There's many reasons for starting a business. For some it's because they see a gap in a particular market, for others it's about being your own boss, for a good many it's probably money driven. For us, we started Origin68 because we love graphic t-shirts, and we decided that if we were going to start making our own, we would do it in a way that was as low impact as possible. It was pretty simple really. There's was no other mission outside of that. Do something you love, and at the same time do it in a responsible manner that isn't just another drain on the planet.
As students we would pride ourselves on wearing the coolest t-shirts we could find. Our friends (and a fair few random strangers) would often comment on our t-shirts, asking where we had got them from. We wouldn't just wear any old generic crap, it had to be something that told people how intelligent, funny, sensitive, quirky we were (or thought we were). The greatest thing of all about t-shirts is the ability to make an instant statement. It's such a simple vehicle to carry your message to the world. We wore a lot of stuff by 2K Gingham who had designs from artists such as Vault49 and were buying loads of the early threadless shirts.
But, after a few years of mining ebay for more cool shirts, we realised the well was beginning to run dry. We decided the next logical step would be to start making our own, and saying the things we really wanted to say. For years we had been making our own crappy t-shirts using hand cut stencils, with cheap acrylic paints, that we would painstakingly labour over. It was just a case of doing it better with the aim of getting a few others to buy them!
We've always been aware of the challenges we face as far as the future of the planet is concerned. We're not particularly aware of how and where this particular fire started to burn. It's probably from spending time with certain people along the way, and learning what's right and what isn't. I don't think we ever stop doing that, which is why when we decided to start a business, it was a complete no brainer that it would be as ethical/sustainable/low impact (whatever you want to call it) as possible. It still amazes us that with everything that goes on in the world people still start business with a complete disregard for people and the environment. We're not a couple of massive hippies on a crusade. We're just doing our bit. It really is that simple. We don't expect to solve the worlds problems. We're happy to try and create some cool stuff, inspire a few people,make a living, and do it all without adding to the destruction of the planet.
Sometimes it can feel like a bit of a struggle. By being sustainable it can be much harder to get new ideas and products off the ground, because you can't find the right supplier, or the quality just isn't there. It's so much easier to just get it done cheap and not think about where your products are coming from, but it just doesn't feel right for us.
We've been running Origin68 for the last 10 years, all the time whilst holding down day jobs. It's definitely a labour of love. There's no way we would be able to continue it if we didn't love it. It's not particularly glamorous folding shirt after shirt, especially when you come home from a grueling day at work when all you want to do is go home to bed. We mainly do it for the satisfaction of seeing someone out and about wearing one of our shirts. You wouldn't believe how amazing that feels to see a random stranger miles away from home wearing your design. That's what keeps us going. So don't be shy. If you're reading this and you have one of our shirt designs, then take a photo and send it to us. It makes our day!
Matt & Harry @Origin68