I think a re-introduction is in order...
...and travel to places I never thought I’d see.
These two are hard workers, have no shame when singing in a car, and keep me grounded when my head is in the clouds. Shaina's love for everything Disney and her obsession with cats shouldn't steer you away from her strong grandma vibes when work isn't getting done. She has a glare and mentality of a mean mom holding a rolling pin, ready to strike, then immediately all smiles and the nicest person you'll meet in the same look. Hannah operates on my level of dreaming, usually conjuring ideas about photography and portraiture while sitting quietly at her desk snacking on home made popcorn. Her potential is greater than she can imagine at the moment, she's the actual college graduate but still has much to learn (I hope she doesn't take that the wrong way when reading this). I owe these two so much and work as hard as I do to create more opportunity and memorable moments for us all. These two are usually the one to speak some common sense to me because, surprisingly, for an artist that has thrown so much in the public eye I am constantly on edge to the content I create.
Which has been the case lately, more than anytime before... It's caused me to slow down and re-evaluate.
If I were to title this blog post anything. I would call it…
What I wasn’t good at. Was being a businessman…
It’s been a struggle to create from a place of anarchy but with a burning desire to expand the reach of my art. I decided to put all bets on my company. 2017 was going to be the foundation year to build something that will last and grow.
I was struggling so much with the process of establishing our LLC. I needed help and confidence and Pam was there to provide me with both. With open arms Pam welcomed my small team into K’é, writing on the walls of her establishment our focus for the future and identifying what OXDX's potential was. She opened our eyes to what we could achieve and helped each of us figure out our key roles. This process took hours, days, and long weekends, sometimes in her own home – our notes and laptops scattered across her dining room table. Pam embraces the meaning of K’é and has created a calmness in myself that has been a stranger for a while now.
As a young punk, I walked the University of Arizona campus with a stoic gloss over my face. I felt I was drowning in a white ocean of privileged faces. A lot of things pissed me off. Every thing seemed fake and what was real wasn’t for people that looked like me.
I hustled my art on tees as a form of resistance to this society. It was met with admiration and sometimes hate.
I loved it.
Freshman-in-college Jared had no structure as far as where my money was going and how I should be tracking it.
That is when we found Kristina Haskell of Avalon Accounting, our new accountant.
Kristina was a resource my brother, Evan, found while searching for Navajo accountants in the Phoenix area. The first time we talked she was actually very angry over the phone. 😂
Apparently, Kristina was having problems with her website and was going back and forth with her web developers. I planned to call at that exact stressful moment and received an earful from Kristina about how she wanted her site to function. I had a hunch she was thinking I was someone else and didn’t give up on trying to meet for our consultation. We laugh about this experience now and we are proud to have been able to offer Kristina a new website that she is very happy with – courtesy of the OXDX Team. Check out her brand new website HERE.
Kristina has put in countless hours to rework and piece together our non-existent financial books from the past three years. She has proven to be an amazing asset and mentor to our team. The time she has spent teaching and advising us on how we can create a successful path for OXDX is unmatched. If anyone is in need of financial services we highly recommend you reach out to Kristina and Avalon Accounting.
This process has weighed heavy on me.
This is all unknown territory. Everyday I feel like I am asking stupid questions and nothing ever seems certain. I have had less and less time to be an artist.
Being able to create has been my lifeblood.
When I sat in a college classroom feeling like a failure I could always sketch ideas in the binders of my $300 textbooks to feel a sense of purpose. When I felt my precious time was being wasted behind a Family Dollar counter I’d use receipt paper to sketch and write down ideas for OXDX. I’d clock out and work until the early morning hours, rushing to get 4-5 hours of sleep then I was back behind the counter and restocking shelves. Creating designs from bootleg software in my one-bedroom apartment was the favorite part of my day. If I didn’t have time to sit and create something I don’t know how I would have gotten through those days. Today I am my own boss, I am an artist, but having the title of business owner has led me to a place I never thought I’d be. A place of being too busy with my “job” that I have been unable to create.
Along with learning what a profit and loss sheet was I learned what hopelessness felt like. Along with learning from business podcasts on my drive to the office I also found podcasts about managing anxiety on the drive back home. Every small step towards a strong foundation of my business was a step down in my personal health.
I acquired the taste for anti depressant pills.
I may be trying to explain myself to people that really didn’t have a clue that I wasn’t posting online as much as I have in the past. You may not have noticed how often our items are sold out and how much we struggle to keep up with the demand. If we have talked face-to-face in the last two years I may have displayed a smile on my face when in reality I was talking myself down from another panic attack.
And it seems unwise to display this level of insecurity online, but, in all honesty, I want to be transparent about my company and our intentions. I am so embedded in OXDX that the transparency will have to be about me as well.
"OXDX's purpose, is..."
What separates our business from others is our mission. We don't want to limit ourselves to just clothing, we want to create content. Anything that brings Native issues to the public eye. Anything to create positive and accurate representation.
I’ve always described how I felt in this learning experience as this metaphor.
You know that feeling when you are late to work...
I’ve been at the “I’m-fuckinggggg-latttteeeeeeee” stage for so long. The next steps to build a better business always require hours of research, money, searching for outside resources, money, establishing a home base, money, staying organized, money, not losing your mind, money, and more money. Each of these steps gets me closer to my destination but each of these steps feels like I'm rushing toward a yellow light and I have to beat it or I'll be late... I'll fail. Maybe the speed of this journey will cause me to lose control, or maybe my next steps will be green lights.
If anything this journey isn't a paved road with stop lights... it's a rez road, with pot holes. Bumpy, dirty, and full of obstacles, but you gotta look at it like grandma's waiting at the end of it. She's been preparing a huge meal and can't wait to see you... so it's worth it to take that road.
At this moment it is 9:33 pm on a Thursday night. The girls have been blasting "The Greatest Showman” soundtrack all day and we have all been caught singing several times by passing customers outside our door. My desk is scattered with old revisions of business plans, the empty coffee cup I drank two days ago, and sample products I have to print on for customers. I've dreamt of this moment, sitting in my office on a late night working on OXDX projects...
Our new office space is in the FABRIC Tempe building in downtown Tempe. The Arizona Apparel Foundation and Label Horde organizations have been so accepting of us. We started our time here as winners of their scholarship opportunity. For 6 months we had a free office space and one-on-one training with experts in the fashion industry. After our time was up we deciding that the FABRIC location was our new home. A corner office on the 2nd floor opened up and, even better, we signed a co-license agreement to operate our screen printing business out of their building. We moved in our equipment and set up downstairs.
Being at FABRIC allows us to offer screen printing services to anyone that needs it. We also are setting up classes on the Labelhorde site where you can learn the basics of printing with me as your teacher. The thing I'm most excited for is our developing OXDX INTERNSHIP. We will be offering 3 month internships in May, August, and February, taking in two interns per session. You can find the application and more info HERE.
I sit here and remind myself of all the blessings around me and put my hands together to pray for more to come. The hardships and behind-the-scenes work has been incredibly lucrative. I'm tired... but so close to something great.
So this blog post is a long explanation of why I've been semi M.I.A. on social, but we're back and ready to get this circle pit going.
Please come visit us! We want to collaborate, we want to work with your organization, we want to take your photos, we want to create artwork for you, we want to design your logos, we want to speak to your youth, we want to teach, we want to learn, we want to set up at your events, wholesale to your stores, learn about your reservation, about your land, and struggles. We want to fight with you and speak loudly.
We are anxious to create and need your continued support.
From your small-business, Diné homies,
"Jared Portrait" - Self portrait by Jared Yazzie
"Art Jared vs Business Jared" - Drawn by Tatum Bowie
"Bust Em - Whitehouse" - Photo by MT Garcia
"Pam Slim Portrait" - by Jared Yazzie
"Business Meeting" - by Tatum Bowie
"Kristina Haskell Portrait" - by Jared Yazzie
"College/Family Dollar" - by Tatum Bowie
"Mission Statement Script" - by Vernan Kee
"Late For Work" - by Tatum Bowie
"Shop Opening" - Photos by Josh Lerma
"OXDX Team Portrait" - by Tatum Bowie