"Put in everything you got or nothing, go hard or go home. Kill at everything you do". Chasing your dreams in life is something we at Noble are always pushing you to do. 2020 in the middle of the COVID-19 chaos is when James Yukawa resigned to fully pursue his dream and run his company Bolla full time. The dark and lonely nights of hustling and the endless sacrifices is something an entrepreneur like James endures on the daily. What drives him is the opportunity to provide for his family and the chance to be a success, even with the odds stacked against him. We recently had a chance to sit down and chat with James briefly and his answer to our questions are nothing short of motivational.
NOBLE: Tell us a little about yourself, where you grew up, where you currently reside and what you do for a living.
BOLLA: My name is James Yukawa, I'm the owner & creative director of Bolla. I'm born and raised + currently reside in Los Angeles, CA. My background is in fine art/design, retail merchandising and have been in the skateboard/action sport industry for 20+ years.
NOBLE: Did you attend college? Do you think it’s important?
BOLLA: Yes, I attended a private art school/program in Santa Monica, CA & finished my G.E. at Santa Monica College. I have a degree in fine arts/design. Yes & No, it really depends on the circumstances. If you have no clue what you want to do, don't waste your time going to college. I strongly believe that work experience and/or traveling has more benefits in a young adult's life than attending a university for "figuring themselves out". I highly suggest at least getting your G.E. at a community college, it's more affordable and beneficial in the long run. I have many colleagues & friends that went to universities and have nothing but debt as a result. If you know what you want to do in life and it requires a higher education and certification, then yes you have to attend whatever is necessary. I went to art school to gain more knowledge and foundation for my craft. I love to learn so that is why I attended but during that entire time I was already working on Bolla. I went to school to learn techniques and apply it to my brand.
NOBLE: When did you decide to become an entrepreneur?
BOLLA: I don't really recall choosing to be an entrepreneur, I worked 3 jobs for the past 15 years but I guess the simple answer is when the brand started making more income than my salary. I have had my day job in the skate industry since 2006, started Bolla in 2010 and did freelance work for major brands/companies during that entire time. Not until 2017 is when I really started becoming full-time into the brand and in 2020 is when I resigned to fully pursue my dreams and made that "jump".
NOBLE: How did you come up with your company name, Bolla?
BOLLA: It all started with the bubble logo. Bolla in Italian means bubble. I adopted that as my street artist name growing up and it eventually became my alias.
NOBLE: What do you enjoy most about running your business?
BOLLA: The fact that I make a living off my passion, I enjoy the process of conceptualizing and executing my ideas into a physical form. I love designing and creating things.
NOBLE: What are some of the biggest challenges of running it?
BOLLA: Time management. I'm terrible at it... I've been working on it and myself for the past 5 years. It's a really big challenge prioritizing my time when my list of things to do is beyond infinity...
NOBLE: Most people don’t see the endless work and effort that goes into running a business. Shed some light on this topic and share a little bit of what actually goes on behind the scenes
BOLLA: The dark and lonely nights and days of hustling to get stuff done. Everyone sees the end results, never the process. Entrepreneurial lifestyle is not sustainable nor is it meant for the "average person". It's a lot of sacrifices, blood, sweat and tears. It's more trying to put out fires than successes. Everyday is a challenge in the sense that you never know what you're going to interact with. Definitely keeps you on your toes!
NOBLE: Do you have plans for future growth?
BOLLA: Growing my team. I've been trying for years but it has come to the point where if I want to scale and expand, I need help and to start a team. Flagship store is also in the works.
NOBLE: How many hours do you work per week?
BOLLA: 24/7, 365...
NOBLE: What does success mean to you?
BOLLA: When you get to provide for yourself and your family doing what you love.
NOBLE: How do you keep yourself motivated?
BOLLA: Traveling and watching movies. I'm a visual person so seeing stuff and experiencing moments in real life inspires me.
NOBLE: Do you have any words of motivation you can offer young entrepreneurs or anyone thinking about starting their own business?
BOLLA: Don't do it for the money, do it because you love it! Passion is the key to success and surround yourself with like-minded individuals. Learn to fail and fail quickly.
NOBLE: Who's currently at the top of your playlist right now?
BOLLA: Tame Impala, Lofi Beats, 2000 Hip-Hop
NOBLE: Anyone you would like to thank or shout-out?
BOLLA: Thank my family and my partner Ali for their sacrifice, love and support. My friends & colleagues that have opened doors and given me opportunities. S/O to the Bolla community, anyone from day one all the way to someone who just discovered us, thank you! You are the reason why I keep creating. Lastly, thank you Noble for this interview and opportunity! Peace!
Thank you so much James! We really appreciate your time and we wish you nothing but success! Feel free to follow him and check out his page on IG @bolla.co and shop his website (https://bollaco.com) Over at the Noble HQ we have been busy working on fine tuning the ESTATE timepiece coming this summer! Stay positive, stay humble, work hard and never give up!
-Westley Noble | CEO & Founder