Lucid Dreams

despite setbacks, young apparel designer sets his sights on the future

Justine Childs, photos by Andrea Paulseth

HE’S NO COUCH POTATO. Michael Johnson is realizing his potential with Lucid Life Apparel, his local clothing company.
HE’S NO COUCH POTATO. Michael Johnson is realizing his potential with Lucid Life Apparel, his local clothing company.

So I hear about this story pitch for a young man named Michael and his apparel business called Lucid Life Apparel,  I get excited to be doing this story on Michael and his business, so I reach out to him and wait to hear back. Nothing. I wait a little more. Still nothing. I think, “Well, maybe he isn’t interested in us doing a story on him” and was about to contact my editor, when I get a frantic text from Michael telling me he was in a car accident and in the hospital. That’s why he didn’t get my email, but he was very interested and seemed enthusiastic about having a story done on him and Lucid Life.

I tell you all this because it’s central to the person Michael is: someone highly motivated and with one of the most positive attitudes I’ve encountered. Someone who might’ve been dealt the “shorter stick” in life and doesn’t always have the best luck, but chooses not to let that deter his spirit or his drive.

“Lucid dreaming is where you have the ability to control your dreams. So it’s a brand for people who know what they want in life, know what to work towards and turn their dreams into reality.” – Michael Johnson, Lucid Life Apparel

Michael describes Lucid Life as “a subliminal Wisconsin-based clothing line that focuses on breaking stereotypes and bringing together the unrelated.” He comes up with an idea for a design, then has friends do the design work on a computer, coming up with a mock-up that may go through several changes before Michael gives his final approval. He then has shirts, snapbacks, and stickers printed at Ambient Inks on Water Street in Eau Claire. Michael puts any money he makes from the apparel back into making more inventory and pays as he goes at Ambient Inks. He has been printing with them for about a year now. Eventually, Michael would like to take graphic design and business classes to do the computer work himself, but all in all he hopes to stay local.

“Lucid Life is so much more than just a brand, it’s a lifestyle. If you look at what ‘lucid’ means it’s something that’s expressed clearly or easy to understand,” he said. “Lucid dreaming is where you have the ability to control your dreams. So it’s a brand for people who know what they want in life, know what to work towards and turn their dreams into reality. It’s more of a cheesy motivating idea I’ve constructed around the law of attractions, but it’s real and it definitely works.”

Michael grew up in Rice Lake and graduated from high school in New Auburn. He was involved in a serious car accident at age 16 that put him in a coma for three months. He also lost a very close friend, and ever since he has found a new appreciation for life and wants to make the most of what he’s given. At age 18, he started playing in bands and was in charge of selling merchandise. It was then that he saw the money that could be made with quality merch.

“I grew up playing in numerous bands and still am very passionate about it, so my demographic is focused on anyone involved with playing or going to music shows or festivals and are about the tour lifestyle,” Michael said. He currently sells his apparel at local music shows and is working on tour dates with the Vans Warped Tour in Milwaukee and a music festival in Colorado. He also hopes for the possibility of a business relationship with clothing chain Zumiez.

Seeing friends and others wearing his apparel, spotting his stickers around town, and getting support from his mom keep him motivated. Michael didn’t have it easy growing up, and he uses that as motivation as well. “To me, I believe in the long run what sets people apart only connects them. So I’m trying to create a movement with a brand that fills in the gaps.”

Michael would love to get a Winnebago and follow bands on tour selling merchandise at some of his favorite festivals. “It’s my dream to vend events like Vans Warped Tour, Soundset, Summer Set, Electric Forest, and everything possible in between,” he said. “I honestly want to put no limits on it though, I want to be able to speak for my generation.”

Michael said Lucid Life gives him a reason to enjoy life. Without conventional training, he uses his creative mind and learns as he goes. He moved a lot growing up and met lots of new people, and he draws from the vast amount of experiences he’s had in his short 26 years to inspire his designs.

“I remember a friend telling me when I was younger how to focus on what relates me to people and build relationships on that, and with time the rest will follow,” Michael said. “Ever since, that’s what I’ve been doing. Most of my friends are nothing like me, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I feel it make me that much more well-rounded.”

To see the Lucid Life web store check out merch.ambientinks.com/collections/lucidlife and stay up to date on new designs and goods by liking Lucid Life Apparel on Facebook.

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