The inevitable seems to be happening, and me and my fiance are ushering our family out of New York State. What does that mean for the future of Love Nico Tees?
I say the inevitable seems to be happening because the whole process of buying a house is frustrating and terrifying and we’re two days away from the final a-ok, thanks random mortgage dude, I do not think I’ll be recommending you to my friends.) I’m excited, because believe it or not I’ve wanted to move for about two decades.
The allure and usefulness of NYC to artists has generally been lost since 2004, and the internet has both destroyed and bolstered making a living. After a lot of hullabaloo, one can, in theory, live anywhere and do the same sh*t they do and still make some kind of an income.
Again, in theory- you need a setup that works. If you output chemicals, though, and you don’t live inside a city’s limits where sewage treatment is part of your home’s infrastructure, you can do major damage to the land you paid a lot of money for. If your soon-to-be home pumps certain water drainage into a dry well, you have to save for a greywater system, or anything that makes your chemicals into NOT chemicals poisoning the environment you move to.
The last thing I want is to move to this pristine dream home and send a lot of bad stuff into my dirt. I DO mainly use water-based inks, but the real money is in plasticol and custom work for larger orders.
To be honest, folks, despite a very good and sudden resurrection of my company due to Covid (because I made masks, posted them on Facebook and they got ordered up the wazoo), I’ve only paid myself $300 since re-starting my business in 2014.
Every penny has had to go to bulk orders of supplies, bills for website and app costs, and other business related expenses. The real meat and bones of Love Nico has ALWAYS been my hand-screened t-shirts. They’re a step above because I make them the “wrong way”, without the right equipment- and that bohemian, lazy approach has definitely benefited the look and feel of this company for a very long time. But it is actually quite expensive to run, especially when you aren’t focused on wholesale custom orders.
The amazing Shifu Shi Yan Ming and Kirby Koo modeling one of my few wholesale client orders. I love them.
So I tinkered with the idea of shutting down my company for good. I heard Shifu Shi Yan Ming of the USA Shaolin Temple was sad to hear that news. So was I. Had to rethink my strategy. Because if he’s sad to hear it, I’ve got something good established.
As appealing as it is of an idea to totally re-start my life, close my company and my social media accounts (I’m off of Facebook right now and probably will be forever because it’s gross), doesn’t exactly sit right either. There’s a lot of work put in- since 2004, really- and a lot of branding, recognition, and history. And I know one day, after saving up for that treatment system and figuring everything out, and sending my daughters to school (god willing, 2020 has made many people SURE school is gone forever)- I’ll want the pain-in-the-ass artsy fartsy way of making hand-made items to be a regular part of life.
I just know I can’t realistically pull it off for a while. And that’s sad, because of the momentum I gained this year. But I remind myself what I actually paid myself, so is it really all that sad? I should be fine with a break. That doesn’t mean I have to close shop forever.
One thing I’ve discovered is that passive income is an amazing opportunity for artists, especially those in the odd boat I find myself in- stay at home parent without the brain function or funds to hire or expand on producing hand-made work.
What’s passive income for a clothing company look like? Let me explain. There are quite a few options nowadays. They all take work. But many take far less than I’ve been dishing out on myself.
I can either do what I do, which is basically this: ordering inks, screening everything, shipping, photographing, listing, advertising and posting on social media- and in the case of moving also get a driver’s license in winter and drive to the post office (I’ve left out many steps there and I do not believe I can simply schedule a pickup to my new remote location). I can try and do all of that from around 8pm to 1am and be a non-attentive mother who acts like a jerk to her kids because she’s tired, and then after all the work and bad mothering, pay myself like a hundred bucks a month.
For right now, I can design something on the computer in a night or two after my insane thunder twins are sleeping, upload it to RedBubble (a marketplace that handles everything from there and pays me a little pittance) or a similar thing using Printful or Printify through my own website, and have them handle the rest. They get “my” orders and I do nothing more after designing, uploading onto a product, and tweaking the results as a product on my site. They also provide some okay mockups, and there’s a company that can give me more mockups through “smart objects” for about seventeen bucks a month.
No photography of my products, or editing, no silkscreening, distressing, and screaming at my poor kids who just want to hang out with me.
I think I’m going to hold off on closing my company, for now, and go this route. I’m already doing it with “Freshoteric” (my real art and pieces in a separate line).
I understand that the real magic is in what I’ve made by hand. But to be quite honest there is little to no time spent on creativity these days, even though the final product is totally magical. The vast majority of my time is spent on all of the residual necessities when creating my pieces. I have some issue with it, but the main problem is time. Because as hard as this was in 2015 when I was single, without kids and running around NY with Bowie’s guitarist, it is damn near impossible to keep up with right now, with three year olds who desperately NEED a mom to start teaching them things.
So many apologies to my fans that I have to hold off on these real pieces of art, and only be able to offer this other option. I’ll be back to that magic stuff soon- years go by so fast do they not? But that’s what I’m missing out on right now. My girls are going to be five after I blink. Thirteen and hating me in two seconds.
If I have this chance to get this place and live in the woods like the elf I am, the last thing I want to do is bring the stress of my old, underpaid NYC mentality with me.
At least until they start Kindergarten.
Keep in touch, guys, and prayers for the house! Half of you who read these posts are getting an invite.
(We have a pool).