Olu Johnson, 26, has made getting buff even sexier by creating the cheeky fitted tee’s emblazoned with “Get Hench or Die Trying”. He comes to the interview with the infamous slogan on his chest. With the positioning of a rather hench physique and a big old dose of charisma from Mr Johnson and so we begin ….
How did you first come up with the idea for Get Hench (GH) tees?
[Smiles]That’s a bit of a story. There was group of guys bigger than everyone at the gym. They practically ran the place- people avoided them. Me and my friend Shane had enough…. it was time for some fresh blood! We trained hard, ate a lot of chicken and got seriously hench. Other guys at the gym would ask to train with us because they knew we were serious.
Were you gym celebrities?
[Laughs]Yeah, I guess you could call us that. Soon enough we had some regulars training with us. We called them our ‘younger brothers’
Sounds like a cult!
Well they were devoted followers. We were quite strict, if you didn’t complete the routines we set out you couldn’t leave-the whole team would pay.
Wow that’s harsh boot camp style!
One day, one of the younger brothers was struggling with a move and shouted ‘I’m not on this get hench or die trying s***!’
And the phrase was born?
Yeah, I always give him the credit. When he said it something switched in my mind and I thought- I’m gonna use that somehow.
And from there you decided to make the Tee’s?
Kind of- Shane and I made a “how to” get hench DVD. Really it was a chance for us to show off, tense our bodies [he laughs]. Anyway we got t-shirts made up for the DVD and began wearing them to the gym. People started asking to buy them. Initially we sold 50 in two days. And the next lot sold out in 4hrs. It’s amazing how a phrase can cause so much excitement. A girl will always talk to a guy wearing a GH t-shirt even if it’s just to say ‘oh really!”
Now myself, Shane and our new business partner Herc, design and distribute the GH range.
Got any new phrases on the horizon?
Actually I’ve had a few made up and I’m gonna wear one tonight [New Years Eve], either “Hench Factor” or “I don’t say much, my body says it for me”.
Is the line just for men?
Initially but girls were checking out the guys, asking whether they could get them so I started catering to the ladies.
How did you take it from the gym to the streets?
I wore a GH top to a club. When I got to the venue the bouncer was barking at the front [puts on a gruff voice] ‘No ones getting in!’ The club was at capacity. I walked up to him to ask if things might change later on. He replied “Where did you get your t-shirt?” I told him it was my line, so I hooked him up and he let us in! I realised I was the best way of selling the tee, so I started wearing them out all the time.
Would you call yourself a trendsetter?
[Gets Serious]No, I’m not the first person to put a slogan on a top and I won’t be the last.
But you know a good buzz phrase?
Yeah cos after our top, others came out with phrases like Go Hard or Go Yard….
But they faded out?
What inspires the look for your line?
Human nature, forecasting and trends dictate what we do. For example right now women are wearing leggings so we’ve brought out a line of those. Looking at events coming up like the World Cup and thinking about how you can capitalise on that.
Are we ever going to see the line or you on the catwalk?!
Possibly the line when the time is right. I was supposed to be in a show last year but I missed it…but people facebook me if you want me to strut my stuff!
You have a strong Facebook presence….
Yeah it’s been great for us, we have loads of people getting in touch that way, putting in orders.
Any celebrities wearing GH?
Tiny Iron. He epitomises henchness. Richard Blackwood, Eddie Kadi, Kat from Choice wants one…its coming soon Kat!
And who would you like to see wearing your line?
Simon Cowell of course- he’s the man. The guys from Top Gear and Jonathan Ross. Ladies wise Alexandra Burke- I have a bit of a plea for her [Gets Sexy] Alex if your reading please get in touch, I would love to give you a GH original…that’s something for 2010!
Most important memory of the decade?
Biggest things were the loss of my mother in 2003 and the birth of my baby brother and sister.
What’s the next decade all about for you?
I want to be a household name. I don’t know where GH is gonna take me, this is just the tip of the iceberg!
Visit www.gethench.co.uk for more information on the range and prices
Words by Mary Bello