Letter From The Owner September 18 2014

Hello all you strangers out there,

Welcome to Strange Ways! I hope it becomes the destination for you when you're looking for a new piece of clothing, a unique gift or just want to be inspired by what some cool people are making. Check in here before you stop by the mall; I promise you'll find something more interesting. You'll also be supporting small brands, independent artists/designers and entrepreneurs. We want to offer you the same professionalism as those big guys, but with more compelling product.

The thought for this shop has been long in the making. I've dreamed about starting up one ever since I began printing my own t-shirts in college. The idea of having control over a space that I can showcase my little slice of life always sounded amazing. I never thought that day would come so soon, but I just turned 30, moved to a new city and all the stars just seem to have aligned.

I think coming to this has been a natural progression. I went to school for graphic design; graduating from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in Boston. During my time there I took a wide breadth of classes from film to photography to screenprinting to, obviously, design. I've always been very interested in many mediums—which at the time was very daunting, but I'm actually finding to be quite advantageous as the owner and frontrunner of this shop.

My biggest draw always came from working on lifestyle products. I love making things that people connect with and see themselves in. While in school I started designing graphic tees and selling them. I wanted to express myself, but figured maybe other people might relate to them too. Turns out they did. I even won a school award for my designs and I wholeheartedly think these t-shirts are what got me my first real job.

Right after college I began working for Converse (as in Chuck Taylors) in their footwear design department. I created not just graphics and shoes, but learned a whole lot about materials, color choices and product design. I stayed there for almost 5 years and it was truly a defining period of my life where I learned so much about product and business. I met some of the most talented and authentic group of people there as well, where we both learned and played. I would also go on to work for Puma in a very similar role as my job at Converse. Both jobs taught me a lot about work ethic, timelines and not just the U.S. market, but the world and the trends that fly around it.

Congruently while having a corporate job, I wanted to satisfy my personal creativity. For about 5 years I also ran a graphic apparel line called Dance Party Massacre. Now, if you love 80s slasher movies or popular culture you would have also loved our clothing. With a theme dubbed "party horror" I created a niche for myself and the brand. While having a big wig job allowed me to learn from the system, running my own brand allowed me to learn from practice. I was able to bring in some amazing illustrators and talent to help me as the brand grew, until eventually I became more for a creative director.

Coming from a hands-on designer background, stepping into the more conceptual and task-oriented role of creative director was actually pretty smooth. To me, a great product comes from what it stems from or what it represents. When I was designing shoes or t-shirts, I wasn't selling that item; I was selling what on that item says about the person who wears it. I love working on things for people to connect with. I truly believe that what we choose to buy, wear, put in our homes, etc. is a representation of who we are. And I love it when something I had a hand in making (even if it's just collecting it all into one spot), a stranger can see themselves in too.

Curating and helping develop the items that Strange Ways carries also connects me to the makers behind it. I really enjoy collaborating with others, and I get as much pleasure out of developing concepts than I do in actually putting my hand to paper. This shop allows me to do more by utilizing and showcasing other people's talents, and I think it'll really help widen what can be accomplished. The fact that we can also give lesser known people or brands a larger platform is the icing on top. More independent creators also tend to put out more interesting product; not tied to the standards of commercial consumption. Their work says something; it has a voice and a style. That's the stuff I want to be a part of.

I hope that this new shop is the start of something great. I hope you find Strange Ways to be unique and cool enough that you want to keep coming back, and that you want to share it with friends. I want to not only work with the makers of the items we carry, but the people that buy it too. Feel free to drop me a line anytime. Welcome to our strange little world.

Alex Dakoulas
Founder & Creative Director