PK 032: Ugmonk founder Jeff Sheldon on Designing With Passion

PK 032: Ugmonk founder Jeff Sheldon on Designing With Passion 2 032 jeff sheldon podcast 01 750x440 2

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Jeff and the team at Ugmonk are committed to great design, not following trends

“If I wouldn’t personally wear something, then I wouldn’t design it.”

Ugmonk has grown to become one of the coolest design brands on the planet, with people all over the world eagerly awaiting the next T-shirt design or super-stylish product.

But, for founder Jeff Sheldon, his iconic brand has always been about one thing – designing with real passion and not chasing trends. In short, if he doesn’t personally like something, then there’s no way he’s going to design it in the first place!

The Ugmonk story began back in 2008, when Jeff was shopping for new T-shirts but couldn’t find anything he really liked. The solution? He decided to design some himself as a small ‘passion project’.

“I wanted to create the kinds of T-shirts I wanted to wear,” he explains, and decided to try out four different designs initially. Then, he had 50 of each T-shirt printed up, launched the Ugmonk website, and re-invested any money he made straight back into the business.

Like with many business start-ups, the Ugmonk brand wasn’t an overnight success, but things soon started to pick up. Although he was still holding down a full-time design job at this stage, Jeff’s T-shirt designs started getting mentioned on design blogs and social media. Before too long, the sales started rolling in from all over the world.

Then, two years (and many late nights and weekends spent working) later, things really took off for Ugmonk. Jeff’s now-famous T-shirt design, bearing the words ‘& Then I Woke Up’, became a huge hit. He was now finally able to take the plunge and quit the day job. As he says: “My dream of starting my own brand was no longer just a dream.”

Why Ugmonk Continues to Win New Fans

Since then, Jeff and his team have continued to work hard on creating exciting new products for the ever-growing Ugmonk fanbase, including posters and high quality leatherbound notebooks each bearing his trademark clean, minimal designs and unique, stylish typography.

Along the way, Jeff’s also turned Ugmonk into a thriving family business. As a business partner, his brother looks after the technical aspects of his website, his sister-in-law takes care of customer service, while his mom handles all the inventories and shipping of his products!

Throughout this journey, Jeff has been keen to do things on his own terms. Rather than spend huge amounts of money on advertising, he’s relied on word-of-mouth to make Ugmonk a success.

He’s also committed to giving something back to others, which is why Ugmonk works in partnership with the charity, Rice Bowls. To date, Ugmonk has helped provide more than 30,000 meals to children in orphanages across the globe!

As he says: “We don’t try to make Ugmonk look like a big corporation. No matter how big Ugmonk gets, I always want to be accessible to fans and customers.”

Listen to this week’s show and learn:

  • How to turn your passion project into a career
  • Why you don’t have to be like Steve Jobs to be successful
  • Why good design doesn’t always have to be technically difficult design
  • How the power of social media and word-of-mouth can help you fulfil your dreams

People on this Episode:


Mentioned in the episode:

Ugmonk Website
Ugmonk on Facebook
Ugmonk on Twitter
Ugmonk on Instagram

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