Good products for good people
John Bollaert seeks to be original.
If you hang out on University Boulevard, you’ve probably seen him doling out his “flower power” to passers-by outside Posner’s Art Store. Trading hand-picked flowers for smiles with people passing by, Bollaert enjoys seeing people feel good.
Bollaert, 35, grew up in Illinois with four brothers, of whom he is the second youngest. Although his parents pushed him towards a career in medicine, he always found himself more intrigued by innovative products with unique designs than by the fundamentals of human anatomy.
Attending Florida State University for college, Bollaert earned a degree in anthropology but found himself unsure of what he wanted to do with it. He eventually decided to attend community college in Chicago, stumbling upon a screen printing studio.
Bollaert said he was fascinated by the concept of screen printing, which led him to learn the ins and outs of the craft for two months, and eventually enrolled in graphic design school. With his newfound passion for graphic design, he finally had a dream he could fully pursue.
While at graphic design school in Chicago, Bollaert earned money as a waiter for a restaurant in Trump Tower. He was once written off by his boss after receiving a complaint from a client that he “lacks personality”. Bollaert took this news in stride and quit his job on the spot to later accept a position at his friend’s fledgling business as chief graphic designer.
Having gained valuable experience as a graphic designer, Bollaert finally decided that he wanted to start his own personal project that best represents who he is and what he values the most. Bollaert believes in positivity and authenticity to the highest degree, which led him to start Original Goods Co.
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Original Goods Co. is the creative outlet that Bollaert has designed to combine all of his graphic design experience into an inventive brand that focuses on high quality products at a reasonable price. The company specializes in producing quality wooden sunglasses and apparel, emphasizing individuality with a stylish selection of merchandise.
Bollaert said he takes pride in naming his various products, coining fun titles for his sunglasses designs like “Meows”, “Space Travelers” and “Cloud9ers”. The enthusiasm he shows for his business is palpable and demonstrates his dedication to both his craft and his customers.
The company is running out of an office that doubles as a design studio and music space. The studio contains a range of print and screen design equipment as well as Bollaert guitars and keyboards. He credited his love and appreciation for music to influencing his artistic endeavors in graphic design, noting how music inspires his other creative endeavors and makes him feel grounded.
Perhaps the most encouraging aspect of Bollaert’s story is his inspiring philosophy to live life by embracing curiosity.
Bollaert explained how many unique hobbies and talents he acquired throughout his life were simply due to his curiosity and desire to learn something new. Harnessing the power of the internet, Bollaert used websites like YouTube to learn how to excel in different hobbies that interested him, such as building different electronic devices.
“Keep learning new things,” Bollaert said. “We’re in a time where if you don’t know anything, all you have to do is pick up your phone and start looking for it.”
The future looks bright for Bollaert, as he said he hopes to expand his brand of quality products and perhaps be the first brand of wooden sunglasses with interchangeable lenses. While his radiant positivity, determination and authenticity are assets, his idea of creating “good products for good people, at a good price” is sure to make some serious waves soon.
“Don’t be afraid of your ambitions and take small steps to try to pursue your dreams because no one else can achieve them for you,” Bollaert said. “Once you can truly understand that you can be the creator of other people’s reality, then you can begin to form that reality. And it doesn’t happen by itself. You must be the inspiration.
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