Cotton Bureau turns 10.

There’s a strangeness to sitting down to write an email celebrating 10 years of Cotton Bureau. It’s difficult, or maybe impossible, to express the gratitude you feel towards the people who have been a part of the last decade of your life… employees, customers, partners, investors, collaborators, family, friends.

It’s equally challenging to describe the process of getting to here, wherever here is. It doesn’t happen all at once — launching, growing, exploding, shrinking, crashing, recovering, pivoting, steadying, evolving, expanding — yet it’s all somehow compressed, like traveling through a wormhole to the future, watching the present stream by.

Just yesterday, we were enthusiastically sketching out plans for kickstarting pre-order t-shirt campaigns and pitching potential names on an 8' wide glass marker board. Now we’re… a company with that has shipped nearly a million stickers, pins, notebooks, pens, posters, hats, mugs, phone cases, sweatshirts, tank tops, buttons, pajamas, totes, coins, towels, socks, wristbands, pillows, glasses, etc. to more than 100,000 people? Someone explain this to me.

The history of Cotton Bureau contains many firsts. The first conversation. The first tweet. The first comp. The first commit. The first submission. The first sale. The first shirt off the presses. The first dollar in the bank. Some of those firsts happened in December 2012, in our first real office on Smallman St, when Cotton Bureau was conceived. Some happened in March of 2013 when we began inviting designers and made the first public announcement that we had a new project up our sleeve. The big one though, the birth of Cotton Bureau, happened 10 years ago today.

On June 12, 2013 an email six months in the making blipped across the internet to 652 inboxes announcing that Cotton Bureau — a curated, crowd-funded t-shirt community for designers — was open for business. Some of you opened that email (489 if the stats are to be believed). Thank you for sticking around, and for telling a few of your friends about us too. Today’s anniversary email will be viewed by a humbling multiple of that number.

It’s risky and likely foolish to look to us for lessons on how to run a business. We’ve made mistakes, plenty of which could have and should have meant the end. Still, there is something to be said for showing up, doing the work, and enduring. Good things happen when you care.

Having now witnessed many companies come and go (including more than a few that we admired deeply), we’re grateful for the opportunity to continue working with tremendous designers and communities. It is a privilege. The people we’ve teamed up with that we never dreamed would answer our emails is too long to list, and singling any of them out feels wrong. Whatever success we have had is due in large part to their generous participation.

Many people have been thanked privately, but I would like to extend a special thank you to friend, co-founder, and designer emeritus Jay Fanelli. There would not be a Cotton Bureau without you.

And now for the cake and presents. It wouldn’t be a birthday if we didn’t have some fun.

First of all, get free shipping on all products using the code HBDCB10 at checkout for the next 10 days. (Fine print: free shipping for U.S. only, 50% off international shipping.)

Second, we have several brand new Cotton Bureau designs to share, including two limited time only pre-order campaigns.

There’s our 10th Birthday Logo Tee, designed by our good friend Virginia Poltrack. The classic Cotton Bureau logo is aged and a little overgrown now, but it feels like home.

We also have a special felt appliqué logo sweatshirt in mauve, heather navy, and dark grey heather. Perfect for evening fires and staying inside all year long.

As we are expanding our on demand offerings, we put together a Cotton Bureau logo dad hat and logo tote. We’ve also got Cotton Bureau notebooks for good measure.

Finally, and this is the big one, we have a very special 10th birthday product… Cotton Bureau Metal Cards. A fantastic souvenir for anyone who loves Cotton Bureau + free shipping on all Cotton Bureau orders for a year. It’s a steal. (Order quickly. These cards are sequentially numbered to 200 and extremely limited edition.)

Weighing in at pleasingly hefty 27g, these precisely milled stainless steel cards measure 89mm x 50mm x 1mm with 5mm smoothly radiused edges. The front features the Cotton Bureau badge and wordmark along with the year 2023 A.D. in Roman numerals, while the obverse proudly displays your exclusive serial number and our heartfelt appreciation for your support as a friend of Cotton Bureau.

Tongue-in-cheek message on the back notwithstanding, every Cotton Bureau Metal card includes free shipping (good for 12 months from the date of purchase) as well as automatic entry into any/all Cotton Bureau giveaways for one year, including our 10th birthday celebration.

Your Cotton Bureau Metal Card and associated benefits are renewable annually. Reserved for the truly committed, the Cotton Bureau Metal Card is a weighty symbol of your patronage. Who knows what other good things may come to those who possess one.

If that wasn’t enough, there are prizes. All orders in the next 10 days using the code HBDCB10 are eligible to win one of the following:

A MICRO Soft Shell wallet from slimfold.

MagLock sunglasses from Distil Union.

A limited edition iridescent purple Mark One pen from Studio Neat.

A pair of Amber Rocks Glasses from Manual.

A Pen Type-C from CW & T.

And the grand prize, a Time Since Launch from our friends at CW & T. What better way to celebrate a milestone of your own in the future.

If you’d like to get in on the prizes without purchasing, please send a birthday card to us. We promise we’ll read them all.

Cotton Bureau
6425 Living Pl
Unit 200
Pittsburgh, PA 15206

Thank you all for your support. Here’s to another five, 10, 15, or 20 years of Cotton Bureau.