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1 year doing my own thing

4 minute read
by Alex Hillman

Today marks the 1 year anniversary of me having gone independent. Wow.

A year. Really? I go back and forth between “that’s it” and “that long”? In some aspects, I feel like it was only a couple of months. In other aspects I look at all that I’ve managed to accomplish everything I’d set out to do, and much much more.

I partnered with some amazing talent, many of whose work has earned us opportunities to work together more than once. I worked with some amazing clients (many of whom are brands that I really, really love).

I’ve co-built a couple of funny little apps that got a fair amount of attention, which was never the plan…the plan was to have fun building them.

I co-founded our own little version of a much larger movement that, in it’s own right, has paved the way for more opportunities for myself and countless other people. That’s one of the most gratifying and exciting accomplishments of my life, and I’m SO happy and grateful to have been a part of it and have made all of the friendships and connections I have along the way.

One year in, I’ve learned a lot about making choices and how to learn from the choices that I, and others have made.

The Next Chapter

It’s only appropriate that my newest client not only has choice in their name, but is excited to learn what happens when you give a community some opportunity to make choices.

My newest venture is a new kind of building. This one is less about building a website site and a lot more more about building a community. Learning from the wonderful community building experience we’ve had here at IndyHall, I thought it’d be great to take the model to the road and allow others to benefit from it. This next foray into community building is with a company called Choice Shirts, just outside of Philadelphia in Pennsauken, NJ.

The Choice100
The new project is called The Choice100 and it’s first incarnation as a blog has launched last night. It’s simple and direct, but that’s by design. The whole goal of the project at this stage of the game is to facilitate asking a potential community of design talent what they think about the proposed community model, and feed back as to what would benefit them the most.

This project has me really excited for a number of reasons. One, it’s a really fun opportunity to have conversations with the folks who work in a field that I’m closely tied to (design, that is) but from a whole new angle for me; graphic design for apparel.

Even moreso is that a company with a fairly traditional (and well established) business model is just as amped as I am to listen to their customers (who, in this case, double as their product creators) and be so open about the process.

In the preliminary research on who to have in the loop for this, I got some really positive feedback from designers that have worked in other t-shirt “contest” and “designer community” scenarios. Of course, they’ve all had thoughts as to what was good and what was bad. What’s really great about ChoiceShirts and The Choice 100 is that the company has a history spotted with creative evolutions of existing and established business models, and that they are embracing a conversation within a community to help model the next steps for their company.

Sounds wonderfully Cluetrain to me. What happens when you stop selling and start conversing. ChoiceShirts is not only embracing that, but they’re excited to embrace that. That’s immensely energizing and inspiring for me.

We’re going to be starting from the ground up. This blog is out there to announce the existence of this new evolutionary process for ChoiceShirts, and gather the interested parties in a place where they can converse. Next steps will include some real-world brainstorming, which we’ll facilitate at IndyHall much like the first brainstorming session we held back in August.

Check out the site, leave some comments, and subscribe to the blog and twitter feeds if it sounds like something you’re interested in participating in. Remember, this project is about us hearing what you have to say!

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Hey, thanks for reading!

Alex Hillman I am always thinking about the intersection of people, relationships, trust and business. I founded Indy Hall in 2006, making us one of oldest fully independent coworking communities in the world. This site is packed with the lessons and examples I’ve learned along the way. You can find me on Twitter, too! 🐦 Say hi.