Around 18 months ago I was fortunate to meet someone who has been instrumental in ‘be nice.’. Actually come to think of it, it hasn’t just been be nice, but many of the other projects I have also launched over the past couple of years.
This someone is named Tony, and he is one of the most generous people you will ever meet.
I recently wrote a story about his amazing wife, Sandy (which you can read here), and always planned to write one for Tony also. The truth is, I was going to combine their stories, but after writing nearly 2000 words just for Sandy, I decided I would need to split them up. So here we are.
We often hear about amazing couples on TV and in the news. Brad and Angelina, Kate and William, Posh and Becks…Let me tell you, those guys have nothing on Tony and Sandy.
Let’s take it back….back to when I first met Tony.
It started off in a gym I used to work at. He was a client of my friend, Erros, who was achieving some amazing results with Tony and we were all starting to see the changes happening. Once I started paying a bit of attention, it’s not hard to see why. The combination of smart programming from Erros, and the work ethic & dedication from Tony meant positive change was inevitable.
Erros introduced me one time to Tony and mentioned he and his wife owned a cafe up on the corner named, Green Refectory. I was surprised because I had been going there for a few months, but literally had no idea Tony was part of it.
To be honest, one of my favourite reasons for going there was because no-one else knew I was there. I could have uninterrupted time and just tune out with whatever book I was reading at the time. I would sit in the back room, grab something to eat and have a coffee most mornings for around an hour. It was my meditation. A moment to myself in what was ramping up to a very busy lifestyle at the time.
However, seeing Tony (and Sandy) was never a burden. It was actually nice to see them each morning and say hello. Tony and I would generally exchange nods and say a quick g’day before both getting back to what we were doing. He was generally grabbing some lunch for the kids (who he gets ready for school each day), or heading out the door to walk his youngest to school.
Then in late 2015, Tony started coming to a bootcamp Erros and I were running to get in some ‘extra conditioning’. Not that he needed it…he holds the above condition year round. It was during this time that I started to get to know Tony a little better and we started to form a friendship. What I saw was how generous and giving he was.
Bootcamp T-shirts out…First to wear one.
Bootcamp BBQ…First to offer to bring a salad.
But it wasn’t until be nice started that I was truly blown away by one persons generosity.
When Tony started to see a few of the stories I was putting on social media, he asked me about what this ‘be nice.’ thing was all about. He liked the positive vibe of helping others, being nice, doing more and just generally increasing happiness.
I mentioned it was just a couple of one off test based designs I had made and had put onto a shirt. (literally, I had 4 shirts created because I wanted to wear them. Never much thought beyond that).
What I didn’t know was that around half a decade ago, Tony was a successful designer in the male fashion industry. High end, designer clothing, with a fashion forward approach. He used to travel the globe, find new styles, import the material, have it made in his designs and then sell them at markets and in stores.
So guess who was the first to offer their time to sit down and run through some stuff with me..? Tony was extremely encouraging and explained that the idea was terrific and had potential.
Being a keen learner, I am always open to hearing the opinion of others, especially when they have such a large amount of experience in that industry. So we sat down together. He had asked me to have a think about what be nice. was and where I wanted to take it.
To be honest, at the time it was only a month old (if that) and I literally had no idea. I just liked sharing stories and decided to make a t-shirt because I wanted people to read it and get inspired to maybe ‘be nice.’
But I had a think about what I wanted and knew that the more people wearing these shirts, the bigger impact it could have. So I mentioned I want to create some shirts for people to wear. “Right” he said. “What is your strategy, where will you see them, what about swing tags, what about the label on the back of the neck, what about care instructions, what about the fit, what about the….” the list went on.
I had zero experience and was extremely naive. And it showed. But Tony wasn’t mean about it. In fact quite the opposite. He was both understanding and supportive. He mentioned he can help me work out all of these things, but before he does, I needed to go away and think about what this brand really meant to me.
So I did. I thought and thought. Where did I want to take it? What did be nice mean?
Very early on, I wanted to have high end designer style shirts that looked great, were fashion forward and were priced at the top end. But after writing a few nice stories and experiencing what the brand really was, I decided that stuff didn’t matter.
I wanted the brand to exist regardless of the t-shirts. The brand exists for the stories…not the t-shirts. You could take the t-shirts away and be nice would still function perfectly fine.
That’s all I care about. Sharing more and more nice stories and helping reach more people.
So after deciding this was the route to take, I was ready to get busy. Tony mentioned he still had a few contacts in China that we could utilise, but first lets do a domestic run and see how things go. He gave me a list of things I would need to organise and off I went.
Head down, bum up. I sourced what I needed, and reported back to Tony. He was pleased to see the progress and we were both excited for what was next. I had found a printer and bought the blank t-shirts (through an awesome local printer called ‘Tshirt Oz’ in Brunswick btw), and built my own shop website (I had some skills in that area).
But after getting a lot of this stuff fixed up, the only images I had were some random selfies I had taken. I needed to get some proper images for the website and for social media.
Tony mentioned he had done this sort of thing before with his previous work and would be happy to offer his time and expertise (and wardrobe) to take the fashion style photos.
We shot those images using a white sheet as a back drop, some of Tony and Sandy’s wardrobe for accessories, and an iPhone 6 in their apartment. It’s amazing what you can do with the bare essentials and a bit of passion. Check out the high budget fashion shoot below ha.
We even used a sample be nice. t-shirt that Val from T-shirt Oz had printed within 24 hours just for this photo shoot (which is also why all the shots I have are only with the white shirt…because that’s all that was printed at the time).
But around a week later, there they were. 50 Black, 50 White. It was crazy to think that just two months before, none of it existed.
As a side note, they were also crinkled from being in a box…I text Tony and asked if I had to Iron them. Check out the exact message below which sums up Tony perfectly.
I had received a ton of support on social media from family and friends. Which was really helpful, and now the only thing left to do was launch.
So I pressed the button and we were live.
Launch day was crazy! Sales coming in 2-3 at a time each minute for the first 10 or so minutes.
Then, within 4 hours, I sold out.
Actually just kidding.
On launch day, I sold 1 t-shirt. I could sit here and tell you some crazy made up story like the above, but that’s not the truth. Too many people are already out there highlighting only the good parts of their projects. But I genuinely didn’t mind too much. I was happy that at least 1 person out there would want to share the message.
Then after 2 days, I had actually made two sales. Which was pretty cool I thought! (humble beginnings).
I saw Tony that week and let him know the numbers were looking a little….slow. He asked me to wait there, and within 2 minutes, handed me some cash and mentioned he wanted a small one. I tried several times not to take it, he had already been so helpful. But he insisted and told me to re-invest and make the brand even better.
What a generous, giving person.
This is the giving nature of Tony. He can’t help it. It’s just who he is.
So from the bottom of my heart, Tony, thanks for all you’ve done, and continue to do.
We all love your work and appreciate you!