Category Archives: T-shirts

A Reluctant Entrepreneur

Kat was on the other side of the bar.  She smiled as she engaged herself in conversation with the others gathered there.  I vigorously shook the cocktail shaker.  The sound of ice hitting metal rang out across the small bar; all heads turned toward me with alacrity normally reserved for gunshots.  I strained the shaker’s colourful contents into the glass.  While all other eyes were mesmerized by the dance of the alcohol as it sashayed into the glass, Kat’s eyes were on me.  This was the fifth original cocktail I had created with the intent to give to the proprietor for free, and though she was still smiling, the glimmer in her eyes belied her thoughts.  It said, “By Gods are you going to hear it later.”

evil eyes  A hundred of these couldn’t save me

I did.

It was a tirade I had heard before, “Why don’t you sell X skill instead of giving it away?!”  Yet another in a series of individuals very upset with me, quite possibly because they had read far too much Rand and not enough Rousseau.  This time it was different though.  This time it was coming from her.  My best friend, this impatient, driven woman who at the same time is quite possibly the most understanding and loving person I have ever met.  Though in not so few words, the base question was this: “Why aren’t you using your talent to make sure both of us have a better life?”  Many people had argued that I capitalize on my skills before, but not until now had I heard it and interpreted it like this.

white-golden-retriever-puppy-53914-mMaybe it was because she used those sad puppy dog eyes.

               Helen had a face that could launch a thousand ships, but only Katerina can make a hard-core anarchist consider starting a business.

I am burdened by many knowledges and skills.  In thirty years’ time I have experienced and been exposed to more than some people venture to deal with over the course of their lives (I’m also very humble).  I have lived abroad on multiple occasions; seen at least 35 of the contiguous US states; speak English, Mandarin Chinese, and French, along with a smattering of Ancient Greek and Macedonian (thanks Kat!); I can play three musical instruments; am incredibly well read by English language standards; have engaged myself in multiple sciences from an early age, starting with Geology and moving on to Biology, then to Developmental Neuropsychology and Linguistics.  I am well versed in history and folklore.  My family history is well known to me and I can trace some branches back to somewhere around 900 AD.  I have managed a band, know both fencing and archery, and have taught myself to use numerous production soft-wares starting from the Adobe Suite, and ranging on into music production programmes, and even into 3d rendering and animation.  My father was a computer programmer and I have been able to punch in basic code since I was five.  I know exactly how your phone works.  I spent close to 6 months in Iraq helping Special Forces track down terrorists that I suspect to this day were more than likely innocent.  I have logged over 200 hundred flight hours as military aircrew, an experience which only reaffirmed my positions that 1) There is no such thing as benevolent government, and 2) as a person brought up in a more-or-less English household, I do not belong in the US.  I digress.  I can cook very well (Cajun is my specialty), and I may have forgotten more cocktails than some bartenders ever learn over the course of their careers.  I can, and have brewed as well.  I have lit a fire on a frozen lake in the middle of winter and kept it going for nearly 20 minutes.  I have learned that I am handy with a rifle, but dangerous with a pistol.  At one point in my life I was also an ordained minister in my faith (hyperlink here).  Once I even managed to watch the Star Wars Prequels without wanting to kill Jar Jar Binks.

jar jarOkay, that last one was a lie. Let’s get that bastard.

        As crazy as all this may sound, it’s all true.  I’ve done all of this and more (except for the Jar-Jar thing).  There is only one thing I’ve consistently wanted to do with my life however, and that is draw cartoons.  I’ve been drawing cartoons since I was six and it has never left me.  I am fascinated by cartoons and animation.  They consume me.  When I was eight, my biological clock was attuned to the time that Inspector Gadget came on.

gadgetGo, Go Gadget Obsession!

So when the message that I should finally try to capitalize on all these experience finally reached me after Kat’s berratio….speech, it was only natural that I place the focus on cartoons.  I wasn’t ready for animation, but I could draw a single shot cartoon like nobody’s business.

Hell-Far-Side-2Except for Gary Larson, that was his business.

I had many friends suggest prior to Kat’s plea that I use my cartooning skills to make shirts, but it had little appeal to me until she said it.  Money had no appeal to me, until she said it.  Because she to me, is the best friend that little boy who spent his life moving around always wanted, the friend you get to keep.  That is worth all the money in the world.  Let’s start a T-shirt company.

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Yes, but Why T-shirts?

Vali was behind the bar.  He had just poured out a fifth original cocktail and once again, everyone was in awe.  He was able to instantly think up five, unique, mind-blowing cocktail recipes, and he just gave them to the owner… for free.

money_business_art

Pictured: money he’s missing out on.

The question kept running through my mind, “When will he stop giving out his unique  talents and skills as if they were something that everyone else on earth possessed?”  cartoons_superheroe

      He was going to add more detail, but I yelled at him to stop fooling around and get some real work done.

The thought that the man of my life possessed such unique talents, but still seemed so devoid of ambition frustrated the hell out of me. This time I told him “You must wake up and do something with your potential, instead of giving it away for free!”  I laughingly went on ; “If you don’t I will capitalize on each and every of your talents, and turn you into my personal ATM!”

money cow

                                    Or you could say: “My Money Cow”

A few days later, he told me that he was thinking to turn his cartooning skills toward making a unique T-shirt brand and thereby achieve global domination. buy my T-shirts                                          I guess he pictured it like this.

I felt relieved, it sounded a little crazy (especially that part about the T-shirts), but he had finally started thinking about business. I liked the idea a lot and told him that I was willing to give him my support (I’ve regretted saying this many times since).  In my mind we are the “perfect match”  he is a very creative artist, and I know how to exploit him.   I digress, we complement each others’ skills well.  His strengths are my weaknesses and vice versa.   I lose my patience, he finds it.  He loses his keys, I find them.  I’m insanely practical, he’s practically insane.  It works.

compromise_pickles

                             Besides, someone’s gotta open those pickles.

Yet another one of my goals which I will touch on in depth later is to move into consulting.  What I felt I lacked however was some business experience and personal success. Naturally, I thought that if I can manage our T-shirt brand and make it famous, then the people will take notice and trust me – that’s the best advertising I could ever get.

alba_ moon_writing

          That or some of that sweet, sweet Moon advertising space.

All these years of endless frustration resulting from working for Chinese companies that were preaching professionalism, but in reality showed none. Companies where nobody cared about the personal and professional development of the employees, put an idea into my head.   We started  a T-shirt business for our first entrepreneurship effort, with a great vision to create a fun brand and making a name for ourselves in China,  and giving others the opportunity to join in on the fun. I  wanted to set an example in management for young people to learn by. I want to  motivate and help them to realize their own potential independent from the trap that is the modern corporate world. What if I could build my perfect company? What if I could create a place where employees will learn and develop, and be motivated to work?   I already had the perfect test subject, but getting my fiancé to cooperate was more of a chore than I bargained for….

stubborn_mule

                                             “Hi, I’m your new cartoonist!”

Next week:  How to Train Your Artist!  A handling and obedience manual for all managers!

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