RAYGUN- The Greatest Store In The Universe

Mike Draper: Founder/Owner of RAYGUN

RAYGUN

How did RAYGUN start?

I started selling t-shirts in college at the University of Pennsylvania in 2004 — just on campus out of a bag. In 2005, I moved back to Iowa and opened the store at East 4th and Locust. Now we’re bazillionaires and come to work via helicopter.

RAYGUN

How did you come up with the name?

It used to be called SMASH and then a clothing company in California also called SMASH threatened to sue us, so we had to stop that. I wanted a noun, 4 or 6 letters and spelled properly. RAYGUN made it on the list and we could trademark it!

RAYGUN

Where do you get all the ideas for the shirts? Do you sit down once a week with employees and just shout them out:)

We try and have regular brainstorming sessions, but sometimes get too busy. Still, a lot of the ideas come out of group idea sessions, just trying to come up with as many slogans on a topic as possible. Other times there is a just a “flash of genius” — and we use “genius” veeerrrrry loosely — where an idea occurs to someone and we start on that.

RAYGUN

Do you see the brand going nationwide? What’s next?

We’ll never go physically nationwide. We’ll keep the brick and mortar stores only in the Midwest (so Nebraska to Ohio, Missouri to the Canadian Border). We’d like to be exclusively Midwestern. So not in NYC or LA or Austin or Portland. So kind of a lame exclusivity. Like a members-only Applebee’s.

RAYGUN

What is your favorite t-shirt that has been made past or present? Why?

Des Moines: Hell Yes. is still my favorite. We sell a lot of it and you don’t pay rent with sunshine. However, it was the first shirt that started to really capture the voice of the store, and also showed that other people in Des Moines were “in on the joke.” that we all love Des Moines, live here, but no one should be THAT excited about Des Moines!

RAYGUN

Check out all the t-shirts, onesies and koozies on the RAYGUN website.

You might also be interested in these...

Eva Pazola: Featured Artist

Polish born, Chicago based designer. Eva Pazola

Eva Pazola is a Chicago based fashion designer. She was invited to be a part of The Chicago Designer Showcase at The Chicago Apparel Mart, in 1987 and this is what put her future career on the map. After one year in business, her line (under the name of EVA PAZOLA FASHIONS) started being carried in 15 boutiques all over the country. In 1988, Eva pursued her love of designing further and was able to open her first boutique in downtown Chicago. After being introduced to the “image consulting” part of fashion, Eva gradually switched to creating custom clothing for women. Eva’s journey of dressing women in Chicago has continued successfully for over 20 years. In 2010, she reinvented herself with a new, ready- to- wear collection along with the opening of her new store in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Eva’s keen attention to detail is vital in designing for women and complimenting the female form. Her artistry combines intuition and understanding of cut, shape, and construction of garments: this affects how women feel in their own skin.

Eva Pazola

Eva is married with 2 children and a stepson. Her husband, Allan Goldin, is the former president of Evelyn Wood’s Reading Dynamics and a creator of the Fantasy Baseball Concept. Her daughter, Aleksandra, currently resides in Los Angeles, California and is pursuing her dream of becoming a writer. Her son, Luke completed the Appalachian Trail and is searching for a new life venture at the Pacific Coast. Her stepson Gary lives in California and enjoys his travels through the country. Eva is very close to her family. The support and love from her husband is a big part of her success. She is very passionate, energetic, and loves history, philosophy and reading. You would love to be invited to one of her garden parties and be welcomed by her warm personality. Eva Pazola’s story began in Europe behind the “Iron Curtain.” Born and raised in Poznan, Poland, she left her childhood dream of becoming a journalist and started designing clothing as a natural way of expressing herself. In the eighties, everything changed. After receiving countless love letters from her then-boyfriend, she was persuaded to pick up and move her whole life to a new country, the United States. After being in Chicago for only one week, she got married and began her new life! Without knowing a lick of English Eva started her American life working as a seamstress at the high-end boutique. Less than three years later, with the help of her first husband, she opened her own business and started living her dream. Her natural abilities in designing and constructing garments allowed her to open her fashion business, first in Poland, and then in Chicago. She continued her education through experience and practice. By working with image consultants, she found passion in helping women to develop their own style and to understand the true meaning of fashion. Teaching classes at fashion colleges has helped her to feel connected and to share her experiences with students. Her success as a fashion designer, business owner, and image consultant has prepared her to make the next step and introduce EVA PAZOLA Designs to the rest of the country.

Eva Pazola Fashion Shows attendance include: Chicago Apparel Mart, Chicago Fashion Council, The Art of Fashion- Chicago Fashion Week, the Drake Hotel Shows. Media: Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Chicago Social Magazine, Sheridan Road Magazine, Today Chicago Women, Naperville Magazine.

Eva Pazola

Eva is vibrant and unique. Her optimism and curiosity has led her to develop pretentious interest, ranging from opera to French food, and all things alike. She loves to state her opinion, talk a little too much, and be a part of any discussion.

Eva has traveled to many exotic countries such as Bali and Brazil and uses her experiences in her designs. She takes inspiration from her love of Einstein, Beethoven and Pavarotti.

All pieces from Eva Pazola Collection are available for sale at her boutique in Riverwoods.

Eva Pazola

See the rest of Eva’s Spring 2016 collection here.

You might also be interested in these...

Annie Lam: Featured Artist

Annie Lam: Fashion stylist, nail artist and brow microblading artist

How did you get into fashion and nail styling?

I was always into fashion from a young age. My mother was a seamstress so I was always around it and the creation of clothing.  I was also completely amazed with all the stunning gowns, headpieces and makeup of the Chinese Opera singers my grandmother used to watch. It definitely made an impression on me as a child and because of these factors it made me want to go into fashion design.  While attending Ryerson University, I discovered that ‘fashion stylist’ is an actual job while helping a good friend on a modeling shoot. She knew I was working as a makeup artist and asked me to be her artist on set. I also offered to bring some clothing from myself and a few other designer friends.  The photographer was impressed and asked if I was a fashion stylist. I was like huh?! This was during the time when no one really knew this position even existed! He filled me in and I realized this was my dream job. It encompassed all the things I love about fashion; makeup, clothing, photography and just overall bringing an idea in mind to life.  I then looked more into it, reaching out to other industry people and it just all began from there.

 

As for becoming a nail artist, it really was unexpected.  I’ve always been big on nails. I remember working on set as a fashion stylist and in the early days, many makeup artists didn’t need to take care of the model’s nails or manicures. It used to drive me crazy when a model would have really bad chewed up nails and would be dressed in crazy expensive designer clothing.  It just didn’t complete the overall look to me. So I would bring my own fake nails or polish and would ask the makeup artist on set if I can apply it to the models. They would always love and appreciate the idea!  I never even thought any of it as a nail artist was hardly ever used on set and I was focusing on starting my career as a fashion stylist.

 

Then about 3 years ago, I was ‘discovered’ through social media.  I would often just share pictures of my nails with all the fancy designs and my network of industry friends started reaching out to me asking if I would be interested in doing nails for their shoots. One of the people was in charge of looking for a team of nail artists working for Essie during World Master Card Fashion Week. That was pretty much the beginning of me doubling up as both nail artist and fashion stylist ever since!

Annie Lam

Where do you look for inspiration for shoots?

 Inspiration really is everywhere and everything around us.  I think most artists are just able to look at something so normal and everyday and can see the beauty in it. Colors, people and travel especially are great sources to my creativity.

Annie Lam

What has been one of your favorite shoots to work on? Who was it with and what was it for?

Thinking back, one of my most memorable shoots was doing a promo shoot for the Canadian band Blue Rodeo. I honestly can’t remember who was shooting it, as it was so long ago.  But what I do remember was that at one of the public locations, fans of the band found out they were shooting and would ask for autographs. A few even went home, grabbed their cd and came back for them to sign.

Then the crew and band went to shoot at a small local bar and the band was on this tiny karaoke like stage just a few feet away from me.  They had to pretend to be playing as the photographer shot them. But like most musicians, you put their instruments in their hands and they start playing with it. It was super low at first, and the next thing you know they are just having a casual jam session. I remember thinking, “Wow, I am pretty much getting a private concert right now. All those fans would have died to be in my shoes right now.”

Annie Lam

What do you love most about your job?

I love that you are always meeting new people and are always doing something different. You honestly end up doing stuff or being in an environment you’d never expect. It can be quite amazing. Not to mention, the creativity of it all. I can think up an image in my mind, and how exhilarating it is to make it come to life?!

Annie Lam

What kind of projects are you working on now?

Funny enough I’m going back to a field in where it started, beauty. I’m starting my microblading business next month! Microblading is the next big thing in beauty. It is a form of tattooing, but what’s amazing about it is it’s semi permanent and looks crazy realistic as it’s done with a hand tool and each ‘hair’ is etched onto the skin. It’s fascinating how it’s done.  I decided to venture into this because when I was looking for an artist who does this procedure for myself and there was a sea of badly done microbladed brows by mediocre artists and only a handful of really good artists. I knew I could do this with my makeup background and my meticulous skills. I did training, microbladed a few friends, and once again, it kinda blew up from social media with my industry friends.  Now I plan on starting my own company BrowStyling, www.browstyling.com.  I’m not by any means giving up on fashion styling or working as a nail artist though! Being your own boss and freelancing is great as it gives me the option to make my own hours. I need the creative diversity!

Annie Lam

Have you ever considered starting a line? Clothing or nail polish?

 Right now I’m focusing on my microblading business. That’s gonna take a lot of energy and time. I eventually would like to add some microblading tools for sale on the website. And of course, it’ll be amazing to open up a cool nail salon (with my own polish line of course!) once the brow business is running well.

Annie Lam

Follow all of Annie Lam’s styling on her website and her microblading here.

You might also be interested in these...

Sanci Travels: Featured Brand

Sandra: Designer and owner of Sanci Travels

How did you become a jewelry designer?

Jewelry to me always felt very personal.  It had to symbolize something, whether it be my children’s initials or something that represented a place in my life.  What made it even more personal was the idea of making my own jewelry with these special meanings.  It started out as a hobby, taking workshops and experimenting.  When people started to notice the little trinkets I was making, I decided I should pursue this.  It truly brings so much joy to me to be able to share my creations with other people.

Where do you draw inspiration?

I travel a lot. And through my travels, I experience different cultures and styles.  When I see something I like, whether it is a shape of a statute or the meaning behind a certain monument, I immediately interpret that into something I can bring into my collection.

Tell us about your design style?

I’m a true Gemini and my moods and style reflect that.  One season I may be into pearls, another season it’s just silver I want to work with.  It really depends on my mood and what I see around me.  But most of all, my pieces always carry a meaning behind them.  Anyone can come up with a design and mass produce it, but I believe that putting thought and love into something you are passionate about means more than just wearing a piece of jewelry.

Tell us about your design style?

I’m a true Gemini and my moods and style reflect that.  One season I may be into pearls, another season it’s just silver I want to work with.  It really depends on my mood and what I see around me.  But most of all, my pieces always carry a meaning behind them.  Anyone can come up with a design and mass produce it, but I believe that putting thought and love into something you are passionate about means more than just wearing a piece of jewelry.

What are you favorite jewelry trends right now?

To be quite honest, as much as I love the latest in fashion, I don’t tend to follow trends very much.  Trends come and go, what stays is what you will wear forever.

 

What is the most challenging part of owning your own business?

I am the worst salesperson and I am terrible at making pitches.  Luckily, I have people see through my stumbling and tongue twists and over time, my confidence has risen as well.

To shop and learn more, visit the Sanci Travels website.

You might also be interested in these...

Holly Nichols: Featured Artist

Q&A with Fashion Illustrator, Holly Nichols

Tell us your story and how you got to where you are today.   I grew up in a family that encouraged creativity. I was enrolled in private art lessons as a child and when it came time to apply to colleges, decided I would find a major that allowed me to express my creativity but also one that would keep my job options open. I started college (Endicott College) as an Interior design major, but soon realized it was much more technical than it was creative, so I switched my major to studio art. I spent my remaining years in school exploring different media and techniques, but kept the theme of my work heavily centered around fashion. Upon graduating, I made an Instagram account (@hnicholsillustration) that featured my fashion sketches. The Instagram community was very responsive to this type of illustration and I was able to grow a following of both fashion and art lovers. Since then, I have been able to expand my client list and create a full-time career as a fashion illustrator!
How would you describe your illustrative style?   I think my sketches are a mix of high fashion and whimsy. I love the more “couture” sketches, but I also want people to be able to relate to the characters I create, which is why I try to sketch garments you may be seen wearing around the house, but also outfits you see coming down the runway in Paris.
How would you describe your illustrative style?   I think my sketches are a mix of high fashion and whimsy. I love the more “couture” sketches, but I also want people to be able to relate to the characters I create, which is why I try to sketch garments you may be seen wearing around the house, but also outfits you see coming down the runway in Paris.
What do you think makes a successful illustration?   I think personal “success’ in any form of art is constantly changing. I look at sketches I did a year ago, which, at the time, I considered to be successful. Looking at them now, they are sketches I’d never want the public to see. The more you practice your craft, the better you become. I believe if you think you’re doing your best, you’re not doing it right. There is always room to grow. By finding an imperfection in your work, you are able to tweak it and improve a skill you didn’t have when you woke up that day.
Are there any fashion illustrators you admire and why?   David Downton is a genius. He’s able to create definite shapes (ex-specific dresses) using abstract strokes. I admire the movement and effortlessness his work displays. My own work is very tight and controlled (as much as I try to loosen up!). He’s an inspiration for sure.   Who are your favorite designers?   My favorite designers include Elie Saab, Giambattista Valli, and Zuhair Murad. They all create pieces with a lot of volume, sheer fabric, and sparkle, all of which are my favorite to sketch. I was honored to be recognized and featured on Elie Saab’s website this past year.
Are there any fashion illustrators you admire and why?   David Downton is a genius. He’s able to create definite shapes (ex-specific dresses) using abstract strokes. I admire the movement and effortlessness his work displays. My own work is very tight and controlled (as much as I try to loosen up!). He’s an inspiration for sure.   Who are your favorite designers?   My favorite designers include Elie Saab, Giambattista Valli, and Zuhair Murad. They all create pieces with a lot of volume, sheer fabric, and sparkle, all of which are my favorite to sketch. I was honored to be recognized and featured on Elie Saab’s website this past year.
What is next for you?   I can’t share too many specifics about my future projects, but I’ve been fortunate to be able to work with some brands and designers that I’ve loved for years, which is truly a gift. In the online shop, you will start to see more products outside of wall art. As far as what’s next for me personally, I hope to travel more (with my markers close at hand).
To see more of Holly’s work, be sure to visit her website and follow her on Instagram.

You might also be interested in these...

Alex Brokamp: Furniture, Lighting and Industrial Designer

Alex Brokamp is a furniture designer and recent grad from University of Cincinnati

Alex Brokamp

When did you know you wanted to become a designer?

I don’t remember a specific moment when I wanted to become a designer. I have always just enjoyed making weird things ha ha. I do remember though when I was younger I used to always build skateboard ramps in my driveway with my friends. This was probably the first time I realized I enjoyed making stuff.

Alex Brokamp

What are the biggest influences on your designs?

Since I just recently graduated from the University of Cincinnati’s industrial design program the biggest influence on my work thus far was being able to work in the same studio space with all of my talented friends and classmates. This was very inspiring to me because industrial design is such a broad field so I had the opportunity to observe people who were designing medical devices, electronics, or soft goods and see how their process was different from my own.

Alex Brokamp

What would you say is your best design skill?

My best design skill is just a willingness to learn about new materials and processes. I am not amazing at one specific area of design, so I try to make up for that with hard work and a willingness to learn.

Alex Brokamp

What do you think are the most interesting trends in your field right now and why?

I think one of the biggest trends in design is the continued intersection between the art and design worlds. As a result, I think this produces a variety of styles and trends because designers come from all different types of educational backgrounds. Therefore, I think design will never become stagnant because the design landscape is constantly being changed or challenged by new and diverse studio practices that are a result of different backgrounds.

Alex Brokamp

What are you currently obsessing over and how does it influence your work?

I am currently obsessing over the skateboard brands Quasi and Isle. I really love the art direction behind both of these companies. My main obsession outside of art and design is skateboarding, so when I am not busy designing I am most likely skateboarding ha ha.

Alex Brokamp

What projects are your favorite to work on?

My favorite projects to work on are ones that I am able to use a new material or process I have never used before. When designing I like to make work that has a personal story behind it, but still utilizes a form language or title that the user can identify with. This is one of the reasons why a lot of my designs revolve around experimenting with simple shapes that highlight interesting material and color compositions. When creating new work the end goal is to always create a piece that initiates and maintains a meaningful relationship with the consumer.

Alex Brokamp

To see more of Alex’s work, follow him on Instagram. If you are in the NYC area March 17-21, go check out his debut collection at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show.

You might also be interested in these...

Pin It on Pinterest