Sometimes Nothing is Everything

There’s almost always a number of ways to view something. Oftentimes it’s conversations, people and experiences that help define opposing views.

“What started as a joke, evolved into something much more with meaning.”

 –Jason Markow

Jason Markow recently set out to design a subscription-based product that wasn’t close to his heart, but after a conversation with a friend, Clay Hebert, the idea became a beautifully designed package with a much bigger meaning.

Jason’s work history is embedded in design and e-commerce. For the past ten years he’s been designing, creating and doing anything to make a living by selling items online or helping other people sell.

“Before I sold art quickly, today I’m focused more on bigger, longer, more thoughtful and meaningful projects.” 

Jason and his friend Zach initially approached Clay with an idea for a different Kickstarter project, but the trio became fixated on creating a Kickstarter for NOTHING. Part of the idea was just to make people smile. The other part was the desire to create a perfect gift for the person who has everything. And maybe a touch of personal inspiration to understand how Kickstarter works. But perhaps the biggest inspiration of the project “was to take power back on the word ‘nothing,’” Jason explained.

The initial catalyst was a health diagnosis that churned into rocket fuel.

Jason had recently learned that he has a rare lung disease and was told by his doctor “there’s nothing you can do.” Jason wanted to turn this statement into one with purpose and meaning—and the Kickstarter project became the perfect platform.

“We thought we’d have some laughs and be done with it.”

The original goal was to complete the Kickstarter on a short timeline, but the two quickly realized this project was developing much more meaning. They wanted to put their best foot forward and really focus on the strategy. The biggest strategy applied to the project was to slow down and really think through it—from the design to the approach to the marketing—and treat it like a new business marrying both new age strategies, like advertising and social media, with traditional strategies, like press and radio. “I can’t believe it. I never thought we’d explore a route that way, but our driving force and values drove that component,” Jason explained.

To date, they’ve collaborated with local brands and partnered with local breweries and coffee shops to bring awareness to the NOTHING campaign.

What makes NOTHING unique is that it’s a very weird build of social commentary and social commerce that would specifically interest designers. “It’s a love letter to design a Kickstarter themselves. We’re trying really hard to put our best foot forward. For the love of the platform. For the love of design,” says Jason. “It’s not about the cash; it’s about the story we’re trying to tell. It’s a tribute to the people that use Kickstarter.”

Kickstarter really liked the campaign as it pokes fun of them and the forum in a playful way. What started as a joke evolved into something much more meaningful—which is an opposition of most Kickstarter projects that start with funding in mind in an effort to get as much capital as possible. Not the case for NOTHING. This tongue-in-cheek collaboration reminds us that:

There are no do-overs.

Focus on the things the matter.

Make sure you’re giving 100%.

Life is way too short to work on projects that aren’t fulfilling.

Put your best foot forward.

Give full effort.

Sounds like antidotal Uncommon Sense to us. If you want to hear more about Jason’s story and the progress he’s making, listen to this podcast interview with Kevin Pereira:

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