• The Insane Holiday Season (minor recap)

    Holiday madness.  I wouldn't be anywhere without it.  Here I am in a snow suit I bought in preparation for a Holiday show.  Years before I had anyone helping me full time.

    Do some research on snow suits.  You'll find out exactly what I did... really good snow suits are very expensive; there are a lot of shitty snow suits out there that aren't water resistant; the Israeli army makes a really good snow suit.  I don't know why exactly the Israeli military is making snow suits, but it kept me warm that year.  That is Fred.  He passed away a few years ago.  I named a dog collar line after him.

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    I thought it would be fun to walk you through the insanity of the last few months as Jeff and I prepped for two months of three consecutive shows.  All in order with little narrative.

    New custom built hole punchers/ end cutters.  Allows us to make belts more quickly.  Sexy aren't they!

    New 'Raccoonauts' t-shirt design with artist Mike Tanoory. Will be online soon.

    *      *      *

    This next design should give you a good idea of my t-shirt designing process.

    This sketch of mine, along with endless amounts of explanatory text to artist Mike Tanoory, would eventually become a t-shirt.

    Mike's first sketch.

    Elvis's Ark.  Onward to Graceland.  Looking back at my sketch it's a wonder I even hire artists.  They are sooo good already.

    Re-zazzed up our old storefront sign for the Grand Central Holiday Fair.

    New custom built checkout/ workshop counter.  It is a wallet display, belt display, work bench, and checkout counter all in one.  I really need to do a blog post just about this.  It is amazing.

    New t-shirt designs.  Squid Diver (left) by Ryan Berkley.  Space Chimp Pope by Angie Cornish.  More on the new artists and tees to come in the new year.

    My wonderful parents and sister came to the shop to help me fold t-shirts.  We had 3000 t-shirts to get through.  I offered them pizza and movies, but sitting in front of the workshop TV wasn't productive enough for them so they self-sequestered themselves to the side room where they setup a system for folding t-shirts.  Dad pre-folded the tees, mom stuffed the bags, Pamela applied the sizing sticker.  An assembly line if you will.  This is a Wye family trait.

    One of my many runs back to my parents house to pick up various packages and supplies.  I still keep a lot of inventory in their garage.    I caught my adorable mom taking a cap nap and had to take a pic.  She would be mortified that I posted this.  Luckily she doesn't read my blog.  Mom is a general contractor currently working on 3 house renovations at once.  Another Wye family trait... working yourself to the bone.

    Setting up at Grand Central Terminal for the 2012 Holiday Fair.  With Jeff and friend Robb Hohmann.

    This was a lot more death defying than it looks.

    Who doesn't like seeing their name in lights, er... printed on a directory.

    Final setup for the 2012 Grand Central Terminal Holiday Fair.

    When I got back from NYC, setting up the Holiday Fair in Grand Central Terminal, I got a call from my mom, who is always on the look out for good finds.  "I think I found a couch for your workshop.  I'm standing by it so no one takes it."

    Little time to relax.  Once a year we do a thing.  That thing is only sent out to our email list.  That thing makes the shipping computer go into overdrive.  A good problem to have.

    Every year the Wye family (ok, mostly me, mom, and dad.  Sister not so much) anxiously await Costco bringing out their pumpkin pie.  It is amazing.  I took my pie to the workshop (my whole pie) to entice me to actually go to the workshop on those days when I just don't want to get up.

    The roller embosser died (it stamps the back of the belts).  I had to order a part.  It weighed only 1 lb.  It cost $360 plus next day shipping.  And of course it happened right in the middle of the holiday season.

    One break for brunch with friends then back to the workshop.

    Ahhhh, just like a real family.  Beautiful tree and ignoring each other.  jk

    It kept raining so I busted out the tent so I could spray the protective coating on the belts.

    Glamor shot of one of my many workshop meals.

    That's the haps for the last two month.  More coherent storyline when my brain has a rest from the craziness of the holiday retail season.

  • Math Cat

    The new Math Cat T-shirt.  We launch a limited print to get a sense of the composition.  It's turning into quite the hit, but we decided it needed a hammer... you know, to make it more comprehensible. Coming soon!

  • Call the Fire Department

    This weekend the head of our Boston crew, Dustin, went on a weekend getaway.  He forgot to relinquish the keys to the rest of the crew running our weekend event, the SOWA Open Market in Boston, MA.  Luckily we have a pretty awesome crew of bright guys and gals and they solved the problem... drive to a local fire station and have them cut off the lock with some awesome tool I've never seen before but now relish.

    Having an awesome product is only have the battle. The other half is having the right people.

    Sure, a mistake was made, but a solution was found.  It's all about the problem solving skills.

  • New Black Anodized Buckles

    Check out our new black anodized roller buckle. It will be rolling out soon on the website, as another buckle option for all our awesome belts.

  • Bridge to Nowhere

    For the second leg of my trip I headed to Los Angeles to do the 2nd Cali Renegade Craft show.  With a week of downtime between the San Francisco and LA shows, and my birthday only a few days away I went bungee jumping with my friend Kelsey at Bungee America. It's a total sham operation.  I signed up for two jumps, but it's such an adrenaline rush that I opted for a third one on the spot.

    It would have been easier if I could blame the instructors for peer pressure but it was my brain screaming "MORE ADRENALINE" that made me do it.

    We all jumped off of the Bride to Nowhere, which was originally supposed to connect a road through the mountains in Azusa, CA, but the road was washed away in a storm, leaving only the bridge remaining.

    The wait was so long, or it seemed so long.  My heart was beating pretty fast.

    Practice bungee jump.  Then in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1...

    That was my second jump.  I didn't make a sound the first time so I figured I had to give a good scream the second time around.

    With my round of jumping over I hung out with the instructors dog Sophie.  She was a little food begger and may have gotten a corner of my sandwich. How appropriate that I was wearing my 'Howl Training' t-shirt while hanging with a pup.

    Kelsey and I hiked to the bottom of the bridge to play in the mini rapids.

    This is Kelsey.

    And these were my LA hosts, friends Matt and Brie.  I look forward to seeing them every summer!

    My view of Los Angeles at 5am as I get ready to head to the airport.  With a view like this I did not want to leave!

  • San Francisco I Love You

    Every year I get to travel to San Francisco and L.A. for the Renegade Craft event.  It's a little vacation for me and I get to spread the word about our awesome handmade products.  We started in San Fran.  Next weekend is L.A.

    I stayed with my friends Rob and Kat.  Rob was my sales assistant this year.  We saw BATMAN together.  I got a little emotional at the end.

    ... and their dog Millie.  Millie is a little-big-dog.  Lots of personality in a little package and wasn't fru-fru.  Millie did get into the chicken coup behind their house and ate a bunch of chicken feed.  Please note chicken feed includes gravel that aids in digestion.  This did not aid in Millie's digestion and so she threw up all over the house... and my super awesome jacket!  No picture needed for that one.

    Assembling the riveters for the custom belts we will make during the show.

    Mostly setup.  Not as fancy as our East Coast setup, but pretty good considering we shipped most things... and dove dumpsters for the rest.  No joke.

    Awesome Safeway sandwich!  One of these fed the two of us.

    After the San Fran show fellow crafter friend and I, Kelso, went to Six Flags magic Mountain in L.A.

    This was disturbing. The park parade people were not that enthused to be doing their jaunt through the amusement park.  Six flags should stick to roller coasters and not ruining my memories of Bugs Bunny.  How is it that Disney manages to get such upbeat people walking in their park parades and Six Flags cannot?  The answer is most likely that Disney bumps them all up with cocaine before each show.  I know I am going to regret that statement in the future when Disney calls to collab on some projects.

    Dear Disney, does it help that I can sing most of the songs to the Little Mermaid?

    Kelso of Kelso Doesn't Dance.

    Onward I say.  To the next adventure!

  • Adventures in Being a Dodo

    I am in Cali for a full week of shows, and my birthday (I'm going bungee jumping here).  I'll be 33... so, you know, old.  I shipped all our t-shirts and belts out to Cali for the Renegade Craft shows. The first first show is in San Francisco.  The second show is in L.A.  I shipped all the packages to L.A.

    Ok, let's review this again, in case you didn't get it.  My FIRST show is in San Fran. I shipped all my packages to L.A. Holy CRAP!  I was sitting in my rental car punching in the address for the FedEx when the GPS unit told me, 'Hey stupid, there is no Wilshire Blvd in San Francisco."  I was so focused on the FedEx location where I would drop off my boxes after the last show in L.A. that I just had that address drilled into my brain.  Have you ever done that, got something so locked in your brain that nothing else registers?  Maybe the closest example is having a crush... a crush that is no good for you.

    Did I know someone in L.A. that could bring them up?  Could I piggyback them on a prison transport or horseless carriage?  Nothing was panning out.  So the day I get into San Fran I head straight to  L.A. to pick up my boxes and crash with my buddy, Matt, for 5 hours.

    What follows brings us to the present...

    Drive 7 hours to L.A. listening to Jeff's new mix tape.  I know none of the words but that doesn't stop me looking like a fool trying to sing along.

    Pickup 7 boxes of merch.

    Drive back to San Fran.  This phrase looked amazing.  I wished it was the musings of a mentally challenged graffiti artist, but it turned out to be a down home song by Tom T. Hall. Eh, not my pace, but I now have a hankering for watermelon wine.

    Stopped at In-and-Out Burger for a Double Double animal style with a chocolate shake.

    Stopped off at Ikea on the way back to buy this.  I'll drill a few riveters into it so I can make belts at the show.

    I was going to treat myself to Batman at the famous Renaissance Grand Lake Theatre, but I was 20 min too late.  The ticket guy and the usher were awesome.  "You sure you want a ticket?  It's 20 minutes past the start."

    "Bound to be a lot of previews?" I asked.

    "Noooo, only about 7 minutes and you DO NOT want to miss the beginning"

    "Yeah, you don't want to miss the beginning," reaffirmed the usher.

    Batman, will have to wait 'till later in the week.  Now I prep, then sleep, then sell t-shirts and belts.  Thennnnnn... Richard Branson will notice my talents as a CEO and ask me to run his space program.

    End scene!

  • Workshop Buddy!

    Humphrey has been staying with me for the last week while my friends Patrick and Lauren are in Paris.

    Behold his cuteness....

    Humphrey getting ready for work.

    Humphrey in the Grand Caravan on the way to the workshop.

    Humphrey does not like sharing the workshop with Francis, our display dog.

  • A Trip Down Memory Lane

    I was stalking myself through Facebook and came across some old photos of the early days, you know, back when I had an iPhone 3G.  I came across an old pic from 2008 of my setup during the holidays. Check out how sparse everything was.  No sense of cohesion.

    And now...

    We've come a long way since 2008 with the help of awesome folks like Jeff Ball and Keith Lane.

    In the four years since that pic was taken (8 years since the start of the company) we've moved the operation out of my parents two car garage, made Jeff a full time employee, expanded the reach of the operation (DC, NY, and numerous traveling shows around the country), and opened up a much larger full manufacturing facility in Washington, DC.  Tell me, when was the last time you heard of something being made in Washington, DC?  Now you know we make awesome products in our Nation's capitol.

  • Rechargeable Batteries

    It's easy to forget now and again that we all have rechargeable batteries.  Sure, we get older and loose a little capacity over time, but we can take on a lot of living as long as we remember to live.

    A week ago I got a text from my best friend's wife inviting me to come out to Seattle as a surprise.  It would be a big surprise because I don't travel for much other than business.

    Normally I hem and haw, thinking about all the dozens of things I would like to get done for my clothing company, and convince myself I don't have time.

    But this time was different.  Life was beginning to well up and I could feel the tears brewing behind my eyes, trying to claw their way out.  It was clear I needed the recharge.  Funny that all it took was to see good friends, sit down to a meal instead of eating on the go, and share the happenings of our lives.  The simple stuff is often the most profound.

    I wish I took more photos, but I was too busy enjoying the company.

    I got to see my best friends Jacob and Mindy and their new baby James.  He's a super happy kid and I was actually excited to hold him.  I still think puppies are better than babies, but James is converting me.

    My other best friends Brian and Ericka.  It was Ericka that flew me out to surprise my best buddy, Brian.  Seen here prepping the July 4th roast.

    We also saw the Sedro Woolley 4th of July parade.  Sedro Woolley was an old logging town on the outskirts of Seattle at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains.

    And being a logging town of course they have a log carving competition.

    I liked this one because it reminds me of our Howl T-shirt.

    And then there were Shiners.

    Now I'm back on my game, recharged for the next set of challenges to come.  Owning a business ain't easy, but I love it.  I just need to remember that it's the small things that make the big things run, like just checking in with your friends and the simple pleasures of asking about their days.

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