Two Thousand and eighteen. Two years after launching Deathbed Edition and here we are, not only 'still kicking' but kicking hard.
[First off, before we get into this whole year in review thing, we want to sincerely thank everyone who has supported us since the beginning. If you have bought a t-shirt from us, if you have followed us on Instagram or liked us on Facebook, if you've visited our website even just once or if you have told even just one friend about our brand; it is your support that keeps this thing of ours going; and we can not thank you enough for that support.]
In December of 2017, Heather had entered us into the Greasy Dozen Builders Collective contest. We were lucky enough to be chosen as builders and now found ourselves on a mission to complete her KZ440 chopper in time for the event in Ohio at the end of the following May.
I have to give a lot of credit for the awesomeness of this last year to Bear at Old Bike Barn and The Greasy Dozen Builders Collective because Heather and I both feel that our experience with, and involvement in, the Greasy Dozen played a very substantial role in steering us in the direction we have taken in 2018.
Wanting to truly earn our spot as Greasy Dozen builders, we started the year by working very hard to build as much of Heather's chopper as we could ourselves. Utilizing minimal to less than ideal tools and equipment, we spent the first few months of the year freezing our asses off in our small one car garage, making many parts by hand and striving to embody the grassroots DIY attitude of the Greasy Dozen by building one badass little KZ440 chopper.
Nearing the end of the build process, we were honored, and very much surprised, to have been invited to show her bike at the Congregation Show in Charlotte, NC in April. I was still struggling with some health issues and decided that the bike wasn't going to get done, not right, anyway, in time for the Congregation show so we sadly had to decline the invite.
With support, encouragement and more than a few much-appreciated favors from friends, we (nearly) completed her bike by the end of May. The bike looked great but we couldn't get it properly running in time for the Greasy Dozen Run. So we loaded up the little trailer queen and headed to Ohio for one of the best weekends ever.
We had a great time while we showed her bike at the Hilltop Brewery in Columbus during the Friday night pre-party. I rode my chopper on Saturday during the run itself from Columbus to Peebles for one of the wettest rides ever while Heather towed her bike and took on a support role for other riders. The Saturday night bonfire (and free food and beers) at camp made for a very warm welcome after a long, wet day on choppers. We made quite a lot of new friends over that weekend and we will definitely never forget it. We want to thank Bear, Zane, and everyone else involved with the Greasy Dozen for hosting such a great event and making sure we had a killer time.
We were then invited to show Heather's bike at the Voodoo and Burnt Rubber Show in Buffalo, NY over the first weekend of July. We took the trip up to Buffalo and had a blast hanging out at the Friday night pre-party hosted by our friends Chris and Jodi at Spoke & Dagger Co. The show itself was on Saturday and we had such a good time showing her bike and hanging with new friends. We want to thank Chris and Jo for the invite as well as for hosting such a cool show. We also want to thank Christian and Elizabeth for opening up their home to us (and I especially have to thank Christian for letting me ride his bike around Buffalo.)
After the Voodoo and Burnt Rubber Show, we were in Worcester, MA showing the little KZ440 chopper at the Hardtimes Chopper Show. The show is held at Ralphs Diner and is one of the coolest little spots for a chopper show we've seen. Again, we met and made a bunch of new friends and had another awesome weekend! Many thanks to Clint for the invite and for putting on a really cool show.
After the Hardtimes Show, we found ourselves back in Ohio where we had the honor of showing Heather's bike at Fuel Cleveland. If you've ever been to Fuel Cleveland before, you know how rad this show is. If you've never been to the show, make plans for a trip in 2019. You won't be disappointed. The whole weekend was a blast. The show was amazing and the company was even better. Many thanks to Mikey, Tyler, Jesse, and everyone else involved with the show for the invite and for making Fuel Cleveland one of the best shows of the year!
Up until the Fuel Cleveland show, there wasn't a whole lot going on with Deathbed Edition. Due mostly to personal health issues suffered over the previous year, our website was still down and we were still on hiatus. Though, behind the scenes, we were having a lot of discussions about the future of the company. We were definitely not going to let the company fade away; we just weren't entirely sure, yet, when or how we would return to business.
As it turned out, any business decisions we were mulling over were made for us when, upon returning to work after the Fuel Cleveland show, I lost my job. I worked for the same company for nearly sixteen years and suddenly found myself unemployed. Heather and I have two children, a mortgage and bills to pay. There's a lot of responsibility there. Losing that job should have scared the shit out of both of us.
While sitting there in my old bosses office, being told that I was being let go, there was definitely an 'oh fuck' moment; but, I have to say, leaving that building for the last time ever, riding away on my chopper, I honestly felt nothing but joy. For a change, I was fucking happy and I just felt that everything would work out.
Our next move could not have been more obvious. We would re-launch and fully commit to Deathbed Edition.
We went straight to work converting our basement into our new office/production facility. We invested in printing equipment. We invested in new products and in a new e-commerce platform that would better serve our growth. We invested in ourselves and a new future for our family and Deathbed Edition.
With so much work yet to be done in our basement, we re-launched with two new shirts, (our new "classic" logo tee and our very popular "Here for a Good Time, not a Long Time" tee) along with our original designs, on Friday, August 24th; and we received our first order just minutes after our website went live. That was a good sign!
Around this time, we reached out to Grifter Company in Charleston, SC who were interested in stocking their online and brick and mortar stores with products from brands like ours. As a result, you can now grab some Deathbed Edition merchandise while you shop for gloves and other quality goods from some of the other brands you love. Thank you, Asher, for supporting and promoting brands like ours.
Following our re-launch, we attended the first South Jersey Motorcycle Swap Meet in Pennsauken, NJ. The event was, sadly, pretty much rained out but we stuck it out along with a few other die-hards and ended up having a great day. Many thanks to our friend Shelby for coming along to help out and especially to our new friend Ryan and all of his helpers for hosting the event.
After the South Jersey Swap Meet, we had one more show we wanted to get to. Earlier in the summer, Jeremy from the Keystone Collective had reached out and invited Heather to bring her bike down to Lancaster, PA for his show at the end of September. He was kind enough to allow us to set up a table and vend. The show was held in a new venue this year and the Springhouse Brewery turned out to be a really rad new spot for the show and we had yet another great day out. Thanks for a great time, Jeremy.
Finally, the last show of the year that we attended was the Exit Eleven Gifts Holiday Market in Asbury, NJ. We had a lot of fun hanging out at this craft show style market along with a variety of other vendors while again getting to hang out with old and new friends. Thank you, Allison and Will, and the crew at Jugtown Mountain who helped to make the market possible.
In regards to our Deathbed Edition offerings, after our re-launch, we have added a new crewneck sweatshirt printed with our classic logo and a new "Hope Less" tee to our collection. Both of these have been selling very well and are now catching up to our 'good time' tee as some of our most popular shirts.
Now, where are we going from here? Well...
1/19 Showing Heathers KZ440 at the New Traditions show, Worcester, MA
2/2 Vending at the Cheap Thrills Show, Asbury Park, NJ
2/16 and 2/17 Vending at the Mama Tried Show, Milwaukee, WI
4/13 Vending at the Congregation show, Charlotte, NC
5/24, the Greasy Dozen Run, Columbus, OH
7/13 Vending at the Hardtimes show in Worcester, MA
7/27 Vending at Fuel Cleveland, Cleveland, OH
So far, those are the events we know we will be attending in 2019. There are a lot of shows that have not yet announced dates or have not yet started to book vendors. (Make sure to regularly check the Events page on our website and follow us on Instagram for schedule updates.) We definitely plan to be on the road a lot in 2019. Get used to seeing us everywhere! And please, come by to say hi wherever you do see us.
If there's one pattern to be found in everything that I wrote about all of these events we've been to in 2018, it's that we always recognize and appreciate the friendships we make more than anything. Taking all of these trips and becoming a bigger part of this community wouldn't be anything special at all if it weren't for all of the new friends we make along the way.
So, there you have it. That was our year, and it sure was a good one!
We hope you all have had success, good fortune and good times of your own over the past year and are also looking forward to an even better new year.
Chris & Heather