When We Were Kids
Parker and I met in grade 6 in a gymnastics gym. He had an old rectangular sundance trampoline in his yard at home so we became friends. In grade 8 we ended up in the same high school where we met Ryker. YouTube and Facebook and the internet as we know didn’t really exist yet so our main source of entertainment was watching Strongbad and Jackass. Jackass was just gaining popularity and at the age of 14 we pretty much idolized it. My uncle had a sony handycam that recorded onto Hi8 tapes that I learned how to use and Dumbass was born. I learned how to edit on the earliest versions of Adobe Premiere and cut together the clips of us jumping out of shopping carts and chugging gallons of milk. We made two 1 hour long videos that we sold on CDs to our friends in school for $5 a pop. We also started using every opportunity of a school project to make a video. We would convince the teachers to let us make a video rather than making a poster board or writing an essay and then we would get to show the video to the entire class as our presentation. We even made videos for the school assembly. There are literally over 40 videos that we made in high school from grades 8 though 12. Maybe one day in the future some of them will see the light of the internet.
After high school we all went to different universities and worked different jobs, so making videos for fun got put on hold. Ryker went to UVIC and Parker and I stayed in Vancouver though at different schools. We visited him frequently and that is where we met Max who is originally from Calgary. Four years later, all educated and proper the three of us got a place together downtown Vancouver. Ryker was working as a DJ and Parker as a bartender. I got a job doing online marketing at a digital agency. Our schedules were opposite of each other, I worked 9-5 and they worked night club hours. But once a week we would plan a day where we would go to the diving boards and then for all you can eat sushi. We called it Sunday Funday.
Starting a YouTube Channel
I uploaded the High on Life dance from work in June 2011 along with a bunch of other old school clips that we had. Never thinking much of it as these were everyday shenanigans. A month later by some fluke it went viral, it hit the front pages of reddit, 9gag and break. It got re-uploaded on another channel and got more views there than on ours. Ray William Johnson featured it in one of his videos. Unfortunately since our channel was brand new and wasn’t structured properly we didn’t get much traffic or credit from everyone who shared it. But either way this was a nudge from the universe to start making videos again. I got my first DSLR, a Canon 60D with a kit 18-200 lens. And we started making videos again just for the fun of it.
Letting Go and Going Traveling
In January of 2012, six months after starting the channel, we decided to go traveling. It was something all three of us had always wanted to do but never got a chance, going to university straight out of high school and then to full time work after university. But we had worked for over a year and saved up about 10k each. We quit our jobs, some of us our girlfriends, gave up our lease and got a one way ticket to India. The original plan was to go to Australia but our friend Arjun invited us to a wedding in India so we started there. Needless to say in 7 months of travel we never made it to Australia. From India we went to SE Asia, Thailand where Max flew in and joined us on our trip, then Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos from there to Ukraine where we visited my relatives. By the time we got to Europe we got linked up with Contiki Holidays through Hey Nadine who is a YouTuber that went to university with Ryker. She basically travels the world and v-logs her adventures. We went on a press trip to Budapest, Vienna and Prague followed by a consumer trip to the Greek Islands. After these Contiki tours we spent a week in Italy before flying back home completely broke, exhausted and with a million stories to tell. Here once again we all went in different directions. Max flew back home to Calgary, Ryker ended up going to Australia to stay with a friend and Parker and I moved back in with our parents. I spent the next 4 months editing and uploading all of the pictures and videos from our trip and saving up some money.
In November 2012 Parker and I moved into a Penthouse downtown that was entirely out of our means financially and was way too big for just the two of us. Two weeks later Max made the move to Vancouver and joined us. Two months after that Ryker came back to Canada and moved in also.
Starting a Clothing Line
It was around February 2013 that we started taking all of this seriously. We launched our clothing site that month and people were actually buying stuff! High On Life LogoIt was about 8 months prior that we made our first samples while in Thailand. I whipped up the logo and the first design in a couple of hours at a desk in a hostel we were staying at and we made a hundred tanks that we mainly gave out to our friends. But we had made the contact that I emailed 8 months later when we launched the website highonlife.co For the next 12 months this was a huuuge focus. We grew our selection from one tanktop to over 400 different product variations. At the beginning we had a sweatshop line at our house where we would invite friends over, order pizza and package orders for hours on end. Thankfully now everything flows much smoother, we have a fulfillment house that integrates with the website. The ordering process is ironed out and the structure of a business is purring along nicely. In May 2013 we got to go on another Contiki tour to South America, where we saw some amazing looking alpaca hoodies and accessories that we ended up bringing here. Five months later I was in Nepal where I found some Himalayan wool sweaters and accessories that I liked and we started making those too. Through travel we get to see styles and products typically not offered in North America and it has been a lot of fun bringing them here based on our personal tastes and style.
Becoming a Business
Around the same time that we started the clothing line we also started throwing parties in our home town Vancouver. Ryker having worked as a DJ for several years had a lot of ties in the night life world. Combined with the growth of our overall brand and reach we have started throwing events, one offs and taking on weekly nights as a promotional company with a huge emphasis on the production and entertainment of the night. We have thrown themed parties such as Circus and Pillow Fight.
In 2013 we got a chance to meet a lot of YouTubers and do some fun collaborations. Our energies have been going in several directions at once, traveling, building a clothing business, an entertainment business and making YouTube videos. Our team has grown since then also. Our friend Ben has come on board to help out with clothing and entertainment. Our friend Arjun has come traveling with us to India and South America. And others have gotten involved at different degrees. Max unfortunately went corporate and has chosen the stable life of a commercial real estate tax analyst, but we love him none the less and accept his involvement whenever he is willing.
Moving forward you can expect to see a lot more emphasis on our YouTube channel. Making videos is the heart of everything we do and it’s the most fun we have. We lost sight of that for a minute while working on all these other projects but our priorities are clear now and all things are in place for us to keep doing what we love.