Putting 2018 In The Books
Here we are, capping off another year of living. This year, for me, was a completely different ride. It feels like we all live our lives searching for 3 things: Purpose, Love, and & Friendship. As we experience each year, think about all the different variations from year to year. It’s pretty crazy to think about whether its friend groups changing, the priorities in your life, and who means the most to you. Even if we swear to ourselves that OUR inner circle won't change, OUR priorities won't change, or OUR love for some people will always be there. Not trying to burst bubbles, but I guarantee right now you can ponder on the different friends that have come and gone in your life along with your priorities changing as you get older or love diminishing for someone.
It happens. That's life.
2018 was a completely different experience for me. For instance, this was my first year being out of school with graduating last Winter. So, I had a lot of searching to do as to what I want my purpose to be. My plan out of college was to work in the Real Estate & Insurance World. I prepared myself by getting licensed in Wisconsin in both before graduating and honestly thought that was what I wanted to do with my life. I wanted to make an honest living on helping people find their perfect home and making sure it was insured if anything bad happened. I was staying in my lane.
As I lived each day, I found myself wondering if there was suppose to be more….more purpose….more work….more gratification…..more of something. It’s not that easy though. You cannot simply just think on the spot of something you would rather do or would rather spend your energy doing. So I kept to my lane but with a thought on the back burner of always going through the process of finding something I want to do with my life. I was reading an excerpt of an article that told me, “To find your purpose, think of ANYTHING in your life you have at your disposal that can be advantageous”.
Then, it hit me like a brick wall.
I was thinking of Brand L Imprints Embroidery & Screen-printing. With my mom being the owner of the business and my sister being the head of graphic art and production at the Lancaster location, I found something I can at least give a go. I instantly called my sister and explained what I wanted to do. As many of you know, I am a huge small-town guy, never really wanting to leave SW Wisconsin for bigger and better things. In my head, why couldn't I bring that to this area? I loved all the concepts of a small-town like Kieler like knowing everyone in town, the friendly atmosphere, and blue collar work ethic. So, using my advantage, why couldn't my sister & I create a brand that THIS area can love. That THIS area can represent. That THIS area can be proud of. Then of course……
We picked a date for our website to go live in March with our line of clothing. I gave out a whole bunch of clothes to get the idea rolling in people’s minds. The goal was to create clothes that emphasized the608, but not limit us to just this area. Since, many areas outside this zip code have the same feel and meaning. It helped we were able to hook up with Alex Erickson, native from Darlington and WR for the Cincinnati Bengals,, to create AE12. I wanted to give all his hometown fans a way to represent him without having to buy the $200 custom NFL jersey. We are truly thankful for Alex and everything he does for the608. We plan on working together for years to come!
Before we went live, we spent hours of hard work trying to make it work. Once we had our logo, vision, website, and clothing intact… we were about as ready as we would be.
What we weren’t ready for?
1. How hard it was to spread the word of a new brand clothing business. We didn't realize there are many people who don't use social media, which was our only way to reach consumers.
2. Sitting on inventory & clothing that wasn't so popular. So, as we started, we thought our designs were LIT! We came to realize not all of them were great sellers on the site like our River B**** tanks. Yeah, I know people, not smart to put bad words on our clothing. And honestly we still have that item in our storefront and site. But, if I could take back, I would. We realized we were going to LIVE & LEARN through our mistakes and grow from it.
3. We didn’t have to be limited to JUST clothing. I did a lot of research on what we could bring to the table other than just merchandise. I wanted to make our website a multiple-use platform that people can come to for more than just placing an order. First thing that came to mind was blogging and since Squarespace makes that pretty easy, this was a no brainer. We only have two bloggers to this day being myself & Brandon Slaats. But, we are always looking for more bloggers to share their life, point of view, and more. (If you're interested hit us up!) Anyways, finding other media ways to reach consumers was tricky. After I researched my tail off, I came to realize podcasting was our best bet. I thought I had a great group of friends and if you put us behind mics and let us talk shop just like we would if we were sitting in The Kieler Mall, we could find things to talk about that would interest listeners. Our first season was pretty gnarly as we got out of hand with our shop talk. Now, we are ONE EPISODE away from being done with Season 2, which allowed us to take out Season 1 so we could be seen more professionally by first time listeners. the608 Show has grown to where we have our own podcast room, weekly rundown, and special guests! We have had WI Football stars like Alex Erickson & Soup Campbell to aspiring actor Jillian Kuhl. Again, always looking for new podcast show and hosts…. Then, our recent project, expanding in the media sector even more. We are going to be broadcasting live to social media for big sporting events & the608 events. This will allow people to watch our reactions in game-time speed from their phone while watching the game on their TV! We plan on having events hosted by the608 that we stream live to the public! All of this is possible since we acquired a software that allows to edit live production while streaming to different platforms at once. Other than live production, we plan on having our own TV Shows that can be subscribed to on our site! We believe this is the next step as being known as a brand clothing line along with multi-media.
Anyway…… 2018 has been quite the rollercoaster when it comes to the608. Without taking that chance, I would still be doing something I couldn’t quite put my full heart into.
2018 was more than just starting this business with my sister Amanda. A lot of other good things happened.
1. I GOT ENGAGED. This is very recent but is 100% the best thing that has happened this year. I met Teah three years ago at the one and only Kieler Mall. We were both drunk as hell but I remember telling my friends I was going to date her. Instant crush. I somehow managed to get her number that night and we began talking that month. We got to know each other through Snapchat texts (which we still have saved) and eventually I asked her on a date. Since then, I’ve always known this was the girl for me. She’s beautiful. She likes to make her own path in unique ways. She is independent. Has a great support group in her amazing fam. And… she’s weird as hell just like me.
2. Met some amazing people. Whether it was through the608 or just being out. I met some amazing people this year. Obviously I can sit here and riddle them all off, but Im not going to do that. Just know, if you have impacted my life in a newly found friendship.. this is you. One of the biggest priorities in my life is friendships. In this life, we find satisfaction in the people we surround ourselves with. So I am truly grateful to all of you that are in my life.
3. Great memories. 2018 was filled with memories whether from hunting trips, golf outings, trips up to God’s Country, etc. This year was amazing. I will cherish the memories throughout the year forever.
OK. Enough about 2018. Let’s move into the New Year. I’m not going to riddle off things I want to do as resolutions as you probably expected. Instead I am going to talk about growing off the great experiences of 2018 for a change of pace. My plan moving into 2019 is to build off of a great 2018… making more memories, meeting more people, and building our business.
In my head, as long as I work hard, be nice to others, and keep making good decisions…. it’s only up from here. There is one resolution I want to talk about. This resolution is to take the bumps in the road in stride, not let them break me down, and to take the challenges with a positive attitude. If I do all of this, I think this year will be EPIC!
In what ways will you build off 2018 to keep growing in 2019?
What are some of the best things to happen to you this year?
Hope Everyone has a wonderful New Years! Pay attention to the things happening in the608 as we are doing different things daily! Subscribe to our email list on our homepage to stay in touch!
“Stand Out With Us”
Host of “the608 Show”