Houstonian Tales: FYHA
You don’t have to look to hard to see how amazing our city is. Sure, it’s really easy to complain about the heat, get down because a band skipped us for Dallas or Austin, or even to be mad because we can’t seem to keep a healthy QB. But, in reality, Houston is pretty close to a utopia. We have more amazing restaurants in a city block than most places have in their zip code. We have every aspect of art and even some no one even thought of before. And, we have more amazing musicians than anywhere else in Texas. I recently realized that we can’t have a scene musically here; because there are too many great musicians in every genre here for a scene, as scenes are built on one sound. But, even so; I’ve met more amazing people in Houston than I did in Mexico City, NYC, and LA combined. Two of those amazing people, represent our city in their business practice everyday, while they use our city’s landscape as their store front. Of course, I’m speaking of the duo behind those inventive products that all carry the name, Fuck You, Houston’s Awesome; or FYHA. In just four short years, they’ve started a revolution behind getting the word out about where we live, even if it’s one shirt at a time.
So, that’s not 100% accurate, as they do have a webstore; but there’s a great chance that you’ve seen them around town. Having a booth at places like FPSF, Houston Beer Festival, and Paste: Untapped Festival; as well as bars like Grand Prize is how they’ve made their mark. When I met these two over at Poison Girl, I quickly realized how legit they were about Houston, and their love for the place they call home. To paint the picture, from the outside, the two business partners who met through mutual friends; don’t really look like they’d have much in common. Anthony Gassnola, a tattooed oil roughneck by day and Adria LeCrone, a manager at Brown Bag deli, quickly make a person realize that they’re 100% for real. When I asked them why they started this in the first place, Gassnola explained, “I was getting sick of hearing people talk shit about the city. We both felt like if something sucks, you can change it, so that’s what we’re trying to do. No one seems to support one another here, so we figured we’d represent the attitude that our city deserves.” And just as quick LeCrone chimes in, “and to be a part of something great involving the city. Everyone wants something immediate so they leave; but great cities take time and great people working to make it better.”
To trace this back to the beginning, in late 2009, early 2010; the duo decided to start printing shirts with ideas about Houston printed on them. As Gassnola explains, “it started out as a joke; to just put it out there and see what happened.” Before they knew it, they were printing shirts at a decent pace that’s transformed into anywhere from four to twenty new designs a year. “The number depends really on just us hanging out and bouncing ideas off of each other. We have anywhere from fifty to one hundred ideas ready to go, but we’ve been dropping them as strategically as possible,” according to LeCrone. This includes holiday and seasonal ideas, as well ideas that “rep” all the city stands for. The two agree that since they added the webstore in 2011, it only accounts for about fifty percent of their sales, and that people go crazy for their stuff at festivals. “People always ask where our store is,” explains LeCrone. “They don’t understand that for what we want to do, rent is high,” Gassnola says.
As far as operations go, both work from their homes in Montrose. “We try our best to have everything done in Houston that we can. Our shirt people, our hat guy, our stickers, and even the candles we had are all made here in Houston,” Gassnola says. Their product line has expanded away from just t-shirts into hats, stickers, buttons, and seasonal items like tanks in the Summer and hoodies and sweatshirts in the Winter. They’re on the verge of dropping another dope design that’s “so Houston,” and as someone who owns a shirt, I can attest to the care that’s in each product. When I asked about the printed inside, Gassnola explained, “ we wanted to do it right. It seemed stupid to say this is my company with another logo tag inside, so we printed our logo with our own care instructions.”
Currently, the pair is working on getting the products into local shops, but they’ve also gone a different route by using bars like Little Dipper, Grand Prize, OKRA, and Poison Girl to sell their stuff. “We liked the idea of people being able to go into a local bar and buy our stuff. That and I don’t think anyone else is currently doing something like that,” says Gassnola. The best part was how they explained their love of these people, alongside how appreciative they both were for the help. “Places like 8th Wonder and Poison Girl, the owners feel more like family than just friends or business owners,” gushes Gassnola. “We didn’t really know much about this before we started. But we’ve been lucky enough to have the help and support we needed to make it happen, from so many different people,” LeCrone says.
When we discussed the name, I could tell that both were in agreement on how misunderstood it was. “We hear it all the time, why do you use the word ‘fuck’ or couldn’t you use another word? But, it’s not about anything bad,” LeCrone explains. “It really pisses me off, cause’ I feel like some people completely miss the point. The name isn’t negative at all. I grew up in an Italian household, where the word “fuck” was as common as hello. It’s meant to mean that this is a great place, no matter what you think,” Gassnola passionately states.
And, he’s 100% correct in that sentiment. As far as places to live, Houston is awesome, and anyone who feels otherwise can either leave or never visit. As a guy who tries his best to “rep” our fine town, I’m in awe of these two, as you should be. If you’re going to a festival like Paste: Untapped this year, keep an eye out for their booth. They’ll be the ones with a crowd of people snatching up their products while they discuss how much they love our town. Like most Houstonians, they’re just another pair of amazing people trying to make the best of our city, even if it’s through one person, one shirt at a time.