Akron’s Bounce Any Means Nquisite Incubator Apparel Company Reports $ 1 Million in Sales, Plans Another Million in 2021
AKRON, Ohio – All the necessary means Apparel and Merchandise Founders Shawn Coss and Mike Nemitz have turned a $ 200 investment into $ 1 million in revenue over the past five years.
Now, friends turned business partners are on track to record another million dollars in sales in 2021.
Located in a 3,000 square foot studio in the Bounce Innovation Center in downtown Akron, Any Means Necessaire sells T-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, pants, shorts, accessories, prints and books featuring Coss’s original artwork. Coss’s work is both dark and humorous, and fans around the world have taken note.
But it took longer for the company’s clothing and merchandise to spread to Ohio.
“It took a long time for Ohio to show any kind of support, which has always been a big thing for us,” said Nemitz, 37, who lives in Akron. “But Ohio in general is not necessarily a state of support. It’s about minding your own business and making sure you move forward. Over the past year, we’ve probably seen a lot more support in Ohio – Cleveland, Canton, Wooster. We kind of backed off, we sold to the world first, now we’re starting to see people notice it here. “
Coss and Nemitz describe each other as unlikely friends.
“When we first met, we were poles apart. I grew up as a hip-hop kid. I liked rap music. He grew up as a kid wearing black fishing nets. We would never have been friends growing up, ”Nemitz said.
The couple met at a concert in their early 20s when Nemitz, who was working on a rap album, approached Coss, who was presenting his work at the concert.
“In general, I would never walk to a stranger, but I approached him and told him that I am making an album and that I want you to do the album cover. He was like ‘Yeah ok.’ I ended up making a friend for him on Myspace and had him make my designs, ”said Nemitz, who attended East High School in Akron.
After Nemitz paid Coss, he joked that Coss had no idea what he was doing from a business standpoint and could have charged more. The duo laughed about it and became friends. But when Nemitz approached Coss about printing his works on T-shirts to sell, Coss initially refused.
“I had already created two different clothing brands that never really took off,” said Coss, 38, who lives in Rootstown. “I was big on the music scene when I was 18 to 24, opening up to a lot of big bands. In all the groups that I was in, the group members always made me pay the price of the merchandise and I never received my money from any of these people.
But Nemitz persisted and convinced Coss to pull out a shirt for a 2015 art show at the Akron Empire Ink tattoo store.
“I was like, ‘If you pay for this, I’ll make sure you get your money back,’” Nemitz said. “It was $ 200 for a set of shirts. In the first hour of the event, I went to give him back his $ 200. And then we ended up selling all the shirts.
Nemitz and Coss invested the $ 600 they earned in another set of shirts.
From 2015 to 2016, creating and selling shirts was a hobby for Coss and Nemitz as they were busy with their full-time job. Coss worked as an emergency room nurse and Nemitz worked on installing cables. That all changed when the cable company Nemitz worked for was bought out in 2017 and lost his job.
“I was 30, had a wife and two kids and had the rug under me,” Nemitz said.
Even though Nemitz had a well-established career and a family to support, he said he knew he couldn’t spend the rest of his life working in a van. So he began to focus all of his attention on creating the Any Means Necessary brand.
“We’re both very persistent,” Nemitz said. “That’s why we ended up using the hyena for our logo. Once we’ve made up our minds on something, whether we’re hunting a lion, the lion’s only natural predator is the hyena, that’s our state of mind. We regard all the necessary means as a state of mind and the lifestyle that we have really always lived. We are doing all we can, as we can, to get to where we need to go. “
One of the company’s breakthroughs came in 2016 when Coss created a series of ink drawings of mental health images for a month-long online art series called Inktober. Doing the mental health series was personal for Coss, who frequently treats mental health patients as an emergency nurse.
“I did a bunch of these tracks and almost overnight I had BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Bored Panda, all these online entities that went out of their way to report our stuff,” Coss said. . “It exploded overnight. I went from 20,000 followers to 110,000 followers on Instagram and Facebook in less than a few days. “
Due to Inktober’s request, Nemitz and Coss decide to publish a brochure of the series for sale.
“We loved $ 60,000 to $ 70,000 in a few days, which was the most money we’ve ever made,” said Coss, who attended Field High School in Mogadore. “So we thought maybe we could use dark illustrations as a fashion style.”
In just over five years, Any Means Necessaire has grown from a home business to a 400 square foot office space in Ellet, to a 3,000 square foot space in the Bounce Innovation Center.
The duo moved to Bounce in October 2020 after doing a photoshoot there a few months before and falling in love with space. When Nemitz reached out to Bounce to see if space was available, he realized that Ace Epps, who signed him to his record company years ago, runs programs for entrepreneurs around the world. business incubator. Nemitz called the coincidence a “full circle” moment.
“We were looking to find a bigger space because we were growing a bit and the timing was perfect,” said Nemitz.
The studio space provides ample space for business operations, including inventory storage, shipping, and marketing. The company uses local printers to screen print designs for Coss merchandise. Since joining Bounce, Any Means Necessary has hired two part-time employees to help with shipping and operations. The business incubator offers significant support to Coss and Nemitz, who admittedly have no business experience. From business questions to marketing support to interns, Bounce is always here to help, Nemitz said.
Even though the duo missed in-person sales as events turned down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was their best year yet by 60%, Nemitz said.
Any Means Necessaire was able to quickly pivot and expand their offering to include masks and bandanas, selling in the thousands. One drawing featured a hyena and said “Stay away”.
“A lot of who we are, we’re resilient, we don’t stop. And we always say we thrive under pressure, ”Nemitz said.
The brand releases a new collection of merchandise approximately every 45 days. And he continues to create a new mental health collection each May for Mental Health Awareness Month.
This year, the clothing company plans to sell its merchandise at the New York Comic Con event in October. It is also looking to expand its online sales on platforms such as eBay and Amazon. Coss and Nemitz are also considering wholesale opportunities for their clothing and artwork.
“We’re in the process of setting up a brand presentation for retail stores and mom and pop stores, just to have a different take on the brand,” Nemitz said.
Coss still works part time as a nurse. But Nemitz is glad his days of installing cables are over.
“I always tell people, ‘What I think people lack is the ability to trust and bet on themselves,” Nemitz said. “A lot of people don’t realize that you can literally do what you love to do if you just take that risk and have a plan and stick to it. I would choose this ride over working on a 9-5 that I hate every day.
Friends attribute their wives’ support to their success. But despite their success, Coss and Nemitz didn’t have much time to sit down and enjoy it.
“Right now we’re fighting the update to the Apple operating system that killed Facebook ads,” Coss said. “So that’s something we’re currently trying to overcome because it affects sales. Every day is different and there is a new problem to solve, so there is no time to sit back and relax, but I don’t think any of us would trade it for something else. We own the business, we make the decisions about where this thing goes. We don’t have to answer to anyone other than ourselves.
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