How did we get here?
January of 2010, in a gym on Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan to be precise, my workout partner and colleague walked in with an amazing t-shirt on. To this day I can remember feeling motivated by the phrase and the graphic. I went back that night and jumped on the website hoping to order something for myself and was disappointed in not finding a women’s design which resonated with me as the shirt he wore had. There were a few women’s offerings, but given the restrictions on civilian attire and my role as a leader, none of them were appropriate for wear in that environment. I thought to myself then that there was a real void in the market there and that someone ought to do something about it, and then I basically forgot about it. Over the past couple of years that thought has jumped back into my mind as I have interacted with incredible women from all walks of life – at every conceivable stage of their journey, all ages and styles and sizes. Over and over again I heard the same lamentation, that there wasn’t anything out there which spoke to US…that the options available were so limited. I noted more and more companies making high-quality, artistic, motivational shirts and casual apparel for men and saw their products all over the ranges, often on women who had given up on trying to find something aimed at them and just stolen their husband’s latest purchase or ordered one for themselves.
While I was still in uniform I used to carry a leaders notebook with me everywhere I went, when I encountered a phrase or quote or saying or image that inspired or motivated me, I would write or paste them into the bindings of those notebooks and – thankfully – I had kept most of them. I had these visions, but I can’t draw a convincing stick figure if my life depends on it, and I hadn’t met an artist who understood or believed in the concept that kept rolling around in my head. And then I met Emily, a young woman who was framing some photos and artwork that I had from my time in the Middle East, who just happened to get everything I was saying. She was intuitive and understood parts of my journey that, with no similar experiences of her own, she shouldn’t have. It quickly dawned on me that if anyone could translate these ideas I had and turn them into something that women would want to wear, it was her. I approached her with this crazy notion and no clue how to execute it and she was on board before I could get the words out. A few short weeks later Valkyrie Ink was born and now here we are…learning a new lesson everyday and just hoping to create a product that makes an impact.