About Mongo

We're not exactly sure who or what Mongo is.  Some say a meteor fell from the sky many years ago and what crawled out was a force to be reckonned with.   Others claim that Mongo only exists in a fourth dimensional plane that can only be reached through the garbage can of an old dirty Chinese restaurant.  Still others claim...  Ok, enough of that.  I had some really weird, long winded backstory all prepared, but I just don't have the energy.  Simply put, Mongo is me.  Now, I'm not going to start divulging all kinds of personal information so don't be looking to unmask me like a luchador. 

I can tell you that the weird and wacky beginnings of Mongo Angry Mongo Smash lie in my obsessive observations of Pop Culture.  I was born of the 80s... well actually in 1975 but grew up in the era when MTV actually played music videos and so did HBO for that matter.   The movies you see today were based on television cartoons and shows I watched growing up.

Early on in my life I wanted to be a writer or a fire truck but lacked the discipline and MLA guidelines to become a legitimate hack so it looked like fire truck was the onluy option I had left.  Unfortunately, I found out what a fire truck makes so, I went back to my original idea.  By that time I had graduated college and became too lazy to go back to school and become a real writer.  Instead, I did what everyone does, I started a blog.   Actually, let me eat my own tail here.  I started an online t-shirt business and then started a blog to try and sell shirts based on the persona of Mongo.

It's simply a nickname we had around the office for the kind of knuckle dragging, drooling, beast of a human who should not be anywhere near a china shop and exclaims things like "Math hard!"  Eventually, my clutziness got the better of me and I became Mongo incarnate.  I'd drop things like phone receivers, hanging up on people.  I'd break office flimsy office equipment and would get upset with everyday things, resorting to the phrase, "Mongo angry!  Mongo smash!"  It sounded like something that came directly out of pop culture so I ran with it. 

A coworker and I began spinning wheels on a pipe dream dot com business wherein we would provide a solutions engine as a novelty.  Someone would "Ask Mongo" for advice and based on keywords in their query a pre determined response that was of no real help would be returned.   For instance, "What do I do about my boss?"  Mongo's answer would be, "Weigh down the body." or simply, "Mongo not care.  Go away."  Sort of an evil magic eight ball with bad manners.  We kicked around design ideas and figured we would have to have advertisments on the site to help pay for the overhead and maybe we could sell merchandise with Mongo's image and some catchphrases to get us off the ground.  Unfortunately, my limited web design experience and lack of funds shelved the idea and Mongo kind of sat there in a room, holding a kitten, crying.  It's a dsisturbing image, I know.   I mean, here I was with this moniker that screamed "Internet Worthy" and I had no idea what to do with it.  

After some searching I found that I could start a shirt shop for free and all I had to do was upload Mongo's image and choose pricing and products.  The website would do all the hosting and shipping and billing work for me and I could just sit back and collect a check.  Maybe, Mongo would live on in infamy, afterall.  Unfortunately, the website sat stagnant and received no hits over the course of two years.  I was limited in what I could add for the zero dollar price tag to run the site.   Maybe Mongo was back in the basement, again.  

One day, bored out of my skull I started reading up on new movies and trends in pop culture and just snapped.   I wrote out this long Jerry Maguire-esque diatribe for absolutely no one.  It just sat there on my email and stared at me and said, "Well, what are you going to do now?"  I looked into blogging as an outlet for my rants and adopted Mongo's signature catchphrase as the title of my blog.  If anything else, it gave me a creative outlet for my nonsense that might actually gain an audience.  And in the process I can throw links up on the blog to my store.

After six months, I saw an email stating that I had a sale from my shirt shop.  Someone actually bought two of my sweatshirts and then my brain started thinking, "Wow, it's dark in here."   Actually, I thought, "What if I didn't just sell Mongo on a shirt.  What if I used my mediocre Photoshop skills and put pop culture absurdity on a shirt and tried to sell it?"   But I was still limited to the basics of a free account so, I decided to splurge for a year's worth of premium service and if I didn't make the money back in sales, I'd kill the premium shop and give up.   I was given a two week trial period for a premium shop at CafePress.  After the first week I had already made back my investment in sales.  I decided to ride out the year and keep the same boundaries.  If the shop doesn't out perform the cost of running it in a year, I'll kill it.   I never looked back.

But then CafePress went and did the unthinkable, they changed their shopkeeper agreement slashing the profit margain of what a designer makes per sale to 10%.   Instead of say, earning $3.00 on a $19.99 shirt I was now earning $2.20 on a $22.00 shirt.   The trick was generating traffic to my store versus people finding my stuff through CafePress' search engine or from a third party affiliate who has links to my designs.   I thought about pulling up stakes and going somewhere else but CafePress was the number one source of my income.   Instead, I decided to play the field a bit and saw that other websites offered the same, if not better services, for free.  I opened up shops at Zazzle, Printfection, and Skreened.  Each store has most of the same designs I have at my CP store and even some different product offerings.  Hey, Nike doesn't just sell their shoes at Walmart, right?   They sell them at several stores.   Why not me?

Of course, to help drive the sales to my CafePress shop to give customer better prices and me more profit I began blogging about designs, sort of selling myself advertising space.  But after awhile I found it hard to balance writing and marketing and decided that I could better serve myself if I split up the blogging between writing and designing so I created this blog strictly for the purpose of showcasing my products, offering design tips and also offering advice on how to do what I do, only better.  I also started a twitter feed and a facebook fan page that all tie into the blog and my stores.

It's been a long road and while I am not debt free and living in the lap of luxury, I have fun and have paid off some bills and love seeing those emails come in saying I've sold something.  Maybe, one day, Ask Mongo will rise from the ashes.  Until then, I'm content "Making shirt" as Mongo would say about what he does.  And when he's happy, we're all happy.