The Craft of Collaboration

January 12, 2016 | Leave a Comment

Ugmonk has always been about creating better versions of products that I personally want. My strength and skills are on the creative and design side of things, but I’m certainly not an expert on the manufacturing side. The way I’ve been able to achieve this is by partnering with great manufacturers who have helped me turn my ideas into physical products.

A couple months ago I flew out to the Black Anchor in Tacoma, WA to film the detailed process that goes into crafting our leather mousepads, wallets, and card cases. Though the products look simple from the outside, there’s actually a lot that goes into making each one of them by hand.

The beauty of collaboration is that when we play to each other’s strengths we’re able to bring great products to life that otherwise would have never been made.

Big thanks to Vyking for writing the original music for the video
and Black Anchor for allowing us to film at their workshop.

Watch the full video here

Endless Possibilities

November 27, 2015 | 2 Comments

According to “studies” our age, race, family background, or economic status determines our fate. In reality, though, we’ve been given a gift: the gift of creativity!

It’s not as easy as “you can do whatever you believe you can do.” Often life is full of hard work, tough failures, and unexplainable losses, but the worst way to respond is to retreat. Your experiences, your story, your skills, your sphere of influence, your creativity are all unique to you.

Explore your endless possibilities to create, give, help, and make an impact.

View the new tees here >



New Letterpress Prints

While we love big prints we realized that not everyone has huge wallspace to hang them. Many of you requested smaller size prints that you could display at work or in your home.

Today we’re making that happen and we’re doing it in style. These 8″ x 10″ prints are beautifully letterpressed on thick paper stock and fit just about anywhere. The black prints are printed with a special silver foil on thick black paper stock. The white prints are printed of high-quality lettra stock which maximizes the letterpress imprint.

Grab them individually or pick up the whole set of 5 here.


New Crewnecks

The weather is getting colder and it’s time to layer up to stay warm. We’re releasing a new Plus Minus Crewneck complete with 3-color felt appliqué sewn onto a super soft black fleece. Made and sewn in the USA.

New Colors

We’re also introducing new colors of these two best-sellers: Ripple Effect and Shaped.

Holiday Sale Starts Friday

November 25, 2015 | Leave a Comment

The holidays are just around the corner and so is our special Holiday Sale. Get your shopping lists ready because everything in our shop will be 20% Off on Friday.

Along with the sale, we’ll also be releasing 11 new products!


8th Annual Charity Drive

In the holiday spirit of giving, we’re excited to kick off our 8th Annual Charity Drive. We’re partnering up with our friends at Rice Bowls again to help feed kids in need. With your help we’ve donated over 46,000 meals during our previous drives!

My wife and I have also had the opportunity to witness first hand the impact that Rice Bowls is having in Honduras when we’ve visited. Thanks for helping us feed these precious kids!

Starting today through the end of the year, each item that you purchase will provide 3 meals for kids around the world. You can also donate directly or increase your donation here.

New Ugmonk Lookbook

November 23, 2015 | 2 Comments

I’m excited to publish our newest Ugmonk Lookbook today!

Ever wonder what a product will look like in person? Whether it’s that missing piece in your wardrobe or that gift you’ve been scouring the web for, these photos will give you a better sense of what our products look like in context.

For this lookbook I teamed up with my friend and talented photographer Patrick Chin. He took my specific vision and aesthetic direction and captured the essence of the Ugmonk brand perfectly with these beautiful images.

Scroll through the photography and click on the “+” symbol on any of the photos to shop the specific products in each photo. View the full lookbook here >

View the full Lookbook here >


From Concept to Product Launch:
How I Designed the 7th Anniversary Set

November 16, 2015 | 28 Comments

Designing and launching a product may seem like a relatively simple task from the outside, but there are hundreds of steps to getting an idea from inside your head to a physical product in your hand and then releasing it to the public and finally shipping it all over the globe.

Back in 2009, when Ugmonk turned one year old, I thought it would be fun to celebrate by designing a special limited edition anniversary shirt to celebrate. At the time I didn’t think much past that, but the next year I decided to design a full limited edition set and each year I’ve continued this tradition. It’s a fun challenge to raise the bar each year.

Here’s a detailed look at what it took to design, manufacture, and launch the 7th Anniversary Set:

1. Concept & Design

The first stage was brainstorming the general concepts and ideas. At this stage I try to think as far out of the box as possible not worrying too much about pricing or manufacturing difficulties. Any time I think of something, I’ll add it to the list of potential ideas to explore.

Rough Ideas

I started with a general aesthetic in mind, but the design ended up evolving quite a bit from the early concepts. I always like to start with pen and paper to rough out ideas. Using paper allows me to explore a variety of styles and ideas without being constrained to specific typefaces or tools within Illustrator. These initial thumbnail sketches are super rough and usually don’t see the light of day but are helpful to get the creative juices flowing.

For the 7th Anniversary Set I wanted to do something specifically playing off the number seven. Seven is already a favorite number known for it’s luckiness, but I didn’t want to just rehash the idea of luck with this year’s set. I wanted to focus more on a clean, elegant seven and allow it to live in it’s purest form. At the same time, I wanted to add an extra layer of depth to give it the trademark Ugmonk touch. When thinking about different interpretations of the number seven I came across the 3D seven-sided shape called a “heptahedron.” As soon as I saw it I immediately knew that I wanted to incorporate as the secondary design element in the set.


With the general aesthetic and list of ideas in mind it was then a matter of narrowing down the different items that I wanted to include in the set. One of the trickiest parts of producing these sets is figuring out what’s feasible for a short run production at a reasonable cost.

Finding manufacturers involves lots of googling, emails, and phone calls. Unfortunately there is no single source or magic directory that can make anything and everything. Even with Google at our fingertips this can be incredibly time-consuming and frustrating. For the 7th Anniversary Set I had to work with 6 different manufacturers.

Producing the steel heptahedrons was an especially huge challenge. Even though we’ve made other metal products in the past, nothing is automatic. The manufacturer that we had worked with in the past fell through at the last minute and left us back at square one searching for a new manufacturer. Most of the machine shops and fabricators that I contacted about making the steel heptahedrons didn’t understand what I was trying to create or simply weren’t interested. It took a lot of leg work to finally find a new machine shop to create exactly what I was envisioning. This unexpected setback actually delayed the whole 7th Anniversary release several weeks.


Once I had honed in on a specific aesthetic direction and selected the final parts of the set, I dove into refining the design elements that would be carried throughout. During this process I quickly mocked up the designs on blank t-shirts and other items to get a better idea of how they would look as final product. A design may look great by itself but doesn’t always translate well to a t-shirt or packaging depending on the proportions and shape.

Production & Manufacturing

Designing a product is only half the battle. Producing physical products isn’t as easy as just pressing File>Print. It’s a multistep process that involves a lot of back and forth communication and rounds of sampling with each manufacturer to dial in the details for each piece.

For example, the small serif type on the tin label design looked great on screen but had to be tweaked ever so slightly for the letterpress printing to get the best result. Rather than digitally printing these, I chose to use letterpress printing for a more premium feel. Even though this process has been around for hundreds of years it still creates a crisp, tactile print that digital printing just can’t replicate.

For the 7th Anniversary tee we wanted a semi-transparent print that would allow the heather gray fabric texture to show through the ink and also leave a super soft print. This took a few tries to nail the opacity and exact look we wanted. When sending the t-shirt artwork to the screen printer we’ve learned that it’s not enough to just email the artwork and assume they understand everything clearly. Working with a good manufacturing partner is certainly half the battle, but even then, it’s important to verify and iterate to make sure things are in line with your vision.

2. Pre-Launch

Once all of the pieces of the set had been produced and we had everything in hand, it was time to prepare for launch. This involved assembling the sets, photographing them, and designing all of the assets to prepare for launch.

Product Prep

With all of the pieces in hand, we could move onto counting, sorting, assembling, and packing the Anniversary Sets to get everything ready to be shipped out.

Even in this seemingly simple stage, we encountered the challenge of figuring out how to adhere the labels onto the tins with everything to lined up correctly. Since there were 300 sets, we needed a process that was easy to repeat without taking too much time per label. We ended up creating a simple, hand-made template out of cardboard to ensure each label would be centered and squarely positioned on the tin.

While tasks like these can seem somewhat mundane due to their repetitive nature, this type of quality control and attention to detail is a crucial part of a successful product launch that results in happy customers.

Product Photography

Good product photography is essential to selling products online. If there’s one point I can emphasize the most it’s this. Since people can’t hold it or see the product in person, the photos need to tell the narrative of the set and convey the incredible amount of detail that went into everything. It’s not simply enough to snap a few quick photos and move on. Every detail should be carefully considered, including lighting, focal point, and environment. These photos can make or break how well the product sells. A picture is truly worth 1000 words.

For the anniversary sets in particular I like to go all out with the product photography, and this year I even decided to shoot a behind-the-scenes video. While I could have hired out the photography and videography to someone else, showing the product and process through my personal lens is a key part of telling the story of the set. This always takes a huge amount of time and effort to do right, but is worth every bit. (I’ll write more about my photo process in a future post.)

Product Page Design

I needed a place to share all of these photos, so I designed a custom product page for the anniversary set. My goal was to create an immersive narrative for the viewer as you scroll down the page and absorb the story of the set through photos, videos, and text. I’ll design the page mockup in Photoshop and then hand it off to my brother for the actual coding and build out.

Product Content

For each new product there are many little details that have to be thought through and planned. This includes product name, product description, dimension and specs, and pricing. One of our goals is to tell a story to go along with each of our products. When it comes to an anniversary set we like to take the opportunity to reflect and celebrate with all of the people that have made Ugmonk a success – our customers. Copywriting is an art form in and of itself. Many brands seem to overlook this part and don’t inject any creativity or personality into the product description. The story breathes life into a product and helps customers and fans connect with the product and the brand.


Ecommerce prep

At this point the anniversary set had to be converted into a product. We had to finalize the description, price, and photos and enter them into our ecommerce system (Shopify).

We also had to create the additional images and graphics that need to be created for each product launch such as the homepage banner. Each one of these assets takes time to design and think through since each product is unique. It’s small things like this that can add up quickly but are all necessary for a successful product launch.

3. Launch

Now the payoff! It was finally time to reveal the set to the world. Even after 7 years, I still get the same nervous/excited adrenaline rush each launch day. So much work went into this moment and there are so many things that can go right or wrong.

Here are the basic steps I focus on during launch day:

1. Publish products in ecommerce system (Shopify)
2. Publish blog post
3. Publish homepage banners
4. Send email newsletter
5. Post across social media (Twitter, Instagram, Facebook)

4. Post-Launch

Now that the Anniversary Set was live on our site and visible to the world, it was just a matter of making sure everything was working and loading correctly on our website and then answering questions or replying to comments on social media.

And then the fun part: watching sales start to flow in from all over the world (we hope). No matter how many products I launch, it’s still incredibly humbling to see people spend their money on something that I created.


As you can see, launching a product is not a simple task. It takes months (sometimes years) of prep to turn a concept into a tangible reality. But despite all of the headaches, stress, and work behind the scenes the end result is always worth it.

In the end, this is not the one “right” way to launch a product, but I wanted to give you a detailed look at my process and share some of what I learned during this launch and over the past seven years. I’m constantly learning and looking for ways to improve each step of my process. The journey is all part of the fun.

Thanks for an amazing 7 years!

Sign up here for more updates and future posts.

P.S. There are just a few 7th Anniversary Sets left here.


Letterpress: Behind the Scenes

October 29, 2015 | 7 Comments

After shooting this video of Iceland and then seeing it go semi-viral, I became really interested in learning more about the craft of filmmaking. To be honest I shot the Iceland video on the fly without much planning or experience. I love the challenge of learning new things and it’s been fun to dig deeper into the world of video.

This behind-the-scenes Letterpress video was the first full video that I shot and produced since picking up my new camera gear a few months ago. Since the letterpress shop is local it was a great opportunity to put my skills to use and shoot the printing process for the new 7th Anniversary Sets.

Music plays a huge role in video. Rather than picking a stock song I had the neat opportunity to collaborate with Vyking (my brother-in-law) to write an original track for this video. It was fun to work closely alongside each other to tweak the song and footage and bring it all together. After many revisions and edits, I’m really proud of what we produced.

As a consumer, I alway enjoy when brands share their process through video and I’m excited to show you how more of our products are made. In fact I recently flew out to Tacoma, Washington and filmed at our leather manufacturer and am currently editing that new video. Stay tuned for more updates.

Original music by Vyking
Printing by Paper Meets Press

Get the Limited Edition 7th Anniversary Set here

116 x Ugmonk Collection

October 26, 2015 | Leave a Comment

It’s not often that I do any design work outside of working on Ugmonk products, but when my friends from Reach Records approached me with an opportunity to collaborate on a special artist collection I couldn’t pass it up. I’ve been a fan of Reach and the 116 movement for quite some time and was honored to team up with them.

We’ve been working together for the past year to dial in all of the details, from cut and sewn hoodies to special woven tags and embroidered patches to custom stitched snapbacks.

I designed a custom script and 116 typography that’s used throughout each of the 13 pieces in the 116 x Ugmonk Collection. Each item relates to each other with a slightly different interpretation of the 116 theme of “Unashamed.” Limited quantities are available here.

About 116

116 is the movement of the unashamed. Established alongside of Reach Records, the music helped propel 116 into a community with the heartbeat to live an unashamed life. You can find 116 worldwide, from athletes to tattoo artists to businessmen, all joined together in this passion.

Shop the full collection here

Shop the full collection here

A Clearer Vision

October 8, 2015 | Leave a Comment

Believe it or not, in the past seven years of running Ugmonk we’ve never written an official business plan. While we do plan out a general schedule for what we want to accomplish each year, we’ve spent very little time thinking through a higher-level strategic plan and vision. We’ve been fortunate to have a good bit of success over the years by figuring things out as we go, but we also realize there is a lot of value in having a detailed, focussed plan. Having a plan brings clarity, and clarity leads to action.

We recently traveled to the middle of nowhere West Virginia for our first-ever Ugmonk planning retreat. While we could have easily done this at home, it was extremely helpful to be in a different physical location isolated from all distractions. It also didn’t hurt that the place we stayed was a beautiful modern prefab house nestled in the woods.

We spent the whole weekend thinking through our vision for where we want to take the brand. Rather than getting caught up in building out features designing or fixing things, the entire weekend was dedicated to brainstorming. The beauty of true brainstorming is that there’s no such thing as a bad idea. Brainstorming allows you to be unfiltered, not worrying about the validity of the ideas. Just getting everything down on paper (or a Google Doc) is extremely helpful. Once we had our giant list of ideas compiled, we filtered them down, organized them, and turned them into an actionable plan.

It feels great to return with a clearer vision and renewed excitement for the next phase of Ugmonk. We’ve just barely scratched the surface of our potential. Lots of exciting things in store :)

Here’s a few starter questions to get you thinking about your own business:

What is our mission?
What are our core values and unique strengths?
What have we done in the past that we should be doing more of?
What should we be doing less of?
What are our biggest bottlenecks or roadblocks?
What size to we want to grow the business to? How are we going to get there?

The Best Fans

October 2, 2015 | 4 Comments

We have the best fans. Seriously. This video wasn’t commissioned or incentivized. It’s just an awesome thank-you from a long-time customer and friend of the brand, Jason Zook.

I talk a lot about 1000 true fans and how much I value each Ugmonk customer. Jason, you are truly one of those fans and I can’t thank you enough!

Still a few 7th Anniversary Sets in stock but sizes are selling out fast.

Seven Years of Ugmonk

September 15, 2015 | Leave a Comment

We like to think that it’s been more than just luck that’s transformed Ugmonk from a creative side project to a lasting brand. Creativity, hard work, and devoted fans have been the ingredients that made us successful for the past seven years. Here’s to another seven!

The design of the 7th Anniversary Set centers around a clean, refined 7 and a special 7-sided shape called a heptahedron. These two elements are carried throughout each piece of the set. Only 300 of these sets exist, so once they’re sold out they’re gone for good.


Each super soft heather black 50/50 blend tee features the Ugmonk Anniversary 7 design printed with the a soft water-based ink and special woven hem tags featuring the heptahedron. Made and printed in the USA. Only 300 ever made.


The 7th anniversary heptahedron is precision cut from a one inch solid piece of raw steel and custom engraved with the Ugmonk Anniversary 7 on the front face. This unique 7-sided shape changes in appearance depending on what angle you look at it. Its hefty weight, smooth antique finish, and prominent 7 make a great display piece on your desk or side table. The subtle markings from the tumbling process make each one truly unique. Each steel heptahedron comes packaged in it’s own round mini tin.


Each 7th Anniversary Tee comes carefully packaged in a tin complete with a special letterpress label. Display it in your home or studio or reuse it to store odds and ends. Check out the video below to see the behind-the-scenes of of how these letterpress labels were printed.


To signify the limited edition nature of the 7th Anniversary Set we designed these solid metal cards, diecut with the Ugmonk Anniversary 7 and etched with the unique number of the set, 1-300.


I filmed a special behind-the-scenes look at the letterpress printing process for the 7th Anniversary packaging. Letterpress is one of the oldest forms of printing and has been around for over 500 hundred years. Though printing technology has come a long way, letterpress still creates a beautiful, tactile print that digital printing just can’t replicate. Watch the full process video here.

Original music by Vyking
Printing by Paper Meets Press

Look for more details about how I produced and edited the video soon.

Thanks for your continued support!