If you’ve spent much extended time in Monterey, you might have noticed there aren’t too many young people who live here. This area gets the reputation for “newly wed and nearly dead” as it’s very popular for honeymooners & retirement. Most of the younger demographic here either wants to move away because they’ve grown up here, or they’re here for school, or they are involved in the large local military presence in some way. More often than not, when we meet new people, they ask if we’re military. It also comes as a big shock to most that we’re “so young” and manage to operate a successful business in this area. Then, that spawns the question of where we came from, how we got here, and what exactly it is that we do.
Our stories, both personal and professional, are pretty long-winded as they changed a lot in the early years. That young phase of life where we had nothing to lose and so we went whatever direction the wind seemed to take us at the time. That resulted in 9 moves across multiple states in just 5 years, living nomadic for a year, and finally settling here.
We’ve started a handful of businesses, before finally consolidating them to fly under the Barkis & Co. flag (our accountant likes us a lot more, now).
Way back in 2011, Austin and I met through business. I had just started my photography business, while Austin was in the stages of growing his first clothing company. His street-wear brand was 100% original and made its way into many stores across the PNW, and developed a large follower base. Ever since that first brush with success, he was hooked. A mutual friend connected us to collaborate, and while the business relationship was successful, we quickly realized there was much more to our relationship and we began dating in 2011. We decided to open a company together, offering graphic design and photography. After getting engaged in 2012, we got an opportunity to move to Southern California to work on a Hollywood film. Austin would be the designer, while I would be a lead photographer. It was an opportunity we didn’t want to pass up. We sold all our belongings, and moved there with 6 months of savings.
As most Hollywood films do, the film fell through. We were left to decide – Should we move back to Washington, or should we try and make something work down here? We chose the latter and didn’t look back. After taking ‘day jobs’ for a brief period to keep the lights on, we realized the draw for the entrepreneurial life was never going to go away. The first opportunity we had to strike out once more in our new location, we took it. Austin worked growing our first official venture in CA, “Pixel Domo” which… it was cute. We were 19 and young and had so much to prove. That evolved into Pixel Redefined, which we maintained for a handful of years. I was eventually able to quit my job and work with Austin again. The Pixel Redefined name traveled with us through our nomadic Teardrop USA days, and for about a year in Monterey.
After receiving multiple checks from clients who were unable to spell the business name, we decided to change it to something much shorter. Enter Zeeqk.
Zeeqk was derived from a slang term that was popular among surfers in the 70’s and 80’s (our core client demographic at the time). “Zeek/zeke” was what the surfers called the “nerds”. We liked that and decided to lean into our nerdy offerings. At the time, we were offering a lot of primarily technical services – website development, software development, app development, cloud hosting, etc.
I realized I was missing my photography a lot, and it wasn’t practical at the time to advertise both business services and personal photography services under the Zeeqk brand. Brides were looking for a certain look and feel, and I wanted to maintain that. Enter Barkis & Co Photography.
Zeeqk maintained for a few years as well, but became more creative in its service offerings. Barkis & Co Photography catered solely to lifestyle photography for a year or two, but began picking up more and more commercial clients from national brand names.
At some point in here, we opened our cloud hosting business, 1up Cloud, but that became a much bigger venture than we expected.
The social presence and overall refinement of Barkis & Co was really attractive to both of us, so in 2019, we decided to reincorporate at Barkis & Company Inc. and consolidate all our services/interests under this singular brand. We realized that, while we have a team behind us, most of our clients simply want to interface with us directly, and want our expansive knowledge and expertise on each project, whether it’s a wedding or taking a product to market.
No matter what we called ourselves, or what we said we offered, our central mission stayed entirely the same: help our clients in any way we knew how.
It’s been a challenging move, but it has been so fun, rewarding, and fulfilling. We love seeing our name on the building and growing our name within this town. It’s amazing to have the opportunity to support other’s in what they want to do, and help our amazing clients find the success that they so desperately deserve.
Believe it or not, that’s the condensed version of our story.
If you’d like to hear more, let’s go out for a coffee or tea sometime and we can hear yours as well!
To see more of our office renovation, read this post here.