No Bad Ideas: Investing in Indianapolis Culture

If you get out much at all in Indianapolis, chances are good you’ve seen or heard of a local hat company called No Bad Ideas. Based in Indianapolis, but available cross-country, the organization prides itself on supporting the counter culture; that is, the people who go against the grain, who innovate, and who constantly strive for creative self-expression.

Wanting to better understand No Bad Idea’s history (and pry for a sneak peak at what we can expect from them in the future), I recently spoke with Andy Moss, NBI’s founder. Read on to learn how he went from screen printing to hat vending and to find out exactly why his company is so invested in the culture of Indianapolis.

DJ What The Bleep sporting NBI gear at Altered Thurzdaze.

MOJO: Let’s talk history first. When/how was No Bad Ideas formed?
NBI: When I was really young I started working in a screen printing shop, but early on I realized that I was entrepreneurial. I partnered with a local beer distributor and started selling their beer-branded tshirts across the county, which through the years led to also selling hats. This was right around the time when the hat scene started to explode. I grew up watching MTV when everyone wore hats. It was part of your attitude. When I realized how successful the hat business could be, I left the beer distributor and decided to build a hat brand. Someone told me that “you can’t make a living selling hats.” This is where the name “No Bad Ideas” comes from. Don’t let someone tell you that you can’t do what you want to do.

MOJO: Describe NBI’s journey from concept to today’s thriving business with a presence in over 1,000 stores nationally. How did you do it?
NBI: My brother, Mike Moss, and I started attending these counter-culture fashion trade shows with our hat designs. We took the opportunity to network with vendors to where our hats were placed in hundreds of mom-and-pop stores around the US and Canada. At the same time, I am introduced to Hat World (which would soon become LIDS) and I take them some hats to see if they’d place them in their stores. By 2011 we positioned ourselves in over 700 LIDS stores across the country and over a thousand independent retailers across North America. We also have a team of independent reps who are out there working to place our hats in stores everywhere.

MOJO:What is your company’s mission and vision?
NBI: The mission is to make the kids happy with the cool shit and to continue inspiring the DIY mentality in everyone. I built my business on my own and I support anyone out there trying to do the same thing.

Chicago DJ Phenom wearing an NBI t-shirt.

MOJO: What principles and values govern your daily operations?
NBI: I’ve been in this business for more than 15 years. You must respect relationships, be honest and be creative to be successful.

MOJO: Let’s talk local. You’ve recently made a big splash in the local scene, yet you’ve been around for years. Where did this sudden focus and investment in the local scene come from?
NBI: I’m at a point in my business where I can give back to the community. I was introduced to people like Daniel Fahrner of SmallBox who connected us with the Broad Ripple Music Fest last year and Jason King, founder, who helps us get in front of hundreds of music-loving locals every Thursday night at The Mousetrap. We soon started working to support the Naptown Roller Girls, who has a similar mission to ours. I also built a great team that helps find new connections and opportunities for No Bad Ideas in Indianapolis.

A Naptown Roller Girl supporting NBI.

MOJO: You’ve got a strong interest in hip hop, EDM, and visual arts. What specifically is appealing to you about these scenes in Indianapolis that makes you want to support, sponsor, and invest in them?
NBI: Hip hop is where my heart is, but I support the DIY and independent mentality in everything. I am happy to support the younger counter-culture generation since they identify so well with the brand and the mission of No Bad Ideas.

MOJO: Do you hope to use your presence as a national brand to help put the spotlight on Indianapolis talent?
NBI: We unveiled a new website with a blog and we plan on using that space to help promote local talent on a national level.

MOJO: What are your plans for 2012?
NBI: We have many great events lined up through IndyMojo like Indy Pride and MojoStock, a fashion show in the Murphy Building in May and a few local hip-hop adventures that we are working on. Stay in touch on our Facebook page and Twitter for more information!