This year I’m celebrating 33 years on the planet, and every year at some point I seem to ask myself the same question: "What the hell am I doing?"
I'll be honest, I've had a lot of "What the hell am I doing" moments in my life. DJing poolside at a country club with a crowd significantly over 60, “What the hell am I doing?” Waking up every day to a dead end job with no future, “What the hell am I doing?” Fighting for warmth alone in a tent in Switzerland in the middle of a snowstorm, “What in the literal hell am I doing.”
I can honestly say that I’ve experienced the “What the hell am I doing?” moment way too many times in my life so far, and I’m pretty positive I will again at some point. Since Natalie and I started The Midnight Society I’ve definitely had a few moments about what it is we’re doing with this project. What started as an outlet for weird ideas and enamel pins, somehow turned into creating full blown apparel collections, sandals with a guy obsessed with pizza who lives across the country that I’ve never met, t-shirts with an artist who’s prints I’ve collected for more than half a decade, and high quality polarized sunglasses, wait, what the hell am I doing?!
It took a lot of quiet nights in the studio staring at the inventory we had created from one wild idea to the next for things to line up for me. I realized that ever since I was a kid I had wanted to create a brand similar to the ones I grew up being fascinated with. I even attempted it a few times with a few different people, but none of them took. Either the idea was too silly, or I didn’t have the capital to make it grow. Before I could even think about what I wanted The Midnight Society to be it had grown into something that I wasn’t as passionate about when we first started, but it was helping me create what I wanted it to become.
That last line was a loaded one. Essentially nostalgia and nods at pop culture were all we were about. Now, this is a two headed beast. On one hand you’re creating something unique at great risk, whether that risk is a product that potentially won’t sell or you’re going to piss someone off (which we have before). No thanks. On the other hand you create something with enough wiggle room to cover your ass, and sell out in a matter of minutes. We’ve had some flops, just like any company, though most won’t admit to it publicly. It happens, but when you have a successful drop you start to think to yourself, “Okay, do I twist this idea a little bit and do it again, or do I start moving this train in the direction I want it to go.”
It took a few years to finally pull the trigger and take The Midnight Society in the direction I wanted, but as ideas get bigger that two headed beast still perks up his ugly head. However this time we have: “What the hell am I doing?” and “Why the hell am I doing it?” This took a good bit of time to figure out. Let’s face it, most apparel brands exist for profit, but some exist to create a change and attempt to better humanity as a whole. I found myself sitting somewhere in the middle. Sure, the idea of not doing this for profit is great, but at the end of the day in order to keep going, I needed a profit in order to keep creating.
Now, what I mean by fitting in the middle is we do things a certain way for a reason. We run timed edition pre orders so we don’t over produce and potentially waste materials to stay more green. We do limited edition runs of products so they’re more exclusive and special. We look out for loyal customers by offering discounts for the first 72 hours of a collection’s release. All of these and more took time to figure out.
Above all else, as I look back on releases I’m most proud of, the ones meant to educate or bring awareness are always the ones I’m more passionate about. Aside from a few personal projects I’ve been working on. We did the Midnight Blossom Tees to educate and raise money for Japanese Culture Awareness. We released the Bootleg Capsule to educate people on how larger companies with power can take something worth $20 and sell it for $500. It’s that creation of awareness that make those projects fun.
Now, with that in mind, we always want to be able to take The Midnight Society to the next level, and we do that by challenging ourselves to create something of better quality than the last. There are thousands of companies to purchase from. Companies that put their own passion into recreating a nostalgic piece of your childhood, a simple slice of pizza, or their own vision into a project to bring you something unique. The Midnight Society’s mission is to challenge the status quo with better quality, while still making an affordable product, and that’s no easy task.
We’ve thrown projects out the window before because of the cost we would have to charge to make an item successful. We’ve received final items that didn’t meet our standards and either recycled or replaced them for you. We believe in creating something of high quality that’s affordable because it doesn’t make sense to deprive someone who works hard and has bills to pay who can’t afford that $100 T-Shirt or $300 jacket. We’ve fallen in love with the challenge of being able to create a high quality product, offering it at a cost that’s affordable, and still making it feel special with how limited it is.
If you’ve been with us since 2015 you’ve definitely noticed the shift we’ve made. I actually remember talking about it years ago on Instagram Live when I was still drawing out the game plan from “pin maker” to “brand”. I honestly can’t Thank You all enough for sticking with us. Thank you for making my 30s a challenge, and giving me reason to keep pushing myself forward every day.