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Zonkey Skateboards is the perfect example of turning a hobby into a career. This company got started by a couple of student outside of the University of Nebraska-Omaha. The founders are brothers Brian and Jeff Tipton. To get a little more specific, despite their name, what they really focus on are creating and distributing hand-made longboards. Both have extensive backgrounds in woodworking and were able to use this skill to add a high degree of artistic appeal to their longboards.

What drew them to longboards as opposed to the traditional skateboards initially was the fact that their effect on the body was not as harsh. From talking with experienced skaters, they found that the sport could take a hefty toll on the body, particularly the knees. The effect is not nearly as detrimental with longboarding. What separates longboards from skateboards is (not surprisingly) the fact that the boards are quite a bit longer. They usually ring in at about three to six feet lengthwise, while skateboards tend to not be longer than thirty inches.

Their functions are pretty different as well. The use of longboards is most often to get from one destination to another while doing tricks are more what the skateboard is built for. In addition to the length, the wheels also differ according to their respective purposes. Longboards will typically have wheels that are more large and soft to handle extended transportation.

What separates these guys at Zonkey Skateboards is how seriously they take this passion. They are not just throwing scrap pieces together and hoping everything comes out all right. The Tiptons really bring an artesian level of detail to what they do. Every single board that they produce is handcrafted. Wood that is used for the base of these boards is even meticulously selected. The local shops, the Tiptons find, really offer the best combination of quality and price.

One of the reasons we really enjoyed working with these guys is because they hail from the same ordinary beginnings that we at Rival do, just some small-town guys with a passion and the desire to turn that into something more. Our live screen-printing service was really pivotal to helping them with building brand awareness and recognition. Since they are still in their beginning stages, having unique marketing strategies like this did wonders for getting their name out. It also helped them build up a marketing email list by having us simply take down a name and contact information before producing each shirt.

Speaking of names, what in the world is a zonkey anyways? Well the brothers had a conversation about hybrid animals, and as fate would have it, the classic zebra/donkey combination came up. Hence, Zonkey was born. They liked it, other than its sheer uniqueness, because it mirrored the hybrid component of their longboards

We always strive to help those businesses in the early stages as much as we can by drawing on our experience in the market place. Especially with a great group like these guys, we really want to see them take off because we know what the beginning struggle is like.


In April of 2012 Farmland Foods made known their partnership with the iconic Richard Petty Motorsports NASCAR team. Farmland is the primary sponsor and the logo is now a part of the number 43 Ford Fusion for the NASCAR sprint cup series. Even better, Farmland is using this partnership as a vehicle to bring awareness to the ever-increasing problem of hunger in Kansas City.

Farmland is working with Harvesters (a community food network) for the “Bacon a Difference” campaign. This campaign involves Farmland granting a check to Harvesters for at least $43,000. Of course, in honor of the number 43 Ford Fusion. Farmland Food was founded in Missouri in 1929. From the humble beginnings to today, Farmland has maintained its loyalty to the same Midwestern roots. This could easily explain the sense of camaraderie that was more than evident at our recent NASCAR live screen-printing event. It is hard to miss that friendly and instantly welcoming Midwestern hospitality that we felt every time we handed out a custom made t-shirt at this live event.

One of the best things about this event was how well live event screen-printing suited at Kansas Speedway. Because there is so much downtime between the most exciting parts of the race (the beginning laps and the final laps) it is perfect for people to get their personalized screen-printed shirts. There was not the same sense of urgency that you might miss something as there might be at, say, a football game. With the downtime, people got the chance to really think about how they wanted their shirts to be done, and even take a shot at screen-printing themselves. (Hey, nothing wrong with letting those folks do the work for a bit.) We also found one of the most satisfying aspects of this event was everybody hanging out and comparing their shirts right after they got them done. By the end of the middle phase of the race, there was still plenty of time for everyone to get back to their seats and cheer on their favorite driver for the final laps.

In 1968, “The North Face” as we know it today, was created in San Francisco. The two masterminds behind what is now a far and widespread phenomena were a couple of outdoor enthusiasts named Douglas Tompkins and Kenneth Klopp.

Inspiration for the brand name “The North Face” struck in response to a trip the two men took up Eagle Mountain, located in Minnesota. Named from the generally understood idea that the most challenging route of mountains in that part of the world are on the north face. This brand is known, not only for their production of extremely popular and high quality fleece outerwear, but also for their role in sponsoring various athletic events. The store was not always known for its wide outdoor selection though.

In the beginning, their North Face gear was designed for mountain climbers. As time went on, skiing equipment was added and then camping gear. In this day and age, North Face jackets are truly inescapable. That said, it is for good reason that they are so popular. From these simple beginnings has grown one of the largest and most well organized of organized physical challenges, The North Face Endurance Challenge. Different versions of the challenge are held in different places such as Washington DC, New York City, and San Francisco. Our live screen-printing event took place at the Kansas City endurance challenge. The challenge allows the chance to sign up for different courses, which include a 5k, a half marathon, a 50k and more. We always love to work these extremely competitive events. For one, the energy that these well-trained athletes give off is exceptionally contagious, even for those not competing. Second is that we get to play the role of fun relief from whatever serious activity may be going on at the time. People that are competing love the chance to get a break from the race that they have been training over the months for, to design a t-shirt. It means that much more to the people running the races because it will remind them of all the hard work and sacrifice they have put into their training and how much they have grown from it.

Without a doubt, this was by far one of our favorite events to work and we look forward to being a part of it again in the future.

You take two things that are just plain awesome on their own, like Heineken Beer or the Willis Tower, and you're doing pretty well. But put them together and you have got a combination for inevitable success. With Heineken putting on their latest brand awareness campaign in the Midwest, what better place to put on their event than the Willis Tower in beautiful downtown Chicago?

A little background for those that may not know, the Willis Tower used to be known as the Sears Tower. To many Chicago natives it will always be the Sears tower, despite the whole legal changing of ownership thing. It was the world’s tallest building from 1973 until the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia were built in 1998. It is 108 stories high. The building also features a very popular observation deck, which easily gets one million or more visitor every year.

It truly dominates the Chicago skyline and anybody that has ever been out there or even seen pictures of it can attest the magnitude of it. With such status, it would only make sense for a company that has the same authority in the world of beer to use the space for their marketing event. The brew master Gerard Adriaan Heineken first introduced Heineken to the world in 1873. His first step, in 1864, was to acquire a brewery known as “Den Hoyberg.” The rest, as they say, is history. Anyone who has ever tasted the Heineken Lager Beer knows that it is one that does not disappoint in the quality department. This is something that was certainly no accident, as Gerard put great attention into the quality of his creation. This was shown through the fact that it went on to win a great deal of international beer competitions.

This event offered the opportunity for loyal fans of Heineken to get the chance to have a new level of interaction with a brand that they already know and love. These type of events are something that big companies are really starting to get into, and it is easy to see why. Everybody wins with these marketing efforts. The people that attend get the chance to network with the brand as well as other people that love the brand. They also get the chance to score free merchandise, such as custom made t-shirts, printed right in front of them. And then there is the benefit for the brand, which is that they can take some time to give back to a few of the people that made their success possible.

We have always pushed these as the most important benefits to such events with our clients. With Heineken, we found that the majority of the turnout at the Willis Tower was a group of fun-loving beer-drinking professionals that just love to hang out and have a great time together. This is the ideal environment to do live screen-printing and we found that all the guests really got into the practice and enjoyed the chance to create their own unique memento of the event.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft in 1975. Today, Microsoft is one of the foremost software development companies in the world. Of the many reasons Microsoft is so relevant today, one is that they managed to navigate their software to being a near absolute standard in both worlds of personal and professional computing. This event connected Microsoft recruiters with the bright young minds of Columbia University. With Columbia being one of the premier private universities in the country, it makes sense that Microsoft would do some of their shopping around in that area. There was no doubt that the live scree-printing event played a particularly important role at this event The stress levels were very high. The combination of an extremely competitive candidate selection and a very limited number of highly exclusive positions that (as we learned) many of these students had desired since they were very young, meant that the level of tension was not too surprising. The role that we noticed our live event printing played was that of relieving tension, more than anything. While they were all suffering from some serious anxiety, as their futures rested on how they answered certain questions, the chance to do something calming like designing their own t-shirt brought on a much needed sense of relief to many. Additionally, the chance to stand in line and joke with classmates prolonged this welcome change of pace. Overall, whether they landed their dream jobs with the software giant or not, we take great comfort in the fact that we were able to provide a sense of relief at such a stressful time.

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