Friday, November 7, 2008

AMORFATI in the Gonzaga paper

On a generic mid-May afternoon, three friends were hanging out. In a moment of boredom, they decided to start a company.

So they did.

AmorFati Arts began with an idea and has morphed into a philosophy, an expression of art and a full-fledged business. Looking for a way to merge many interests, including graphic design, photography and disc jockeying, junior Devin Power-Bearden, senior Dominique Remy and local Spokane DJ and friend Ian Weber decided that instead of going from internship to internship to get experience, they might as well do it themselves.

"There is nothing in the marketplace that encompassed them all," Remy said of their shared interests. "They all overlap."

After three weeks of texting each other ideas for a company name and many hours on Wikipedia, the group finally settled on "AmorFati," mainly for the meaning behind the word: love of fate.

"We were really drawn to the underlying principles of [AmorFati]," Power-Bearden said.

The AmorFati Arts Web site defines it as "a philosophy in which one sees everything that happens in one's life, including suffering and loss, as good. One feels that everything that happens is destiny's way of reaching its ultimate purpose, and so should be considered good. It is an acceptance of the events that occur in one's life."

"We thought it was very reflective of the path of a college student," Power-Bearden said. "Everything is a learning experience."

Working throughout the summer, sometimes
nearly seven to eight hours a day, AmorFati Arts was legally incorporated July 7, and has been growing ever since. Weber, Remy and Power-Bearden also expanded the talent pool to encompass more skill sets and different arts. Senior Gabe Woodhead joined the group and heads up the clothing department, sophomore Ilaria Lily Ghattas focuses on sales and retail, and junior Giselle Cunanan works mostly with the visual arts, such as photography.

"They always tell you how difficult it is to start a business, but you have no idea," Remy said. "We taught ourselves everything. We would just look up tutorials and learn how to do it."

AmorFati Arts' mission statement is to "increase awareness of all the senses through the arts and give a voice to students through creative media."

"We all kind of flow," Ghattas said of the way their different skills and arts work together.

One of the services AmorFati provides is clothing, a branch of the company that allows for a great deal of customer involvement and participation. On, students can submit T-shirt designs based on themes. The most recent theme was the election-based "Rock your vote."

After the deadline for submissions, AmorFati sends out a message to its Facebook group asking members to go online and vote for their favorite T-shirt designs. This acts not only as a type of market research for AmorFati, but it helps them pick the top two or three designs to make into T-shirts, Remy said. The past two competitions have received more than 450 votes each.

T-shirt design winners receive two free prints of their shirt, a gift certificate to the AmorFati store and an artist's info blog on the Web site.

"Basically fame, fortune and clothing," Remy said laughing.

Based on availability and consumer desires, some of the shirts are made from sustainable, organic cotton, such as the shirts the Crosby student employees wear, designed by AmorFati.

"We wanted to take the initiative.
That means paying a higher price but doing something good for the [African] economy," Power-Bearden said.

"We try to go for the best quality, cut and feel that we can," Remy said. "We want to make a T-shirt that people can go to a party and hang out in."

AmorFati has sold more than 500 shirts to date and made sales as far as California and Arizona.

One shirt, from the "Play on Words" collection, pictures a gorilla
throwing a banana with a grenade-
print peel. The shirt reads, "Gorilla tactics."

The company gets its feedback from online outlets, such as its Web site, Facebook and MySpace pages, and uses what Remy refers to as "guerrilla marketing," that is, solely online marketing, no newspaper or print ads.

Another regular gig AmorFati arts has on its plate is DJ-ing Thursday nights - college night - at the Double Dribble. The group has DJ-ed at Pig Out in the Park, high school proms and homecomings and even restaurants, such as Raw.

Despite the stress and chaos of creating a business from scratch, the members of AmorFati Arts are relishing the experience.

"It has been way cool, but we have seen our fair share of ups and downs," Remy said. "This is going to help us so much in the real world. Our reputation is on the line every time someone hands us a check and an order. We have to deal with real life positive and negative scenarios from employees to clients to customers."

"We get really stressed, but we can look back and say, 'We really learned from that,' " Power-Bearden said.

The group also emphasizes the vast amounts of personal growth and learning that have taken place as the company evolved.

"Every couple of weeks we are completely different people for how much we have learned," Remy said. "This really got us into the business practices of the real world."

The future of AmorFati Arts is somewhat uncertain with several members graduating in May, but Remy says that even with the loss of some seniors, the business should be secure.

"We have begun to develop employees and relationships with companies that should lead to continual growth in the future," he said.

Even as these seniors look to graduation, the group relishes in the learning and growth that AmorFati Arts has taught them.

"This experience has been amazing," Remy said. "We have learned maturity, responsibility, and leadership. It's been so cool. So amazing."


Shavonne said...

Way to go!! I'm proud of you and all the hard work you are doing! I love you, Bud!

Rebekah said...

That is so great bud! I am so proud of you. You are so talented! I love you!

kdaygirl said...

Nice "E"!

Queen of Chaos said...