow. And, and that, that was very informative to me. Because I went into it to sell books and print, I left selling hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of stickers. And it to the point where it it changed the way that I created. And in a change the way I interacted with customers. And and that interaction with customers really allowed me to be flexible in my creative process. And so it's like you mentioned like, oh, yeah, how do you like come up with ideas and stuff like that? It's I just listened to people. Yeah, you know, and I just feel like I can, there's a lot of stuff that I could do that the problem with that is that because I could do a lot of things, it means I could do a lot of things I like in I sort of fall victim to the things that everybody else sort of falls victim to. And that's, uh, that's sort of this, like, you know, just because you could do certain things doesn't mean you need to. Yeah, and very, very seldom do I have, do I have an idea that like, I'm just like, I'm gonna just do this and do it for, you know, a week and a half. Yeah, you know, I'll come up with an idea and be like, oh, yeah, I'll do that. And then 10 minutes later, I have another idea in a completely different area. And so like, things never get done. So so it gave me a love of direction that I'm that I've really like, started to build on.
Gabriel Flores 42:38
Nice. So. So for the folks at home that want to follow you there on social media or maybe want to get a sticker. Oh, yeah. How do they how do they contact you? How do they get ahold? You?
Steven Crhistian 42:46
Yeah, so that's, that's I'm trying to consolidate. As you know, there's just a lot of a lot of things but it will topia.com or shop.il topia.com shop.il topia.com is, is where like my store is and so if you want to buy stickers, you want to buy coloring books, books, that's where to go. I am doing I would say it will topia so at utopian all like the social channels. And then, and then my own sort of, like, personal project. Premise like the thing that started at all stuck on an island. It's a S T, U, C, K, o, n, a n EYEL nd, and pretty much stuck on an island.com at stuck on an island. Pretty much everything is that right? Like sort of good with the branding, right? One name? That's all you gotta remember. And that's sort of the catch all for everything. Yeah. Right. So if it's like, you want to buy stickers, if you want to, you know, learn courses, do ar stuff, just follow like my creative journey. Perfect. Oh, the medical school journey, just all of that. That's all under Stockland Island. Nice. And, and I, you know, there's so there's so many platforms that, you know, sort of just find myself one, that, that just sort of having a base that that allows people to access different things. Yeah. tiktoks, Instagram, Twitter, Amazon. web comics, so
Gabriel Flores 44:25
many, so many mediums.
Steven Crhistian 44:27
Yeah, just so many, so many things, right. So many of us, you know, just sort of consolidating that just under one like, umbrella, you know, umbrella term or whatever, that I have control over that. You know, that it's, it's it's been a journey to get to that point, where it's like, oh, yeah, you just go to one link in everything. Yeah, it's, uh, you know, I'm, I'm sort of at that point now. Nice. We'll see how it changes.
Gabriel Flores 44:50
We'll see how its changes. I'm excited about Stephen Christian, the co founder or the founders are co founder, the founder and creator of Il topia they You so much for joining the show for the folks at home please visit me on Facebook Instagram and Twitter Thank you and have a great night