Failure’s Not Flattering
“What’s up with AHA?!” “Hey did AHA stop?” “What happened to your t-shirt company?!” “Are you going to make kids clothing?”
Weekly if not daily, I get these questions. For the past two years it’s tore at my soul, my very fabric. I failed. I drove my baby into the ground in a crash that can only resemble the Hindenburg (is that reference still relevant? Man I’m old). It got too big to handle, too separated, I had 6 stores, running over a 100 products. I had people designing, a company printing and I spent all my time in a tiny office piled high with boxes and t-shirts and shipping envelopes. I remember dreading Black Friday, trying to juggle how much product to have, how quickly I could get it shipped out and how many orders I would mix up.
Eventually I ordered too much of what didn’t sell and not enough of what sold, in the wrong sizes and colors and found myself buried. I rushed to get our new designs that didn’t “feel” or “capture” what made After Hours Agenda. It was defeating, crushing, it was like letting go of the leash of your dog and watching him run into an abyss, chasing as fast as you could but never able to keep up. It kept me up at night, it impacted my mood. The failure weighed heavy on my shoulders.
AHA was the first thing i did on my own (although I’m sure i annoyed the hell out of a lot of my friends for their advice, option and help. It was terrifying but so exciting. It took everything from me but gave me so much more in return. It was my baby, it was celebrated, 10 years in the music industry, I took everything I learned and applied it to this and it worked. I was validated that my ideas weren’t just fads but actual working ideas in marketing, branding and creation. I tweaked, and tweaked, and tweaked and reached VIP clients, boutiques, and almost, almost got whole sale deals. But I did end up selling 5,000 shirts in 4 hours and to me that will always be the “we opened for nirvana” moment I’ll never get over. But all’s well that ends well.
Two and a half years ago, I took a job after being self employed for four years. I wanted health insurance, but more importantly I wanted to get to where I knew I needed to be, New York City. Before I left this past fall i would meet with a good friend multiple times and discuss in details my feelings, my fears, what made AHA special. The amazing feeling of coming up with an idea that spoke to me, that was charming, that validated who i was but without screaming into the abyss of fashion sense. It was style. A style me and over a 1,000 people agreed with and cherished. I couldn’t leave it in the gutter. It needed to be great again, I needed to feel it again, I needed to help create something that spoke for others the way I wish someone spoke for me.
It couldn’t just be t-shirts, I always wanted more. I wanted pieces that spoke to someone’s passions, loves, art and humor. I knew if AHA came back it had to be in a big way. As I adjusted to my new city, my friend Drew began asking questions and finding answers to all the problems with starting a clothing company. The logistics, the costs, the struggles, the opportunities. In his research he shared with me this isn’t 2012 anymore. He discovered the tools and resources needed to not only bring AHA back but to maintain its quality while building trust and offering more. And oh man is it back.
It’s print on demand, and automatic fulfillment from three production centers across the country making sure you get people products fast. They process returns, exchanges and more. Free shipping is back, same great t-shirts, soft ink feel print and dope designs. And brand new products, even coffee mugs. Yes, coffee mugs. I missed the rush of making something great and sharing it with amazing people. It’s taken a long time but this time it’s worth it.
This isn’t the next chapter, this is a do over, with everything I wish I had at the start. I’m a little older, a little wiser and a lot more focused than I was 6 years ago. So let’s do this all over again. I’m not going to blow up people’s social media feed with posts, I’m going to try and keep my business and personal life apart from each other giving them both room to breathe. Failure’s not flattering but sometimes it’s necessary to know how to do things better and that’s exactly what I’m trying to do.