Who We Are
Blackhare is a creative partnership between Monica and Nick (who also happen to be married). Nick is a self taught illustrator, photographer, and screen printer, as well as a decorated Canadian glass artist (check him out in this House and Home feature). Monica is a research scientist with a background in education. Her work has helped her grow an entrepreneurial spirit and a skillset that has come in handy for wearing all the other hats for Blackhare.
Blackhare started out as a side-hustle in 2017. The idea was sparked by the encouragement of Nick's good friend Arounna (the amazing creator behind Bookhou), who always told him he should do something with his illustrations. At the time, Nick was working as a workshop tech and designer at a glass studio in Toronto's east end. But finding studio space and time to create his own glass work outside of his day job was a challenge.
And because it is literally impossible to build a glass shop with a 2000 degree furnace in the basement of a tiny house in East York, Toronto, Nick finally decided to take Arounna up on her advice and try his hand at screen printing. So he set up a small four screen press in the downstairs laundry room and pulled his first ever print - the geometric fox. And boom - Blackhare was born.
Movin' On Up
For the first couple of years we sold our tees at arts markets in and around the city. They did really well, so we took the plunge into the world of e-commerce and set up a modest online shop.
Then the pandemic happened. Nick couldn't work at the glass studio, housing prices in the city (and soon everywhere) were going crazy, and we'd just had our second (and last) child. We made the choice, like so many others, to leave the city and buy a home on the east coast. As part of this big life transition we also wanted to try our hand at making Blackhare a full time gig.
So we made the move from our tiny home with its tiny basement to a beautiful house with an amazing little workshop out in Sackville, New Brunswick, where Nick grew up.
A definite studio upgrade!
Small-Scale and Artist-Run is Where it's At!
Fast forward a couple years, and we're busier than ever out here in the Canadian maritimes in our lovely blue workshop, learning how to grow our business online and develop our own unique aesthetic (a work in constant progress!)
Since our business is an extension of who we are, we will always care about staying true to our own values and vision in our work.
Part of how we are trying to do things differently will always include offering carbon-neutral shipping, using biodegradable mailers, and working on a super small-scale production model that minimizes textile waste as much as physically possible (keep scrolling for more on our commitments a little farther down!)
Yes, every tee is hand printed.
Our own hands touch every single tee we send out! Each tee is hand printed and set in our own studio by our trusty four-screen press.
Nick's first love has always been glassblowing. One of these days we might get around to incorporating some glasswork into our product offerings, but for now, the closest we've come is with the design on our leaf series tees.
We write all of our thank yous ourselves!
And we sometimes get some much-needed help during the busy season:) #familybiz!
Photography plays a big role in our design work. We like to lift elements from our land or cityscapes to create photorealistic images.
Weird is good!
We stay pretty aesthetically safe when it comes to graphic tee designs, though Nick's illustrations often wander into the weirdly wonderful and sometimes sinister (see our insta for more of these ;)
Ignorance is bliss
Here we are at Blackhare's official debut in December 2016, at a Christmas market in downtown Hamilton, ON. We were also about 12 days away from having our first baby.
We had NO idea what we were getting into with either of those things. Zero.
Birds are big
All four of bird designs are part of our best-selling line. Watch out for more avian-inspired designs in the future!
We've been through one major re-brand of our logo. And why Blackhare? It's basically just a play off White Rabbit. Plus Nick did a cool illustration of a hare that kind of sealed the deal.
Our Commitments to Social Responsibility
Before we became screen printers, Nick bought a concert tee that he wore at least three times a week for years. He loved that shirt. When we decided to launch Blackhare, we made it a priority to find that brand of tee - or one just like it - because it was so comfortable and kept its shape for so long. It was the durability and longevity of the tee, as well as how much Nick loved wearing it, that really appealed to us.
As designers and printers, we do all the decorative work on our tees by hand, but we don't sew our own garments. We know that a huge part of fashion waste comes from cheap garments that stretch out, fall apart, or wear away after a few washes. We wanted to make sure our tees could last for years and could form the the base of a core wardrobe that survived seasonal trends.
Now, we use the tees we do in our production - Bella and Canvas primarily, and Next Level as back up - because of our own experience wearing and loving the brands. We know they last. And we are also keeping track of these manufacturer's own increasing commitments to environmental and social responsibility (read more here).
We're not into greenwashing, and we're not about to say that finding ways to be as sustainable as we can isn't a real challenge. Although we're not where we'd ultimately like to be, we are committed to continually improving our business practices and processes as our resources and capacity allow in order to be as sustainable and socially and environmentally responsible as we can.
We would like to thank our amazing friends and family, a wonderfully supportive group of entrepreneurs and experts who helped us grow online (thank you Merchant Mastery!) and our amazing customer base who love to support artists and small-scale makers. You have all helped our vision come to life. THANK YOU!