Brian Lim, the 27-year-old founder of Anaheim, California-based EmazingLights, was once a strait-laced consultant. Then a chance meeting led him to build a business atop one of the rave scene's hottest trends.
I've always wanted to be an entrepreneur. But after college, I didn't know what to sell. So I got a job consulting at Deloitte. The prestige was there, the pay was good, and the security made my parents happy.
Growing up, I'd been into techno and trance music. I'd mostly forgotten about it, but then electronic dance music, or EDM, had its big resurgence, and I became a fan again. On New Year's Eve 2010, I met my girlfriend at the Together as One festival here in L.A.
Back then, she really wanted to get these light-up gloves to dance with at raves. She'd ordered a pair for like $130. But they weren't coming. The website's customer service was awful. Finally, we drove two hours to pick them up. I had no idea why she wanted them so badly or why they cost so much.
Then we went dancing at this club in L.A. called Avalon. She put those gloves on me. I've never been a dancer or a performer, but I was able to wow crowds just by waving my hands around in the dark. It was magic. It's like your hands are paintbrushes, and your imagination is the canvas. People were actually impressed! That feeling is very rare. It got a little addicting.
It became a really cool hobby. But I realized there was a bigger opportunity: There wasn't much supply or a good retailer. I spent $100 sourcing parts and built some prototypes using white stretch gloves and LED lights from key chains. Soon, we had our own website, and we started engineering our own glove lights. Within a year, I left Deloitte to work on gloving full time.
My family thought I was crazy: What the hell is this stuff? My co-workers thought I was crazy, too: What is gloving? They figured I was just some weirdo deep in the rave scene. But my parents were great about it. They helped me process orders and even assembled some gloves.
I just knew if enough people tried it, they'd get into it. We started this event in the parking lot of an In-N-Out Burger out in Baldwin Park. I'd park my car, blast music out of my sound system, and people would glove. We called it Friday Night Lights. The first time, seven people came. The next week was 20. Thanks to word of mouth and social media, before long, we had a hundred people showing up to this fast-food parking lot. In-N-Out finally kicked us out, but since then, we've opened our own retail store, where we have a real DJ booth, and now we host Friday Night Lights there.
Gloving's really taken off. Our gloves have been featured on MTV's America's Best Dance Crew, Disney Channel's dance show Shake It Up!, and a ton of music videos. One of our videos on YouTube has been viewed more than 3.4 million times. In 2012, we started the International Gloving Championship. Last summer, we opened a pop-up store in Las Vegas in a Planet Hollywood for the Electric Daisy Carnival music festival, where thousands of people shopped, and checkout lines were almost 30 minutes long. We're selling rave apparel on a new site: iHeartRaves.com. We want to be the Nike of EDM; the household name for all products around EDM culture. I was single and went to a music festival, and, just when I wasn't looking, I found the perfect girl and the perfect business.
As told to Inc. senior writer Burt Helm.