The origin story of Nike is the stuff of legend — a global sportswear brand that started with Phil Knight’s big idea, Bill Bowerman’s waffle iron, and Jeff Johnson’s Volkswagen van.
Nike’s success might seem inevitable now that it’s a multi-billion-dollar company. But 50 years ago, Phil Knight was just a young entrepreneur with a crazy dream.
In other words, he was a lot like Andy Tran.
Andy is the founder of Bonjo, the photographer behind @andy.folio, and the pioneer of Bridgeliner’s contributor network (which can you support by becoming an annual member this month — more on that shortly).
But before all those titles, Andy was just a high-school senior who needed $3,000 to buy himself a camera.
So about a year ago, Andy launched his first business, Andy’s Candy, and started selling cookies, chips, and candy in the hallways at Madison between classes, while moonlighting as a private security guard.
In four and a half weeks, Andy turned a $3,200 profit, bought that fancy camera, and left Andy’s Candy behind to chase his bigger dream of becoming a professional photographer and building a brand for his new clothing line.
That’s how Bonjo was born.
At first, Andy and his friends sold Bonjo’s candy-striped tees to classmates and teachers at Madison. But now the brand is catching fire beyond that.
Orders are coming in from around the city — and Andy is scrambling to put shipments in the mail, manage inventory from his home office, and tell the story behind Bonjo and its slogan: “Don’t die wondering.”
Trite? Not coming from this guy.
When I first met Andy, he was a first-year cross country runner with barely a trace of natural talent.
But within a year, he’d dropped his 5k time from 20:16 to 18:02 and earned a spot in Madison’s varsity lineup, overcoming setback after setback to become the team’s most-improved athlete.
Now Andy is trying to beat the odds again, and I’m proud that Bridgeliner will be investing in his vision.
How will that work? It’s pretty simple: For every person who becomes an annual member this month, we’ll use 20 percent of the funds to help Andy produce a “Young in Portland” video series that we’ll feature in the newsletter.
The series will tell the story of recent high school grads who are finding their way in the world and chasing dreams that don’t follow the conventional playbook — or in other words, putting Bonjo’s “don’t die wondering” ethos into action.
“People my age think all you can do is get a job and work the rest of your life,” Andy told me. “But life is flexible. We need more examples of that.”
So how can you help? The best way to support this campaign is by becoming a Bridgeliner annual member.
Enter the promo code contributor at the top of the page to let us know you’re choosing to support this project (and to get a small discount).
If we add just 50 new annual members this month, we can fully fund Andy’s video series and throw a party for Bridgeliner members and Bonjo fans to watch the videos and discuss their themes together.
You can also support this project by helping us spread the word. Share this post on Facebook, send your friends Monday’s newsletter, or tell your parents you want a Bridgeliner membership as an early Christmas present.
Got questions? Check out the FAQs below, or send other Qs to [email protected], and I’ll answer them in the newsletter next week.
What are the perks of becoming a Bridgeliner annual member?
It’s actually a pretty sweet deal! For $8/month, you’ll not only be supporting Andy’s project and Bridgeliner’s mission. You’ll also get:
– Discounts to all Bridgeliner events, like our dinner conversation about invisible labor and our menu tasting at Akadi
– A kit of Bridgeliner swag, including an obligatory tote bag
And if you become an annual member this month, we have a few other perks:
– A free ad in Bridgeliner that you can use to promote a local business, shout-out a friend’s birthday, or spread any message of local love that you like
– An invite to our next editorial meeting where we’ll share our goals for 2020 and take ideas and input from members on what’s next
What does it mean to be a Bridgeliner contributor?
First and foremost, being a Bridgeliner contributor means executing the awesome creative project that our members have invested in.
But contributors will also help shape our editorial direction by bringing fresh perspective to our planning sessions.
We’ll turn to them for story and project ideas, and we’ll use their input to make our work more compelling, surprising, and relevant to our community.
Are there other contributors in the Bridgeliner contributor network?
That’s the goal! We’ve already talked to a bunch of inspiring locals about creative projects they want to bring into the world, so if this first campaign is successful, we’ll be looking to support more contributors in early 2020.