Today we’d like to introduce you to Pierre Mosley.
Pierre, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
My regular grind is as a ground controller at Sky Harbor for American Airlines. In short, when the air traffic controllers get the AA flights on the ground and prior to the AA flights taxiing on to the tarmac we’re in charge. We are operations plus. It’s very structured, boxed and stressful at times. It has gotten to the point some days where it gets me to my wits end. So, on my days off I would escape by dressing in beach attire and imagine that I was living in a beach house. I started remodeling the house to look like a beach house, lol. When it came time to redo the landscaping I searched online for tikis. I found them available in the coastal states of Florida, California and Hawaii. I thought the prices for tikis plus shipping to the valley weren’t worth the investment. As a kid I spent as much time drawing as I did watching cartoons and playing outside. When I got older I did a stint in stand up comedy. I’m a former Arizona State Champion on Showtime’s Search for the Funniest Person in America that took place in the 80’s. Ellen DeGeneres won it all that year. With that creative confidence behind me I thought to myself, I’m artistic and there’s no shortage of palm trees in the valley. I could carve my own tikis. After carving a few tikis and decorating my yard in a tropical theme I started hearing “where’d you get the tikis”? I didn’t give it much thought at the time, I only looked at it as a compliment to my creative escapism. As time passed our pool guy took notice. He asked if I had given thought to going into business. I always said “no, that I was just doing my own thing”, creating an escape to mentally getaway. Every time the pool guy saw me he would bring up the subject of me sharing my talent. He would say “I see lots of backyards with pools and I have some clients that would love to have some of your tikis”. I kept shrugging the idea off. As he saw my skills grow he eventually said “now you’re just being selfish. People in the valley should see what you’re doing”. Eventually I started chewing on what he had to say. If I wanted my backyard to be tropical then there must be a demand in the valley for what I was doing. Starting a business from scratch and building a brand with no startup capital wasn’t going to be easy. There’s a saying next to my computer keyboard that states “If you can dream it… you can achieve it”. With that inspirational quote and knowledge that I was artistic by nature I decided to throw my hat in the ring. I didn’t want to be second guessing myself for the rest of my life wondering what would’ve happened if.
Being artistic, I couldn’t just go out and hire another artist to create what was in my imagination. I could try to explain what I wanted for a logo but I knew that if I wanted to get it right down to the last detail then I had to create it myself. Going to night school, taking classes in web-design was one of the most motivating moves that I’ve ever made. Photoshop blew me away every week with what I learned. With Photoshop I was able to pull the thoughts outta my head and bring the Tiki Republic logo to life.
Tiki Republic is a utopian island that I created in my mind’s eye. The Tiki Republic logo was designed to grab viewer’s attention and pull them in. Like many Polynesian tikis, the face of the Tiki Republic logo is meant to scare away evil spirits. The eyes represent a volcanic eruption in the horizon. To me, each and every one of us is born with a talent. That talent is untapped energy. Once you figure out what that talent is and actually do something with it you’ll have as much power as a volcanic eruption. There’s no limit to what you can achieve.
The circling shark fins around the face represent your strength and those around you. Everyone knows that one shark is a badass! Thus, a pack of sharks are unstoppable. Whether in friendships or at work you’re surrounded by people. In friendships, if you surround yourself with the right group of people there’s no limit to the amount of happiness and inner peace that you can achieve. In a work environment, there’s no limit to what can be achieved if the right team of people are assembled. Be a badass in your own way and surround yourself with individuals that will make you shine inside as well as out.
The flames in front of the foliage represents life and a burning desire to do something more or something different. The tropical foliage represents the utopian island as well as a healthy island lifestyle. The island lifestyle is always a positive lifestyle.
Another web-design class required me to create a blog and link it to the website. I had never tried my hand at writing beyond comedy. Since I researched tikis and the Polynesian culture in my spare time I decided it would be easiest to write about tikis bars and Polynesian eateries. Easy assignment right! Now I blog about tiki bars and Polynesian eateries worldwide. Working for a major airline allows me to venture throughout the US as well as internationally, whenever I have time that is.
I get bored quickly so if whatever I’m working on becomes too easy I get frustrated. Because of this I’ve pushed myself to get better with each tiki. My first tiki was created swinging an axe for about 6 hours on a day off from work. Upon waking the next morning my arm was so sore that I could barely move it, lol. I started carving faces that didn’t mean anything. They were like the tikis from the 50’s surf scene. When carving faces became too easy and I wanted to be able to carve more and I tried my hand at carving full body tikis. That challenged me. I had no mentor nor knowledge on how to accomplish such a feat. I must’ve imagined for weeks how figure out every inch. With determination and a whole lotta scratin my head I went for it. Once I mastered carving full body tikis that too became too easy. I needed a new challenge. I started studying the South Pacific islands and noticed that there were a lot islands out there. Soon I was trying to bring to life the images that I had seen in pictures. Trying to carve a small image to scale was a challenge. With a lot of determination and patience I was able to create semi gods from different Polynesian islands. Now that I’ve mastered that skill, my goal now is to make sure that whatever I’m carving is to make sure it’s badass!
Currently, items for sale from Tiki Republic are tikis, a tiki mug, decals, hats, visors with t-shirts on the horizon. All items are for sale online, at various arts and crafts shows and festivals in the valley. The festivals that I’ve started becoming a staple at the Fountain Hills Arts and Crafts Festival held in November. The Arizona Aloha Festival held the second week in March every year at the Tempe Town Lake is also garnering me a reputation.
All the events that I participate in are posted on the Tiki Republic website and facebook page Tiki Republic by Pierre Mosley.
The ultimate goal for me is to make Tiki Republic a global brand competing alongside brands like Billabong, Volcom, RVCA etc. People chuckle when I say that as if it’s too big a dream. They don’t know my motivation, determination nor business plan. The internet also allows me to market the brand around the globe. So far I have sells in Canada, Germany, France, Australia and of course the US.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
The landscape for operating a business is changing. Brick and mortar is fading away as more and more people are shopping online. Advertising could be costly and not always affective in getting customers to spend their hard earned dollars. My struggles have been that not that many valley residents know that I’m in business. For that reason, most of my sales are at arts and crafts festivals. Figuring out how become known to valley residents that own homes and want to decorate their backyards in a tropical or Polynesian style is one of my challenges. One way of solving that is to carve quality tikis that customers will be proud to own. Word of mouth and posting regularly on a variety of social media sites is getting the Tiki Republic name known. When people notice my booth at festivals I regularly hear “I’ve been looking for a business like yours for years”. I tell them “I’m here now”.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Tiki Republic – what should we know?
I’m becoming known for being detail oriented. I nitpick details like crazy sometimes. It eventually shows in the finished work. I’m setting Tiki Republic apart by starting to specialize in tikis from the different Polynesian islands in the South Pacific. Most tikis are blank on the backside. I’ve started carving Polynesian tribal designs on the back of the tikis. I translate the meaning so viewers can understand that particular Polynesian culture more. It gives more meaning to the tikis while paying respect to the Polynesian culture. If the tiki is of a particular semi god or has a specific meaning I explain that as well on the Tiki Republic website listing and on the Facebook page Tiki Republic by Pierre Mosley.
I also carve retro tikis from the 50’s-60’s that are reminiscent of that era. They have no meaning but sell just as well all the others.
When you look back, what are you most proud of?
Since I’ve started focusing more and continually pushing myself, my skill level has gone through the roof. It’s gotten to the point that I can’t believe that I’ve carved some of the tikis that I’ve created.
I love it when I hear customers say “that’s badass!” or “that’s what a tiki should look like!” I’m especially proud of my first year at the the Arizona Aloha Festival. A tall muscular Polynesian bruda (brother) walked up to my booth and just stared in my booth. He didn’t say a word, just crossed his arms and stared. Some Polynesians are very proud of their culture, of which they should be, and don’t like main landers (people from the main land aka US) dabbing into their culture. I understand this point of view and respect it. Since I study the Polynesian culture in my free I knew this encounter was gonna happen sooner than later. After about 40 seconds of silence, I finally broke the ice and asked this giant of a man if there were anything questions that I could answer. He responded that he was a radio dj from Las Vegas (Vegas has the largest population of Polynesians in the US). He then proceeded to tell me that he appreciated me doing my homework because it showed in my work. He then asked me if it was okay to spread the Tiki Republic name around Las Vegas with businesses and people with money. I was like, “are you kidding me, tell everybody”, lol. We shook hands and I haven’t looked back since.
- Website: www.tikirepublic.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: Tiki Republic
- Facebook: Tiki Republic by Pierre Mosley
- Twitter: Tiki Republic
- Other: Pinterest: Tiki Republic
Byron Mosley of Shrunken head Photography