Many people love to express their personality with bumper stickers, t-shirts, and other merchandise. Atheists are no different. But where does one get such merchandise? One place to get such items is through a Colorado Springs company, EvolveFISH.
The seeds of the company began in 1992 when some freethinkers in the area wanted a way to counter groups such as Focus on the Family, who had been coming into the city. One of those freethinkers, Gary Betchan, produced bumper stickers stating: “Focus on your own damn family.” Then the company incorporated as FISH, Freethinkers in Service of Humanity, and their merchandise expanded.
The company’s namesake came about when a client wanted a Jesus fish holding a tool, such as a scalpel. But such a tool could be considered a weapon, and was hard to accurately render on an emblem. After a brainstorming session, they decided to use a monkey wench instead, an unambiguous tool, and obvious to anyone looking at it.
The business quickly took over the basement, and when Betchan's wife Rebecca lost her job, she became the manager. They advertized in magazines such as Discover and Mother Jones, reaching an ever-wider audience of freethinkers and atheists. Fifteen years after its inception, the business became profitable enough for both of them to work full time. Today they bring in about $400,000 in sales. EvolveFISH is a small company, with three to five full-time employees and two to three part-time employees. Betchan says they get a lot of holiday orders, a time when freethinkers often want to express their non-religious viewpoint. But he’s also taken orders from religious people wanting to give their secular relatives or friends gifts. He says that it’s a changing environment, where believers and non-believers are becoming more tolerant of each other. EvolveFISH does business with denominations such as Unitarian Universalists. They’ve sold to Catholic College, which uses their merchandise to educate nuns to be more tolerant of non-believers. They often contact meet-up groups and other social organizations to sell and network. Not one to focus solely on profits, the company donates to public and freethinker causes. Frequently EvolveFISH attends secular conventions.
For more information and merchandise, visit www.evolvefish.com.