Be Kind

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”.

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Heaven aka Iowa

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!!!”

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Well done good & faithful servant, YOU JUST WON A NEW CAR!!!

Just kidding.

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.

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Moments before gagging

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.

Stay tuned.

My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness – Dalai Lama

 

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Fear

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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.

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Pictured: Ball of stress

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.
Gandhi

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.
Eleanor Roosevelt

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.
Dale Carnegie

 

Purpose

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.

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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. 


Stay tuned to my Instagram, Facebook and right here on the blog for updates 🙂

If you’re the praying type, please send a few my way 🙂

 

 

Turning A Negative Into A Positive

Getting negative reviews S-U-C-K. I don’t get too many. Mainly because I put a lot of work into making sure I DON’T get negative reviews. This includes a complete description of what they’re buying, one-day shipping, a well packaged product and hassle-free returns. But, if anyone who provides a service to the public knows, you’re gonna have people who can’t be denied:

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In all reality, the item was EXACTLY what she ordered. She was upset because it didn’t fit (despite my complete tutorial on measurements).  She could’ve sent it back. She could have asked for a refund. Both options I would have gladly accepted. She just decided to leave a negative comment instead. It’s a free country, I guess she has that right. Thankfully, eBay gives sellers the opportunity to reply to feedback (as shown above). This is a HUGE opportunity to show the consumer community that you care about what buyers think (whether you like it or not).

What you may not know is that it is possible to get a negative review retracted. I just recently did this. It’s a little time consuming but if you’re completely OCD about your feedback score like me, it’s worth it.

First, all you gotta do is screw up somehow. In this instance. I accidentally sent the wrong item to a buyer:

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Can you tell the difference between them? In my haste to ship the item, I didn’t. What can I say? I’m not perfect.

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Unlike some negative comments that are unwarranted, this one was completely legit. This was a mistake I had to make right so I picked up the tab on shipping and sent the quick-to-judge buyer the correct item within hours of finding out my mistake.

Once the smoke cleared and the buyer received their correct item, I sent them a feedback revision request and was granted a reversal from unhappy-to-satisfied buyer:

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While negative reviews suck, they are a way to prove you are different from the rest of the sellers out there. While the initial reaction may be to strike back, the correct reaction is provide excellent customer service and always put the customer first. The benefit of the former far outweigh those of the latter.

It won’t go unnoticed.

 

Urgent Delivery Leads To Lifelong Memories

“Your Buyer Opened A Case Against You”

These aren’t words I like to see in the header of an email.

Usually, someone hasn’t received their vintage T-shirt (thanks USPS) or their tee arrived damaged (thanks again, USPS). Things happen. What can I do? Quite simply, I handle it as politely and as professionally as I can.

On this day, I quickly reviewed the case and found the buyer hadn’t changed his mailing address when ordering his vintage tee. It had been sent back to my P.O. box. The email was wrought with panic: “Definitely need this by Saturday!” it said.

This wasn’t the first time a buyer needed something urgently. However, Saturday was less than 48 hours away so I’d have to get it out quickly. Vintage tee in hand, I rushed to the post office a little before 4 p.m. and got it sent out with expedited shipping. It was almost a guarantee to get there on Saturday.

I messaged the buyer to let him know all was well and his package was on its way.

This was the item:

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In my business, I get thrills from a number of things. Finding valuable tees in unexpected places is one. Giving old T-shirts new life is another. Getting a handsome return on an investment is a monetary thrill. But making someones day is priceless.

This is the message I received back from my new friend Patrick:

“Chris  — what an awesome, comforting response.  U r dealing with a 75 year old IT novice.  I am blown away by ur response, chris.  cannot thank u enough.  This is a brothers four tee. U r probably too young to know of them, but they are my all time favorite group, and my grandkids know all their songs.  We are going to a brothers four concert on sunday, and they were going to sign and present this tee to my granddaughter. U literally saved the day, Chris!!  So very refreshing to deal w/folks like u!!

I don’t why, but good customer service is rare. However, I pride myself on it. I’ve lived my whole life around the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” By taking the extra steps to ensure Patrick’s vintage T-shirt got to him on time, I literally “saved the day”. I gotta say, that’s an unforgettable thrill.

Patrick kept me up-to-date and gave me a little more background once the tee got to him in time for the concert:

Hi, Chris. Some background– at a prior concert, one of the brothers four– Mike Mccoy– took a liking to my grandson, who knows all the words to all their songs. During the concert, grandson Luca was singing along in his usual animated fashion. The bros 4 noticed this, and wanted to make a guitar for my grandson.  Since they are a vintage folk group from the 50’s– 60’s, it was highly unusual for one so young to know their music. So, Mike Mccoy wanted to make and present this guitar to Luca. That blew us away, but we did not want my granddaughter, Magda, left out.  Hence, my quest for the T-shirt.  Everyone, esp. the bros 4, were blown away by the shirt.  So, Chris, many many many thanx for ur considerable part in making this happen!

 

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Luca, Magda, A Really Cool Vintage T-Shirt, and the Brothers Four

The great thing about selling vintage tees is that the buyer often has an emotional connection to the shirt. I hardly ever get to know what that connection is, however. In this case, because of the care I put into it, I got to hear a wonderful and heartwarming story of a simple T-shirt literally bringing people together.

When I started this little vintage T-shirt company three years ago, I did it with a goal to show love in what I did. I know that sounds silly when talking about selling old T-shirts, but it’s true. What I’ve come to see is the love in every emotional connection with a T-shirt. The buyer “loves this band” or “loved that TV show” or “loved this brand when they were a kid”, etc. So I treat every package with love and as if it’s going to someone like Patrick every single time.

Low-Balling Feels More Like Blue Balling

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Inevitably when you sell things in an open marketplace, you’re going to have those consumers who think they may just slip one by you and get something you’re selling on the cheap.

They might offer me $15 on an item I have priced for $100, or just offer me the option to discount a newly listed item for them because I’m not trying to make a living doing this or anything:

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Now, I utilize eBays “Best Offer” option on some of my listings for any number of reasons. I may purposefully price an item higher than I think it’s worth to draw in offers and get the price I really want OR I could mess around and sell it for higher than I anticipated it being worth.

Whatever the case may be, I always get someone who makes it feel as though I’m being “teased” (thus the blue balls reference) with an offer that’s WAAAAAAYYY below what I hope to get for it which makes me think to myself, “Why? Why are you an asshole ‘Person On The Other End Of This Message’?”

Maybe it’s just a cultural thing?

Maybe it’s just someone testing me to see if I’m on the other end?

Maybe they just forgot to add another digit to that offer?

Maybe… well… maybe they’re just an asshole! Maybe some people can’t appreciate how hard it is to find quality vintage T-shirts and feel the need to be “That Person Who Can’t Appreciate How Hard It Is To Find Quality Vintage T-Shirts”?

To those people: I’m sorry for being an asshole about your asshole-y tendencies.

To everyone else: don’t lowball people. It just makes you look like an asshole.

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These Vintage Mickey Tees Look The Same! Why Are They Priced Different?

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Outside of one being black and one being gray, what do you say the difference is?

The standard Mickey Mouse tee is perhaps one of the most overproduced T-shirts out there. I recently went to Disneyland several months ago and there was absolutely no shortage of Mickey tees wandering around the park.

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1st and quite possibly the last

So, if everybody has a Mickey tee, what makes the two tees above so damn special?

Well, the black one on the left is from the 80s. I know this because it’s a Stedman brand, 50/50 poly/cotton tee.

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It’s not super rare, but it is somewhat hard to find and is in awesome condition so I have it priced reasonably at 39.99.

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Click to see in store

Now, the one on the right is quite special.

Before I tell you why, understand that in the history of people collecting things, no one has ever wanted a reproduction. The most sought after items are the originals.

First edition Harry Potter books can sell for thousands of dollars.

The first issue of Superman sold for over $3 million dollars.

And an original Led Zeppelin T-shirt from 1979 sold for $10,000.

The gray Mickey tee on the right is not only an original tee from the 70s but it is also a “Tri-Blend” tee meaning that it was made with three materials: Cotton, polyester and Rayon.

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Coupled with the fact it is thin, threadbare and in impeccable shape for being approximately 40 years old (almost vintage for a human being) warrants this Mickey tee to be thrust into the upper echelons of vintage Mickey tees. Which is why it is priced so much higher than the black tee on the left.

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Click to see in store (Update: Now Sold)

It may not be “The First” Mickey tee ever made (undoubtedly not) but it certainly is old and has survived several decades without becoming a dust rag. It is “original”, it is “vintage” and it is “expensive”. It will “sit in my store for a long time”  (Update 12/15/16: this incredible Mickey tee has now been sold) because many people probably won’t want to spend “$300 on a T-shirt” but I’m willing to wait because I guaren-damn-tee you there ain’t many of these out there right now.

It’s an investment.

Thoughts?