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You have to start somewhere

Miles to go is approaching it's ten year anniversary and I know some of you have been with the brand for a very long time, but if you are newer to miles to go, I wanted to share how the company began and tell my story over a few blog posts.

I had been running a company called miles to go belts, making custom belts for bands and brands from people like johnny cupcakes and dominos pizza to every time i die and gorilla biscuits for years(since 2001).  What did miles to go have to do with belts?  Nothing, but I loved Robert Frost and didn't care.  When I graduated college at Tempe University in Philly, the business had been going for a while and I decided out of nowhere to move across the country to Arizona for a change.  One of those...if I don't leave where I grew up now, I'll never leave moments in my life and I took the leap.  Part of me moving meant finding some new companies to work with and one thing I needed to find was someone to be able to handle doing screen printing onto the belt fabric.  In an off chance when going to a vegan place for some food with my buddy, we came across a print shop who had a Tegan & Sara tee up in their window along with some other printed tees.  A few days later, I cruised in there to speak with them and started a relationship.  Fast forward a few months and they needed some part time help and with having a background printing before, I thought, why not?

Part of their deal was that if you wanted to print in your off time, you could.  Obviously, that meant I would print belt orders when I had them, but it got the gears spinning.  Honestly, I never really intended to start a brand.  I ordered 12 olive green shirts from american apparel and found some janky font and wrote out "miles to go" on a shirt in black ink.  And bam!! I made a shirt.  I sold/gave away a few to friends, but it got me wanting to try to design a few shirts based off of things I liked.  Having recently come out of being in a jazz department and then art in school, I decided to make some shirts with some old straight ahead be-bop jazz guys just because I wanted them, but I'd print 12 when I did a new design.  I made a few designs based off of buddhism, like the OG fasting buddha and some tees inspired by books and classical religious art.  

Again, no real leanings towards making a brand.  I tried to make my own terribly coded html site that may have looked a bit too much like a bad late 90s geocities page and used paypal code to make some buy buttons, got some stickers and flyers made up and decided I needed to find a place to try to sell these things.

Phoenix has an art walk called First Friday and every first friday of the month, they'd have all of the galleries open and events happening that would draw a lot of people.  At the time, if you wanted to set up a table and try to sell something, you just had to get down there, find a spot and slap a table down.  If you wanted a good spot, you'd have to get down there around 2:30pm and the event started usually around 6 and would roll until 9-9:30 before everyone split off to bars or went home.

I grabbed a folding table, tossed some shirts in a box and set up to sell.  One for $15, 2/$20!  This was 2007 and I had no clue what I was doing, but that first night I sold $200 worth of shirts and almost sold out of everything.  It was crazy and all of a sudden I needed to reprint some more tees and think of new designs.  I guess I sorta had a brand?  Hey, this is miles to go and it's just things I dig...hope you like them was the initial approach.

And so a brand was born on a street corner in phoenix in 2007.  I would go on to sell every first friday for the next year or two and go down to events with some tees in my trunk and try to sell them to random people passing by.  Concerts, warped tours, art shows, random flea markets...I was there, hustling.  I kept pushing with more designs, doing them all myself until the day came that I wanted something I knew I couldn't do myself, based off of Paradise Lost.  My first real book inspired design and I had to find a way to hire an artist and create this thing.

to be continued...

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When you start a brand, the dream of getting into stores is often at the top of the list of goals and jumping into wholesale too early can cause more problems than it’s worth. Below are some tips and questions to ask yourself to determine if you are ready. There’s a big difference between the random wholesale account and making a push with your brand into retail.
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