It was then that Jim found out about Joanna AKA Optimistic Doom on The Lovable Asshole podcast and her terminal cancer diagnosis. He contacted her to do a fund raiser, creating the #DoItForDoomy campaign, selling his apparel while his wife, Tonja, sold a special edition nail polish under her Steel City Reflections banner for the same cause.
Jim and Tonja immersed themselves in using their powers for good for the indie scene in their own backyard after the original #DoItForDoomy campaign ended (but never forgetting sweet Joanna). There was a need for support for other indie business owners, and they provided as much as they could, using their own brands collectively as Vagabond Saints to help as much as possible.
They’ve built up a small base of loyal fans, and they do quality work. After years of working small, they’re finally ready to grow.
But what happens when the guy who helps everyone needs help?
Jim and Tonja started a crowd-funding campaign on Indiegogo in order to fund a brick and mortar storefront. Starting a crowd-funding campaign comes with its share of criticism, but there are few more deserving of a hand than the co-founders of Vagabond Saints.
“Working from our living room and laptop, we have done amazing things that most others wouldn’t or couldn’t have done. We have shown a passion that is boundless and it’s seen by those who have come to love what we do. We have sacrificed much in order to keep the dream alive. More than we want to share on social media.”
I am no stranger to the work of Jim and Tonja. I’m one of the ones who has come to love what they do. Jim has done multiple book covers for me and a commissioned drawing for my wife’s birthday (which she loved). I’ve purchased countless pieces from their apparel line. I’ve used products made by Steel City Reflections. The black metal soap is just plain awesome.
But enough about what has been put out (and purchased or received by me). I wanted to post this to tell you what I think about Jim and Tonja as people.
In a world where generosity and chivalry are almost dead, the Watts have them in spades. Other than helping me when I had nothing to give in return, Jim still offers assistance while I’m putting books together, simply because he and Tonja are both avid fans of Freedom Lane and my other work. They both regularly share my self-promotion, whether it’s links to my site or ebooks on Amazon. He even recently encouraged me to press on with my Desperately Seeking Shemale sequel when I was ready to hang it up (coming in 2017 thanks to Jim).
But the Watts do so much for others who aren’t me as well.
Their Facebook pages and Twitter feeds are full of promotions for other people’s art, writing, concerts, clothing… Etc. I can list stuff all day. Their magnanimous nature is a huge part of their charm. They support local businesses and those who run them. Jim regularly helps independent business owners by designing shirts for their staff, taking little profit for himself just to reinvest back into the he business. He puts his skills to work for the sake of others, and he doesn’t think twice about doing it.
“Vagabond Saints has helped out other local businesses in our area by underselling competition in order to give these businesses a break as they were just starting up and needed shirts for their staff and to sell to customers that would work as advertising.”
Lets go back the campaign he ran for Joanna AKA Doomy for a moment. Jim and Tonja sold shirts, hats, stickers, nail polish and other items to raise money. He played a huge part in putting together Valentines for Doomy, the book my own publishing company (which is just me) put out to raise money for the same cause. He saw a friend in need, and he jumped at the opportunity to do something. I’ll confess something I may not have admitted to before: I came up with the idea for Valentines for Doomy by copying what Jim had already done with his clothing line. There… I said it.
What else can I say about Jim and Tonja? Maybe I can bring up how their storefront will not only benefit themselves, but other independent businesses as well. Jim’s plan is to invite other merchants to have their brands sold in their store, giving them an opportunity they hadn’t had before. There’s only so far an Internet-only business can go, and the storefront will give friends of Vagabond Saints the chance to have their goods prominently displayed for all to see, giving customer the opportunity to get acquainted with products with more intimacy than they would be able to as just a flat picture on screen.
“We feel that we have done pretty damn good with what we had to do so far. We have worked hard. We have worked long. We have devoted everything we can to this. It is not like we are the owners of already established businesses that we are profiting from that are asking for donations to open yet another business.”
People have sold all sorts of stupid shit on crowd-funding sites. A woman crowd-funded her abortion. Hollywood types are constantly turning to crowd-funding to produce their movies when they’re so dumb a studio refuses to pick it up. A man on Twitter tried to raise money to fly across the country to meet his twitter crush. Someone even attempted to raise five grand just to publish a book of their horrible tweets for god’s sake!
What I’m trying to get at is this: Jim and Tonja are doing something great with Vagabond Saints, and nobody is more deserving of a little help. They are very modest, and I know it took a lot for them to turn to crowd-funding to raise funds for this endeavor. This post wasn’t about me begging for money for a cause that doesn’t deserve it. This was to help a friend who truly does deserve karma to take a look in his direction, giving him the chance to get himself, as well as for those he’ll help in the future, to the next level.
Jim is about dissidence, helping the underdog, toppling the corporations, and busting up cliques in the community. Jim and Tonja are righteous rebels; the Robin Hoods of their community. The skill is there. The drive is there. The product is there. The unbridled support for others is there.
“I cannot stress enough that the Vagabond Saints store isn’t just for us. It’s for our customers. It’s for us to help our community (through activism, charities, and promoting local economy). It’s for us to be able to give a hand to other small businesses like ourselves who can’t seem to get their foot (well, products) into local stores. Many of you have heard us say ‘What’s the point of making it to the top of we are there alone?’ That’s why we support our friends so they can come to the top with us.”
All Jim, Tonja, and Vagabond Saints need is a little help. Click the link below to view their campaign. Even if you can’t contribute, sharing this post or their campaign page is a huge help.