Anita and Sam Means on the One Thing Phoenix's Creative Scene Needs

Meet Sam and Anita Means, pictured with their daughter, Lola.
Meet Sam and Anita Means, pictured with their daughter, Lola.
Courtesy of Anita Means

Every other year, New Times puts the spotlight on Phoenix's creative forces — painters, dancers, designers, and actors. Leading up to the release of Best of Phoenix, we're taking a closer look at 100 more. Welcome to the 2016 edition of 100 Creatives. Up today is 49. Anita and Sam Means.

Anita and Sam Means are a package deal. You can't have one without the other, and that just might be the key to their success.

Sam, 36, is a musician, currently a solo artist and formerly of Phoenix indie rock outfit the Format. After years of touring, designing posters for bands, and working in venues, he founded Hello Merch in 2008 as a way for musicians to sell high-quality merchandise like T-shirts both online and on tour without a major-label contract. It's grown into a go-to for Valley bands — and national acts, too.

When asked how he'd describe his work, his answer is "low-budget Renaissance man?" He explains, "My day-to-day life consists of working in many areas of the music, design, and merchandise business."

It was an idea Anita, 38, had to create cute leggings for kids that spun the Hello business in a new direction with Hello Apparel. "My husband has always been involved in art, and I love fashion," she says. "When we had our daughter, I wanted to make clothing for kids!" Since then, Hello Apparel has expanded to much more than leggings. The shop carries sweatshirts, water bottles, totes, and a smattering of home decor.

Anita runs the social-media accounts and works with Sam to come up with fresh designs for Hello Apparel and Bermuda Press, their recently launched shop that purveys pop culture-conscious and sci-fi referencing enamel pins (think Bob from Twin Peaks and Oblio from The Point). 

That's not so surprising when the couple rattles off their favorite cultural touchstones. Sam says Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window is perfect, and that The Road is one of the most moving books he's ever read. Anita favors Peter Sellers in The Party. "I'm obsessed and have been since I was little," Anita says, "and now I'm passing that on to my daughter."

They're all about sharing their obsessions, too, hence the little allusions (like Minnie Mouse dots and Phoenix Suns color schemes) you'll see in various Hello products. From Phoenix, they've built something of a casual wear and accessories empire, emblazoned with the sturdy but gently cursive "hello" logo. 

Sam and Anita Means answered our 100 Creatives survey individually. 

Sam
I came to Phoenix with an umbilical cord

I make art because it’s all I know. I try to incorporate some sense of art into just about every aspect of my life.

I'm most productive when most others are asleep.

Currently, my inspiration wall is full of enamel pins.

I've learned most from paying attention.

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Good work should always be what you love. I’ve tried creating art for the vision of other people and it’s a little soul-crushing. To me, at least.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more people.

Anita
I came to Phoenix with
my family.

I make art because it's my job.

I'm most productive when I'm under stress!

My inspiration wall is full of banana leaves and the new Gucci line.

I've learned most from my husband. He's the smartest and most creative guy I know.

Good work should always be original.

The Phoenix creative scene could use more people!

The 2016 Creatives so far:

100. Nicole Olson
99. Andrew Pielage
98. Jessica Rowe
97. Danny Neumann
96. Beth Cato
95. Jessie Balli
94. Ron May
93. Leonor Aispuro
92. Sarah Waite
91. Christina "Xappa" Franco
90. Christian Adame
89. Tara Sharpe
88. Patricia Sannit
87. Brian Klein
86. Dennita Sewell
85. Garth Johnson
84. Charissa Lucille
83. Ryan Downey
82. Samantha Thompson
81. Cherie Buck-Hutchison
80. Freddie Paull
79. Jennifer Campbell
78. Dwayne Hartford
77. Shaliyah Ben
76. Kym Ventola
75. Matthew Watkins
74. Tom Budzak
73. Rachel Egboro
72. Rosemary Close
71. Ally Haynes-Hamblen
70. Alex Ozers
69. Fawn DeViney
68. Laura Dragon
67. Stephanie Neiheisel
66. Michael Lanier
65. Jessica Rajko
64. Velma Kee Craig
63. Oliver Hibert
62. Joya Scott
61. Raji Ganesan
60. Ashlee Molina
59. Myrlin Hepworth
58. Amy Ettinger
57. Sheila Grinell
56. Forrest Solis
55. Mary Meyer
54. Robert Hoekman Jr.
53. Joan Waters
52. Gabriela Muñoz
51. ColorOrgy
50. Liz Magura


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