Procreate – iPad App
I’ve been obsessed with this app for the past month. I’ve been developing a comic based around my characters the Pillow Fighters, and I’d been drawing them traditionally with paper and ink. I don’t have a digital art background so I planned to hand over my drawings to an illustrator to clean up and digitally paint. Then an artist friend told me about Procreate and that changed everything for me. Suddenly I could create my comic all on my own. This app is incredibly sophisticated for a $6 buy.
It gives you everything you’d expect from a drawing app, different brushes, layers etc, but it also exports Photoshop files which is amazing. Because of the ability to quickly zoom, pan and rotate on the iPad’s screen, I draw just with my fingers and no stylus. It has turned my iPad exclusively into an art creation tool and opened the door to digital art I previously didn’t think I could unlock.Download Now$5.99
Memphis Bass Guitar
This is one of those possessions I’ll turn back to and it’s like meeting with an old friend. I picked up this little bass guitar at a pawn shop when I was 18. Originally intended as a gift for my brother, he never touched it and I began noodling around with it. I think I really found my voice as a musician through this instrument more so than the other instruments I’d experimented with before (piano, guitar, drums).
In my teens I remember playing songs in my headphones, turning the bass EQ all the way up and picking out the bass lines note for note on my bass guitar. A few years later, I wound up in a 3 piece rock band where I played and sang lead. I’ve never owned any other bass guitar.Shop Guitars On Amazon$50+
Talk about a “treat yourself” item. This would be the equivalent to how people have their vintage dream car they one day want to own. In my teens, I got really into this particular game called Arkanoid. It’s basically the game Breakout but with some additional gaming mechanics. I’d go down to the neighborhood arcade and feed a lot of quarters into one of these babies. I even asked the manager a few times if he’d be willing to sell it to me which was a forgone conclusion.
I think I love this game for its simplicity. On the surface I think it seems like a strange arcade game to want but I think it’s very unassuming at how engaging the game is. I also like that it’s a real cocktail arcade game from the 1980s and not a faux arcade game with a computer inside.Shop Arcade Machines On Amazon$50+
What can I say? This is what started it all for me. It was handed down to me by my grandmother in 2007 shortly after I’d shared with her my idea to start a company that made a different kind of throw pillow. Previously it belonged to my mother, and before that to my grandmother who used it to start her dressmaking and alterations business when her family moved to Seattle, WA from Peru. It sounds funny, but this machine was instantly like my right hand as soon as I started using it.
This model is from the 50s, back when things were built to last and it shows. I can’t use any of these new plastic or electronic machines today, they feel to chintzy. In 2008, I launched my company Throwboy and I was sewing every pillow myself on this machine. And I’d use it nearly everyday since then until we migrated production to a factory in 2013. Fun fact: This model of Singer is in the Smithsonian.Shop Sewing Machines on Amazon$24.25+
Hohner Special 20 Harmonica
Always good to keep a harmonica around, right? I used to be really into Stevie Wonder as a teen and that’s when I picked up the harp. But I got more into Blues harmonica players like Sonny Terry and now I play in that style. Obviously nowhere near as good but I get by. Like other instruments, I learned what I do with it is more about feel than about technical proficiency.
I play here and there by myself, but I prefer to play accompanied by a guitar player. In my band days sometimes my friend Donnie and I would busk in Seattle. Just me singing and playing harmonica and him playing guitar.Shop Harmonicas on Amazon$5.69
Bose Quiet Comfort Headphones
When I moved to St. Louis, MO last year my work roles had changed dramatically. I was no longer hand-making pillows everyday, but rather could work from anywhere with just a laptop to communicate with my factory, designers and remote employees. These headphones have been a lifesaver and are now indispensable to my normal work routine. When I’m working remotely they’re perfect for turning a noisy Starbucks into a serene library. I use them on planes a lot too, usually unplugged with just the noise canceling switch on. I really didn’t think I’d like them this much, but go figure.
The Beatles Pocket Song Book
I bought this book sometime in my teens when I was learning guitar. I had picked up the guitar a few years earlier but I think I set the bar too high for myself trying to be the next Hendrix. When I bought this book my goal was to approach guitar in a more simple way and to just be able to sing and play some Beatles songs. I don’t read music so I would learn to play from tablature I found in a different book. Then I would hand write out each tab into the Beatles book for chords I couldn’t memorize. It’s still handy and I prefer it to using an app or computer that can be distracting.
Varidesk Standing Desk
Standing desks were definitely a trend I made fun for years before trying it. But after hearing a statistic about the amount of calories you burn I figured I’d give it a shot. Now I spend about 50% of my day standing when I’m in the office. I really love it now. It really makes me feel like less of a lazy slug staring at my computer for 8 hours.
The best feature is how this one can raise and lower super easily so anytime I’m tired I’ll just sit. My old work routine had me moving around a lot and driving around town to suppliers, so at least being able to stand is nicer and gives me more energy.Buy Now$324
How to win friends and influence people
I refer back to this book constantly. To the point of asking everyone I meet in business if they’ve read it. I think the title throws the younger generation off because you really have to humble yourself right from the get go to even want to read it. But I think the simple lessons and examples in this book, though sometimes old-timey sounding, still reign true today. It really taught me to put myself in the other person’s place business-wise, and always think of how this is benefitting them first rather than just myself. Sometimes young entrepreneurs and creators are so excited for their own projects they can’t see beyond their own interests. This book made me think about that and I’ve read & replayed it many times.Buy Now$9.04