We don’t know why certain people come in and out of our lives but we know it when they do. Certain people challenge our beliefs and then challenge us to do better. Certain people do their best to protect us from harm but won’t hesitate to call us out when we need it. There are certain people that remind us to laugh and that – if life is made up of work than work should be made up of fun.
These are all the certain people that I work with – and why i’m gonna miss ‘em.
Uciel – I was pleased to hear that you accepted our intern position, among a very talented field of candidates. So far the work that i’ve seen of yours is inspired and unique. Thanks for sharing your talents with us.
Jeremy – You’re a true renaissance man. Someone that has many talents and will have many opportunities before him. I know one when I see one. I look forward to seeing what you create.
Allie – You made a wonderful first impression throughout your application and interview process and then never disappointed. Your energy is always high and it’s been fun watching you grow as a designer. You have a rare talent and smile. Let ‘em both ride.
Nicole – 8/7 desperately needed you we just didn’t know it. I can’t think of anyone that could better fit the role than you.
Caleb – You’re a true gentleman and scholar. Thoughtful and interesting. Those qualities will carry you a long way.
Solarz – The consummate professional; patient, passionate and skilled. You don’t say much, but when you do it’s always valuable and always valued.
Adam – You bring so many things to the table especially your discipline and your work ethic. Your focus on keeping the main thing, the main thing and then watching you sell that to the client is a joy to watch. I find myself always learning things from you. It’s one of the things I’ll miss the most.
Shawn – The chances of us crossing paths was virtually nil, but the reward has been monumental. I was spoiled with you as an intern and now i’m confident leaving this place in your most capable hands.
Zach – The necessary grounded voice in a house full of dreamers. We all respect and appreciate your intellect and your wit.
Ben – You have a humongous heart. You understand people and value relationships. The world needs more of you.
Jon – You’ve gotten us out of some tough times. I could always count on you, and that comfort is actually all a boss needs. I’ve always said you’re the hardest working SOB that’s ever worked here. I always feared, not only, what the screenprinting department but 8/7 Central would have looked like without you as a part of it. You genuinely care about your job and always doing good work and yet, somehow not care what anybody else thinks. We are all better people after working beside you.
Justin – You and I have been through a lot together. I’m really proud of your growth and maturity. You’re stepping into the role that we’ve always known you could take. When you sit down and apply your vast knowledge and multiple talents – you work better than anyone i’ve ever known. And I’m proud to call you my friend.
As I prepare for a journey that will take me away from Eight Seven Central and Des Moines for most of this year, I do so with excitement and sadness. This has been an extraordinary place to work and I thank my wonderful co-workers and the clients for making it so. I’ll see you all again in the Fall.
Vice Rear Admiral – 8/7 Central
There are a lot of perks to my job. First and foremost, I’m surrounded by a team of truly talented people who all take great pride in what they do. We get to create things from scratch almost every single day and we get to be part of a trade that still makes things by hand, a community on the verge of extinction. We get to support our local community while sourcing most of our garments from right here in America. Clubs, bands, schools, teams, fundraisers, and start-ups all come to us when they want truly creative design on high quality apparel. We have freedom not only creatively and with our schedules, but in what we say and do, think and feel, and even wear to work. There is no dress code, but that doesn’t mean we wear our underwear outside of our pants and we don’t have to listen to Lite 104.1 but that doesn’t mean we listen to Lazer 103.3 either.
Instead of casual Fridays, we occasionally have Formal Fridays or Kenny G Fridays where all we play is Kenny G (until everyone runs out of song vetos). We almost always have beer in our fridge and are free to drink it whenever we want. This doesn’t mean we hammer a 6-pack before noon and pass out on the lawn, it just means we keep some suds in our fridge knowing that someone might encounter the need to have a cold one in the middle of the afternoon. Instead of fostering irresponsibility and the desire to punch out at 4:59 to catch the tail end of some lousy happy hour, it encourages us to stay in the shop and enjoy overtime with our co-workers.
When we advertise for an internship, even a barely paid one, we don’t have just 3 or 4 applicants. We get almost 50 eager responses. That’s 5 times more people than our actual workforce. 50 kids ready to challenge themselves and work their hands to the bone for meager monetary compensation and the chance of a full time gig. We’re honored by this. We realize we have created an environment where people want to work and that’s the sole reason our turnover rate is so low. It could be all the fumes we’re inhaling, but people don’t mind coming in to work at 8/7 every day. Sure, some days we’d rather be snowboarding or at the movies, but for the most part a job that’s akin to all-day-art-class is hard to beat.
Of course with this power, comes great responsibility, as they say. We must be willing to respect and trust each other and work hard when necessary. It requires us to pull our own weight and at times the weight of others. This is how it should work.
And so far, it has.
I just returned from a 4 week paid sabbatical. I planned for myself a 5,000 mile roadtrip through the West, a drive I’ve always wanted to make. I hoped to get out of town and find some new inspiration, visit old friends, peer off into distant landscapes and meet new people along the way. Photography has long been a passion of mine, but I don’t have the time to indulge it fully. So I went to take pictures and see how others spent their days and lived their lives. I took thousands of images, I read books, wrote and played music with strangers. A lot of this you can find on the blog my fellow traveler, Carla, and I built to document our trip: www.reallykindofamazing.com
Countless other ideas, books and projects have spun off as a result of this extended time off. I look forward to pursuing all of them. I returned home and to work feeling more refreshed than ever. I left with the overwhelming need to get away and returned with the unmistakable desire to come home. I’m lucky. Really kindof amazingly lucky. I understand this. I wrapped up my jobs as best I could before I left and turned things over to the guys in the print department. They handled their current workloads as well as mine and I’m grateful for that. Their thanks will be returned to them during their months off.
We asked ourselves, “who else out there operates like us?” and “couldn’t this slowly spark a movement?” “what if more companies in America started doing this for their employees?” What if companies that experience slower months, especially in the winter, negotiated a semi-paid sabbatical and enjoyed lower overheads? What if they freed up space for a temporary intern to get their foot in the door? What if they invested in the long-term benefits of happy and healthy employees rather than the short-term ones? What if companies treated their adult employees like adults? That is, adults with other interests and passions beyond their love for balancing spreadsheets? It’s lofty, we know. But take it from us, it’s feasible and more importantly, it’s necessary. Bring it up in your next board meeting – we dare you.
A company not far from here in Chicago IL, has a benefits package that would make a Western European jealous. Red Frog Events rewards their hard-working employees with unlimited vacation days, one work-from-home-day per week, and a paid 4-week vacation (guest included) to another country, in addition to the outstanding package that already includes health benefits, 401k and birthday massages. And nobody in their industry told them they had to do that. No parent company prescribed to them their corporate culture. We, like them, decided that in order to get the most out of our employees when they are at work, we must make arrangements to manage when they’re not.
That to me is the mark of a strong and healthy company and the only kind of company that will ever employ me and my talents.
“the CAPITALS” postcard series from my roadtrip
Anyone else remember when arcade games had limited colors and were 25 cents to play?
A couple of us at 8/7c do and Mars Cafe definitely does.
Owner Larry James asked us to create a new Mars Cafe t-shirt based on the old arcade classic Tempest.
Old games aren’t complete without Easter eggs and neither is this shirt.
Be sure to grab one of these shirts next time you’re up at Mars Cafe.
Our friends over at Soul Flower are beefing up their Spring line. We have been printing some of their stuff for the last several years. Here is the pile of boxes we will be working through in the next several weeks.
We had a chance to ask Mike Shoafstall from Soul Flower a few questions:
87: How would you describe Soul-flower?
Mike: Soul-flower (www.soul-flower.com) is an online store and catalog that celebrates a bohemian lifestyle through fashion. Eco-friendly, Fair Trade, organic, sexy, hippie, peaceful, and Treehugger are all words that describe Soul Flower. We offer a funky, but thoughtful, collection of clothing for the entire family.
87: What is your role with the company?
Mike: My business card says I’m the “ x-factor”, so none of us really know. Fortunately for Soul Flower, I am surrounded by an incredibly smart, innovative, and peaceful crew of people who keep the experience real, positive, and fun.
87: How did you get started doing this?
Mike: I got burned out doing the corporate gig – so I reflected on my past experience (a bit foggy) and opened a hippie shop. Peggy (my wife and original “soulflower”) and I have been on this incredible journey since 1999. We started as a small boutique in St.Paul, MN and morphed into what we are today.
87: What’s your favorite part about doing what you do?
Mike: I get to golf during the summer and take lots of naps during the winter. Really though, it’s been humbling to see such a positive response to what we’re trying to do. We have some of the best customers in the world and Peggy and I couldn’t be happier doing what we’re doing. I also want to add that being back in Des Moines is awesome! It’s our hometown and seeing all the great changes it has gone through is something everyone should be proud about. A vibrant, free-spirited attitude has gripped this town, and I hope it never lets go.
This hoody we just finished printing is for sale here.