Behind the Golf Brand Podcast with Paul Liberatore

#69 - Whiskers Laces: Kyle Groth (CEO)

March 24, 2022 Paul Liberatore Season 3 Episode 69
Behind the Golf Brand Podcast with Paul Liberatore
#69 - Whiskers Laces: Kyle Groth (CEO)
Show Notes Transcript

We made it to Episode 69 of the Behind the Golf Brand Podcast.  In this week's episode, I interview my good friend Kyle Goth, founder of Whisker Laces. 

Since the dawn of time, the laces that have held together shoes have been overlooked and boring. Rumor has it, even the caveman cruisers were held together by the classic brown wax laces. Pssh, cavemen, am I right?.

Fast forward to a few years back, when their founder Kyle Groth snapped a dress lace when lacing up for the day. Searching for a replacement lace, Kyle went into an upscale shoe store. No dice. They told him they “don’t just sell the laces”. What? Why not just sell the laces? And when he finally found a replacement pair, they were the cheapest strings he’s ever seen.

Just then, a cartoon light bulb illuminated above Kyle’s messy bed head. Nobody sells quality or unique shoelaces – and the laces that do come in men’s shoes are all the same. Boring. A tiny hole in the world of fashion opened up and Whiskers was born to fill it.

They DO just sell the laces. And we’ve taken the most mundane part of the modern wardrobe and transformed it into tiny little rebellious threads of self-expression. Tastefully wrong. Wrongfully right. Because well, your shoes deserve better. And so do you. So go on ahead - lace-up, and Whiskers on.

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Yeah . Welcome to behind the golf brand podcast. I never missed with the seven a conversation with some of the most interesting innovators and entrepreneurs behind the biggest names in golf.

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In a hole. This is behind the golf brand podcast with Paul liberatory.

Speaker 7:

What's up guys, Paul from golfers authority. Welcome to the behind the golf brand podcast asked we on episode 69. Yep . The big six , nine, everyone stopped laughing. And we are talking to my friend, Kyle from whiskers laces. Now whiskers just started out in the last couple years and they're actually kind of a cool niche. So I'm really excited to have 'em on the show and talking about kind of how they, he grew, how Kyle got to making shoelaces and where he's going to go with his brand. I think it's like a really special niche and I'm excited to have him on the show. So without further ado , welcome Kyle.

Speaker 8:

Thanks for having me.

Speaker 7:

So where do you live?

Speaker 8:

Uh , Delray beach in south Florida.

Speaker 7:

I want your exact address . I'm just kidding. Have you always lived there? Like there or something?

Speaker 8:

I grew, yeah. I actually grew up in Delray beach. One of the few down here and

Speaker 7:

Then, oh, you're a towny town .

Speaker 8:

Exactly . <laugh> , I'm a Delray town , but I moved away for a bit. I've I've bounced around when I was a kid and we lived in Virginia for a year and then came back to Delray. I lived in Warsaw , Poland for two, two years . Came back. And then, uh , you was in

Speaker 7:

Poland, just

Speaker 8:

In Poland. Yeah. Yeah. And then I went to college in instate. What's that?

Speaker 7:

Are you Polish? I used to set to go Poland.

Speaker 8:

Yeah . Well, my dad had a gig over there. He , he bought the rights to holiday in domino and burger king and most of Eastern Europe after the wall fell for real . Yeah . So we moved over .

Speaker 7:

That's crazy.

Speaker 8:

Yeah. We were there for, I was there for two years. He was there back and forth for seven. So all

Speaker 7:

Of Eastern Europe or just like Poland,

Speaker 8:

Uh , it was Poland. She Romania and Hungary. And then that kind of that's cool. Rolled into, he started the third television station in Poland as well. Cuz there were two state own stations and he opened the music television station, which eventually sold the MTV. So it was the crazy time to be .

Speaker 7:

So your dad's a freaking badass dude , like for real what ? Entrepreneur?

Speaker 8:

Creative. Yeah, for sure.

Speaker 7:

So you was that like the nineties?

Speaker 8:

Yeah, that was in, I think he started that in 92 and then I was over there 94, 95.

Speaker 7:

Did you love Europe? I love Europe. I would live there in a heartbeat.

Speaker 8:

I would too. I was seven and eight. So I , I would've loved that anywhere. I think.

Speaker 7:

Yeah .

Speaker 8:

Everywhere was

Speaker 7:

Cool. You're watching like tele tubs and stuff and you're just ,

Speaker 8:

<laugh> exactly.

Speaker 7:

You grew up in Florida. You moved around a little bit. Obviously you went to college up in upstate, right? Were you good at golf? I'm obviously not a golf pro,

Speaker 8:

Right? No, definitely not a pro. I grew up playing golf, just being in south Florida was easy. I went to like golf camp as a kid and I was never great. I was okay. Baseball was always really my passion. And when I went, I played baseball in college and my coach very quickly banned me playing golf. And so

Speaker 7:

I, uh , cause it messes up your swing, right. Blah , blah,

Speaker 8:

Blah, weight transfers. All different. Yeah .

Speaker 7:

Blah, blah, blah. I don't , I know it's somewhat true, but it's like so annoying cuz my kids wanna play both sports and it's never gonna happen because their coach is like, oh nos, I mess up your swing. I'm like, they're nine. Like they don't have a swing.

Speaker 8:

Right. But yeah , you don't have anything.

Speaker 7:

I just probably put some legitimacy to it. Um, did you play golf in high school or you like crappy? Like everybody else?

Speaker 8:

Like no . Yeah. I'm pretty crappy. Um , I'm proud . Very average.

Speaker 7:

So you seriously, like I put everyone lies right. About their score. Like , oh yeah. I shot like an 80 bull crap. So the other day I like took my real score. Like for reals , like for reals . Right. It was not in the eighties. Lemme tell you that it was like a little bit over a hundred. And I was like, what happened? My golf game and it's called reality. So now I'm like on this mission, like I wanna like not there's I'm gonna break 70 whatever. No , man . I'm on a mission to like first I'm break a hundred and I'm gonna break 90 and I'm gonna break 80 like legitimate. And I don't know . I think people tend not to tell the truth on their score, but

Speaker 8:

Oh yeah. I agree for me, nineties is good. Right. If I shoot in the nineties, that's a good, that's a good round. Well,

Speaker 7:

That's a thing. Right? Cause I , our age, like we have kids, we have work like when need to play golf like once a month, if you're lucky. Right? Yeah . So I mean, it's like , you're good when you're younger and you're good when you're older essentially is what happened .

Speaker 8:

Um , yeah . I have the time

Speaker 7:

You , did you play baseball in high school?

Speaker 8:

I did. Yeah. I played all the way through college. And then you called it quits at to college .

Speaker 7:

What position were you?

Speaker 8:

Uh , I played outfield. And first base.

Speaker 7:

You must be a big dude for face man . <laugh> I was no offense

Speaker 8:

In college . I'm still big. I'm just not muscular. Yeah .

Speaker 7:

We're all big in college. Um <laugh> So what'd you play in outfield? Like centerfield?

Speaker 8:

Uh , I played right in left field . I was not, I wasn't fast enough for some .

Speaker 7:

You were agile enough?

Speaker 8:

Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 7:

Yeah . He'd be like super fast. Like my son, like my youngest son, like used to play first he's little though. And then like they put him at third and then they put him in outfield last year. And at first I was like, what the hell? Right. Cause when we were kids' like, oh, life , life , field , like the worst position. Right? Like he never get the ball hit out there in , but now like he's on , he's on a club team and like the ball's always out in the outfield, like it never stays in the Y field , you know? And I'm like, oh , okay. I'm not so mad about that now. That's cool. I remember like I was a kid, like I love the outfield now. I'm like, oh yeah. Cause the like literally like his coach the other day we lost so many games. Cause it dropped fly balls. Like so many games like free points essentially. So literally the coach played a like every practice now we do is he hits fly balls, the entire practice and they have to catch 10 in a row. And like if they don't, they start all over again. So they don't get to bat. They don't do anything fun until they can catch fly balls. And now it's like crazy how they of these kids are catching fly balls. It's pretty fun .

Speaker 8:

It's a fun age too. There's so many fun drills when you're like 9, 10, 11, 12,

Speaker 7:

Just start like getting good. You know like it starts weeding out. The weed out process starts to happen. The kids that are good and that wanna play they're natural. Like I love watching that. It's like, holy crap. It's how old are your kids?

Speaker 8:

Uh , I haves six year old son. A two year old son and then a two month year old daughter.

Speaker 7:

Oh crap. So you got a baby in the house. You getting sleep or not really?

Speaker 8:

Actually. Yeah . If the , so the first two were a lot tougher. She's been super easy and she's already sleeping through the night and I feel it's, it's been amazing so far.

Speaker 7:

I you're lucky. I, I remember those the days . I literally remember walking around my pool table at like two o'clock in the morning trying to make my kid go back to sleep. I remember that. Yeah.

Speaker 8:

That was our two year old . I just like walk circles around our pool. <laugh> he

Speaker 7:

Always stop . He's bouncing. It's okay. Go to sleep. I'm tired. Yeah . You know that's when you get old dude, that's like literal . When you start getting olds, when you have kids, you played high school. So you went to baseball. Did your dad play with you or did you play with your grandpa or your anybody? Like, or when you just kind of play every once in a while ? What , what happened there? Yeah.

Speaker 8:

I grew up, I used to drag my dad to the field. He , he coached me when I was a kid. I was obsessed with baseball. When I was a kid, I would be at the field six days a week. Making him you

Speaker 7:

Loved it, like you passion about. Yeah . So

Speaker 8:

I'd drag him over. He throw me 150 balls for bating practice every day . And so, yeah, I just grew up playing, especially in south Florida. You play all year round . Um , that kid is , so that was always my, my sport. I , I dabbled with soccer. I played golf, but really baseball was my, my passion.

Speaker 7:

You graduated in high school and then you went to New York, played baseball. Yep . What made you decide to not go pro or try to go that route? Were you not good enough? Or you were like, I don't wanna do this route. This sucks.

Speaker 8:

I was pretty confident I was going to go pro, but my body was not built to <laugh> to play that many games. I don't think I herniated, uh , two discs in my back. My junior year I broke both my wrist. My senior year still

Speaker 7:

Had back shoes , sliding

Speaker 8:

Hitting, actually. So, uh, hitting in like a wood bat league, I broke. There's a handmade bone in the middle of your hand. Um , I broke my right one and the day I was cleared to come back, I broke my left. So I had the red shirt , red shirt my senior year and I just, I had back. But

Speaker 7:

How do you break the at , in your hand? The

Speaker 8:

Vibration it's just like thin. Yeah . It's the vibration of the bat that comes back and it just like breaks off the tip of that bone in your hand. Um, so yeah , back to back

Speaker 7:

Painful as hell.

Speaker 8:

It's not the worst. It's just it . You just can't grip anything too hard.

Speaker 7:

That's crazy. Broke . Broke both your hands. That's nuts. I haven't even heard of that.

Speaker 8:

No, I haven't either. I think I just have really weak hamming hand

Speaker 7:

Lady hands

Speaker 8:

<laugh> .

Speaker 7:

Now you heard any , your discs just been

Speaker 8:

Just swinging? I think the , I think the blessing and the curse of being from south Florida as you play year round , but I think taking so many swings every day that my entire life just twisting like a

Speaker 7:

Tiger woods . Right?

Speaker 8:

Throw my back out . I heard it in college pretty or in high school, pretty bad. I actually had to like fake being healthy on the recruiting for a while . And then, uh, and then did it again in college and didn't wanna , didn't want to continue <laugh>

Speaker 7:

Was there any guys you went to college with that made a pro?

Speaker 8:

Yeah. There's a lot of guys I played with, especially in south Florida. There's a lot of guys who, for sure . Played in the big leagues and played the , a buddy , a couple buddies played on the Marlins third base on the Orioles, um, played summer ball in new England. So a lot of those guys are in the bigs right now.

Speaker 7:

That's so cool. So, all right . So what did you do ? What did you market in ? Like what was your degree in college?

Speaker 8:

Uh, so I majored in fine . I was actually, so I was in the hospitality school. I went to Cornell, um,

Speaker 7:

Cornell.

Speaker 8:

Yeah , yeah. Went to Cornell

Speaker 7:

School.

Speaker 8:

Yeah. It was a good , it was a , it was a fun time. I was in the hospitality school there. And then, well

Speaker 7:

You played baseball at Cornell.

Speaker 8:

I did. Yeah.

Speaker 7:

Holy crap dude. That's, that's a real, that's a big accomplishment. That's like division one. Like that's hard as hell. And it's a good school for smart. Like it's a good school to go to. It's not like, oh, I went to Jack off in , you know , middle America that no one's heard of, you know, like <laugh> like, no, that's cool. All right . So go ahead. Sorry.

Speaker 8:

No, no, it's fine. No , it was fun . I mean, it was a shock right . Growing up in south Florida. And then our first game in baseball Cornell was snowing. Like we had to shovel field to get on the field and down here, right in , in , in high school we had a game, I think it was in the forties and we just postponed it and just like, we'll play it next week. Don't, don't worry about it ,

Speaker 7:

Don from Arizona dude, like I went to Purdue for undergrad and it was, I remember that first winter and I was like, where the hell am I? You know, like I literally thought that like walking to campus and like it's negative degrees, negative 20 out and like show offing your feet and a slip and fall on the ice. And I was like, what am I doing here? Like, yeah , I chose this, you know? I mean ,

Speaker 8:

It was a shock.

Speaker 7:

It's like culture shock too, right?

Speaker 8:

Yeah. It was. I mean, it was yeah. Everything, weather wise , people. I always thought I was smart in high school cuz it , I , I , my high school, wasn't all that challenging. And then I went to Cornell and realized that I'm on the , the lower half of the, uh , the student population there. So I had to adjust my, my steady time and uh , the effort I

Speaker 7:

Put ,

Speaker 8:

Not, no, Actually we were a band my freshman year from

Speaker 7:

You were a

Speaker 8:

No, no, no. We , we weren't allowed our coach band

Speaker 7:

Fraternity. Oh band . I was like, you're in a band. So, um, of course you can't do anything when you're in sports. Did you can't do anything like

Speaker 8:

Anything ? Yeah. They changed that. Luckily. So we did have a lot of guys in fraternities, but I wasn't one of them .

Speaker 7:

I remember that like when I was at college , I was at Purdue when like drew Bre was. And like I knew a lot of guys on the football team, like a ton of guys on the football team actually drew Bre was in my psych , my psychology class. It was crazy. Like he sat from who's this kid. Right. Like, you know, right . It was cool. It was nice. I just remember that he was a rush freshman , but I remember the guys in the football team were like, they couldn't do anything. It was like, they had like how to live together somehow. Right. Like live in an apartment together or they live in dorm together and then they practice all the time. Right? Yeah. I think they're all in management. They all got management pictures . Like what is that? I'm in management. It's like, I mean, nothing against management. I just remember all like everybody management degrees. Um ,

Speaker 8:

Yeah.

Speaker 7:

Good management school for do apparently. Um , so then how long did you play baseball? Like you guys play all five years or do you play four ?

Speaker 8:

Yeah. Well I played my first three red shirted and then played my fifth. I came back for my spring semester just to play and graduate.

Speaker 7:

So what did you graduate with?

Speaker 8:

I graduated. I majored in finance and I, uh , randomly enough. I minored in real estate law just cuz I enjoyed the courses and took so many that it turned into a minor

Speaker 7:

That literal death for a living. Like it's not that fun. Let me tell you

Speaker 8:

The classes .

Speaker 7:

It's a big mess dude. Like when we , if you look at the lawyer , like no, it's fun to learn in school. The , when people come with these problems, they're like this really happen and it's like, it's a mess, you know? It's like, I could tell you so many stories, offline dude that are just like crazy and I'm sure. Yeah . I have long like, like , like we have people like literal I've had at least probably two or three cases I've worked on where people are actually trying to do ment domain. Um, the government trying to do it. I've also done adverse possession where like, you know, like , oh this piece of property's mine because I've sat on it for 20 years and it's like neighbor, verse , neighbor. It's like the craziest crap. It's like , heres literally neighbors. You're fighting over like 10 feet of , of driveway. Like, no, like for reals. And it's just the dumbest stuff. It's like

Speaker 8:

Half my shed has been. Or your fence for

Speaker 7:

No, like for reals, like for reals that happens like, like for reals, I've seen it, I've seen the dumbest stuff. It's just , it's cool. But it's dumb. It's like kids like, oh, you know, you're whatever, you're Palm trees on my side of the yard, you know? It's like,

Speaker 8:

Yeah.

Speaker 7:

So you graduated from college and then what'd you do?

Speaker 8:

Uh , so I did a very brief stint in sports marketing and consulting. I moved down to Charlotte, North Carolina, um, worked for a small firm there. It was mainly at the time it was like consulting teams , league celebrities, athletes on how to really brand strategy. And then also how to monetize their digital presence.

Speaker 7:

Really ? What year was this

Speaker 8:

Car drivers? This was in early 2010 .

Speaker 7:

Like when it really started happening. Was it just, yeah.

Speaker 8:

Like people were trying to figure out how to, we had a couple like NASCAR drivers figuring out how to monetize their Twitter and Twitter following and um, worked with teams and leagues like Kansas basketball, Kentucky basketball, um, and pretty,

Speaker 7:

So when you do brand strategy, like what's that like, what is that like? What do you, what are you doing?

Speaker 8:

So for like the programs, we would help them. Like we updated their, really their brand , their image, their online presence. How does that translate to recruiting? What kind of, what says , what content do to recruit? See kind of helping, working with the college coaches and then from the celebrity athlete side, it was really honing in on who they wanted to be and then figuring out how they get

Speaker 7:

Who they wanted to be.

Speaker 8:

So if you want to be a Caribbean cowboy music country singer, right. You have to affiliate social yourself with the right brands and maybe go with different car sponsorships or alcohol sponsorships that kind of put you in that, in that wheelhouse. So that's, we did that for nine months and then nine months in that company basically got absorbed by Madison square garden. It was a small team that yeah. The company at worked for . So they all, that whole team went up to New York. Yeah. And , and rather than going back up to New York, I had the opportunity of jumping on board , um , a brand that was an idea at the time called angels. Emmy bourbon , really love to say it was my idea. It wasn't, I was really the, the young gun that jumped on board and kind of helped the partners get the brand out the ground and get it tomorrow .

Speaker 7:

What were they based out of

Speaker 8:

That company was based outta Louisville, Kentucky. There were various partners of the business. And so I traveled down to south Florida about every other week cuz that's where one of the core teams was. And so I really just helped get that brand out of the ground and, and bring it to market. And that brand was fun. It was really right place, right time. Like as the , the bourbon boom happened. I think when it launched, there was like 150 distilleries and now there's 2000 in the us . And so it , it really exploded. There was a great team there and then

Speaker 7:

Probably was the team,

Speaker 8:

The team there. What started small , right . When I jumped on board , there were five P

Speaker 7:

So how'd, you know, these guys, they came to you because of what you're doing before or just like word of mouth or what

Speaker 8:

So through actually through my dad. Right. So he he's been kind of in tons of different industries. Um, and so he was, um ,

Speaker 7:

He was like, Rainman dude, he's a Rainmaker. He like playing with all kinds of crap.

Speaker 8:

For sure. So he was actually one of the founding partners of angels envy . So I just hopped on , on board

Speaker 7:

Like , oh guy . That's cool . Yeah . But he is like, he knew you had skills though. That's the thing like your dad knew like , oh, he knows what he is doing. So like, I think he hoped

Speaker 8:

I'm on

Speaker 7:

Board . Oh , don't embarrass me . I'm gonna send you back to Poland.

Speaker 8:

<laugh>

Speaker 7:

So what year was that?

Speaker 8:

That was in, so that was in 2011. That was January, 2011 when I jumped on board there. Um, and then, so how'd you

Speaker 7:

Grow ? How'd you grow a bourbon company? Explain that to me. Like how , I don't understand. I'm not know spirits. I'm not gonna start one. Like, but like what do you do? I have no idea.

Speaker 8:

So you need, well, one, you need somebody who will make a taste. Good. Right? So you need a master distiller. Um, lucky enough, they, they kind of coaxed Lincoln Henderson, who was this kind of Caron . He was he's . He was at, um , he's been a master distiller for like 60 years. He was in the bourbon hall of fame. He made Woodford reserve and uh , all these like iconic brands. And so he was at Jim beam forever. Uh , and he retired and two of the partners knew him and coaxed him outta retirement and said, come on board. Like, you're the only one that can make this. Right . And do, do something innovative in the bourbon category. He had this whole recipe book that they wouldn't really let him play around with the time. And so he just, he jumped on board, starting experimenting with aging and finishing. Uh , and then his son and grandson came on board as well, um, to help make the product. And so from there we had assembled a national sales force to help bring it to market. But

Speaker 7:

It's kinda hard, I would assume. Right? Like that would be hard to break into a, I mean , you got people and

Speaker 8:

Expensive .

Speaker 7:

It's

Speaker 8:

Really hard , especially, especially whiskey, right. Cuz you need to start out, you need aged inventory and then you have to build your own distillery and to agent it yourself as well. So it's

Speaker 7:

What did they do that at , like in Kentucky or what was it being made at?

Speaker 8:

In, yeah, in Kentucky there's like this gorgeous distillery now in downtown Louisville for angel it's it's insane. So that brand was , was great. And after the launch of angels envy , we formalized the spirits group as well, started a rum brand from scratch called Papa Pilar rum . And so we partnered with Ernest Hemingway's family and all their proceeds go to charity and, and I spent years kind of inside of that business, helping go to mark strategy, consumer engagement, digital strategy. That's that's a brand . What

Speaker 7:

Is that's for ? Cool . So like , what is your role when you do that? Are you like managing, are, you're more of like looking at the, the long term view of like how to do this? Are you like in the weeds or like, what is your, what is your day ? What was your daily like? You know what I mean?

Speaker 8:

Sure. I think with any startup you wear a lot of hats. And so it was everything in the beginning , beginning, it was everything from like assisting in inventory, forecasting, the fundraising to building out, go to market plans with, um, with the brand manager as well, who kind of manages all of the hats, the areas of the business. And then I really found a , a passion on the , the digital strategy side and consumer engagement, um, getting close to consumers. How do you build communities with folks? Uh, get them excited about the brand and, and what's in it for them. And so that's really where I dove deep with that.

Speaker 7:

You loved it, you loved it, right? Like that's where you felt like, yeah, you wear many hats, but that's where you felt like, oh, this is cool. This is what I wanna do. This is , this is what matters. I a hundred percent like, I'm so fascinated by this. I'll talk to you about stuff online . I think that's like the smartest thing I've, I've heard in a long time, it's , it's a hundred percent true. Like people ask like, how do you grow? How do you grow anything? Right. And it's like, you gotta have a community. If you don't have a community, then you don't have anything. It's all fake. Right? Like, yeah . Oh I can buy ads or I can run traffic or it's all bulk . It's all that . That's , it's like, that's not long term . That's like right now. And then, so you see people like , you see people like, oh, I made so much money with my Shopify store, blah blah . You it's like, yeah. But you spent 50 grand to make 60 grand on ads. So like how smart was that?

Speaker 8:

Yeah,

Speaker 7:

Exactly. I think it's cool. How , like I have a friend of mine who has a very strong community on his brand. I'll I'll talk about later and it's not in this space, but like it's exactly what he did. And it's like his community's like so strong dude. And like, I don't know . That's why YouTubers do so well. Right. Because like you have a community, like a real subscriber on YouTube, like that's your community one person at a time. And like, if you grow that right, like that's a hard , it's hard, hard, hard, hard, hard to do. I mean, people only get to see like the tip of the iceberg and be like, oh yeah. But then it's like, so now I love this. So like if you're a brand, so how do you build community? Like, what's, don't go into dig big detail, but like, how

Speaker 8:

Does , it's it easier ? It's easier when it's natural. Right? So like Poppas , polar is very NAU, a cold , it has the earnest , Hemingway partnership and tied to it. So it kind of gave the brand authenticity until a lot of these communities that other brands don't have a authenticity to enter. Um, so it's very nautical forward and

Speaker 7:

IMing , it's the south it's south Florida, it's the, you

Speaker 8:

Know, conservation base and , and , and it's pretty easy once you get into those communities. And especially most of the team on Poplar and myself included, grew up on the water. Um, and so I very quickly am a pretty large nautical following. Uh , and then has since been kind of expanding into the more adventure side land, land and nautical. Um , but then it's , it's just, what do you tell them ? What do you say to them ? Making sure it just feels right, right. Making sure that once they enter the community yeah. They get something out of it

Speaker 7:

Rather than they're not being sold. They're not being sold on Harbor . Right. Like , yeah . Oh, we get you. And then it's like, no , we're trying to bring you in to take advantage of you

Speaker 8:

By our stuff. Yeah . You

Speaker 7:

Know ? So what year did that come out?

Speaker 8:

So that launched in 2014. Um, so

Speaker 7:

Was your dad on that 2013?

Speaker 8:

2014?

Speaker 7:

Was dad like an investor on that? Or like how'd you get on that one?

Speaker 8:

Yeah . So he's yeah, he's been, he's big in the spirits world, so yeah. So he's, he's a partner there and then he he's acquired the company. Mahalo spirits group is the name of the company. They , after angels envy sold in 2015 to Picardi that business acquired another whiskey, a Jan , a tequila and has been, uh , just growing those businesses

Speaker 7:

Internally rents , repeat rents , repeat like, you guys know what you're doing. I mean, seriously that's and that's a good thing because you have a very good track record. Right. And you know what you're doing and how to do it. So it doesn't matter. You can selling beer, you could have been selling whatever job shots . I don't know . I mean , <laugh> , I

Speaker 8:

Was like , that's a harder one. Yeah .

Speaker 7:

I know . No think might be a hard one, but I've had yellow shot in forever. I don't even last I had a jello shot . I don't know I went there, but <laugh> , You're like , whatever , do I drink? Cho shots every day ? Um ,

Speaker 8:

Every , yeah ,

Speaker 7:

Like maybe before I had this show, I was doing yellow shots in here, um, with my own spirits company.

Speaker 8:

No that's and the spirits has been fun. Right. It's that ? Hell

Speaker 7:

Yeah, dude, it'd be fun . Like seriously. Like how fun would that be?

Speaker 8:

That industry's changed so much in the last 12 years.

Speaker 7:

How it's ,

Speaker 8:

It's just grown up a lot. There's there are anything culture

Speaker 7:

Established brands, like that've been around forever, like

Speaker 8:

Exactly. And they, and they admit right. The Bicardi and the beams and the Diage like the big players in the space. They'll admit that they're not very good at growing new brands. They're good at taking brands that have scale and, and then plugging them into their network and letting them grow from there.

Speaker 7:

Corporate America. Right . Exactly. Like , I mean , it's like any other product.

Speaker 8:

Yeah . So that's where that the opportunity was and it still is now there's just thousands of people in the space and it's, it's harder to sort through the clutter, cuz there's so many brands regionally, but it's still, still, it's fun. And um, I helped start an agency to help brands with digital strategy in that alcoholic beverage world. And then, so

Speaker 7:

You have that too? Or do you , do you still in that or no.

Speaker 8:

No. I mean, I, I help out on high level strategy there, but really my, my time's always Chris . Yeah .

Speaker 7:

Yeah. That's yours time . It's crazy to see like over 10 years, right? Like what you're doing 10 years ago to now and how much you've learned. Like you would never like seriously, like what's your major? Like finance, like that's like, you know what I'm saying? Like , I mean , I know lots of people have finance degrees and they're not doing finance, like who does finance, right. Like, but it's like, do you don't have to a fricking undergrad to be pilot . Like I'm not flying an airplane. <laugh> but it's cool to see. So like essentially you went from like, I mean , when , I guess, did you intern college to like even get into that world or how'd you, you know, initially or you just started on it ?

Speaker 8:

So I did three internships in college. One was Morgan Stanley. So I thought I wanted to be just a , like a , going to private equity.

Speaker 7:

And then what you think after that? Oh , then they don't have times like worst time to be in it.

Speaker 8:

It was horrible. And I , I would like right there , if you nap in the car, did

Speaker 7:

You have a cubicle or an office? Hold on, hold on. Did you have

Speaker 8:

Cub ?

Speaker 7:

I know I've been there too , dude. Like you want your soul to be sucked outta you. Like that's literally happens. Right. You come outta college, you think you're hardass. You think you're all cool. You have a degree and they put you in a cubicle and you're like, and you look around and you hear like the lights flickering and it's like, dly lit you have one screen. And they're like, okay. You know, do your TPT reports or whatever.

Speaker 8:

Right . Yeah . And so I did Morgan Stanley, the second internship I had, I , I worked for a hedge fund in 2008 that was dealing in subprime mortgage lending. Who was,

Speaker 7:

Should have you, or not

Speaker 8:

Part

Speaker 7:

Of like the worst industry to be in like literally like you ,

Speaker 8:

My third weekend , everything crashed. So I was sitting there <laugh> internship eight weeks.

Speaker 7:

It's like, you're only like in this big room and this is your cubicle, cuz you're not getting paid. Everyone else is gone. Cuz they're all like scattered like rats.

Speaker 8:

It was crazy. So my first, my first three weeks there, it was literally like out of the movie where I would analyze in these groups and then tell them why it shouldn't be rated a C, why it should be a B or an a. And I didn't know what I was doing at the time. I was just in college. You

Speaker 7:

Knew clue. Like, you're just like,

Speaker 8:

There's no idea. And then it crashed. And so the next five weeks I just sat there and they're like, we don't have time to give you anything. We're trying to figure out what's going on. So they're

Speaker 7:

Trying to figure out like how to not lose all their,

Speaker 8:

It was, yeah, that was chaos. Um , and

Speaker 7:

My last dad and be like, uh , I don't think this is the right industry for me to be in .

Speaker 8:

Yeah, it was , it was crazy. So that was kind of a turn off on that side of things. Uh , and then my last internship was in, uh , an experiential marketing firm. Uh , so I did that my semester off and what's

Speaker 7:

That,

Speaker 8:

Uh , it's like field of marketing. So they did a lot of like sampling for brands like Bicardi or Boris, like instore sampling they'll set up . Oh yeah .

Speaker 7:

Um , did you work at , did you work at like Safeway and like give out like pieces of Pam and stuff and like they took this out

Speaker 8:

<laugh> I did a lot of the like reporting, so I would do like,

Speaker 7:

Oh , okay . I was making sure, like you want the old lady at Costco giving out food

Speaker 8:

<laugh> Sam like no,

Speaker 7:

No , like not was a sample person <laugh>

Speaker 8:

But it was fun. I found that's kind of where I found a passion for digital strategy is I , I was, and , and after I graduated, I consulted them for a bit on how to take new tools and technologies and plug 'em into such an old industry. That's very just lick with the lifts or taste this product. Um, and so that was, that's kind of where I , I found the passion on ,

Speaker 7:

You got a little taste of it yourself and you're like, oh, this is , this is kind of cool. So then when you graduated , you went to that one place right in Charlotte mm-hmm <affirmative> and then, I mean, it's kind of cool because you just, it's kind on building on top of each other really, essentially. Um, so then both the spirits companies sold. Right. And then,

Speaker 8:

Um, just angels sent me , angels sent me sold . And so how the party ? Yeah. Angels and me sold a Bacard and then, uh , oh yeah . And then Papa , Pilar still run independently that brings doing well on its own. But yeah, that , that's where I lived was that spirits world for a while . Um, always had a passion for early stage brand building. So that's where I really love to dig in and figuring out kind of where, where these white

Speaker 7:

You you're super nimble. Right. Cuz you're so nimble. And it's like, you're early on in the process to like everything, you can do anything you want. Right. Trying to figure out what will actually be the right thing. Instead of being like farther back on the line, you're like, okay, well this is the thing that works. Right. And then they're just putting all their time into that . Exactly.

Speaker 8:

And, and everything's, it changes so quickly. And at the time I think it was, it was interesting, especially in spirits world , the it's so updated , but I just had fun thinking through ways of how do you outsmart rather than outspend the big guys, it's a game,

Speaker 7:

It's a game. It is .

Speaker 8:

Yeah. It is .

Speaker 7:

That's why I tell people this whole, thing's a game. It's fun because it's a big game. It really, I mean, it's work, but it's fun, but it's a game and it's like, you are the underdog, right. Like you really are. I mean, I know who my competitors are and they're huge. So it's like, you know, but

Speaker 8:

How

Speaker 7:

You found too , they're like dinosaurs, they take forever to move. It's all corporate America bull crap . And like, yeah. I mean, it's funny because it's happening now. Let's tell , you probably know this Billy what's happening now is, you know, it kind of started with, um, when bar stool got bought out, right. Like essentially what's happening is corporate. America's not trying to buy into this. Right. Because like, right . I you've probably seen it with whatever with what you've done, but like I'm seeing it with like YouTubers, I'm seeing it with brands . It's like, I don't know if they're just not innovative enough to do it themselves. And so they want to grab it and then push it further . Like you're saying like how Bacardi does it or whoever else, like I'm seeing it now in the digital age, like when it comes to content and um, mainly just content really? Um, yeah . I don't know . The hard goes it's probably with hard goes too . I can't think of anybody top my head, but definitely with digital, definitely digital. What

Speaker 8:

I think is everything is going. Yeah. Especially and consumer products. Absolutely. Right. All the big guys, just wait for the smaller ones to pop their heads up and show some signs of promise. And then they acquire 'em and figure out how to grow 'em

Speaker 7:

Then you've seen that. Right. You've already seen it. So it's like, yeah . I mean, like we did , like, we do M and a deals at our firm and I , we used a really big M and a deal, like hundreds of million dollars. Right. And like, but it's the same thing. It's like big corporation buys little company for hundreds of millions of dollars because they're like, oh, you guys do X. Then we wanna be able to get into X. So we is buy you. And then you're up here with us for a couple years and then you can bail. Right. But then it's like, they see the potential. So they're like, oh, but it's more about what it's really worth now. Right. Than in the future value later on. Yeah .

Speaker 8:

So

Speaker 7:

You, so when did you did that decide to start your own thing?

Speaker 8:

So in 20, so I was always fascinated by the sock revolution. Right . I was like always a crazy sock guy. And I watched watched that category go from black, white commodity driven replacement socks to what it is today. Cause they were brain .

Speaker 7:

When did that happen? Do you think? I know exactly what you're talking about . Like what year

Speaker 8:

Happening? So like 20 15, 20 16 I think is when I started really noticing it and started follow tracking, like stance was always and still as like a north star brand of ours, I think they did a great job of just growing a community and a brand and create a movement and then Babas and happy socks . Some of the other guys really just pushed that whole category into just a , a statement of self-expression not necessarily just a , a replacement.

Speaker 7:

Do you think socks ? I'm this is a general question. Do you think socks is what pushed what's happening now with other products? You know what I mean? Like before everything look at the polo shirt, right? Like everyone had polo shirt, it was like the , want the horse on it. You never saw a pattern ever. Right. If you did, it was like, yeah . Some weird, like you , you never saw, you saw like you would see like, you know , Fusia and weird blues or something like that, but you never see like anything with the pattern. And then it's like, now you're in the last, I mean , I think when it comes to polos, I think like bad bird is the one that really like took a , to the next level and made it like legit. Right. And not everyone's copying them not, but at least in the golf space. Yeah . But do you think that's where expression isn't started? It was around the same time, but socked , I think it is until you say that I'm like, that's probably what it was like something small scale that there's not a lot of risk and it's like, you know, I, it cost to make a pair of socks. Yeah . I don't know .

Speaker 8:

I don't know if it , it may have started it. Right. If it didn't start , it happened at the same time,

Speaker 7:

But I can't think of anything else before that, until you said that I can't honestly can't like , and I'm like, oh yeah, that , that was, yeah.

Speaker 8:

Yeah. And there's, and there's been this whole culture shift of wanting to stand out and, and really have a statement of self-expression, whether it be a loud polo or socks or laces or belt or watch straps, like everything's kind of gone towards that personal personalization. Do

Speaker 7:

You think the generational thing, do you think it's like, it's the whatever age group or do you think it's everybody? I don't think

Speaker 8:

It's turned into everybody. Right . I think it started with the younger, like I think it probably started with millennials,

Speaker 7:

Like in the twenties. Right? Probably late twenties. Uh ,

Speaker 8:

I don't , I think that's influenced older, old the older generation as well. Right. The older generation looks to the younger one on what's going on. A lot of times

Speaker 7:

Clue

Speaker 8:

Yeah. Comes to fashion. Um , so yeah, absolutely. I think, I think it started younger and it is pushed up and I think everybody, and it's moved that way almost across the board in , in all industries. Right. When

Speaker 7:

It comes. Cause your strategy guys, I didn't know anything about you. So like you're all about strategies. I know, you know, this stuff like what's happening now though, is those 25 year olds are now 35, right. It's I mean , or 30 and they're going to the next phase of their life. And so it's now it's moving into more mainstream America in terms of products. Right. Like I would think,

Speaker 8:

But even now , like 35 year olds are looking down to the 20, like I know my, my wife day was like, how are skinny jeans out? And this is dude , apparently this are no longer a thing. And so that that'll, that'll shift up and push up as well. It's it's just interesting to see it all move,

Speaker 7:

Dude. Well , I grew up in the nineties, right. So now it's like, oh, nineties music is cool. I'm like, thank God. Like, like, like I love it. I was in my wife lives in the all time. Right. Like I remember, I remember going that third eye blind concert in 1999, you know? Like , well just , I don't know . I think, I think it's happening with golf, especially like you see it is a microcosm only because it was so boring. Right? Like everything was boring. It was like solids and that's it. I mean , then you got brands like G for it comes out, they have like really nice higher end stuff. But when it came to like pattern, or it was about 2016, 2017, you started seeing patterns come in, you know, like brands, like Palm started doing like designs on the fingertips and on the , on the wrist, you know, Asher is taken to another level of gloves too , because now they have like different kinds of, you know, they came up with like a skeleton glove and then they came out with like, you start seeing more and more. And then that's when the shirts came out, you know, with bad birdie . Well actually bad birdie came out . I was , I technically, I think bad birdie really hit their hit it. It was like two years ago. That's when they like, Just based on my own, what I've seen, you see

Speaker 8:

That big yeah. In golf , especially right . Everything is being customized. Covers, gloves, socks, pants,

Speaker 7:

Dude , bro . We got so much talk to after the show. It's not even funny, like, like a hundred percent. I know lots of brands that this is what I think, honestly, it's all about the customization. Right. Right now it's almost like, yeah . People wanna stand out no matter what they do. And it's always been like that. It's just that you never had the ability to go do it until now. I think. No. So then what year? So you decided , what year did you decide to do your own thing?

Speaker 8:

So in 2017 is when the idea of shoelaces popped up. Um ,

Speaker 7:

Okay. So why shoelaces

Speaker 8:

Ran ? So I right. I was always fascinated with socks and then I was, I was in Austin actually visiting my brother-in-law. I was lacing up a pair of cohans and my laces broke. And then he was like, man, those would look great with some light blue laces. And then I went on this mission to find some light blue shoe laces and I couldn't find them . And when I did, they were the cheapest version of a shoe lace . You could find that I knew would rip in like three months. And that's when it clicked of like, well , one, I got really excited about the potential of kind of disrupting the shoe lace category, creating new designs with weaves and sublimated laces and, and going out there. So I went down this rabbit hole of shoe laces , trying to pull all the data I could of who's out there. Who's doing it. Well, what are the barrier ? The

Speaker 7:

Market research, right? Like who's the players and shoelaces, which your probably wasn't that many. Right? I would not. No ,

Speaker 8:

There's

Speaker 7:

Very , I think anyone company

Speaker 8:

There's Kiwi is the one, right? The one you'll see at pharmacies and supermarkets where you can get your, your cheap

Speaker 7:

Old man shoelaces, like the brown or

Speaker 8:

Brown lace . Right. That's , they're , they're really the only player that has scale . And there's a few in sneakers that are providing Jordan laces and Yeezy lace . Like there's a few in that sneakerhead world, but there really wasn't anybody. Oh yeah. Sneakerheads for sure. <laugh> its own world. There wasn't anybody that was kind of addressing all the categories and , and going after shoe lace as a whole. And so, um, I was lucky enough, this was in late 2017. I met, uh , Mike go who's who's my co-founder. And he spent 20 years at Nike in five years at CROX in , in product. Uh , he was at the , at Crocs at the time and I pitched him whiskers and he immediately fell in love with the idea,

Speaker 7:

Um , how

Speaker 8:

He jumped on board . He was a friend of a friend. So I knew somebody who worked at CROX and introduced us. And yeah, lucky enough. I knew I didn't have

Speaker 7:

Of him, but not him, I guess. Is that, what did you already know who he was or not really? Or somebody's introduced you, that's a friend of a friend and you're like, oh you do that. That's cool.

Speaker 8:

No , yeah. I didn't know who he was. I basically just pitched my friend who was at CROs just cuz he was at CROs and I said, this is a shoe lace concert . What do you think? Where can I make him ? Do you have any, any relationships? So he introduced me to Mike. And so Mike jumped on, he's been really the visionary behind all of our products and he's, he's brilliant. Right ? He he's the only one I know that like geeks out over like panto own colors of the season and figures out like what's coming next. And so he's really created the stories and the launches behind all of our categories. So we started our first full month was January, 2018. And it was a site that I built myself and we had very limited skews cuz we were waiting on, on products to be made and we were thrilled. Right. We sold a hundred pairs month, one, and we're like, we're doing this. And probably 60 of 'em were like family, friends,

Speaker 7:

Uh , 99 were , was you and then

Speaker 8:

Like test orders.

Speaker 7:

But we were , I got lot of those too myself. Like you do your numbers at the end of the year. And you're like, oh I had a really good February. And then you realize like , oh I bought all that. Like <laugh>

Speaker 8:

Right . Yeah . But, but no, we were , we were pumped. Right. It was working. We were , we had people there coming in, uh , and then April, 2018 and we started in dress shoelaces. I don't know if I'll do that. So we, we launched just in dress shoelaces, very intentionally knowing we can launch for the universal length, which is 33 inches. We can disrupt really that black, brown dress shoe category. Um ,

Speaker 7:

Everybody has. Yeah. Yeah.

Speaker 8:

Everybody has 'em in their closet. Everybody needs 'em there's no way to kind of differentiate your, your feet when you're wearing dress shoes other than some stitching. And if they're wingtips or Capto like , that's, that's really it. And so we saw great momentum, like April, 2018, we really started to see it hockey, hockey stick in December, 2018. We, we were selling, there were days we were selling over a thousand pairs a day and we had this tiny, tiny little office in Delray. And we started taking over the whole like office complex, trying to get orders out. So our neighbors hated us. And so it was , it was a fun year run year one and in 2019 we

Speaker 7:

And hockey sticked for a while going in the opposite direction. Cause then we buy shoe laces cause then was going work .

Speaker 8:

Yeah. Well, yeah, 2020 was interesting. Right?

Speaker 7:

20, 19, 20, 20 . Sorry we

Speaker 8:

Dabbled in like dress boots . We , we actually did a , a golf test cuz we quickly learned when we launched our dress laces, we needed consumer feedback cuz like our Alet size was like 0.5 millimeters too thick for some Cohan shoes that apparently everybody owns. So we had to make new product adjust, send free laces out .

Speaker 7:

You don't know . I mean, yeah you would never know that. Yeah.

Speaker 8:

The testing is yeah, it is a lot. So we rely heavily on consumers. And so 2019, we , we threw some tests out there in dress boots and golf. Um, 20, 20, we had huge plans, especially in golf and then March of 2020 hit and people stopped wearing shoes, let alone shoelaces. So we had to adjust heavily on kind of messaging really work on. And I think it was , it was a blessing, right. We really worked on our, our community, our customers, our, our brand, we transitioned our production from, uh , from overseas. We brought it, we found a great partner in North Carolina. Um, so they're making all are made . Places are now made in the us

Speaker 7:

For not much more than you're paying for in China. Like that's a thing, right? Like ,

Speaker 8:

Yeah. And the , the lead times are cut way down and they've been amazing partner, just innovation wise . We can test new weaves and styles and materials with them. So they've been great. And then, uh , really end of last year is when we

Speaker 7:

It's almost like 2020 was like the year of reflection. Right? Because like, if you think about it, cuz if you're hockey stick growth, you're just, you're just run . Right? Like at this point you're trying to get like, you don't have any time to think. I mean really, right. Like, yeah . And so then it's like when 20 hit, it was like reassess. Okay. Like what matters? Because I , if you probably seen it with the other brands you've done, you'll it . It's not like it's not burnout , but it's almost like you don't have time to like figure out what this next steps are. You're just be like, oh, we'll make these sock . Oh , we'll make these laces. Oh , make these laces , we'll make these laces . Oh we gotta get these out. Blah, blah, blah. Yeah . And then it's like, you know, it's gonna be like a flash in the pan. Right. And it's done. It's almost like , and back to community. Right. Cause you probably, would've not spent any time on community because you're just trying to make sales Essent. Right . Or actually not even make sales, like fulfill sales,

Speaker 8:

It was trying to keep up. Right. And that's when 2020 happened . That's what we said is like, let's make sure we become a brand and not a product. Like we want to actually mean something to people and not just be shoelaces. Like we, we know what we stood we're

Speaker 7:

We're not Kiwi. Right? Like Kiwi's like, like, no, I'm nothing against them , but we don't wanna be those guys.

Speaker 8:

Yeah. So it's yeah. It was fun. I , I , I think I was proud of our team. We have a small team, but I was proud. We were able to,

Speaker 7:

How big is your team?

Speaker 8:

There's four of us full time . It's all hands on deck. Come holiday season. <laugh> when it's fulfillment.

Speaker 7:

That's big . My team is , I mean, it's just like, Like six ,

Speaker 8:

But it's funny cuz people don't don't know how small we are. So we'll get like Julia does customer service and operations and fulfillment for us. So she'll get an email like, Hey, your factory must have Shipp these to the wrong address . And she's like, well I'm our factory. And I dropped them off yesterday. <laugh> they just don't understand how , how small we are . So it's been fun to have that. Do

Speaker 7:

You guys spent almost half a last year fulfilling orders myself outta my garage. Like I talked Todd , another , another friend of mine who owns a golf globe company and I was talking about it and I was like, Hey, do you wanna do my fulfillment for me? And he's no , we can't work too busy right now. It's awkward crap . But like it's a lot of work. It's like so much time. It's a lot of work. Like

Speaker 8:

Yeah ,

Speaker 7:

It's a lot of work.

Speaker 8:

You have to be organized and have a system. Otherwise it's just so much wasted time and paper and

Speaker 7:

It's weighing it and yeah . Putting labels out and blah, blah, blah. And like it's not easy people. Here's the thing. People think that it's easy. I mean , anybody can make a brand and put up on the internet in like five minutes. Like it's not hard. You know , you can find a supplier in China on Alibaba. You can make a Shopify store, whatever it is you want to sell, you can open up social media accounts and you can run ads. Like anybody can do that. If you have some capital, you can do all that. No problem. You know, but then it's like, or the rubber meets the road is like everything else, you know? Yeah . Um ,

Speaker 8:

Which is a lot, right . I never thought shoelaces would be so complicated, but it aleck , it was a learning experience. The first shipment we had actually came to the Miami port and uh, I had no idea what I was doing to

Speaker 7:

Did . Do you have to pay all the like tariffs and all that bull crap?

Speaker 8:

Yeah. Like going through that,

Speaker 7:

How much you have to pay tariffs.

Speaker 8:

Crazy. Um , it was , I think it was 10%,

Speaker 7:

So much money. My buddy telling me a story once I'm not who it is. And he said like that happened to him and he ordered a bunch of product. It , you know, he went through a what ? They call his guys the middle man anyways. Yeah . It was Miami airport. They ship it all in dude. You know how much they , you know, much his tariffs were 25 grand. Like , and he didn't have 25 grand. So all his product is sitting at the airport. He can't even get hit on his credit card. Right.

Speaker 8:

Oh man.

Speaker 7:

And they don't tell you these things, you know

Speaker 8:

It much to learn cuz I've never been through that experience. I drove, I drove down to the Miami like Seaport in my car thinking, Hey yeah , I'll pick it up. And I got in line. How

Speaker 7:

Did you pick it up?

Speaker 8:

It was me sitting in between like six semi trucks in my like Subaru SUV . And I get to the front of the lion and the guy radios it in. And he is like, you sit here for order number, whatever it was. And he is like, he's in a car, like a real car. I was like uhoh. And so I drove, I had to stand on the roof of the car just to get up to the port. And I like loaded it with shoe laces . And there were still how big

Speaker 7:

Was a , how big was it like huge.

Speaker 8:

There were so I quickly learned, there were 12,000 pairs we ordered and I quickly learned I could fit 12,000 pairs shoe laces in my car, cuz we ran out and we still had like a thousand left and I was dumping them through the sunroof of my car and then just like driving home covered and she Shelac is breaking them back.

Speaker 7:

The crazy Florida person, like driving into some kind shoe lace Fe

Speaker 8:

<laugh> it didn't stand out at all down here. No ,

Speaker 7:

No it wouldn't maybe a normal day. Exactly . Maybe in Orlando. <laugh> I guess like where do your customers come from? So it's percentages, would you say?

Speaker 8:

So we do a lot from social, um , more and more word of mouth. So we've seen just year over year. Right? We have our, our return customer rate has gone up a ton. It started at like 8% and we're

Speaker 7:

That's free work . That's free business right there, man. Yeah.

Speaker 8:

We're over , we're over 40% now over the last probably three, four months. And so a repeat customers and then it's kind of, how do we get new people in , in and aware of the , the brand that's our biggest challenge has just been

Speaker 7:

Social. Is that the best way?

Speaker 8:

Social ? Yeah. Social has been big for us. Just visually being able to show people she laces . Cuz if you don't know that she likes brand exists, you're not looking for it. And so really showing the right content to folks has been key for us is just getting that content out there and letting them know that we exist. And you can actually upgrade your laces with better designs and more durable laces. You

Speaker 7:

Are you guys on Amazon or no,

Speaker 8:

We are. Yeah. We're on Amazon. We, we didn't, we postpone Amazon for a while and our, uh , our philosophy

Speaker 9:

<laugh> it's like you wanna be the devil? Like , I mean like

Speaker 8:

They're , they're a lot to work with, but really we said we wouldn't get on Amazon until competitors were bidding against our, our name. And so as soon as we saw people running ads,

Speaker 7:

Interesting concept of

Speaker 8:

Searches on Whis, then we hopped on board . So more of a defensive than an offensive strength , energy .

Speaker 7:

So you mean competitors like competitors, shoelace companies or competitors on Amazon

Speaker 8:

Competitor, shoelaces companies. Um, which on Amazon, there's everything.

Speaker 7:

That's a freaking cool way of thinking about that. I never, that's a really cool see like when do you make that move? And that was a good decision. Like, okay, when we actually see people bidding against our keyword, then we know we're doing something right. Because now they, I also think that some shady and people do that. I mean, you can do it cuz Google doesn't care as long as you pay and they'll do whatever it takes. What I hate is this, what I hate is like Amazon will run ads on Google with your keyword . Yeah . For Amazon. And it's not like Paul liberatory competing against you and I'm selling your shoe lace . It's like Amazon, the company is, is sending bazillion dollars, running ads against every company that they can find to get people to go back to Amazon, which is so F and JD, like

Speaker 8:

They're so tough. Yeah. And if you're a product that makes it, they just create a product in the same category at a cheaper price. It's a cheaper product,

Speaker 7:

But Amazon choice .

Speaker 8:

Yeah. They just take up that, that lower kind of price point for you.

Speaker 7:

I mean , I love Amazon for a million reasons, but these are reasons I don't like 'em , you know what I mean? Like

Speaker 8:

As a consumer.

Speaker 7:

Yeah . As a consumer, as a business, that's like, I , I can choice my cool stories. Like Amazon is a whole beast. It's like everyone has , I guess one thing and you probably know those too is like every platform has its own is a beast in itself in order to master it like, and Amazon is it own thing, right? Like when did you guys jump on Amazon? Then

Speaker 8:

This was in actually funny story on Amazon. So we jumped on, on board , Amazon in 2019 and like April, 2019. And then in June, 2019, we got kicked off of Amazon. And for what? So it , it was like a two month process to even figure out why,

Speaker 7:

Just

Speaker 8:

Because they tell

Speaker 7:

You nothing

Speaker 8:

Is insane. And they say, and they say that too. They , I got an email one , one morning and Amazon was killing it for us. And then they just shut it off. I got an email saying you are no longer able to sell, um, shoot whiskers on Amazon. You're terminated indefinitely. Uh , no further reason will be supplied. And so we went back and forth. I called everybody. I could think of any Amazon and got no got nowhere. We had attorneys at Amazon. We knew and they couldn't figure it out. And so turns out my wife had an account in like, oh nine and sold one book. And their policy is you're allowed one seller account per household for life. And so they just said, so my IP was linked to hers and they said , and her account is yours. Really? They have another one so that they kicked off , but they

Speaker 7:

Don't tell you that.

Speaker 8:

Didn't tell us that. So I , I finally figured that out. And then I emailed on a hail Mary cuz if you watch any interview with like Jeff Bezos, um, he would always say, Hey, email me. I checked my emails. And so I emailed Jeff at Amazon with like a catchy header and told him what was going on. I included a team picture. I'm like, we're just a shoelaces company trying to sell shoelaces. And this is killing us. And then three weeks later I got an email from his assistant. One of his assistants saying, Jeff has read your email. Your account is now reactivated. It was like, we all just went out and like, partied,

Speaker 7:

Hell yeah. Well, so say I'm a Amazon influencer or as they call it. And so like that happened to me, happens all the time. They will take down my stuff like my video or whatever and not tell me. Right. So then I'll go into my account and then's been up there for a long time and I'll go there and it'll be like, rejected, rejected, rejected other like Brandos, right. Ran . And I'm like, what? The F now you can go into the video and see why, and you can curses her over. And it says, the product you link to in this video is not the product in your video. And I'm like, dude. Yeah. It is like, it's like, it's the X, Y , Z thing. And that's the XYZ video? Like, did you not like , did you not even watch it? It's the exact same thing like verbatim. Right. And , and they did for like, this happened like two weeks. I was so freaking . They did for like , for 10 of my videos. Do you , long time it takes to like reupload, all your videos, read , redo all your, put up all your graphics, tag, all write stuff . It took like, I'd go back to my team and say, Hey, I can't find that video. Where's that video act it's on the folder. Like all , you know, I wished probably 10 hours doing it. And they gave me no rhyme or reason as to why they did it because nobody , somebody decided that it wasn't the same product, dude. Do you know how to watch TV? I mean like seriously, like it was like this yellow pencil and they'd be like, no , that's not that it's a green pencil and it's not gonna, but it's called the same comp . No. So it happens all the time. They

Speaker 8:

It's a beast. Yeah. But yeah. Luckily we're back on

Speaker 7:

Hell . Yeah. It's kinda cool. Jeff Bezos , like actually did something about it.

Speaker 8:

Yeah. So if you need anything, let me know. I can just, you know ,

Speaker 7:

I'm gonna , I'm going , I'm gonna call you as soon as they kick me off my account for talking crap, they're gonna be like, oh, Kyle know is Jeff. I'm gonna call Kyle Kyle, you can call Jeff or me.

Speaker 8:

Yeah, exactly.

Speaker 7:

Made some sad picture of me, like superimposed me through the picture of your team. Like, oh little Chili's company. I'd be like,

Speaker 8:

<laugh> . That was , that was our last effort too. It was sort like let's yeah.

Speaker 7:

What's were you gonna do that was literally your hail Mary, right?

Speaker 8:

Yeah . So

Speaker 7:

Yeah. You can't find anybody over there. The problem too is like, you can talk to customer service about whatever the problem is. I mean, and you'll get one answer from one different person. Like everyone has a different answer. It's not like this is the policy X, Y , Z . What was really cool is I'm gonna give 'em credit for this though. This is what kind of cool. So like when I first like put putting my videos up on Amazon, um, <affirmative> like, I published, I dunno , I published a bunch of money Amazon. And then like a week later they fricking the same thing. They like, they turn off my account. They're like, you have not , you cannot do this, blah, blah, blah, blah. And I, and I was like, what the hell? And I sent an email and I was like, it , it took like two or three emails, like different people. And I'm like, can you just please tell me what wrong? I don't know what I did wrong. Like, just tell me and I'll fix it. And I'm sorry, like please tell me. And then finally I said , you know, somebody was nice enough over there saying this is a , they didn't go into a policy, but they're like, this is why you're in the system. Why you're being kicked off. You know, you have to X, Y , Z . I'm like, right . No problem. I will never do that again. You know, it been so stupid. You know what? It was like, you can't, you can't tell people to come off of Amazon. So you can't be like, oh , here's the pen . Check off the pen review@golfersauthority.com . Like you can't do that. Like, I didn't know. That was the rule. I guess I didn't read the whole 40 pages of terms of conditions. So like, I just cut all that out and it was like, oh, here's the pen. Thank you. You know, or whatever it was. But I mean, I get it. It's their platform. You want them to like a hundred percent understand, but nobody tells you that they just turn it off. It's like,

Speaker 8:

It's yeah. There's so many, like knowing what you can include, especially if you're looking for reviews or sending thank yous, like making sure you don't have your own birth and site . There's, there's a

Speaker 7:

Lot. I didn't even know any of that . Yeah . Like I , I didn't know any of that . I know, like it's tricky and the same thing. I have like an Amazon account and I like literally sold my Le my law books, like 10 years ago, you know, like I beat by these law school books. And then they're like , you get some money back from 'em . Right. And of course my wife's account. And now I'm like, maybe I'm gonna sketched out , dude. Now I'm like, oh , if I open another account , they're gonna do the same thing to me.

Speaker 8:

Right. Yeah . Yeah . Careful with multiple accounts.

Speaker 7:

So then are you in green grass then right now?

Speaker 8:

Um, in terms of just retail

Speaker 7:

Stores. Yeah. Retail.

Speaker 8:

Yeah, we have. So we have about 70 independent retailers to date. Um, how do

Speaker 7:

You find independent retail ? How do you do that sales team?

Speaker 8:

No. So we just started outbound, um , outset, outbound sales, really just internally, most of the , well, all of the 70 have just been inbound there . Folks who saw us online and then reached out to see if they could carry our , our laces. And it's everywhere from menswear shops to country clubs, to barber shops. And really, we just tried to test where the laces did well. And so right now, we're, we're talking to a few national retailers on the golf side, actually, a lot of different, uh , courses and country clubs and resorts. And so over the next 90 days or so we should be in, uh , probably upwards of another 80 to a hundred in , in the golf space.

Speaker 7:

Do you make a golf specifically

Speaker 8:

Or what

Speaker 7:

We do ?

Speaker 8:

Yep . So

Speaker 7:

Tell me about that.

Speaker 8:

So part of the way we wanted to approach the category and why we wanted to be different is there's all these other Chile competitors out there. And usually the way they went about it was you'd get the same lace. And they'd say here's 33 for dress. Here's 45 for sneaker. And here's 54 for boots . It's the same exact lace . And so one, one thing I thought Mike was just a genius on is really concepting. If we want to go about this differently in the right way, let's make sure every collection has a story. It has a place in the closet, there's a purpose for it to exist. And so we that's what happened with our first launch with dress is we wanted to make sure we hit the right styles and colors and dress. And then, uh , when we released our golf collection in late last year, Q4 last year is we wanted to hit all kind of the , the key golf colors. And so right now we have two different styles in golf and that'll expand quite a bit this year. And we have our sneak did ,

Speaker 7:

You can do so much crap, dude, it's that funny? And especially if you can get like a collab with like golf shoe company, like that's popular and be like, Hey, becoming a shoe lace for you guys. Not a big one, not like a FootJoy , but like the smaller, like , like a true link wear or like somebody who's has a , you know, I consider good shoe companies are not the big boys. Like that's huge. Right? Like that would be great because then you get loyalty, I guess at this point, it's almost like if you could do collabs, that'd be really cool.

Speaker 8:

Yeah. And we are talking, we actually tested one with Palm . We did like a golf crate where it included a three pack of our laces, a pair of their , or one of their gloves, how , um , their ball marker . And so, and that did really well for us. And so we're looking at other brands that are, have this similar mentality. And, and I think just learning from golfers, what they're matching up, a lot of golfers will match laces with polos or belts or golf gloves. And so we want to kind give those options. Um, and so our golf laces are different. We have two different styles, one for the more classic, like, like dress Euro FootJoy type shoe, which is our round lace. And then for the more athletic style shoe, we have 45 inch, uh , oval and flat laces. Uh , and we just launched 42 new colors, uh , two weeks ago, all, all solids, mainly we want to get all the basic ,

Speaker 7:

Every shade of the spectrum, right.

Speaker 8:

Everything covered. And then we have some, some big plans this year. We have some sublimated laces, some different designs. That'll be a lot of fun.

Speaker 7:

Do you think one day you could do like custom laces? Is that where you want to take it? Like people could actually like come to you and say, I'm getting married and I want these kick. I mean, you know , okay. It's $30 a shoe lace , right. Or whatever, like , but have you guys ever thought about that?

Speaker 8:

We've thought about custom. I think maybe way down the road, we have so much on like our product roadmap right now that we want to get covered. And then once we get there, I think we'll start to figure out exactly where we expand. Um , but we've seen, yeah, we've seen these past few months, past really four months in golf has been incredible. It's been, it's , it's a great community. It's a insanely small world. And so doors just keep opening and we're talking to some of the larger retailers and some of the top 50 courses across the country to see for those guys, we are looking to create some custom laces with their colors and some different boxes. So it , it it'll be a fun year for us.

Speaker 7:

So when you say box, like , what's the box, is it like, is it a collab? And it's a special box with everything in there.

Speaker 8:

Yeah. You can see our , our laces all come in this little. Yeah. It's like a, just a tiny box. And then they all come over after around the school here. Right . You can

Speaker 7:

See , I like Kiwi packaging better.

Speaker 8:

<laugh> yeah , just

Speaker 7:

Kidding.

Speaker 8:

We get that a lot.

Speaker 7:

I don't , I'm just totally kidding. I get that a lot. Yeah. We're probably gonna go the Kiwi style, you know, the bubble mailer and like

Speaker 8:

Yeah, exactly. We , I

Speaker 7:

Like how you guys do it though. It's kind of cool because it's like, it looks very classy, you know? I mean, it's not like, oh, here's your shoelaces in a bubble package , gene , you know, it's like, oh, look, it's like an experience. Like, you know, I think it's really good .

Speaker 8:

Yeah. And we wanted to educate folks, right. What the product is. So we have all the product features that all our polyester comes from recycled plastic water bottles it's made in the us and our , even our, that was

Speaker 7:

A huge move to come in the United States. That's huge. I mean, honestly, that

Speaker 8:

Was big and yeah, that's , I wish we should have said that we saw the pandemic coming, but we were just a few months ahead of it. Luckily and, and supply chain wise has been just a godsend that we , that we ,

Speaker 7:

I , I here's, here's what I feel like if you buy stuff overseas, like yeah. It's cheaper. But in the end of the day, like I , how much , well, first of all, you have to find the right re the right manufacturing United States . It's not an easy job, right? No , but if you can, it's like, yeah , the margins are not as great, but then it's like, you don't have all the risk. Right. You don't put all this time. It's not stuck on a boats, stuck on a plane. You know, I just , That's kind of when

Speaker 8:

We first, the , we actually, every, every lace manufacturer in north America and we got turned down by everyone just cuz we wanted, we were going about it so differently. We wanted custom alas, which is the end of the she and we wanted different leaves and materials. And so we even spoke to our current partner pre-launch and they said no. And once they saw what we were doing, they got excited about it and , and have

Speaker 7:

It's one thing that's talk . The other thing is actually doing right. And they're oh, wait a minute. Yeah. Like then they got excited about it. It's harder to sell somebody on an idea, especially

Speaker 8:

PowerPoint.

Speaker 7:

Do they, do they have to retool then or not really?

Speaker 8:

Yeah. They've actually invested a machinery just for us. Um, around the way we're packaged the aglets some new weave we're testing out. So they've yeah. They've been amazing.

Speaker 7:

Well, that's awesome. I mean, I can't believe like who would've thought chews like seriously. I think it's brilliant. I mean, honestly, but I mean, now that I know you and know, like you're what, you've how you did it like for before and do you guys , you guys do really well. I mean, you, we are you're , you're gonna start seeing like custom shoelaces with everybody. I bet you a million dollars. I mean, it's, it's all about the small custom me stuff. Like what does it cost for a pair of shoelaces? I have no idea.

Speaker 8:

Uh , it's 1499 per pair . Wow. And then we do, we have a five pack by four, get your fifth free. So 60 for, for five.

Speaker 7:

That's really cool. Where can people find you guys?

Speaker 8:

So our website, whiskers laces , just whiskers laces.com is really the best place to find us. And that's

Speaker 7:

How'd you come to name whiskers?

Speaker 8:

I wish there was like a beautiful story behind it. We, we played around with a lot of names when we were first testing and I'm, I'm horrendous at names. I am not a , a naming guru by any means. Yeah. Um , and the name just popped up one day. Um, I forget. I think actually my dad, I think said whiskers and that's why everyone was like, that's it like that's that feels right. Cuz we wanted a brand that, that was a little more modern. That was, you could remember. And we did a lot of consumer after that we tested like our top three names and whiskers always had a reaction, whether it be positive or negative, but either way people remembered it. And so we went with that. Right. Whatever. And just invoke some sort of feeling.

Speaker 7:

No , that's that's I think it's our name. Well, it's awesome. I mean, I really appreciate you being on the show today. Um , I think, like I said, you guys are in a very interesting place and I like, I like, honestly, I just think you guys will do gonna blow up . I mean, it'll be a matter . Thank you . I mean , you kind of are doing pretty well, but like it's an unknown market and then it's like, when you start telling me, so I'm like, oh , you'll be everywhere. I just, because it's, it's a accessory . Right. And accessories always do well. They don't cost a lot of money for people and they don't they'll especially if you get to golf shops and stuff like that, man, like that's an afterthought. Like if they're just seeing some cool, like whatever, they'll grab it 15 bucks or whatever. Um , yeah , I think it's , and it's

Speaker 8:

Subtle pop of color. Right? You can, you can stand out without really just being kicked out. I it's not loud pants. It's uh , you can be loud with your laces and it's still this small accent to your wardrobe.

Speaker 7:

Yeah. So you can match it up with something else, like a towel or you know, or style wide . I don't know . Like just , it's not, it's not gimmicky. Let's put it that way. You know, it's more like classy, but it's kind of, I dunno . I think it's really cool. So thank you for being it on the show. I'm glad I got to meet you. I think it's really cool. What you're doing. I hope to be doing more with you guys. I know we kind talked about it. I will see you all guys in the next episode.

Speaker 3:

Thanks for listening to another episode of behind the golf brand podcast. You're gonna beat

Speaker 10:

Me

Speaker 3:

A golf stay connected on and off the show by visiting golfers authority.com. Don't forget to like subscribe and leave a comment. Golf is always more fun when you win, stay out of the beach and see you on the green.