I miss GRZLY. I think about it all the time, and by no means is it dead. It's currently hibernating like a bear, while my focus now is on the big picture. I have reached the conclusion that this brand will never be what I envision it should be, without ample funding to manufacture and distribute it in the proper channels.
I wasn't blessed with a slew of industry contacts, rich parents, or a pretty face that I can plaster all over social media to cheaply advance my endeavors. I toyed around with finding an investor, but at the end of the day, I don't want anyone else's fingers in my cookie jar. The only way for this to ever truly work, is with my own capital.
This brand represents a paradigm shift in my life. When I developed this concept, it was at a time when I had been working a dead end job for the better part of a decade, and I was frustrated at how mundane and routine my life had become. I knew that I needed a way out. So summer 2014, I dumped a bunch of money into it, printed up shirts and stickers, made a website, and just fucking did it. The response was amazing. I had lots of people in the area wearing my stuff, and I was shipping orders all over the country at one point.
But even with its early success, at the end of the day, I was nickel and diming. I'd print a few dozen shirts, sell them out and dump that money back into printing new stuff. But this was growing the business at a snails pace. I was hyped on the status that it gained so quickly, but it still wasn't my ticket out of the routine bullshit. It was good supplemental income, but it wasn't enough to survive on.
At the end of 2014, the tragic freak passing of my friend Noel Korman and his girlfriend Alice sent my world spiraling downwards. In the following months while still reeling with grief, I endured a pretty public, very embarrassing, and very humiliating betrayal by two friends. Dealing with both of those things at the same time, to be quite honest, sent me completely off my rocker. But, it lit a fire in my soul that would have never existed without it.
In the spring of 2015, I was offered a position to manage my friend's restaurant and I jumped on it. Threw myself into the fire. Quit my job that I had been at for a decade. Left behind behind a familiar environment, benefits, and five weeks paid vacation for a complete unknown. Because I knew something needed to change.
That restaurant consumed my life until the early fall. I busted my ass, worked a ton, and we built this brand new place into one of the biggest hot spots in the area. Lines out the door, reservations booked weeks in advance. We killed it. I was surprisingly let go, but it was for the best and we parted ways on good terms. I was working 60+ hours a week for essentially the same pay as my last job. I had no life. My dog was home alone all the time. And it was all for someone else's dream, not my own. I couldn't have done that forever.
So here I was in the fall of 2015, unemployed and collecting. I had six months to figure out a plan. My plan was to take the rest of the year off, and start looking for work after the holidays. But life had other plans in store for me. In the middle of January, my brother Danny passed away from a heroin overdose. I held his arm when they removed his life support. I watched him take his last breath and my world went into the darkest place it's ever been.
A few weeks after his services, I went out to visit friends in New Mexico and Colorado to clear my head a bit. My unemployment was running out by the end of April, so I needed to get serious about a plan for my next move.
Throughout all of March and April, I put out feelers for employment. A few things came my way, but nothing that seemed like a great fit. A buddy of mine had reached out to me about this solar energy company he was working for and how well he was doing, but I just blew it off.
I explored a few more options, but nothing panned out. In mid-April, I re-read his message about the solar company and hit him up. He explained to me how everything works and put me in touch with the local recruiter. I went to a few of their meetings as a guest and knew immediately that it was something I would really enjoy. On top of that, it is a position with the potential to make double, or even triple of what I was making at my last two jobs. This was my ticket out of mediocrity.
The only catch with this job, was that it is full commission. You don't work, you don't get paid. I've never had a sales position before, let alone a full commission position. It was frightening, but I decided to take a leap. I can say now, it was the best thing I've done in a very long time. I'm three months in, and already one of the better performers in my office. I haven't looked back since.
Now, if you've gotten this far down into my rambling autobiography, there's actually a point to all this. And that point is, after this insane rollercoaster journey that my life has seen in the past two years, complete with uncertainty and sometimes unbearable hardship, I have finally found the avenue that is going to get my vision of GRZLY to a higher level. It's going to take hard work, dedication, and focus on the big picture. But the tools are now in my hands.
For the foreseeable future, my focus and resources will be solely on this new gig. This coming with the knowledge that my hard work will be rewarded with the opportunity and means to make my dream into a reality.
In closing, thank you if you actually read this. And thank you to all who supported my dream in its infancy, and will continue to support it. I feel a true obligation to all of you, to make this thing work. Rest assured, you will see this mighty beast awaken from its winter slumber.
Cheers, and stay tuned. GRZLY shall return with a vengeance.
- Steve Bauer / Founder