An Ugly Christmas

(From left) Entrepreneurs Brian Miller of St. John, Ind., Adam Paulson of Crown Point, Ind., and Kevin Wool, also of Crown Point, pose in a pile of sweaters destined for sale on the partners’ web site,

Through all of my visual disciplines, it’s not often that I’m encouraged to make things look ugly. So, when my email inbox dinged with a photo assignment all about ugly Christmas sweaters, I knew I was in for a nice change of pace.  Enter

The Crown Point, Indiana, based business, launched in 2007 by college friends Brian Miller, Adam Paulson, and Kevin Wool (yes, Wool), sells mostly second-hand Christmas sweaters possessing bizarre, tacky, and downright horrendous design traits. The wears are aimed at customers attending ugly-sweater-themed holiday parties. The business partners handle all aspects of the company, from procuring sweaters in bulk from top-secret sources to personally packing and shipping each order to destinations all over the world.

Mittens, anyone? One of the many questionable holiday sweaters available for purchase.

When I visited the trio last year, the business was ran completely from Brian Miller’s basement in St. John, Indiana. Sweaters were piled halfway to the ceiling near a table serving as the shipping and receiving department. Of course, my mind was immediately set ablaze with fun photo ideas upon seeing the sweaters jumbled all together on the floor like that. When I pitched the idea of the guys burying themselves in the sweaters for a portrait, they didn’t give it a second thought!

Since my shoot with Team Ugly, the business has really taken off. The company has expanded into a dedicated warehouse, has landed a book deal, and the guys even spent some time with Jay Leno as guests on The Tonight Show a few weeks ago.

Now, if only I got to embrace ugliness all the time!

Entrepreneur Adam Paulson of Crown Point, Ind., discusses, at Brian Miller’s residence (not pictured) in St. John, Ind.

Such detail! Such intricacy! Such ugly?

The team has grown quite a bit since running the entire operation from Brian Miller’s basement last season.

Posted in Photography, Photojournalism, Pop Culture by Guy Rhodes on December 22nd, 2011.

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