Funky Munky really started with an idea of working for myself.
My last semester of college was spent abroad, studying in San Sebastian, Spain.
On Spring Break in Tenerife, I met Josu, a free spirit living on the island. Josu would make friendship bracelets and sell them on the beach. As the week went on, I got to know Josu better. He sold bracelets, surfed, and experienced life. It seemed like the perfect combination of work and play. But, how could I do the same thing in Chicago?
My amazing semester abroad came to an end and I returned to Chicago. What kind of business did I want to start? Selling bracelets on the beaches of Lake Michigan could be a good start, but summer in Chicago comes and goes in the blink of an eye. Plus, I lived in the suburbs and didn't have a car.
My boyfriend and I started throwing ideas around for a t-shirt for Taste of Chicago. The taste brings in hundreds of thousands of people each summer. After much brainstorming, we came up with the perfect shirt:
Bite it, Lick it, Chew it, Suck it, Swallow it, Just Taste It!
We scrounged up as much money as we could and had 100 shirts printed. I filled my boyfriends hockey bag with the shirts and got dropped off downtown.
"See you tonight!" I yelled and optimistically set out to sell the shirts. After a lackluster start and a series of set backs, I managed to sell all of them!
Not sure what to expect, my boyfriend pulled up and asked how it went. I turned the hockey bag upside down and shook it. "Let's go to the printer & get more!" I shouted.
And that was the start of it all.
Sounds like the perfect game plan, right? Well, Taste of Chicago comes around once a year for one week.
How was I going to sell t-shirts on just a normal day?
Enter Howard...Howard was from the east coast selling Guatemalan bracelets and belts at Taste of Chicago. Bracelets & belts! You can sell them anywhere!
I decided I would sell on the beach, at Grateful Dead shows, at Cubs games, and colleges. Chicago beaches didn't have the same number of "tourists" looking for a bracelet to remember their trip as Tenerife. I'd miss my dogs & my boyfriend if I left town and went on tour with the Dead. Cubs fans were more interested in beer than bracelets. That left colleges. The student union was the perfect venue!
So Howard started sending stuff when he got back from Guatemala. Now that I could set up a table, I added more items-bajas, shorts, pants, hacky sacks, and more jewelry.
The holidays were approaching and I thought maybe I should try a kiosk in the mall. My brother loaned me money for rent, my mom bought me a cash register, and Howard sent me loads of stuff that I could pay for after the holidays.
It was a success! I now had the chance to sell my stuff every day, not just on weekends.
Next came a great staff, many whom I've stayed friends with to this day. My mom soon joined me and together we moved to a storefront.
Many customers have become friends as well. I smile when I see a long time customer come in with their kids. A new generation of Funky Munksters has started!
What has been created is an environment that encourages people to express themselves.
I am thankful for all the people that have made Funky Munky a success over the years and look forward to creating many new friendships!
P.S. I'm lucky enough to now call my boyfriend my husband. I love you Jack!