For National Boss’s Day we’d like to take a moment and say thank you to our boss, Nathan Depew. We wanted to share with you just how awesome we think he is! Nathan is a one-of-a-kind guy. He is a hardworking, Christian man who leads by example. Nathan is humble, kind, contemplative, and fair. Every decision he makes is executed with thoughtful consideration of others. And, you’d be hard pressed to find someone that would disagree. We are thankful to work for a person, who is not only our boss, but our friend.
Last year, Nathan won Grove City Commerce’s Business Leader of the Year Award. In honor of Nathan, we’d like to share an article from the Grove City, PA Community Guide and Chamber Directory.
Way More than just a T
Perhaps no one is more surprised at the success and notoriety of his “World Famous” t-shirt business than the former baseball card wheeler-dealer, musician and home improvement man himself, Nathan Depew.
“It’s kind of crazy when you think about it,” said the soft-spoken president of Earth Sun Moon.
His is the familiar story of a right-brain thinker with a creative gene and maxed out credit cards, and a business born in a basement. That was 21 years ago. Today, Earth Sun Moon employs 170 and fills 300,000 orders annually, worldwide, but mostly in the United States and Canada. But, his was not an overnight success, and the journey hasn’t always been a straight line for Depew. “It’s been a long, expensive learning process.” he said. “But every step of the way taught me something important.”
Once he decided to start a t-shirt company, the next step was to come up with an idea for a signature design. Intrigued by a volume of botanical drawings he found in an old set of German encyclopedias his mother-in-law had, he based his first venture on a series of nature prints. While they weren’t hot sellers, they lead to a critical discovery – niche marketing. Depew carved out a segment of botanical prints that pictured mushrooms and promoted them to mycology clubs across the country. Mycologists have a fondness for fungi and they loved Depew’s shirts – he picked up 20 orders from club members.
He dabbled in unique packaging, including rolled up lightning bug shirts stuffed into custom made acrylic Mason jars complete with air holes in the screw-on-lids, and bird shirts nestled inside – what else – bird nests. “They might sound silly, but they got us on the map,” said Depew.
In spite of challenging market forces, an economic downturn and fierce competition, Earth Sun Moon has grown steadily, with distinct “growth spurts” along the way. Depew’s workforce is comprised of designers, printing press operators, embroiders, customer service specialists who staff its call center and a full-scale management team that includes finance, marketing and product development.
Earth Sun Moon’s product line has expanded far beyond the original nature prints, although a sense of the original concept runs through much of the company’s offerings, with the “Advice from” series ever popular among customers. The designs feature an artistic drawing – usually an animal, bird or plant – offering a tongue-in-cheek, yet meaningful approach to self-improvement. A large black bear wading through knee-deep water offers the following tips for better living:
• Live large
• Climb beyond your expectations
• When life gets hairy, grin and bear it
• Eat well
• Live with the seasons
• Take a good, long nap
• Look after your honey!
Along with outdoor activity and Star Wars themed designs, Earth Sun Moon also prints custom orders of small quantities on sweatshirts, hoodies, and hats as well as t-shirts, of course.
Depew’s management style reflects his personal guiding principles. “An employer’s primary concern should be what’s best for each person – which is easier said than done – but it is worth fighting for every day,” he said.
Earth Sun Moon is not a rules-based environment, and he believes that the best way to influence people’s behavior is to set a strong ethical example at the top level of leadership. “T-shirts are a means to an end – the primary reason the company exists is to serve the people that work here.”