With so many new styles, brands, and fads, staying on-top of the latest fashion trends can be a full-time job. And for Ps & Qs founders (and brothers), Rick, Ky and Joseph—it literally is.
Located on South Street in Philly, their shop is more than upscale casual wear and accessories: it’s a lifestyle. As a part of our ongoing Fuel Your Mission entrepreneur series, we had a chance to sit down with cofounder, Rick Cao, to understand how they created an upscale and timeless men’s store.
What was it like starting a business with a family member?
It was a no brainier for me. I think I wouldn’t have it any other way honestly. With family there is trust amongst each other and respect as well. Of course, there are disagreements, but the intention of disagreements is coming from a good place. I have two businesses with my brothers and nothing beats working with them. We have a common goal and that is to take care of our family.
Did you always have a passion for menswear and fashion?
As a kid in the early 90’s, I think I went through many crazy phases. Especially listening to the golden age of hip hop. Hip hop played a huge role in my life. While my friends were getting into bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and Sound Garden, I was gravitating more into hip hop. Hip hop spoke to me and a sense of self identity. Same with skate culture. I love skating as a youth.
I use to buy Stussy a whole lot in the 90’s. At that time t-shirts were $25. That was a lot for a t-shirt in the 90’s. My cousin Kit thought I was nuts for shelling out $25 for a T-shirt. From there I started wearing Ralph Lauren Polo because all of my favorite hip hop artists were wearing polo heavy. There were really great shops on South Street. I did my shopping places like: Lay Up, Sub Zero, Veem, Zipper head, Inferno, Dr. Denim just to name a few. South Street had all cool brands, plus they were local and it was important for me to shop locally when I was young.
Five favorite brands from your youth?
If I had to pick my favorite brands growing up: Stussy, Ralph Lauren, Triple 5 Soul, PNB Nation, Fresh Jive, and Vans. There are definitely more brands that I didn’t to mention, but we’d be here all day.
How do you find the newest brands and styles?
When we look for brands, we try to look for timeless classic brands. We also try to pick brands that aren’t too mainstream. There are certain factors for finding them. For example, can the brand resonate with the people of Philadelphia? Is the price point reasonable? We do thrive on picking great brands, but prices has to be within reason.
Saw you opened a women’s shop on Pine, what are you guys working on next?
My brother Ky and I want to open a P’s & Q’s furniture next. We love staying at home nowadays. Nothing beats staying home and enjoying the fruits and labor of your work.
If you had to choose the three coolest kicks for this summer?
Three cool kicks this summer are Tretorn, Adidas and 247s.
Tretorn is affordable, classic and it goes with every outfit. The dirtier and older it gets, the better.
Adidas Ultra Boost, because they are the most comfortable sneaker I’ve ever worn.
New Balance 247. It’s a new model that they introduce a few months ago. They look is great and the comfort is incredible. Also, the price is very reasonable. We try to get kicks that the kids aren’t really wearing.
What does Ps and Qs stand for?
P’s & Q’s stands for Premium Quality. For P’s & Q’s Her: Peace & Quiet. P’s & Q’s Kids: Pints & Quarts.
What’s the biggest challenge you face as a businessman?
Expanding can be difficult. Because you have to find good workers. When we hire people, we look for soldiers. People who are to willing to work the long hours and sometimes do more than just sales. We look for creative people who have a passion for our industry. Right now, I’m blessed to have workers that I consider family. We are all a family.
Any advice to other entrepreneurs like yourself?
1. Honestly, learn how to eat shit in the beginning—meaning there is a tough road ahead of you. There are going to be times where you need to humble yourself. Being a boss is cool, but leading a movement is better.
2. Kill them with kindness! At P’s & Q’s we treat everyone with respect. Soon as they walk into that door, we always greet them with a “Hi” and “How are we doing today?” It’s simple.
Shop the styles and check out the shop at PsandQs.com