United Pixelworkers was born of a simple idea: people in our industry are very proud of what they do, but they're also proud of where they live. What if we gave designers and developers a way to represent both at once?
Let's start at the beginning. In the summer of 2009, we started a little web design studio in Pittsburgh, PA called Full Stop. We had some big ideas, not a lot of clients, and a bunch of free time. We'd always idolized people like Coudal Partners and Aaron Draplin, people who found time to sell products in addition to design services. We thought a t-shirt brand might be a good place to start. We just needed a concept.
On a drive across Pennsylvania in early 2010, Full Stop co-founder Jay Fanelli had an idea: what about a union? A union gives people a reason to show pride in their craft, but also represent where they live. And so the Rust Belt Pixelworkers Union was born, an idea that quickly morphed into United Pixelworkers (an homage to Pittsburgh's own United Steelworkers).
We launched United Pixelworkers in May 2010 with just three t-shirts: Pittsburgh (the Local 412), Philadelphia (the Local 215), and our original Standard Issue. By the end of 2010, we'd made t-shirts for New York, San Francisco, Boston, Washington D.C., Chicago, and Seattle too. We'd sold a handful of each, and had a reasonably popular side project on our hands. In early 2011, we started asking our friends in the industry—people like Bobby McKenna, Ethan Marcotte, and Meagan Fisher—to design tees for us, and UP exploded. Where we were selling a few dozen tees a month in 2010, we were now selling a few hundred a month. We expanded to more cities, and even made shirts for all 50 states. In early 2012, we started collaborating with web brands we respected to make t-shirts, and things exploded again. Now it's time we took another leap. United Pixelworkers always deserved to be more than just a t-shirt storefront, and we're starting to make good on that promise. Stay tuned.
United Pixelworkers has reached a size and popularity we never thought possible. We've sold thousands of t-shirts to pixelworkers all around the world, made countless good friends, and amassed a huge and loyal following. We thank everyone who has bought a t-shirt, followed us on Twitter, or been with us from the beginning. United Pixelworkers is an idea born of and supported by the web community, and we owe everything to you.
Jay, Nate, and Matt