Kreep Squad (@kreep_squad) is a small online retailer created by Brooklyn-based artist & designer K-NOR. Originally started in 2015 as a t-shirt brand, he has since expanded his business into accessories, art prints, and books. There is no flagship location, and the only place to purchase goods is shop.kreepsquad.com, or at various art fairs around New York City. Everything produced by the brand is limited edition and most items are not re-stocked once they are gone. This is an integral aspect of Kreep Squad, as it allows customers to own pieces which are thoughtfully designed, unique, and never mass produced. Notable collaborations include several sold out apparel capsules with NYC-based artist Robots Will Kill. This year, the brand has released 4 different art prints and a sketchbook zine which are all available in the web shop.
Coming from a graphic art background with experience in the apparel industry, K-NOR has always been interested in designing t-shirts and wanted to create an outlet to design and sell merchandise featuring his artwork. All of the apparel and accessories offered have a streetwear vibe but with a dark twist, as the artwork is heavy on skulls and other surreal imagery. Kreep Squad is a one-man operation and a true labor of love— everything is designed in-house by K-NOR, who also handles website maintenance, marketing, and shipping of goods. This keeps overhead costs low and allows for complete artistic control over every element of the brand.
As the majority of marketing for Kreep Squad is done through social media, the biggest challenge has been finding new ways to maintain and grow their audience amidst the collapse of Instagram. Once a very powerful marketing tool, it has become more and more focused on mimicking TikTok as of late, to the chagrin of practically all artists still on the platform. The recent changes in the algorithm and increased focus on Reels has essentially hushed the voices of many creators, making it far more difficult to sell their products. Although it is frustrating, it does provide an opportunity to seek new methods of spreading the word about the brand. Guerrilla marketing, email newsletters, and word of mouth have all proved to be effective tactics, and Kreep Squad is constantly seeking new ways to sell products and create genuine intrigue about the brand.
There is always a desire for fresh art-related products that push the envelope and offer something new and exciting. The trick is to find novel ways of marketing those products, and being realistic about potential outcomes. It is no easy feat to bootstrap a small business, and the most important thing of all is to love what you do. If you aren’t excited about what you are putting out into the world, it’s exceedingly difficult to convince others that they should care about what you are doing. It also helps in times of strain to remember that you are doing it for yourself and not for anyone else. Sales are always great, but the biggest satisfaction comes from the knowledge that you have created something on your own from scratch that is a true extension of who you are as a person.