On the brand name and lifestyle
Why ‘Explorer’s Press’ as a name?
I didn’t put a huge amount of thought into the name. I guess exploration and travel are some of the central themes of the brand. It just seemed to make sense. Those two concepts are a pretty honest reflection of the things that I am into.
Do you travel to a lot of places to get inspiration for the pieces you design?
Yes. I’m away about a third of the time. I go on road trips and go sailing a lot.
I usually go to Toronto once a month for my freelance work.
I was just in New York a couple of weeks ago.
I was in Chicago not long ago, as well.
I’ve been travelling pretty steadily for the past five years.
Do you find it pretty easy to do your work there? Do you just bring your laptop and sketchpad?
Yes. I work on my laptop.
I try to knock out most of the preliminary stuff while I am away and then I come home to the studio to do the finishing work. Whether that means developing a sketch on paper or doing concept work on my laptop.
When it comes down to it, I have done full collections for brands from my laptop on a plane, in the air, with Wi-Fi.
I like travelling. I find myself inspired in places where I don’t live. New York is inspiring. San Francisco is inspiring.
A big part of what I do too is jotting things down and recording things, such as slogans, taglines, photos and colour combinations, wherever I go.
I am away about a third of the time and I’m always working. I’m never on vacation. I’m still answering emails, still doing design work, and still sending out stuff for production.
On clients and customers
What sort of clients do you have?
I do a lot of white label products for bigger companies, which is about 50% of my work. I have probably 5 to 6 core clients. I do all their graphic design and merchandise.
What do you think draws people to your online shop and your work? It’s quite a niche brand, why do think people are drawn to it?
I design things that I like and would wear myself. I also think sometimes people look for something cool, that represents them and their attitude.
On the challenges of setting up the business
Can you tell me about the struggles of setting up the business and how have you grown since?
People always ask me about the leap from working for somebody else to working for myself. They ask whether it was hard.
I’m grateful that I didn’t need to take a huge leap from where I started.
I was working full-time to the point that I couldn’t keep up with both the job and the brand. It was busy enough that I could just quit as I already had a steady income from the business.
I found it challenging putting my work out there for everybody to judge. The positive feedback can be overwhelming, but every once in awhile, somebody is going to say “oh that sucks.”
I’m a sensitive guy.
I take it personally.
It’s not always easy to hear.
On flexible working
How much job flexibility do you have?
I have absolute flexibility in terms of the hours I work. I choose to get up at the same time every day and try to finish at around the same every day.
I choose this routine for myself.
On the benefits of flexible working
What words would you associate with flexible working?
Choosing when and where you want to work.
I know people that work from 9 am to 5 pm. Whereas, I can take a day off in the middle of the week and work on Saturday instead. Equally, I can work for 7 days straight and choose not to work for 3 days in the next week.
It’s the freedom to do whatever you want and work wherever you travel.
I could think, “I want to go to Seattle for a night” and I would drive there. I wouldn’t do anything that day but when I get to Seattle, I would open my laptop, answer some emails and make up for the work I should have done during the week.
On the challenges of flexible working
What are your challenges of being able to work anywhere? What are your challenges when travelling?
There are challenges when you are somewhere really fun or interesting.
For example, I was in New York a week and a half ago and it was beautiful. It was the end of September and it was 31 degrees outside. The sun was shining and it was hard to crack open my laptop. I wanted to be able to walk around, drink a good coffee and walk over the Williamsburg Bridge.
So, you would say the challenges are distractions?
Absolutely, when I’m travelling.