In Holiday Guide

Calling all Milwaukee low lifes ...

Live the high life in a MKE Low Life T-shirt

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Historically, many grand ideas were dreamed up in bars, but most of them don't get beyond a spirited conversation or a few notes scrawled on a napkin. However, Alexander Headley's born-in-a-bar brainchild is now a bustling small business called Milwaukee Low Life.

Headley and his friends are Miller High Life drinkers and, as a joke, started ordering the beers with a comment to the bartender like, "How about a couple of High Lifes for a couple of low lifes?"

"And then one day I did a drawing of a Low Life logo and eventually started the product line," says Headley.

The Milwaukee Low Life logo does not use the same shape or font as Miller's logo, but it's similar enough that the play-on-words is evident. It's also not intended negatively toward Miller Brewing Co.

"We love Miller. A lot of our customers drink Miller High Life," says Headley. "F*ck Budweiser."

Milwaukee Low Life products include T-shirts, hoodies, trucker hats, can koozies and, soon, winter hats. They are available online at milwaukeelowlife.com, through Facebook, at various concerts and events, including this Friday, Dec. 16 at the launch of New Baron's Brewing at the Milwaukee Public House.

"(Bands) Whiskey of the Damned and Hot By Ziggy have been very supportive of us and invited us to sell at shows," says Headley. "We love those guys."

Products are also always available through Headley if you happen to bump into him on the street.

"I always have a box of shirts in my car, so when I'm out and people ask me where I got my shirt, I say, 'I have one right here!'" says Headley.

Headley says he started his business out of love for fringe Milwaukeeans and for Miller products.

"MKE low life was started as an apparel company for the people who make Milwaukee culture so special, who make Milwaukee, Milwaukee," says Headley. "The artists, bartenders, chefs, musicians and the other so-called 'low lifes' who make Milwaukee what it is."

Headley, who graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a degree in film and art, is a photographer for Wantable.com, a Walker's Point-based women's apparel company. Originally from Appleton, Headley says Milwaukee is home for him.

He also says that another T-shirt business, MKE Home, has been an inspiration to him.

"I love MKE HOME and what they are doing," he says. "I guess we're kind of like the MKE Home for rebels."

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