Raymond An, founder of RAYSBEACHCLUB - Q & A

Raymond An is diehard supporter of his homeland, South Korea. You may have seen him across several media channels waving his Korean Flag constructed from kits during the last world cup campaign. He is also the founder of RAYSBEACHCLUB, an online football destination based out of the US but serving the world. They feature football inspired brands such as Nivelcrack from Korea and City Boys FC from Japan.

We caught up and spoke about his passion projects and thoughts on football in the US.

Raymond An RBC
"Growing up playing football, sometimes I felt like an outcast to what is more accepted and popular such as basketball and American football. But that builds character and a stronger passion to be interested in what you actually care about."
Q. Ray, where do we start... I was following your flag across media channels during the last world cup campaign. Tell us, what sparked this amazing idea to mash up the 30+ kits into the Korean national flag?! 

A. I was looking to bring a Korean flag to the World Cup and wanted to be a little different than just buying one off the internet. I am also a huge collector of football kits and just had this random idea to incorporate both of my passions into one. It took a while to put everything together, like collecting all the jerseys of all the nations of the world cup and piecing it all together so that ultimately it looks cool!

Q. We love your online football boutique, RAYSBEACHCLUB. How did you bring this to life?
A. I used to write for a football culture blog called Kicks To The Pitch, and through my time there, I became aware of several football culture clubs and brands that were slowly emerging all over the world from places like New York, Paris, Seoul and Tokyo. I instantly became a customer of these brands. Soon I realized that it was hard to have direct access to these brands as they were from all different parts of the world, and the idea of starting RAYSBEACHCLUB came to me naturally. I developed personal connections with the brands and club owners, and an online boutique with a focus of football inspired brands; RAYSBEACHCLUB, opened for business.
There were no other stores like this around, and from my knowledge there still isn't any today other than RAYSBEACHCLUB. The brand's primary focus is not only to make profits, but to shed an extra light on these brands to the world.
Give us a follow on IG @raysbeachclub or our online shop raysbeachclub.com if you want to support!
Q. Can you tell us a bit about your thoughts on football culture in LA and the US? How's the popularity of soccer in comparison to NFL, NBA and NHL these days?

A. Football culture in the US is definitely an interesting one. Growing up playing football and also being a fan, sometimes I felt like an outcast to what is more accepted and popular such as basketball and American football. But that also builds character and a stronger passion to be interested in what you actually care about! I'm sure many fans of the game in the US can relate to this, although now it is definitely gaining more popularity, including the MLS. LA definitely has a big market, but from a personal experience there isn't a lot of places where you can play for free. Everything is all pay-to-play and that definitely is a challenge to grow the game even bigger.

Q. Are you able to tell us a bit more about Guerilla FC and it's vision?
A. Guerrilla FC is a football culture club based in Washington DC, although recently we have expanded to San Francisco as well. Our vision is to highlight arts, music, culture, fashion, and many other things that we felt like the US soccer culture didn't value. Guerrilla FC is for the people who appreciate the things about football that are often ignored in the mainstream light. We "fight" for the people, the community, and do not rely on the "establishment" to dictate what is considered important, hence the name Guerrilla.
Give us a follow on IG @guerrilla_fc if you want to learn more about us!

Q. Favorite project you've worked on so far?
A. My favorite project has to be my whole experience with the Korean flag for the World Cup. The extra attention from the media outlets, was definitely cool, but I felt like this flag gave us Koreans an extra voice and pride during the World Cup. The Korean football team is definitely not the best on the pitch, but I felt like we definitely made some noise off of it, and this was a big part of that journey.
I also made a Korean flag with LAFC jerseys that was supported with the first ever official Korean lifestyle collection in the MLS with LAFC. I have other personal art projects coming up so please keep on the lookout!

Q. Thanks for your time Ray. We're sure you have an archive of pictures, but share with us your top 3 that best describes your style and vision! No captions needed.
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