Oh, 2010. So many things led up to 2010 and starting the brand, and it's hard to go back to even remember where my mindset was at, but I know where it was.
My mindset was do or die. My mindset was "I'm going to make this work at all fucking costs".
I'd been through some hard times — we both had. We were sort of backed into a corner, and forced into the decision to either make this brand work, or go back to our old lives.
So we made it work.
Complete tunnel vision, complete focus, and, to be honest, complete disregard for all life outside the brand.
And the brand was exactly what we needed. We needed slogans on a shirt that we could look into the mirror and see and believe in. I needed that pep talk every time I looked into the mirror. And the line did that. " I shall not Flag Nor Fail." No surrender, no defeat. That was huge for me. I started out printing all the shirts alone in a garage, having no idea the brand would be here ten years later, let alone this big, or have done such amazing things or touched this many people.
I printed out of my garage for 6-8 months. I live-streamed a lot of it — I wanted to show people I was about the lifestyle, working 20 hours a day in a shithole garage. The process was hard, but it shaped me and prepared me for what was to come.
By the end of that year, I was able to hire my first employee. They were part-time and handled customer service, which freed me up to lengthen my stride and take the business to the next level.
From there, I remember getting our first warehouse. It was in downtown Reading, and it was a complete shithole. Looking back on it now, I can't even believe I signed a lease there — but it had to be done. We were snowballing, a pace of 50% increase every month.
As it turns out, our message resonated with people. Our message resonated with you. And our journey began.