In February 2008, Harrons bought Street Logos by Tristan Manco. A significant book, which led to a series of creative events. Already a part-time graphic designer, with a passion for art and skateboarding he started out by sketching random logos, planning on designing t-shirts for himself only. Coming up with the SHhhh! speech bubble logo, relating to his initials, S.H, without completely revealing Harrons identity, he created an aura of mystery and intrigue around his unique brand. The empty speech bubble stems from suggesting that ‘you can say anything’. An oxymoron of a concept, making people question what SHhhh! was all about.
His friends were the first to catch onto the act and demanded to know where his t-shirts were from. Soon after, he was taking orders of sizes and designs at the local skateboarding park in Yarmouth. Moving onto a printing shop where a designer was needed, he started selling more and more.
Taking the plunge as an 18-year-old student still at Great Yarmouth College, he entered a local Dragon’s Den competition and won, scoring £500 to start up a business. Using the money to launch the website, www.shhhh.co.uk and online store, whilst at the same time taking a business course at Business Link, he was well on his way to getting the brand name out there.
Moving to Norwich to study at Norwich University College of the Arts in 2009, Harrons began recruiting after dropping out. A classic uni dropout? Not quite, it was in fact one of the best steps he took in his burgeoning career.
From here he built a platform in which emerging artists in the area could get their work recognised. Well-known names such as Stephen Mellor have collaborated for the on-going project, creating designs for his t-shirts.
The project in question: The 11 Artists Project; which launched towards the end of 2010 entailed showcasing the work of 11 artists for 11 months, displaying their flair of design at an exhibit each month. Thus, bringing attention to artists that were formerly lesser known around Norwich. The outcome? An outlet of creativity let loose and an even wider fanbase for The SHhhh! Collective.
A mixture of collages, cut-out images and messy drawing applications with a smatter of Photoshop thrown into the t-shirt designs by the artists and Harrons himself, of course the exhibits were just as crazily bohemian as the illustrators. T-shirts displayed in a conventional gallery, you ask? No; not so often. Shop windows, music festivals, bars and clubs and once, an attempt to present the t-shirts in an ice-cream van! Seeking out their customer profile like pros, they were getting the exposure of their products out to their client base down to a T.
Making SHhhh! posters, stickers, cards, sticks of rock (yes!) and creating club nights and circulating them around town has created a buzz that has reached global status. Not only do Bristol and London want to stock SHhhh! but across the vast ocean, South Africa and the US have also shown a keen interest. With a network of friends that model, DJ, promote and design for The SHhhh! Collective, it’s no wonder that Harrons’ brand is in demand from all corners of the world, with a team of enthusiasts right behind him every step of the way.
Now selling a wider range of clothing wear as time has gone on, the logo firmly intact. The Becah London gallery will be presenting the t-shirts and special edition LTD tees. Additionally, SHhhh! stocking fillers will be available, ensuring that the festive fanatics get their fix of SHhhh!
Revealing the upcoming plans for next year, January is set to be a busy month as Harrons plans to launch a competition to find 11 up-and-coming artists worldwide to design for SHhhh!, scouting universities in particular. So, keep an eye out on that university intranet.
The Lab is also a project in the pipeline that hits in 2012, a sub-brand of SHhhh! that will look at incorporating high-end fashion with some limited edition pieces.
Sam Harrons mentioned that his dream is to own The SHhhh! Collective boutique in every major city. Considering what he has achieved so far, that dream doesn’t seem like such a whisper in the night.
22nd December 2011- 8th January 2012
Written by Avneet Takhar