International Business

Interview with Darek Shimada

International Business

Sydney Shimada, Journalist

¨ If you look good, you feel good, if you feel good, you play good, if you play good, they pay good.¨ said Deion Sanders, a Hall of Fame cornerback, this is also something Darek Shimada remembers when he does his job. Darek works in the clothing industry and has two main businesses. His first business Knoxx started in 2008 and currently, they make jiu-jitsu gear for youth, women, and males. In the beginning, they were originally only making gear for professional MMA fighters they knew, however, many of the fighters didn’t have much money so they weren’t buying their products. They had to switch paths otherwise they would go out of business. A friend recommended that they focus on just jiu-jitsu. They realized that most gear was designed for adult males and so they decided to focus mainly on kids and women. Darek says that ¨ The good thing about having clients that are kids is that they will grow with our business.¨ meaning that if you sponsor or make gear for kids who are young, they tend to stick with you for your whole career. Darek´s second business is called 21SixThreads. When asked how he started this business, Darak actually said that it was unintentional. Every year he goes to a fashion convention and that is where he met a vendor who was making customized basketball jerseys. He offered to make a friend some jerseys since he owned an AAU basketball league and their jerseys were really bad. Darek´s cousin, who is an art director at The Golden State Warriors offered to be the designer. Right away the league ordered enough jerseys for 4-5 teams and just like that his business was created. All though this may seem like a simple job… Darek also faces many challenges, the biggest one being he has to work internationally. 

Knoxx, the MMA company works all the way with Pakistan; the reason being the good quality cotton. Jiu-Jitsu gees’ main material is cotton so it’s the perfect place. Knoxx´s manufacturers are called Kurrsan Sports and they have been working together for 6-7 years. Darek´s other business, 21sixThreads works with China. China is a big supplier of polyester and synthetic fabrics, which is what jerseys are made of. In China, Darek works with a company called JFR Sports International and has worked with them all the way since the beginning. His main contact’s name is Violet Lee. This is how it works… Dareks designer, Jason, makes the design, then Darek sends it to Violet in China, and together they work out details such as fabrics, the cuts, etc. After that Violet manufactures or makes the product and sends it to Darek. The final step is for Darek to sell the product and that’s how they make money.

This may seem like a lot of work, but Darek says that he loves his job and his favorite part about it is giving kids and adults confidence when they play and wear his clothing. When asked if there have been any non work-related benefits while working with China such as making new friends or learning more about their language and culture, he responded with, ¨Yes of course, I have become really good friends with Violet; she helped me a lot, and without her, I wouldn’t be able to run this business. To anyone out there wanting to become an international entrepreneur, Dareks advice is to start slow and use it as a side job before you fully commit. He also says that you should only do it if you truly love it and not just to make money. One of the hardest challenges Darek faces is the time difference. China is 16 hours ahead, which means his workday with them is from about 6 pm to 2 am and sometimes even later! Another big challenge is the language barrier, it could be very hard to communicate sometimes since Violet is new to English and Darek doesn’t speak Chinese. Despite these challenges, Darek loves his job and says he will continue to do it for as long as he can. 


Work cited:,online_chips:knoxx+gym&rlz=1CAYGYA_enUS862US862&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjUu922tJXuAhUCK30KHefUCj4Q4lYoAHoECAEQGg&biw=1616&bih=759&safe=active&ssui=on#imgrc=jfxkgqc6aA0nSM


Knoxx Website: