It all started with a simple idea – design fresh high-quality unique items. Just one month after I had graduated college, married my high-school sweetheart, moved to Burlington, VT, and started a full-time design job, I found myself brainstorming about launching my own brand centered around my love for typography and minimal design. I felt like the design culture at the time was really lacking in this area, and apparently this design sensibility connected with many people all around the world. What started as an outlet for my passion and entrepreneurial experiment quickly grew into much more than just selling a few shirts.
It started with a simple idea & our mission remains the same
Create High-Quality, Well-Designed Goods That We Wanted Ourselves
Ugmonk didn’t start with a formal business plan and in fact I had very little background in business. Rather than following the “traditional” model of starting a business, I just tried to apply common sense and research to figure things out as they came up. I’ve found that the best way of learning is by doing.
It's more than just tshirts
It's a mindset.
And then we woke up...
After launching Ugmonk in August of 2008, with just 4 designs and 200 total shirts, things accelerated quickly. We were featured on several blogs and sales started rolling in from countries all around the world. Then things really took off with the release of what’s become Ugmonk’s signature design And Then I Woke Up.
Going Full Time
Through the first two years, we continued to build Ugmonk by working late nights and weekends refining designs, organizing logistics, and packing orders. Each new release received an enthusiastic response from the community and knowledge of the brand spread organically through word of mouth and online features. My dream of starting my own brand was no longer just a dream.
Just before Ugmonk’s 2nd anniversary, I decided to leave my full-time design job so that I could focus all of my energies on the passion that I had for Ugmonk. As part of this change, my wife and I moved back to our hometown in PA, and my parents graciously agreed to allow their house to become the Ugmonk warehouse and shipping center.
I decided to follow my passion and make the jump.
Spreading the Word
Rather than investing lots of money into traditional paid advertising, we’ve simply relied on word-of-mouth from people that appreciate Ugmonk and want to tell their friends about it. With the help of the internet and social media the reach of word-of-mouth is truly global. As a result Ugmonk products have been shipped to customers in more than 62 countries around the world and have been featured in print publications and spotted on various television media outlets. I’ve also been invited to share the Ugmonk story and my design philosophy at a variety of design conferences over the past few years.
We've shipped to over
Around the world
Another pillar of Ugmonk is the desire to give back to those in need. Just a few months after opening shop, we decided to hold our first annual Ugmonk Gives Back charity drive – donating a portion of each sale during the holiday season to provide meals to children in orphanages around the world. To date we’ve been able to supply over 30,000 meals!
We partner with a great organization called Rice Bowls who is extremely efficient in stewarding the donations they receive in order to serve the children in orphanages around the world. My wife and I got to experience this first hand when we were invited to visit a few of the orphanages in Honduras and Nicaragua. We are so grateful for the support of our customers that enables us to give back to these children!
With your support we've provided
Over 30,000 meals for orphans
Keeping it personal
Even as we grow, one thing that I’ve always wanted for Ugmonk is to maintain the personal touch. We don’t try to make Ugmonk look like a big corporation. We are as transparent as possible. This is why I share a lot of the behind the scenes about how I design products and run Ugmonk. No matter how big Ugmonk gets I always want to be accessible to fans and customers. I love connecting with people on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
A family affair
Ugmonk is truly a family run business. My brother is my business partner and technical guru, my mom keeps track of our inventory and ships all of the orders, my sister-in-law handles the customer service and communication, and my wife has been a huge help in a variety of ways over the years. Making it a family affair has been fun and exciting.
Ever since the beginning, Ugmonk has been about my passion for design. I quickly discovered that there was a lot more to running a brand but it’s still the creation process that fuels me to keep going. Ugmonk will always remain a design-driven brand where design and quality come first.
The face behind the brand
Jeff Sheldon makes his home in Downingtown, PA with his wife and their Boston Terrier Pixel. He graduated with a B.S. in graphic design in 2008 and has a passion for all things design. When he’s not designing or scheming up the next Ugmonk release, he’s probably raving about Chipotle, trying to dominate Settlers of Catan, planning his next snowboarding trip, or sleeping.