APE MADE *officially* turns 10 today!
⚠️Warning: Long, reflective, emotional post ahead…
But business first: Celebrating with an unprecedented 50% OFF everything online + FREE SHIPPING. Simply enter coupon code: DECADE. https://www.etsy.com/shop/APEMADE (Active now through 5/9) 🎉
And for the confessional:
My lil biz *officially* turns 10 – A DECADE – old today, the day I filed papers with the state to become a business in 2011, on my Grandpa French’s birthday. (Though, you may have APE MADE gear dating all the way back to 2009, it wasn’t state official yet.)
I was 25. I remember feeling imposter syndrome hard at every turn, like ‘they’ would figure out I had no idea what I was doing and laugh deny me entry. I vividly remember being so nervous setting up a business checking account. I never had a business plan or clear vision of the path I was on, it developed organically. I could say hard work, grit, etc. But it’s also so often timing, luck, and circumstance.
Graduating college at the height of the recession was DIRE. I worked in social services, something I loved on many levels, but was not sustainable for me personally (read: couldn’t pay my bills / the stresses placed on my position were taking a toll). I simultaneously juggled multiple really bad jobs, scrambling. Scraping. Stressing. Burnt out. At the same time, my Grandpa was diagnosed with brain cancer. Like the really bad kind. He and my grandma were my support – grandma always encouraging my art and grandpa actually repeatedly asking me to start my own art/screen printing business. I laughed at him and rolled my eyes, I couldn’t see it. This picture was taken on the last birthday he had. (I of course was running late because I was stuck working hellish hours at a job that didn’t even make ends meet. Later, as he was dying, the texts and calls about “when I will be in” and “have I found a replacement yet” from another really crappy job, sealed my decision.) I gained perspective, and resolve. I thought, life is too short for this – and decided to take the plunge. I never expected a big success, but thought I could scrape by and work really hard but it would at least be doing something I enjoyed. Definitely more of a “nothing to lose” mentality than some dreamy eyed “following my heart” vision at that time. Grandpa died Feb 2011. I registered my business on his birthday and in his memory, May 3 2011.
Happy birthday, Gramp. Thank you.
The support I’ve received from all of you in the last 10 years is immensely humbling and I’m forever grateful – it has truly exceeded my wildest expectations.
I’ve debated how much to share here – I will be honest. Why the huge sale? I want to continue to liquidate stock. While I will be keeping some of my most popular designs and products, I will no longer carry the huge selection I have maintained for so long. My shops will remain stocked and you will still be able to find me online, but I am not doing as many markets and pop-ups as I used to.
I love my city, and I love my brand, but I am ready to mix it up. Making new things! New projects! For awhile now, I’ve been pivoting my energy into other arenas, getting back into fine art, public projects, and teaching (focusing less on t-shirts and markets). These all bring a different kind of fulfillment. My business is evolving and I am asking myself the big picture questions about intent, impact, goals, and how to best steer my energy and effort. You can check out some of that work here: https://www.apebleakney.com.
I humbly THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU again. It’s been a ride.