(Originally posted April 6, 2012)
Our fifth and final (for now) round of introductions is reserved for the leader of the Choke team, a Mr. Jeffery Gonzales. You can find Jeff at the print shop pretty much seven days a week. His days are filled with responding to emails, placing orders, coordinating print jobs, designing shirts, talking to customers- even working on his side project, Towne9. Oh yeah, he also prints a few hundred shirts each day. Somehow he found a spare 35 seconds to sit down with us and share his secrets to success.
How/when did you first hear about Choke?
I first heard of Choke sitting at our dining room table in our apartment in Fremont. We were desperately trying to come up with a name for this crazy little t-shirt company that we were starting and it had been several days of throwing names back and forth. The honest story, is that I saw an ad online for the movie Choke, based on the book of the same name. And I suggested “Choke” to Matt. He, of course, loved it. I had a really hard time with the name for a long time. It was WAY to edgy for me. But it’s definitely grown on me. It’s memorable. And I love that it gets a reaction out of people. I also love when people try to pronounce it differently. As if it’s French… Cho-kay. Really?
Where did you work before Choke? How long were you there?
Before Choke I worked at Starbucks for 8 years. First in the stores, then in payroll at their corporate headquarters.
How does working at Choke compare to working at your last job?
I can’t really compare Starbucks and Choke. I know that I’ve brought with me a lot of the values that Starbucks tries to instill in its’ employees: a focus on customer service, building a great work environment and providing the best product in your field. One day I woke up and instead of being a business manager, I was a business owner. It’s a very different feeling when the decisions that you make effect your personal income and you’re budgeting on start up capitol and growing, instead of (what seems like) an endless amount of money.
What is your favorite type of shirt?
I like all of the t-shirt blends that we use… but I’m a sucker for a hoodie. A flex fleece zip up hoodie. Right now I’m really into the purple one I have, but I’m afraid that it’s a little too Beiber. If it was up to me I wouldn’t own one of every color.
What is the best part of working at Choke?
The best part about working at Choke is the fact that I go to work everyday and I help grow something that I am fully invested in. When we used to do the weekend markets all year round we used to see our people wearing out tees and hoodies all the time, but now that we’ve grown to more of a wholesaler it’s pretty amazing to walk into a shop and see our stuff hanging on a rack or in a window. I also really love that I’ve built some amazing relationships… with customers and with the guys at the shop.
When not at Choke what else do you like to do?
Oh man, things have been so busy lately that it’s hard to remember what else I like doing. I feel like I work 24/7. But I love a good movie.
What’s your favorite Choke Shirt Co. design? Why?
My favorite Choke design right now is “Hot Rhino”. The print looks really great on the gold, but I also like it on the gray. I’m really into vintage art prints right now and I think it’s very reminiscent of that style. I’m also excited to announce a partnership in the next couple of weeks through the sales of the shirt. Shhhhh…
If you got to the shop first and got to pick the Pandora station for the day, which one would you choose? Which station can't you stand?
I’m a big fan of the Tegan and Sara station, or Deadmau5. I can’t stand reggae or the hardcore rap. No one wants to hear about cuss words and p**** all day long.