But what does it mean to be “The Brand of the Underground?”
Who is Stay Tuff?
Based in northern Ohio, Stay Tuff is an independently owned and operated apparel company.
In addition to offering clothing, merchandise and select services, Stay Tuff also encourages and supports independent talents of a wide variety and promotes a network of other locally owned small businesses.
In the Beginning
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the idea for Stay Tuff was formulated when founder Derek Magrum left his former business endeavor, Crimson Tearz Management in 2010.
At first when he founded Stay Tuff, the business focused primarily on producing live events at venues along the Erie shore. Although they were successful and Stay Tuff gained popularity amongst locals and entertainers alike, Magrum wanted more.
“But I knew I wanted to do something different, I just didn’t know what,” Magrum explained.
The wheels began turning and Magrum began to compose a plan for the future of his brainchild.
As the years went on, Stay Tuff began doing fewer shows.
During this time, they began offering services such as custom designs, in a variety of mediums, and working with local businesses, assisting in branding, promotion and marketing.
Also during this time period, Magrum decided to focus more internally on his personal life and family, dedicating himself to making positive changes, a decision he claims helped inspire him while he devised a rebrand for his company.
The Foundation (Rebrand) (2017)
In 2017, Stay Tuff officially relaunched with a new attitude and new ideas.
“It was the real start of Stay Tuff. We had found our footing and it was a rebirth,” Magrum said.
When restarted, apparel became the main focus of the company. Stay Tuff began setting up as a pop-up shop style vendor at independent wrestling events (Absolute Intense Wrestling, Welterweight Wrestling), selling collectibles, custom artwork for some of the participating athletes and of course their own apparel merchandise.
“I wanted to take what I love and just mix it into my brand,” Magrum said. “I love professional wrestling and I love anything independant or just small and gritty, and punk rock. Just everything that’s in your face. Wrestling was no exception to that.”
Although Stay Tuff booked and set up at primarily wrestling shows in 2017 earning them a reputation as a “wrestling company.” While not at all a bad thing in his eyes, Magrum maintains his brand is much more than that.
Balancing The Me and We (2018)
While 2017 came to an end, the brand seemed to find itself back to the roots where it all started; music. After revisiting an all-time favorite concert venue, Frankies Inner-City (Toledo, Ohio), the brand found itself on stage with northern Ohio post-hardcore musical group, Castle No Kings.
"I knew I wanted to shake things up, and head a different direction but I didn't see the vision I needed for it yet. I'm a big believer that the universe will always guide me (in life) if I listen close and stay level headed," recalled Magrum. "I went out solely to support some guys I met a few months prior and revisit my childhood music venue. I remember walking into the venue and having people remember me from different aspects of my life and just feeling very appreciative of everything I had accomplished in my past that led me back to where it all started."
In the following months, the brand was invited to (selected dates of) the last national touring Van's Warped Tour. The brand also found itself working with Toledo, Ohio live entertainment music based company, Innovation Concerts.
The Ambassador Program
One thing that sets Stay Tuff apart from other apparel lines is its unique ambassador program.
Staying true to their mission of supporting independent talent, Stay Tuff has recruited a number of individuals, who specialize in their own field and have them represent the brand.
Among these ambassadors are models, athletes, musicians, artists, writers, photographers, entertainers, public figures, entrepreneurs and extreme hobbyist.
“Basically it’s just a wide range of local, independent talent from all over, who are trying to make their dream a reality,” Magrum said. “It’s snowballed into a lot of different areas, which is fun because it adds weirdness and randomness to our company.”
In addition to having these individuals represent the brand, Stay Tuff also creates personalized apparel around the ambassadors’ unique niche, whatever that may be, for their own fanbases.
While most people use social media simply as a way to just promote themselves, Stay Tuff has a slightly different belief.
In addition to letting people know what’s going on with the company, Stay Tuff wants to help promote general optimism, good energy and a positive mental attitude amongst their fans and followers.
“I want to be known as a universal brand, not just a clothing company,” Magrum explained. “We do a lot of motivational postings and we want people to mentally ‘Stay Tuff’, as a way of thinking. I want people to wear us or see us, and if they’re struggling, have it inspire them or help bring them out of their hard time.”
Online, you can visit Stay Tuff directly at their official website, stayxtuff.com. Of popular social media platforms, you can follow Stay Tuff at facebook.com/staytuffofficial, and on Instagram using the handle @StayxTuff. You can also contact the company directly at StayxTuff@gmail.com
Why Stay Tuff?
While there may be other brands and styles out there similar, there are none quite like Stay Tuff.
Their passion for supporting all things local and independent truly separates them from the rest. Whereas other businesses tend to be motivated by monetary profit and self gain, Stay Tuff strives to be the change it wants to see in the world.
“When you buy with us, you’re not just supporting us, you’re supporting a sense of community, which I feel like the world is losing more every day; You’re supporting a movement. A lot of people are bitter, angry and upset, and a lot have every right to be that way, but your life won’t change for the better with that sort of mindset,” Magrum said. “There’s a lot of independent businesses and underground talent that go unnoticed, and I’m not going to stand for that anymore. I’m a big believer in supporting each other, uplifting each other, positivity and love. I like helping other people and bringing people together. When you support us, you’re supporting that.”
So what does it mean to be the brand of the underground?
It means to always stay inspired, to always stay motivated, to always stay positive and to always Stay Tuff.