Every so often I'll be writing an entry about what it's like to run a business like Grimwire, and recounting my experiences. I'll be documenting everything I can, and hopefully it will give some of you with similar dreams some insight to how this all works. Today, I want to explain just how we got to what you see right now, through the good, bad, and ugly.
When I started the idea for Grimwire in 2015, I set out to use the name as a moniker to release fine art under, much like how Shepard Fairey works (or worked, at this point) under the name "Obey Giant". The idea was that I could sell it better as a brand and detach my fine art from my commercial graphic design career. I wanted to keep things separate.
Mid 2016 rolls around, and suddenly I find my self wanting to do more than the boards. I realized I was growing out of wearing band merch, but I still liked tee shirts and urban fashion. Fashion has always been a huge interest of mine. I naturally grew in to plain black or white tee shirts every day. Front graphics always felt too flashy to me, they just don't look good. All of my favorite graphic tees were badge style with a big graphic on the back. Nobody was putting out anything I liked. There weren't any clothing lines I found to be something I'd want to wear, either. Most lines either put out story-less front graphics or slap their logo in a font on the chest and call it a day. I couldn't align myself with either of those options, so I figured I should fix the problem.
My artwork always carries a lot of meaning. All of the graphics and paintings you see on the shirts and boards in the shop are real feelings and real moments in my life that I was going through something that invoked that idea or feeling. I wanted to be able to put out things that I believe in and provide them to people that believe in the same things. The idea is to create a community around a set of notions and beliefs so that we can all eventually find each other, and maybe one day, not feel so alone.
Fast-forward to January of 2017, I see that Vans Warped Tour has open applications to vend at the festival in the summer, so I decide to say fuck it and apply. I had about 6 painted decks and one shirt mocked up. I realized that if I were to actually get in, I'd need a lot more. The boards take weeks to paint each, so coming up with any more than two additional paintings wasn't viable. Tee shirts looked like the most viable option. I spent the next two months drafting ideas, trying to come up with a concept for a line, trying out tons of illustrations and seeing which ones get the best engagement on Instagram. I picked the three that fit my vision and worked the best with my following and tweaked them to fit the brand.
Enter Chase Hiple. Chase has been my best friend since just before the idea to paint skateboards came in to my head. He's followed me through my ideas and schemes and one day mentioned that he'd like to be a part of it. He believed in what I was doing and wanted to help me make my dream a reality. I bounced all of my ideas off of him and we'd stay up all night brain storming things we can do to make this brand as powerful as possible. We've got hundreds of ideas that we haven't put in to motion yet, and several that we're working on under wraps.
April rolled through and we got an email denying us for Warped Tour. We were bummed out, but we understood. It only gave us more time to really nail what we wanted to do. We zeroed in on what we were going to release, and figured out how we were going to do it. We branded the company (a study I'll share in the future), researched all of our distribution options, and priced out all the costs of the things we want to do.
A month and a half later, mid-May, I get an email from Vans. Several vendors had dropped and we were offered a spot on the Cleveland date. I couldn't say no, the opportunity seemed too golden (another story for later). Problem was, we had two months to make it all happen. We had to order 75 shirts, 1000 stickers, "Thank You" purchase cards, a tent banner, materials for some products that haven't been launched online yet, figure out where to host out store, figure out how to display the boards. There was a LOT to do, and not a lot of time to do it. Not to mention all the money it was going to cost.
If there's a single phrase of wisdom I can offer anyone wanting to start any kind of brand, it's this; You're going to spend a shitload of money and everything that can go wrong, will go wrong.
In two months, Chase and I had to spend over $1500 on getting everything ready by Warped Tour, and we only have three shirt designs and some stickers. It was exhausting, we hit a lot of road blocks, and we encountered a lot of stressful situations, all of which I'll go in to detail on in the next post. If it weren't for Chase and his question less faith and investment in to this company, there's no way I could have made this happen. I owe a lot to him for his financial and time sacrifices.
It was a whirlwind of a couple months. We didn't expect anything to happen as fast as it did, but now we're here and we're excited to grow with you watching. In our first week and a half alone, we sold over 20 shirts and have made our total tee-shirt investment back. That's better business than we could have possibly expected, and we have you all to thank for it.
In _03, I'll get in to the gritty details of just how much everything went wrong and how much sleep I lost trying to get this thing up and running. Until then, thanks for your time and I hope you dig learning about how these things work. Honestly, we have no idea what we're doing, so we're going to document everything so you can learn from our mistakes.
Here's to the future