Jon Wye: Artist-Driven Graphic Clothing
The Jon Wye company started in 2004 after a first date and has grown to be internationally-recognized for our designs with a permanent location in Washington, DC and traveling events throughout the year. We're the first company to use belts as canvases for artists creating one-of-a-kind designs on the finest quality leather, and now the best cotton shirts we can find. We take pop culture and add our own influences. We make almost everything by hand in our workshop in Washington, DC, and we try our hardest to get all of our materials and supplies from the USA. We make awesome!
It's the little details that really make the story, though:
I floundered after college. I worked in day care, taught rock climbing at the local gym (and handed out towels), and spent four years answering phones at a PR firm. I had no idea what direction to take, but wanted so desperately to do something creative with my life. I was the guy in school that would ramble on about living up to your potential… and I wasn't.
To set the scene: Imagine me on my couch with my dog Fred, eating tuna melts and watching Star Trek marathons. Imagine me wearing a gym uniform t-shirt almost everyday (most likely with food stains), with the daily contemplation of a shower, and consequent failure. My best friend, and then roommate, Jacob, was working hard on his first video game which would eventually launch for the XBox. In a moment of desperation, Jacob, a very passive person, yelled at me, "You have all this potential and all you do is sit on the couch and watch TV!"
I was a deer in headlights.
It was the kick I needed. I had no idea where to start, but I was being left behind by all my friends, and I just needed to do something. I tried sculpting, chocolate truffle making, writing. None of it was clicking with me, but then I met a girl. I had this idea for making belt buckles out of wax carvings - the kind of wax grandmas use for canning jams and fruits - and then casting them in plaster to eventually make pewter belt buckles. So our first date was making belt buckles (top points for best creative date ever!) and she was hooked after that. To tell you the truth, so was I.
She moved to Barcelona, a move scheduled before we met, and I was left with lots of time on my hands: I had spent nearly everyday with this girl. So I started a company. First I made belt buckles, then belts, and all of them very horribly crafted in my bedroom. I feel grateful that all my fans who have these "unique" first-run belts and buckles treat them like collectors items because otherwise they might be better served as door stops. Since January 2nd, 2004 I've been hard at work making this company grow, often waking up and not knowing what in the heck I was going to do that day. I set up shop at every local craft show I could find and became a regular vendor at the Eastern Market Farmers' Market in DC.
All in all, I found my mission and my passion. It's both addictive and inspiring to others, and now the company is so much more than me. It is comprised of artists from around the world and a team of amazing people that are more and more like a family.