JUSTUS Clothing Co. was established in 2002 by Phil Elam and Mike Boila—two friends who shared the same vision: to live in a world that does not discriminate against people based on their race, color, religion, age, orientation or gender. Today, JUSTUS continues to spread its passionate message of inclusion and equality to a world-wide audience—providing colorful, inspiring and crazy comfortable apparel to an international clientele.
To create a world that is inclusive of ALL people – JUSTUS 4 All. This is the basic principle that JUSTUS was founded upon. Offering a clothing line that is dedicated to the mission of equality and inclusion to people all over the globe, is what JUSTUS is all about – it’s about All of US.
JUSTUS' fight for equality has led to an important decision: Action. The new JUSTUS 1-4-1 Program. For every item purchased from JUSTUS, a pair of new underwear will be donated to a homeless shelter: one for one. Most people today don't realize that it's the basic necessities, like a new pair of underwear, that brings equality to this world. It is JUSTUS' hope that by bringing this basic necessity to those in need can bring us one step closer to equality.
Mike & Phil met shortly after college as interns for a record label office in Detroit. The two developed a strong bond over their common love of music, working their way through various music related jobs and studio all-niters which eventually led to opening slots for Shaggy, Nelly, JaRule, BBMAK, 98 Degrees and others.
The name Justus Boyz was derived from nicknames they picked up from their friends. "Many of our friends, especially the girls, refer to us as 'the boys'." The clothing lines for Justus Boyz and Girlz were quickly established. The boys went to work and emerged six months later with a house full of stuff! Now they ship from their warehouse location (recently doubled in size) outside Detroit to all over the U.S., Canada, Germany, Australia, Japan, The Netherlands, Sweden, France, Mexico, Spain, South Africa, Switzerland, China and many other countries.
M: When we first started envisioning the line, we took a look at ourselves. Like most people, we wear 80% of our clothes probably 20% of the time and 20% of our clothes 80% of the time! We want our gear to be the first thing you pull out of the laundry to wear. Our goal is to offer high quality, comfortable clothes, at a reasonable price.
P: When we first started working with apparel, the whole operation was in the basement! We started by storing everything in bins, then built some shelves for the bins…pretty soon, everything was overflowing all over the place, and the next thing you know we’re running around town trying to find a warehouse!
M: We were so excited when we got our first warehouse space. We thought “wow, this is soooo big, we’re never going to fill this space up!” Within two years we could barely move and started looking for a larger space, but fortunately a printer next door moved his business and we were able to double our space – which is now just about filled!
P:We’re currently in the development stages of our Justus Girlz underwear line which we will introduce throughout next year. Very excited about that!
P: Over the years, we’ve tried to help out whenever we can with local charities that have approached us. One of the stores we work with locally, Forever Friends, approached us several years in a row to donate underwear for a local shelter for homeless teens. Each year, we made a donation of underwear through the store. We assumed they appreciated it, but never had any feedback or direct contact with the shelter. During the Holidays last year, we ended up talking with them directly, and they asked us if we could again donate underwear. So naturally, we said “Sure, how many do you need?” The director who was apprehensive at first, not wanting to appear overreaching, asked for 100 pair – to which we said – “absolutely!”
M: They explained that the underwear we had been giving was like gold to them, because most people who donate clothes stick to shirts, jackets, pants, etc., so underwear was not as readily available and that there’s nothing like having your own pair. It felt so good we were able to do something that had such a positive impact! We were inspired to do more. We knew there are other companies who had figured out how to do more, so why couldn’t we? So we quickly crunched some numbers and realized if we linked the program to our web sales, we could cover the additional cost on an incremental basis. Ultimately, we couldn’t do it on our own, but we could with the help of our customers.
P: The response has been great. It really brings home the whole reason why we got into this in the first place…it makes all the hard work worthwhile!
M: We started within a week of each other at MCA Records just outside Detroit. We were pretty competitive at first, but when we were both thrown in the mail room - we quickly got over it.
P: It's like we were destined to meet! My Dad used to take my brother and me to piano lessons not far from Mike's house when we were kids.
M: We both studied music at Interlochen (National Music Camp) at the same time and still didn't meet. We used the same practice rooms, cafeteria, and had classes in the same rooms. It wasn't until several years later that we met as interns.
P: Once we got some keyboards and stuff we would save up for six months for studio sessions at some sweet classic Detroit studios like United Sound Systems - lots of history there (Aretha, George Clinton, Parliament, Funkadelics, Johnny Taylor, Dramatics, etc.)
M: We used to make fried chicken for the people who would come in and play/sing for us cause we couldn't afford to pay them. It wasn't long before we started to build our own studio so we could spend more time working on tunes
P: Nothin like jumpin out of bed, kickin on the gear and writing tunes in your Justus boxers!
M: We first built it around a Roland 1680, then saved up enuf for a Pro Tools system. Nice! The great thing about working on music is you get so lost in it – you can start in the morning and by the time you look up it’s dark out and you realize you the whole day is gone!
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