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Origin Stories : Entry 01 — "I NEVER wanted to make t-shirts!"

Written by Leslie Kim

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Posted on February 25 2019

Origin Stories : Entry 01

I never wanted to make t-shirts

Dynamite Starfish Origin Stories - Entry 01 - I NEVER wanted to make t-shirts

You may be surprised to hear this. I NEVER wanted to make t-shirts. By the time I started Dynamite Starfish, I had heard my share of horror stories from (very talented) artist friends who had started their own apparel companies and found themselves unable to make a living and always stressed out. It struck me as a venture that I'd never be interested in, unless I really really REALLY believed in it.
 
Obviously, I did it anyways. You may wonder, (and sometimes I even wonder) why I would do such a thing. I also don't think I've told very many people why this project was started or what it's roots are. So I'm motivated to share some origin stories with you!
 
Dynamite Starfish was born in 2015. What I really wanted back then was very simple. I just wanted to eat, sleep and work when I wanted to. I had a full time office job where they demanded I be at work at a certain time, and required me to fight through Los Angeles traffic to get there. All the inconsistent sleeping had me eating unhealthily, and drinking to relieve stress, and don't even get me started on office bathroom discomforts (Ali Wong describes it best in one of her Netflix specials). I had started climbing again recently and was obsessed. It was my main physical and social outlet. I was going climbing outside on the as many weekends as possible, constantly packing and unpacking in order to get those small hits of outdoor time that were becoming ever more valuable as my climbing started to progress.
 
Being an artist and graphic designer, I made a handful of drawings based on places I had spent beautiful weekends in. I made them to celebrate the experiences we shared together as a community, and intentionally not about the landscapes, the climbs themselves or the accomplishments gained. My friends really liked them. Since I had taken a few printmaking classes in college, I thought, "Oh, maybe I can turn these into fun, hand-printed postcards and sell them for the cost of materials or give them away." But I was kidding myself. That's not sustainable for an artist. I had to rethink my approach.
 
Quite a few acquaintances informed me that my doodles would look great on t-shirts. In fact, that's just about the only medium they were truly perfect for. My reaction was this, "How annoying! I don't want to stock all those colors and sizes, never knowing what will be sold or if that design will sit in my tiny apartment for years. I can't do that. Absolutely not. Besides, I have a full time job! (in an office I hate, doing work I don't believe in)" But the seed was planted. I don't know about you, but for me, the seeds of possibility never lie dormant for very long.
 
This is a really brief introduction to my business, which I have so whimsically named, Dynamite Starfish. If you're not sure what that means, check out our About page.
 
This is the first entry of what I'm hoping will be an informative, helpful, dare I say — inspiring(?!) series of stories about why I started Dynamite Starfish. I'm sharing these because I want others to feel empowered to pursue their dreams. I never thought I could do it, but I was the lucky recipient of lots of great learnings and want to return the favor. The second story is to come... let's say, next week? I think it's going to be about leaving my 9-5 life.
 
Thanks for reading! 
—Leslie
Owner/Founder, Dynamite Starfish

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