I'm gonna start selling t-shirts ...
Why? Who? How? Are you losing it?
OK so before I start answering and discussing the questions above, I’m going to quickly fly through the last few months. I think this needs to be done so that you, the reader, can get a decent idea of how I got to where I am now. I feel that pondering the past can be quite a constructive experience but for one to remember not to dwell on it for too long. There’s a high possibility that emotions will come involved and it’s a struggle to escape from that situation when your mind’s a mess. Also, if my experience written down helps you make some sort of sense of the shit show that 2020 has been up to now, well I’ll be glad.
My last working day was in April. My contract was supposed to finish at the end of February but there was still some work left to do, which I was very grateful for. I personally understood the gravity of the worldwide crisis on the 16th of March. It’s a day I’ll remember for the rest of my life. I had driven to work, walked towards the office door and found that my key fob wasn't working. I called one of the office workers who told me that the office couldn't open as one of the workers had just informed them that they, and a family member were experiencing symptoms of coronavirus. I told her I understood and decided to go to Asda to get some cleaning supplies that my mum had mentioned we needed the night prior, before driving home to work at my bedroom desk.
In order for me to explain how busy the supermarket was, it reminded me of the independence march I attended in Caernarfon back in July last year. There was no toilet paper, no hand sanitiser, no flour or pasta and fresh meat was scarce - it was chaos. I was approached by a lady as I browsed for surface spray, who handed me a piece of paper with two video links written in pencil. She explained her belief was that Bill Gates was the ‘engineer’ behind the spread of the virus …
Instead of accepting the paper, I asked if I could take a picture and quickly moved away to resume my shopping. I grabbed the few anti-viral wipes and sprays I could find, then made my way to the checkout. A middle-aged man coughed in the self-service queue and the people around me reacted as if he had just booted a cat. Totally bizarre. Nothing has been the same since that day and I'm sure most people have a similar recollection of a certain day, like the 16th of March for me. A day where people understood that 2020 wasn't looking to be ‘that year’ after all.
Since finishing my contract in April, I have done a creative commission for the National Museum of Wales, started a script and applied for a Masters. Between these small scale projects, I have been job-searching, reading, writing, watching films and documentaries. Although I have been trying to keep busy and develop my skills, it feels as though I’m hitting a brick wall, over and over, because I’m not really going anywhere. I’ve tried to use my time efficiently by teaching myself about film and its form, researching on how to write for the screen and attending talks over Zoom, trying to prepare myself for work in the film and television industry, when circumstances permit this to happen. And like everyone else, I have been watching the news and scrolling Twitter daily, possibly often, and reading other newsworthy developments. I was accepted on the Masters course but unfortunately I couldn’t attend the course as it isn’t designated in Wales, and therefore I wasn’t eligible to receive funding. Two months of believing that I was creating an exciting, new path to my future, instead finding myself hitting the brick wall again. This result genuinely hurt, but I have to admit but in the grand scheme of things - would I have applied for a Masters course if I wasn’t stuck at home at 22 years old in the middle of a pandemic? I am not entirely sure.
Like many young people have expressed over the past couple of months, I feel as if I am just existing. And with the never-ending speculation over another lockdown approaching becoming a dark cloud over my head, I decided that the next step for me was to throw in all of my time, energy and money into a new venture.
When brainstorming and trying to decide what INDI would be about, I knew I wanted to start as I meant to go on, by thinking about sustainability. I believe that anyone that wants to start a business in this day and age needs to think thoroughly about sustainability and prioritise it. The range of information we have about our planet is the largest and most informative it’s ever been and we have to take the steps to lessen our impact on the environment.
T-shirts, this is the first item in my online store. 100% organic cotton that has been grown without the facilitation of any chemicals polluting rivers and cotton that has been treated in a safe environment - meaning that there is no poison or harmful substances in the air that would risk the health of the workers, nor in the ink that flows from the factory into the water source. The t-shirts have a Fair Wear Foundation certificate which means that the workers are paid fairly and that the factories are routinely assessed. The aspects that I have listed above result in a substantial cost for the t-shirts but the truth remains that if I as a brand owner want to source a product that is ethical, made to a high standard and is not harming the environment, the cost is justified.
Now that I have found a sustainable product that works for my business, I can focus on my strengths and the fun part, which is letting my creative juices flow and design t-shirts! It’s so much fun noting ideas on a whiteboard. During lunch time or tea breaks, it’s so nice to see my father or one of my brothers approach the whiteboard in the kitchen and record more ideas before being dragged back to more meetings and statistics discussions.
So, to summarise. Why am I designing and selling t-shirts? Because starting a business has always appealed to me and I need a way to channel my creative energy, or my bedroom would turn into a prison of scribbled walls and I would wake up finding post-its on my forehead. (I think writers will understand that one.) Who? Me, just me for the time being but one must remember that just one person founded Nike too. How? Watching videos on the internet like Pethau owner Megan Coates’ ‘I Quit 9 to 5’ series on Youtube, long talks with dad, and by using money I saved from working in Co-op whilst I was studying at York. Am I losing it? Yes, most definitely, without a doubt. But you know what? I don’t think I ever had it to begin with …