Wanna hear a crazy story? it happened when I was 10 and I believe it was the seed of something much greater that has blossomed into this idea today.
As always, feel free to visit https://www.gofundme.com/holy-idea-tees-launch for more information 🙂
It was an ordinary day just like any other. As usual, I was struggling with hard questions like, “What’s my purpose?”, “What am I going to do if this business idea really works?” and “What in the world am I going to fix for dinner?” and so on. Suddenly, without warning, I was swept up with this overwhelming understanding to “Be Kind.”
Honestly, I felt a bit like Kevin Costner in the movie “Field of Dreams”.
Believe it or not, amidst my use of four letter words, toilet humor and the affinity for my wife’s cleavage, I’m a deep thinker. I’m in my head thinking A LOT. OCD takes on many forms. Rationalizing, calculating and weighing options (among others) are all OCD tendencies of mine (and making sure the doors are locked about 500 times before we leave the house). So, it’s hard to define anything that pops into my mind. I’ve had the thought before, I’m sure we all have, but this time it just felt different. I can’t say I heard a voice in my head, but I can’t say I didn’t either.
“God?” I questioned audibly.
“No.” It said, “It’s Rod Roddy! C’Mon DOWN!!! You’re the next contestant on the Price is Right!!!”
There was no Rod Roddy. I hope God is nothing like Rod Roddy.
Anyway, all I heard, felt and understood was nothing more than to “Be Kind”. But what exactly does it mean to “Be Kind” and in what capacity? It would have been nice to have a follow-up voice to clarify things a little better but Kevin Costner didn’t either so I guess I have to go with my gut. Fortunately, “The Voice” was a little less cryptic with me. I know a little about being kind so let’s just say I can start by holding the door for someone, saying “thank you” more often or sharing my bucket of cheese balls with you.
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted – Aesop
Simple acts of kindness like these in and of themselves won’t change the world but as a collective if we could all just “Be kind” can you imagine what world we would live in? It’s a pipe dream at best but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for it! We live in a world now where people are consumed with themselves. Looking out for “Number One” is the upmost priority and everyone else better get outta the way! While being kind may go more unnoticed, it is planting the seeds of kindness that will reap you the reward of happiness. This is a gift you can give yourself that has far more value than money, possessions or economic status.
A tree is known by it’s fruit; a man by his deeds. A good deed is never lost; he who sows courtesy reaps friendship, and he who plants kindness gathers love – Saint Basil
So, why me? Why am I being asked by “The Voice” to be kind? I feel as though I’m already pretty kind as it is! Perhaps it was more of a simple idea placed into my head because YOU need to know to be kind. Maybe it wasn’t meant for me. Maybe it was meant for me to pass along to you!
I’ve always been open to where Holy Idea Tees leads me. I quit my corporate job over three years ago to pursue where I felt I was being called. It may be a little strange to think that T-shirts, vintage or otherwise, would be a place where you’re being called but sometimes you trust that things will be laid out for you. So far, after years of waiting, they slowly seem to be. As Holy Idea Tees grows and momentum builds, I’m realizing I should no longer hold back what I FEEL in my heart you NEED TO KNOW. You need to know that the world cannot survive without kindness and love. You need to know that a random act of kindness can change EVERYTHING. You need to know that sometimes it’s something as unassuming as a blog post that speaks volumes to you.
Sometimes… maybe it’s just T-shirts that can teach you to “Be Kind”. I’ve been given this platform so I intend to use it.
My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness – Dalai Lama
The Lord said to him, “Who gave human beings their mouths? Who makes them deaf or mute? Who gives them sight or makes them blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” – Exodus 4 vs 11-12
I’ve been going back on this verse from time to time because I feel like Holy Idea Tees and myself are here for something more. I mentioned previously my desire to print my own tees but I’m hit from all directions with fear of the unknown. I have a tendency to do this, it’s nothing new. Almost a decade ago I had to overcome my fear of being a bad dad. It was horrible. I was so wrought with pain at not knowing what was going on or what to do with my emotions (and a tiny baby) that I was rendered almost motionless. I desired to be a father but once it happened I wondered why I had wanted it. The responsibility was overwhelming and the guilt of second-guessing myself was crippling. Fortunately, with some professional help and self reflection, I came to understand myself better. Learning how to process my thoughts and fears became vital to my success as a father at that point. As she nears the age of ten, I look back and say, “Man, I wish I had the tools I have now back then.” If I did, I could’ve enjoyed more moments instead of being wound up so tight you couldn’t stick a greased BB up my butt.
Holy Idea Tees is three years old, the same age my daughter was when my stress and fear hit its peak. What I’ve come to find out lately is success in business and success in fatherhood have many similarities: both keep me up at night, both keep me second-guessing and both motivate me to keep going. Much like my daughter has become an extension of myself, so has my business. However, while my time is running out on helping form her into a strong, well-grounded woman who will be able to tackle life with confidence, the TIME IS NOW to start giving my business what it needs to make it through its grade school years.
However, unlike a child, I cannot physically comfort, love and tell my business everything is going to be okay. How do I give it what it needs to succeed? It’s simple really. It’s all up to me. I just have to stop being afraid.
That’s easier said than done.
If there’s a poster model for fear of the unknown, it’s me. I fear failing. I fear succeeding. I fear not being in control. I am so good at fearing things that if there is LITERALLY NOTHING to fear, I can create it from out of nowhere.
My fear can be found in the same cracked foundation my confidence is built upon. I’ve always had fear no matter how safe or how good I was. I seem to have always been great at talking myself out of things because I am my own worst enemy. I’ve never felt worthy and always felt guilty. It’s a terrible place to dwell in. I wouldn’t recommend it.
But why? What is it that makes me this way? I don’t think I could ever explain it. I don’t know that I even fully understand. However, what I do know, is that fear is bullshit. Whether its a fear of failure or a fear of success (because I have both) the base of both is FEAR and FEAR is simply an emotion that causes me to believe these things will cause me pain.
Is it possible for me to use the same tools I gained when learning how to navigate fatherhood? Yes, I believe it is. If history has taught me anything, I want to be on the precipice of Holy Idea Tees‘ 10 year anniversary and look back saying to myself, “What was I so worried about?”
And now, some quotes on fear that really speak to me:
The enemy is fear. We think it is hate; but, it is fear.
You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.
When I left the corporate world, amidst all the static in my head, my intention was to change the world with my own printed T-shirts. I didn’t know exactly how I was gonna do that, but I trusted the path would be laid out for me if my heart was in the right place and I kept love as my purpose.
Now, over three years later, the static has begun to clear and I think I’m finally ready to start making my own. These last three years have been a necessity for finding out the intricacies of running a business as well as developing a comfort zone for someone like myself who needs to know EVERYTHING before jumping all in.
So what will be the purpose of printing my own tees? As simple as it sounds, I want to spread love. I want positive messages with a humorous and creative tilt and tees are a great way to express that. They are a simple medium, however, they are one of the biggest forms of expression today. They’re kind of like wearing a billboard on your chest!
Currently, in a world full of hate and vitriol, love is something we’re currently lacking. In fact, some people say it’s the answer to everything. I tend to agree. If there’s one thing we can always use more of… it’s love.
I hope I can help fill the world with a little more of it.
All the commandments: You shall not commit adultery, you shall not kill, you shall not steal, you shall not covet, and so on, are summed up in this single command: You must love your neighbor as yourself. – Jesus Christ
We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another – Jonathan Swift
Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend – Martin Luther King Jr.
If you’re the praying type, please send a few my way 🙂
After picking vintage T-shirts for the last several years, I’ve gotten very good at the art of picking. When it comes to thrift stores, depending on my mood and the size of the store, I can get in and out very quickly. This involves keeping my head down, staying focused and not engaging with anyone. This works for me because of my introverted nature. It’s not easy for me to talk to strangers. I can do it, and I’m not bad at it, but it saps my energy and wears me out.
However, I love to listen to and observe what’s going on around me. There’s no better place to people-watch than at a thrift store. I’ve seen paramedics treat a passed-out drunk homeless person on a store sofa, old curmudgeons bitch about “high prices” and heated yelling matches between customers. It all makes for a great reality show playing out right in front of me. I just observe, smirk to myself and continue doing my thing.
One particular day a few weeks ago, I was doing this exact thing at a Salvation Army store. As I hurriedly flipped through the tees I took in the sights and sounds around me. There wasn’t anything out of the ordinary. Certainly no drunks or obstinate people. Just the regular ambient noise of a thrift store. There was one voice, however, that continued to capture my attention. It was a joyful one. One that wasn’t too fake or overly annoying. It was enough for me to turn around and seek out who it belonged to.
She was a older lady, hard to tell how old because African Americans age so well. She was targeting each person in the store, going up to them and asking for a hug. Not for money. Not for a handout. But for a hug. With each hug she gave the same sort of pep talk: “Jesus loves you honey. We all need a little more love in this world. We are all one people. Show love today.” Something along those lines.
I’m certainly not new to “interesting” people coming up to me saying things that make me scratch my head but this woman seemed to have it together. She was nice, polite and had a smile that lit up the building.
She hadn’t made her way to me yet but I was just in the process of finishing up and moved my way to the checkout line. When I made it there, we crossed paths.
“Well, where’s my hug sugar?” She said.
“I’ve got it right here” I replied, “I’ve been listening to you and I like your style!”
It wasn’t until I said that that I noticed what she was wearing. No doubt, her coat was made from curtains. Remarkably, they resembled the curtain pattern my parents have in their house. Her knitted cap was undoubtedly one she’d made herself. It was at that moment that I was truly moved.
“Alright then, God bless you. Jesus loves you!” She said with a smile and then moved on to the next person.
“But wait,” I thought to myself, “I want to talk to you some more! Why the hell are you so happy? You have a coat made of curtains for Gods sake!”
I’m not that good at improv. I can’t really speak off the cuff. My introvered, obsessive nature makes me afraid to speak sometimes for fear of saying too much or not saying the right thing. For this reason she continued on her way. I simply sat in line waiting to check out with a forlorn look on my face wanting “a little bit of whatever that lady is taking”. The woman behind me piped up and asked the checkout employee, “Who is that lady?”
“I dunno” she said completely nonplussed.
I wanted to slap her. She was completely unphased by this woman doing so much with so little. In a world consumed with so many bad things, isn’t it nice to get a little love from an unlikely source?
“I love her. I think she’s cute. The world needs more people like her” I said.
I picked up my small bag of vintage T-shirts and headed for the door. But before I made it there I decided I wanted to tell this lady how awesome she was. So I turned around and I approached her. This is not normal for me. I don’t talk to people I don’t know and I’m not good at it. I wasn’t as graceful as she was. In fact, I was a bit awkward. I waited for her while she doted on her lastest benefactor. I felt like a fan waiting for an autograph.
When she finished, I approached her and told her what an amazing thing it was that she was doing and to keep it up. I pulled my phone out and asked if I could take a photo with her. I wanted to remember her.
“Oh honey, no photos. Maybe at a later time. We’ll have to do that later. I don’t look my Sunday best. You know, a lady’s got to get her hair done before a photo.”
I assured her it definitely wasn’t a big deal but she politely declined again and I obliged. We chatted very briefly as she seemed a little confused as to why I was so interested in her. I thanked her for her kind words and left a little more fulfilled but with many more questions I wanted to ask.
Her brief appearance in my life’s story made an impact on me. Each day, I wake up not knowing what this day will bring. Events pass by and the monoteny of each day roll further back in my memory bank with no promise of being able to recollect it in a few years. This moment though, was one I didn’t want to forget. Without a picture of her or a promise of ever running into her again, I decided to write this post. Her decision to love me that day really impacted me. I am so happy to have met her.
I hope one day to see her again.
Diane Sawyer: Why did your brain choose vintage t-shirts over other more “well-known” items to sell to make money like cars, diamonds, insurance, real estate or rare mid-century shrunken heads?
Chris: I can relate it to being a kid in the baseball card store in the late 80s or early 90s. Back then, I went into a store called “C&C Cards” and spent my hard-earned “crabgrass-pullin” money on wax pack after wax pack trying to get the last three or four players to complete a set. Flipping through endless racks of old t-shirts in someones closet and finding a deadstock Screen Stars t-shirt is equivalent to the rush I’d feel as a kid when I’d find a player I liked amongst the sea of other faces.
DS: So, why would you want to suffer sifting through endless mounds of old t-shirts only to find a few nice vintage tees and subsequently sit on them until the right buyer comes along 10 months later?
C: I guess because it’s just something I love doing. Its fun to see what I might come up with next. I honestly can’t come up with a better explanation than that. Call me odd or call me quirky but I think Joss Whedon said it best when he said, “Whatever makes you weird is probably your greatest asset.”
DS: What are your plans for the future of your business and can you please stop picking your nose for the remainder of this interview?
C: My bad. I forget where I am sometimes. I don’t even know if I know exactly. I just wanna get out there, get down in the trenches and find some rare, different, eclectic, eccentric, esoteric vintage t-shirts and document it. After that, I’m waiting for a sign.
DS: A sign? What do you mean by that?
C: I don’t mean a voice from the heavens or getting struck by lightning or anything like that. Its more of like a feeling. A feeling that it’s time to move forward to plan B.
DS: Okay. So what’s “Plan B?”
C: Plan B is everything that happens right after Plan A. Duh.
DS: Alright, seriously. Quit fucking around with me and get to the point.
C: Has anyone ever said to you, “Welp. On to plan B!” after something goes wrong? There’s nothing they can do to go back and change what happened in plan A, so they move on to plan B. That’s kinda like life! Life is a continual game of rolling with the punches and moving on to plan B.
DS: What’s that gotta do with Jesus?
C: What? I never said anything about Jesus?
DS: Well, it’s in your name: “Holy Idea Tees”.
C: No. No it’s not.
DS: Okay, so its implied.
C: “Holy” doesn’t imply Jesus. It implies that I promised my personal God I would give back 10% of what I make from the business if I could work from home and support my beautiful wife and child and be present more in our family than if I worked a 8-5. The name stems from that promise.
DS: I guess that’s commendable. Lets see if you can keep it up.
C: By the way, just because the word “Holy” is in my name doesn’t necessarily mean I’m a Christian. I could be a Buddhist or Hindu and still be holy, right?
DS: You are correct, but you live in Oklahoma and were raised Catholic. Common knowledge wouldn’t lead me to believe you were either Buddhist or Hindu.
C: Whatever. All I’m trying to say is don’t pigeon-hole me because of my name. To me, being “holy” is more than just being pious. It means doing right by one another, doing good business and just not being a dick.
DS: Speaking of dicks, you have been known to dish out some cuss words from time to time. Isn’t that being a little “unholy”?
C: I’ll be the first to tell you I’m a hypocrite. Bad language is probably the least of my issues. Quite frankly, we’re all hypocritical to different degrees. I don’t want “Holy Idea Tees” to be a business that puts itself on a pedestal but one that operates on what my heart and soul is telling me to do and sometimes that involves the human aspect of cussing, doubt, worry, flatulence, etc. I want this business to not only involve helping myself, but others as well. Thus the word “holy” in its title name.
DS: Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 and 15 years?
C: Well, The vintage t-shirt industry has been around a while and has a few big names. In five years, I want to be one of those names. In ten years, I want to be the biggest name. In fifteen years, I’m going to be 50 and I figure I’ll retire with my hot wife to the Bahamas or something like that. With all that being said, I just want to be happy. Like I said earlier, I still wake up every day to Plan B and continue following the signs.
DS: Okay, well we really need to wrap this up because I have to interview the president in about 30 minutes. Any final thoughts?
C: I’ve got a lot of really cool old t-shirts. I would encourage anyone who likes to flip through t-shirts to browse my obsessively categorized store in eBay or follow me for daily interests or funny/cool shit on Instagram or Facebook.
DS: Chad, it’s been a pleasure.
C: It’s Chris.
DS: Oh, right. That’s what I meant. HA!
C: Oh HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Diane, the pleasure is all mine.