Today we’d like to introduce you to William Tyree.
Thanks for sharing your story with us William. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
For Christmas, in 2016 my girlfriend, Kelly, made me an American Flag out of fire hose. We built a frame for it and posted a photo of it on Facebook. Almost immediately I got messages from people asking if we would make them one. So that’s what we did. We started making flags for people. Our first flags were a learning process of how to construct them and make them look great.
We’ve refined that process over the last year or so and we are really happy with the product we turn out.
We also branched into making wood flags of different sizes and designs. We torch the wood in all of our wood flags so they get a really rugged but beautiful look. We make traditional red, white, & blue flags. We also make “thin red line” and “thin blue line” flags for our Firefighters and Police. Some of the coolest flags we’ve done feature military logos and designs in the flag. We’ve had really great feedback, and it’s been awesome so far.
We’ve reached customers all the way out to L.A. and Florida. We will be moving outside of the city this spring to increase our workspace and hopefully grow the business. I have a pipe dream idea to provide free flags to Gold Star Families (families who have had someone killed in action) for free. We’re early in our growth still and have a few things to work out, but it would be awesome to be able to do that one day.
We started as G.I. jake’s customs but rebranded recently to G.I. Jake’s flag Co to draw more search traffic.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Our biggest struggle has been space. We live in an apartment in Roslindale. Initially, we were making everything in our (extremely small) basement and outside when the weather was good. We didn’t anticipate this taking off the way it has, and we were very weather dependent with that as our workspace.
A few months ago a good friend of mine who I served in the Army with offered to let me use part of his garage in Burlington. His name is Bobby Colliton and he founded the Skate for the 22 Foundation whose primary mission is to help end Veteran suicide using the sport of hockey as a platform. He’s been extremely successful. I would recommend checking out his foundation.
Its a 501c3 charity and is doing amazing things for the Veteran community, www.skateforthe22.com — So, I’ve been working out of his garage for the past few months and in return, I’ve donated flags to raffle off to bring money to the foundation. It’s been an enormous help. Right now we are building 6 feet by 10 feet flag that weighs around 200 pounds for a fire station in Florida that I wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise. In about a month we will be moving southwest of the city where we will have our own shop space. We cannot wait!
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about G.I. Jake’s Flag Co. – what should we know?
As you know we make flags. Mainly out of wood strips and or fire hose. We’ve done a few sets of cornhole boards and have had great feedback on those. We’ve also made a few different lamps out of antique fire extinguishers and old fire nozzles. The flags are really our specialty, but we hope to branch into other things in the future. I’d say we are known for our fire hose flags and our custom flags.
We are most proud of the quality we turn out. We take a lot of pride in what we make. We also tend to get a lot of public safety and military customers, so we take pride in making something they can be proud to display.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
Kelly Miklavcic — She is my girlfriend and the real reason this whole thing got started. She is also the artistic one who does a lot of the custom painting and design work.
Bobby Colliton — Like I mentioned, he has been instrumental in helping me grow my business. But aside from me, he is doing amazing things to help the Veteran Community. I will take any opportunity I can to promote his foundation and mission. Any Veteran who is interested should contact the foundation.
The Guys and Girls I work with — I don’t want to name drop the department I work on, but my coworkers were some of our first clients. They helped us refine our process and put out a great product.
- Website: gijakescustoms.etsy.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
- Instagram: @gijakesflagco
- Facebook: @gijakesflagco