Twelve years ago, Jeff started designing his own graphic t-shirts and developing his own brand. Today, Ugmonk has grown to offer many products that all embody Jeff’s own design philosophies. We recently partnered with Jeff and Ugmonk to offer the Ugmonk Face Mask to our customers for custom printing 2, 10, and 100-pack orders.
We sat down with Jeff for an interview on how he started in t-shirts, began to create his own blank tees, expanded into different home and office products, and came to his latest product launch: Analog. Read the transcript below for a summation of our favorite parts of our interview with Jeff.
A special thanks to Jeff for participating in our interview.
We’d love to have you introduce yourself to our audience. If you could, tell us more about Ugmonk. What it is today and what it started as. What’s been the journey between your first day to today, when you have face masks and Analog coming out?
Jeff Sheldon / Founder & Designer – Ugmonk
Yeah, my name is Jeff Sheldon and I founded Ugmonk back in 2008. Fresh out of college, had no idea what I was doing. I just love to design things. And here we are 12 years later and now I’m running Ugmonk full time. But a little backstory on how I got started was actually designing teachers, which is, you know, we’re talking about talking to a screen printer right now. So none of this is brand new for you guys, but that was the first physical product that I was actually designing, um, and studying graphic design and actually seeing a tee-shirt printed for the first time. Uh, after winning an online contest was such a cool thing to like, hold the product, hold the thing that I designed. Um, and that’s how I got my feet wet into, um, t-shirts, which then led to launching Ugmonk, which was my side project to just design t-shirts on my own. Um, build a website, didn’t know anything about building a brand. It was just to keep my hands busy. Um, and that has slowly grown over the last almost 12 years to what it is today.
For some more background on kind of the process of creating these t-shirts, what’s the background of processing the garment, getting that construction, dying it, and that whole supply chain process with your t-shirts?
So that really came about recently. For a while, I was just using off the shelf blanks. Brands that everyone knows, and I’m sure you guys print on every day. And my whole philosophy is like, if something can be better, I want to make it better. And I’m continually optimizing things to the point where, you know, I drive my wife crazy because as soon as I’m done with something, I’m like, I think I could do that a little bit better next time. And being in the t-shirt world for so long and feeling all the different shirts and being familiar with all the different brands and always looking for something better, led us to say last year, “Can we go fully custom, work directly with the manufacturer, and see if we can take the actual garment to the next level and not just focus so much on the graphic applied to the garment itself?” So yeah, we ended up working with a great small manufacturer in Los Angeles and we’ve been able to see the whole process.
There’s a video on our site (shown below) where you can see some of the behind the scenes. The garment dye process and what it looks like to cut. You’ll see the shirts going into the dye and the wash and stuff. So now, we’re actually selling t-shirts without graphics on them. Which has come full circle and people are, you know, *laughs* like, “Well, you’re not designing anything at this point. You’re literally selling a blank black shirt.” But my goal was to make it, those shirts that you grab every day. The ones that you love and the ones that you’re like, every time you travel, those are the ones. You grab them, throw them in your bag. And then we’re also printing on those exact same ones.