Jimmy Hickey might be one of our youngest Urban Beardsmen featured thus far, but in the last eight years as a professional photographer and tireless entrepreneur on the rise, he’s nothing short of notable accomplishments. At age twenty-three, Hickey has turned his love for photography into a profitable income—launching several other small businesses derived from his passions. As founder of Jimmy Hickey Photography, and Findlay Hats & Apparel, along with cofounding Chain + Anchor (an online jewelry boutique captained by his girlfriend Sarah)—Hickey demonstrates how you have fun, while getting the job done.
In speaking with Hickey, not only is his upbeat-friendly persona instantly revealed, but his photography skills known for putting others at ease makes him a natural for sharing a great conversation. You can’t help but hear Ice Cube’s “Today was a Good Day” playing as a subliminal soundtrack to his life as we begin to chat about some of his recent adventures and milestone accomplishments. He mentions a uniquely cool living setup where he and his girlfriend live in a floating home on the river in Portland Oregon. “I basically wake up and jump in the Columbia River almost every day. Our place is a two-story set up, and I just jump off the balcony—it’s such a great way to start the day.” *Random fact: Hickey and his friends also purchased a limo to… well, drive around town for both fun and work-related projects—and who doesn’t want a limo for an added dose of style to their repertoire? From having the luxury to enjoy summer simply by diving off the front deck—to landing last week’s photo shoot for a campaign with Nike, Hickey has a lot to celebrate.
He explains that things weren’t always a dip in the pool during his beginnings. “My social life was kind of weird back when I was in high school, so I spent a lot of time devoted to my love for photography—developing and perfecting my craft was one of the only things I was able to keep consistent back then.” After graduating, Hickey attended Central Creative Academy in Seattle to see if commercial photography would be a fit, but ultimately realized Portland was the place to plant his roots and do things his way—five years later, he hasn’t looked back since.
Although he dabbled with commercial photography schooling in Seattle, Hickey’s distinct style known for juxtaposing elements of emotion, color and action in his projects seen today were all self-taught. He reveals how a favorite pastime playing on a professional paintball crew called Portland Uprising, along with taking photos for PaintballX3 Magazine were also major influences in the start of his career. “A friend and I would team up to produce articles for the magazine, and it allowed me to travel up to five-to-ten trips a year to do shoots. I’d also post my photos to PbNation; an online forum where I met many long term friends. I learned a lot just from the photography section on the site. It had other photographers who were at first pretty harsh with their critique on my photos, but it ultimately helped me a lot to grow. I learned so much through trial and error that a lot of my photography development is due to the feedback I received from others online.”
Gradually building a steady client base through word of mouth, Hickey’s work began to pave ways for some extraordinary outside-the-box gigs; and recalls some of the most memorable locations he’s shot at ranging from the Philippines to Burning Man—However also favors taking road trips to the middle of nowhere—where he’s been known to take every gas station exit off the highway just to meet and photograph everyday people with amazing results.
Hickey’s also a self-proclaimed work-a holic, and admits, “there’s so much to grow and develop with all my projects that there’s an endless list of tasks to do. Taking a ‘me-day’ is taking me away from learning something new. My girlfriend and I are in this together, and although she is so great about putting up with me being a work-addict, I also feel guilty for taking time off. I make time for my relationship and friends of course, but it’s hard to turn off the work-mode button.”
Since the success of his photography career, Hickey explains how he developed Findlay Hats, “I used to live off my photography career, but now it supports other projects allowing me to fulfill another creative void while combining my love for hats. Producing the line, blending my creative style with function into a product people can actually wear is such a rewarding feeling.”
In the theme of being a self-taught photographer and entrepreneur, Hickey’s also discovered his own beard regimen and recalls, “As a teen, It was very patchy, so I shaved it every day in high school. It finally came to a halt one day when someone I really looked up to as a mentor (Dominic Forte, who had a pretty great beard) asked me why I shaved everyday—I didn’t have an answer for him, and that’s when I started experimenting growing it out. Since then, the beard will go through different lengths and phases—and thanks to the good folks at Beardbrand, they’ve also helped me become more aware of the advantages to the grooming products available.”
In reflecting on what his beard symbolizes personally, Hickey reveals, “it really serves as a confidence accessory and is very much a part of me—it’s something I expect to see in the mirror when I wake up in the morning.” Hickey also observes his beard being well received (with the standard exception to his mom) and is not shy about sharing compliments among friends—or strangers. I’m a huge fan of yielding to the bigger beard. If I’m on the street, or even driving, I’ll yell out the window, “I have to yield to the bigger beard!”
Mixing his drive to succeed with a little harmless fun, Hickey’s future looks bright and never without a dull moment. “I truly love the hustle of being self-employed. It’s always making me thirsty to seek out more and push myself further.” It’s getting easier to do, with more clients and word of mouth helping avalanche it as well. Overall, It’s been amazing to see so many love what we are doing. Our living room however has now turned into a disaster zone of hats! But seeing people hash tag us wearing them, or even seeing people randomly tattoo our logo on themselves is an indescribable feeling!”
Showing how to be an exceptional beardsman and focused businessman early in the game, Hickey is an inspiration on how to enjoy life without losing sight of your goals. We wish him the best of luck in all his endeavors, (and hopefully will catch a ride in that limo some day)!