It was all a dream... then a nightmare.
Back in 2013, when I started Few and Far Collective, my goal was so simple. I just wanted to make the cool traditional tattoo inspired brand that I wish already existed. At that particular point in time, I had just started tattooing and social media was really, I guess(?) was starting to take off (Facebook was new to put it into perspective) so access and inspiration was then at an all-time high. It was awesome. What wasn’t awesome was that majority of these artists didn’t have any merchandise of their own and there were no brands that cared enough to exist to bridge the gap. So that was my mission.
I had no master plan, no relevant experience, no money and absolutely no clue. I just knew what I wanted to do - and knew that I could do it. I just had to take the jump. So on October 1st, 2013 Few and Far Collective I took the jump.
I’ll never forget the feeling of going live for the first time and the overwhelming flooding of love and support that came with. Or what was once nothing more than a pipe dream, was now a reality - one that was half designed by a handful of my favourite artists. It was incredible - and the gap was officially bridged.
I still had no clue - but everything seemed to be working. Our product was on par with, if not, the best in the world - so was our reputation, collaborations and fan base. With this, we got bigger and bigger.
The more we grew, the more the demand and stresses we had. By the 1.5 year mark, it started to get hard and I felt this is where things started to change for me/us. I feel around this time, the lack of business know-how became evident to me as I now had staff to worry about, bigger collections to design/come up with, higher expectations, much bigger financial risk and outlays, wholesalers to work with and opportunities at every corner. I didn’t know what to do or what was right, wrong or what sleep was and certainly wasn’t in the position to step back to evaluate things properly. It was weird, hard and a part of the journey as I saw it - it was all I knew, and all I had. That was until both my mother and mother in-law (RIP Leanne ❤️) were both hospitalised with life-threatening issues. Then I got a taste of how unfair life can be. It was here I packed up everything immediately and moved back to Brisbane. I had spend my life savings in doing so, but family was first. Money comes and goes.
This was a hard time. Life was upside down and I was pretty broken. I had no option but move back into my family home with my parents and start life in Brisbane. It was hard. It really was. But if I couldn’t do it, it couldn’t be done - so we were 3 years old and goddamn force to be reckoned with. We were not only still alive, but somehow had around 50,000 people around the world believing in and supporting it. It was before Instagram got greedy and you have to pay to play - it was when the numbers didn’t lie. When you could see and feel the support - and we did. And looking back, it really helped me/us push through a lot more than you will ever know. And FYI: the quotes aren’t slogans; they aren’t used because they’re cool - they are reminders and motivation.
As time went on, we were rebuilding and stabilising more and more. The only problem was, everyone except me was getting paid and the risk was getting higher, and higher. It wasn’t a nice feeling to empty every bank account and drain every credit card for a collection every few months... especially when I wasn’t actually seeing or getting a dollar. In fact, I was injecting everything I earned from my art into the brand - with the exception of a small amount that I squirreled away to start @deathproofbar.
Deathproof was going really well and was nominated for ‘Best new bar’ in Australia ...but Few and Far was now a high risk and low reward business... which is not what anyone wants. We also learned that due to keeping majority of our manufacturing ethical and in Australia, our cost price didn’t allow us to wholesale - so growth wasn’t really possible.
We had to make changes.
Comprising our quality in garments, collaborations or service was not an option. We had to cut out the middle man and had to get our own garments manufactured - not bought wholesale as we had been.
Seemed fairly straight forward...
Send our wholesalers garments to manufacturers, get it replicated and save $$$. WRONG. We sourced, sampled, tried, tested and trusted. We also took a what appeared to be a calculated and safe gamble - however it didn’t work out. We were in a lot of trouble. Not only did we tie up all of our capital into the new range of apparel, but we had held off on releasing anything new during the manufacturing lead time as we had 50,000 on their way. This affected cash flow. All of a sudden, only were we depleted a lot of our stock, and working with reduced cash-flow but had no capital to restock - and our biggest risk and investment didn’t come through.
This where I broke. Truthfully, it was hard. 4 years of my life essentially down the drain - or at least it felt. I had never drawn a wage to the day and had nothing to show for it - only what seemed to be the skeleton of the worlds leading ‘traditional tattoo’ brand. It was hard and hurt. Mentally I was not in a good place and physically I was exhausted - and couldn’t see any hope or point in trying to save the brand. I also felt like I had left down myself and everyone that believed and supported so it was a very testing and confronting time for me and my staff.
It was here I also decided that I needed to focus on my health over wealth - so we closed and gave away @deathproofbrisbane.
And that’s why I/we went quiet.
Wasn’t you - it was me. I had nothing to say and didn’t want to talk. I felt like I had been fucked over by the brand I gave everything too so was done with it. Angry and heartbroken. I put everything on sale and sold everything we have and possibly could. I decided to cut my losses and turn the negative into a positive - so put everything on sale and the sale money and all assets to but a deposit down on a home.
Few and Far Collective was finished.
No one knew, but it was. I wasn’t even interested and certainly wasn’t in the physical, financial or mental state to even consider otherwise. It was weird and exactly what I needed.. It’s also what the brand needed ...I just didn’t know it.
Admittedly, I wish there had of been an easier, faster and less painful way learn what I/we have and pay the prices that I/we have - but that’s life and business - and what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.
We are returning November 22 - as we once were - but better than we've ever been.
Thank you for believing, supporting and waiting - it means the world to me and team.