Seven years! Seven years ago, the first few products arrived and the launch of Makea Cvlt was well underway. I had thought at the time that if it ever lasted as long as it has, I would have a far more established business on the go, at least something to show for it perhaps. But here I am wondering how one person can be so abysmal at running a business, how money comes in slower than it goes out and for some reason I have also decided I am completely comfortable delving into the truth for strangers to read on the internet.
Makea is not my first ‘passion project’. Back in 2006, I started Social BMX (a name I always kicked myself for never trademarking as, not long after, an actual registered company turned up in the BMX world under the same name). This became Social Co. for reasons that I thought it could be bigger than the BMX industry (deluded). That lasted for a good few years, amassed a good following, ended up with apparel being sold in a number of retailers and then fizzled out to nothing after recording a full length BMX video and moving to the Midlands.
Next up on my list was another BMX linked venture called ‘The Boondock Tribe’, driven by the fact I had left everything I knew in Wiltshire behind to move to the middle of nowhere but was still trying to cling onto being young enough to BMX. Again, this did pretty well, selling plenty of t-shirts and jumpers etc. but something had gotten hold of me. Something I couldn’t avoid given my move to the arse end of Leicestershire. Cars. Consequently, The Boondock Tribe died an untimely death as I spent every waking second talking about cars, fixing cars, breaking cars and driving cars.
Fast forward a couple more years - the car thing hadn’t changed and the BMX outings were few and far between (although to this day, I still own the BMX and look at banks and rails as though I still have the guts to throw myself down them). Fortunately, extreme sports and cars kind of go hand in hand and made me go out and meet a lot of people who have continued to support my bad ideas to this day. It was with these people at Edition 38, a few beers deep, that starting a third passion project seemed like a good idea.
I hear what you are saying, you’ve managed to run semi-successful ventures in the past, why haven’t you learned from these how to make Makea work better? Truth is, I literally don’t know. I don’t have a business mind. I have one of those minds that forgets why they opened the fridge door. One of those minds that can come up with a really good idea and then watch as someone else follows through on that same idea (completely coincidentally) three years later. I know the theory behind running a business, I just lack the finesse to put that theory into practice and actually perfect the damn thing. These projects of mine have a life span of three to four years and here I am in year seven wondering what to do in this new territory. I treat each passing year as if it was year one and think, no one will notice if I just delete all the posts on the Instagram will they?
When I started Makea, I started it at exactly the right time to capitalise on the ease of growing a following on Instagram. You could follow 10 influential people and 100 people would follow you back. If you wanted thousands of likes on a photo you just picked your time to post right. Social media was easy! None of this consistent posting, everything has to be a Reel/TikTok bullshit. Going viral was something a bloke who saw a double rainbow did, not someone posting photos of lowered cars so it didn’t matter to me if I got 10 likes or 1000 likes. Now I say it was easy, but there was a dark period of a couple of months somewhere about six months in where I did fall victim to one of those ‘we can help grow your page’ scams and for a couple of quid a month I gained about 3000 followers on Instagram. It’s fine, it only took about two years after that to undo it all and remove the thousands of fake bot accounts and kids in India that probably took a cut of 0.0005p for following whatever they were told to. That age old saying of ‘if it looks too good to be true, then it probably is’ never made more sense! But I was desperate to make a successful business and the automotive world is just slightly bigger than the BMX one, so I thought I would jump at the opportunity to grow.
The truth is, this has probably had just as many downs as it has ups, I have probably designed 20 times the t-shirts that have ever made it to print and I have probably considered sacking it in once a month since the start, but for some reason this one lingers. I am somewhat proud of this, even if it’s unsuccessful, makes zero money and I am probably being generous there. I genuinely get a giddy feeling when an order rolls in from someone I don’t know or when I see anyone wearing a Makea tee in the flesh at a show and I love people tagging us on Instagram in posts, hashtags and stories. It’s all that that keeps me trying to bring my bad ideas to fruition and I sincerely hope I continue to ignore the part of me that wants to ‘shut up shop’ as it were. Maybe one day I will figure out the business side and I can stop fanboying over the likes of ILB, Rollhard and more for everything that they achieve.
Now I feel like I started writing this with a purpose and I should probably come round to what exactly that is, but 800+ words deep I realise that this is more of a ‘what you see isn’t always what you get’ type blog post. Yes, you can go onto the Makea Instagram and see the follow count is somewhere around 19k (probably less at the rate not posting is harming that count!) and yes, on social media, it probably looks like a well-established brand, but I just want you all to know that the reality is I am pretty much still that 16 year old, in 2006 starting up Social BMX because I want to make some cool t-shirts for my friends. If Makea survives another year then I am grateful for the support, if it survives longer then maybe question your loyalties to this idiot that can’t make a success of this bad idea! However, with all that being said, I wanted this to actually stand as a ‘why the fuck not?’ type blog post where if you have an idea to start something then why the fuck shouldn’t you. If I can make this survive as long as it has, you sure as hell can!