- 1:34 am - Wed, Mar 6, 2013
- 38 notes
Today’s a pretty monumental event for me. A couple months ago, a personal rock hero of mine, Dave Grohl, expressed some pretty dedicated interest in the shirts we’re making over at Estoy Merchandise.
He visited the shop (garage) one day and we tossed him a couple shirts straight off our sample rack, and after he demanded numerous times for us to let him pay for them, of course we said NO and he went on his way with a couple Monarchs shirts. A few days later his wife contacts us saying that Dave absolutely loves them- the feel, the texture, the design… and she’d like to order essentially every shirt we make, and give them to him as a birthday present. And again, she demands we let her pay us for them. So we put together a box of stuff, and send it over.
You see, these are shirts I sometimes pick up from our supplier by walking a couple miles to the subway station, taking a bus to the supplier, walking back to the subway station with my arms full, traveling home to the garage, and printing them by hand on a homemade press I made for about $50 with supplies from Home Depot. Times have changed a little, and we’re now having the shirts shipped to our door, we’ve bought a real silk screen press, and we even have a heat gun to cure the shirts and solidify the ink (I used to take them to a laundromat and fill 3-5 dryers for about an hour and walk them back). We also print our logos on wrapping paper that goes on each shirt, and we tag the logo on the boxes that the shirts/hoodies are delivered in. This has been our process for about the last 2 years that we’ve been operating.
This shirt came about as an accident actually. I had a green shirt lying around and decided to print the Lion Surfer Guy logo on it for myself to wear. When I showed it to my business partner Greg on a whim, he loved it, and exclaimed that we have to produce them and put them on sale immediately. I did, and we sold out in 7 hours. Originally intended to be only a run of 100, we decided to keep it around for a while, and it’s still a shirt we sell today.
The point is, this is something we do by hand. It’s not a $7 Walmart/Target shirt (bless those stores for selling as many units as they do, but those are printed in a gross warehouse in downtown LA where little attention to detail is paid and most times done on a computer-automated press). Our shirts are being sorted, printed, dried, wrapped, and boxed in a 20’x20’ garage in Los Angeles. There are 1-3 people involved in the operation at any given time, and no 2 shirts are ever alike. We pride ourselves on being in business for the sake of making great products that people can enjoy, and feel a sense of ownership for. These shirts represent more than just fashion, style, and surf rock music. They represent the little guy, the underdog, the people with a dream and wherewithal to go out and do exactly what they want. When I made that shirt, we were trying to make something cool to get the word out about a Monarchs record. I never thought in a million years Dave Grohl would be wearing one on Jimmy Kimmel Live, performing with legendary musicians on Hollywood Blvd. It’s validation. A small event that makes hours and hours of hard work feel more worth it than you could ever imagine.
But I tell you this much. There are times it feels like I’m under a lot of pressure, not good enough, and I want to give up; times when I’d rather go to bed early, or sleep late. And times I’d rather be out at the movies with my friends, or going to shows like I used to.
But I wouldn’t have a business.
I wouldn’t have a home.
I wouldn’t have this story.
- 2:41 pm - Sun, Oct 21, 2012
- 99,710 notes
I miss being close enough to Chicago that I could drive there in 3 hours if I wanted to. Sometimes, I would be in Michigan, and life would feel like it was just too much, so I’d hop in my car, usually bring along a friend, and we’d escape to Chicago for a couple nights. We’d smoke cigarettes, visit our favorite record stores, and sleep in my car or on the pier and do it all again the next day. The people you meet when you become part of the streets is a lot different than people you’re introduced to. Strangers become friends, while back home friends were becoming strangers. I remember sleeping on a bench in front of a Joe’s Crab Shack for a couple hours, waking up, and having people trying to give me change. I had money. That’s not what I was looking for. I wanted new experiences, a different kind of change. I think I found it, but I’ll never forget those nights when I could just hop in the car, and drive to Chicago. I could park my car and taxi around town and just drift through the city, soaking it all up.
Chicago, I miss you.