We recently spoke with Jeff about his inspiration, favorite makers, and how he took Ugmonk from a fun side project to a brand with a worldwide following…
The Ugmonk name began as a joke. “All of the names we came up with initially were too bland,” says Jeff. “We threw “Ugmonk” out as a joke. Then we started checking which URLs were open and Ugmonk wasn’t taken, so we grabbed it. Now if you search the word ‘Ugmonk,’ all 90,000+ Google results are somehow linked back to our brand.”
However, those 90,000 results are no accident. Jeff grew up practicing all types of traditional art, and transitioned into design in college. “I quickly fell in love with typography, and realized how integral type is to all design.” He launched Ugmonk as a side project in 2008, and his first four shirt designs started selling out within a few months. Jeff continually invested all of his profits into the company, built momentum, and finally decided to pursue Ugmonk full time in 2010. “We’ve now shipped tens of thousands of products to over 60 countries around the world. It’s been a wild ride.”
Jeff has since expanded his offerings into into other product categories, including his favorite make: a giant 18” wood ampersand.
“I originally made just one piece for an event that we were doing, but several people were really interested in buying one. From the polished natural wood grain to the rare-earth magnet that’s inset in the bottom to make it balance, it embodies the essence of the Ugmonk brand and attention to detail that I put into everything.”
Jeff does a great job of documenting the making of many of Ugmonk’s products, most notably their Messenger Bag…
Jeff is constantly absorbing inspiration from new cities he visits, classic mid-century design work, and simple Pennsylvania hikes. “Inspiration often strikes in the weirdest places, so I try to jot down ideas as they come.”
Ugmonk is pretty much a one-man shop, with help from his brother, mom, and wife, as well as collaboration with Bandwagon Merch and Black Anchor Workshop. Jeff counts Quoddy Shoes, Mast Brothers Chocolate, Everlane, Tartine Bakery, and Ebbets Field among his favorite makers.
What’s next for Ugmonk? “More new products both apparel and non-apparel. I have lots more ideas that I hope to execute as the Ugmonk brand continues to grow.”