BUTTE – Not all successful businesses begin with a dream – sometimes they just form out of necessity.
Jon Wick moved to Montana to become a teacher and never left. As life often does, that teaching job led him to meet his future wife and another teaching job in Asia.
A love of photography and design took him out of the classroom and into a volunteer position with the Butte-100 Mountain Bike race.
“Through the work I did there, people started to kind of understand that ‘oh, he can do websites, oh he can do fliers and he can do logo designs and graphic work’ and the ball kind of started to roll, really organically, just the things I enjoyed doing,” Wick said, founder of 5518 Designs.
Then came the realization that he could make some money with his designs, so he committed to applying for a business license.
“You know on those applications it says Name: Jon Wick. Business Name: And I go ‘oh my gosh, I didn’t even think about what I was going to call this.’ It’s just an adventure,” Wick said.
“So I got back from a mountain bike ride earlier in the day and my GPS was sitting right next to my keypad in my extra bedroom where I was doing all my work. Elevation 5,518. So that’s how we got that name.’
Today 5518 Designs is based in a building in uptown Butte.
Wick still designs for other people and for 5518 products which can be found in several other stores around Montana and Wick says the internet side of his business is strong.
“We’re having fun to start with and we’re doing some great stuff not just on our side of the business, but we’re trying to have an impact and a greater impact on the community of Butte,” Wick said.
That happens on a few levels, the store in uptown is one. It’s been restored from a once abandoned structure. The other way he’s impacting the community is by using community resources.
He designs the logos for the hats, but those hats are embroidered at another location. Shirt designs happen at 5518, but they are silk screened at yet another location.
One creative business helping several other businesses thrive, that in turn keeps Wick striving for new designs.
“We live in an incredible place. It’s just a fact. And there’s inspiration all around us and the more I do, the more inspired I get, the more I want to celebrate who we are and why we’re here,” he said.
The original concept may have come from 5,518 feet above sea level, but with that kind of passion, the sky is the limit.