When you tell your story, people get behind you - Mikey
Any Means Necessary is more than a brand to us. It’s also a philosophy and mantra that’s shaped the life and career we lead, and taken us from scrappy pups in poverty, to owning a million dollar plus clothing company, with no signs of slowing down. We’ve been through the ringer physically, emotionally, and many times mentally, and faced as many pitfalls as you can face as a small business, but we’re nothing if not resilient, and if life’s taught us anything, freedom from conformity always comes with a price, but it’s one we’ve been more than willing to pay time and time again, especially considering
where its allowed us to stand today. And throughout the journey, along with the constant rocks of support that are our partners, children, and families, we have an increasing clan of global hyenas, supporting our brand, driving us on, and showing the world that the nonconformists will take their place at the table, for which they will always have our eternal gratitude. And if you’ve ever wanted to look beyond the brand, and see what forged Any Means Necessary from the inside out, well perhaps this piece will help.
When metal met hip-hop (rise of the hyena lords)
Michael Nemitz and Shawn Coss first met at a rock concert just over a decade ago, where Shawn was set up, selling some of his art pieces. At the time, Mikey was in the process of recording a hip-hop album, and taken by Shawn’s work, reached out in regards to commissioning an album cover. It would lead to an online friendship, as well as further questioning about getting Shawn’s art onto clothing, a notion which Shawn wasn’t initially very keen on, especially as such business ventures in the past hadn’t exactly panned out well. But Mikey pressed on, and with Shawn eventually agreeing, they scraped together $200 to get 50 T-shirts printed up, all which would sell out in one show, leaving the pair $600 for their troubles. It was clear to them that there was something there, and that maybe they really could make something out of this. And so in a 8 x 8 basement, Any Means Necessary became exactly that thing.
Here the brand would stay, chipping away at sales, building an online presence, and slowly gaining traction, as two creators learnt the ins and outs of business on the fly, all whilst trying to hold down other jobs, a balancing act that would roll on for many, many moons, all up until 2016, when things would never quite be the same again. Shawn’s Inktober mental health series exploded, not just bringing mass awareness to himself, but also the brand, and over the next year, a new influx of fans and orders would flood in, allowing the company to not only upgrade premises to a 400 x 400 foot office, but also start to bring in consultancy and financial help. Things ticked away nicely over the next
few years, all up until the global pandemic hit, and suddenly tactics once again had to be changed. Collaborations fell through, and issues naturally arose through the supply chains and logistics, but proving the resilient nature of the pair, the brand pushed on, and even took a black humored swipe at the pandemic through themed merchandise and masks. It moved on through the global woes and hit back with fresh ideas, a well thought out Black Friday drop, and new product lines (puzzles, blankets, and more), even taking out a line of credit to help fund it, as well as social media advertising, further gaining presence, followers, and enough return to pay back the credit in full. They came
through it stronger than ever, and by the tail end of 2020 had moved once more into their current 3000 x 3000 foot Bounce warehouse. They had the space to be creative, to set up a showroom, and to expand like they’d never had a chance to previously. By 2021 Shawn had left nursing behind, and now both he and Mikey were held by nothing bar their own brand.
The brand continues to cement it’s image in a mélange of dark art, pop culture, urban street style, twisted humor, and of course the thing that it is so often associated with, mental health awareness, both a personal battleground of its creators, but also a world around them, through those close by, or through Shawn’s experiences as a nurse. It has led to recognition in many sufferers and the health care professionals who help battle such afflictions on a daily basis, and help to highlight conditions not often looked upon by the wider society, putting them front and center on the brand’s merchandise. It has gone beyond its boundaries, and has been involved in Kickstarter campaigns, tie-ins, and collaborations (both as AMN and Shawn solo) with the likes of SUSU, Jamie Koala, Chalk Line, and recently, having some of their designs now sold by Zumiez, their first step into wholesale territory. Not bad for a $200 punt.
The Hyena Lords
Michael ‘Mikey Lowlife’ Nemitz (co-owner / founder)
Mikey grew up in Goodyear Heights Ohio, but moved with his family to Florida as a teen. Once graduated at 17 he moved back to Akron Ohio alone, essentially homeless, and living with friends until he landed his cable engineering job at Time-Warner, a job held until a corporate shakeup in 2017, where Mikey was made redundant. He’d already got to grips with buying and selling clothing online to make ends meet, but along with Any Means Necessary, it’s growing sales, and the support of his family, he was able to finally take the big leap and leave the corporate world behind, vowing never to be a puppet of
one again. He’s since helped shape the brand, taking it into new territories, both with its variety of goods, but also partnership deals, helping to secure its financial future, and making Any Means Necessary a global name.
Shawn Coss (co-owner / founder / artist)
Shawn was born in England whilst his Father was stationed there during his time in the Army, but moved back to America with his family when the base closed down. They ended up in West Virginia where money was tight, but eventually moved to Akron where they took over a relative’s janitorial business. Much like his parents, Shawn struggled to make ends meet, working long days in a factory, as a screen printer, and a pizza delivery guy. He would move into the nursing field, seeing it as a more stable way to support his wife and two young daughters, which would become a job he held part time for many years. Much like Mikey, Shawn was driven, stubborn, loyal, and passionate in equal
measure, wanting to prove himself and to make those around him feel proud. A legacy that his kids could look up to. He would go on to working with Cyanide & Happiness as one of their artists, having his work featured in the Stephen King film Cell, appearing at comic-cons, and even designing album covers for Seether (Poison the Parish, and Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum).
But when Inktober 2016 hit, Shawn’s Mental Health awareness pieces gained him massive recognition, a swathe of new Any Means Necessary fans, as
well as organizations such as Buzzfeed, and The Huffington Post reaching out to him, securing his name as a dark artist worth paying attention to. His hunger though has never been sated, and along with Mikey has helped drive the brand into as many places as it can possibly go, never missing a financial trick if one’s there to be learnt.
The Hyena. More than a logo.
And this leads us finally to the symbol that we call our own. The hyena. The great misunderstood and much maligned beast that so often lives in the shadow of the lion. A scrappy little outcast, seen as sneaky and weak, but one that has a bite that only a fool would ignore. It’s loyal to its own, opportunistic in its goals, laughs at the world, and one of nature's fiercest survivors. It’ll play the long game and take its rewards through any means necessary. And whilst the alphas jostle for their meal, the hyena will take what is theirs when those backs are turned. So when people ask us why we’d rather be the hyena...
Better to be a well fed outcast than a hungry king