When it comes to starting a business, many people seem to struggle to figure out what it is that they’re passionate about and how they can turn that into a successful business. You always hear the good old “find out what your passionate about, and do that for a living” adage but many people seem to have difficulty identifying what that factor is for them. When I decided to revive my Building a Brand interview series, I felt there was no one better to help with this subject than Chase McAnulty, an old high school friend who has seen a lot of success recently with his vintage t-shirt company Charlie Hustle. When I interviewed Chase, we dug into a variety of aspects of who he is, what his business is and how he’s been able to successfully navigate that dreaded first year after starting a business. Rather than divide the interview into several articles, I’ve instead divided it up into several sections based on the topic we were discussing. Chase McAnulty and The Charlie Hustle Brand
One of the most inspiring aspects to the Charlie Hustle brand is how Chase took his lifelong hobby and passion and used it to create a business that he could truly get behind. If you’ve ever considered the idea of starting your own business, your first thought must have been “what am I best at?” Perhaps the question we need to be asking ourselves is not what are we best at, but what do we love, what are we most passionate about?
What is Charlie Hustle and How Did it Get Started? We are a vintage t-shirt company out to preserve the old school and bring back some of those childhood memories using the t-shirt as our canvas. We felt a serious need to make better t-shirts, the way we wanted to make them and our passion for classic vintage t-shirts from the 70s and 80s were our inspiration.
What were you doing before Charlie Hustle? Why the change to starting your own business? I was at a dead-end, and by dead-end I mean…’wanted to stab a pencil into my eyeball on the daily’ design job for a local beverage distributor. I always kind of knew this is what I wanted to do. Definitely see myself as a serial entrepreneur and prefer designing my own lifestyle.
Had you ever attempted to start a business before Charlie Hustle? I actually did while I was in college. It was an eBay biz selling vintage tees and then we built a little website and that is about when I started designing my own shirts while I spent some time in design school. I think success can be defined by what you learn and take from your experiences and it really taught us how to run a business and gave us plenty of insight on what not to do this time around.
Were you ever concerned that Charlie Hustle would fail? Well, we are definitely still young being in our second year with Charlie Hustle and we have been blessed to have the kind of success we’ve been having, but much of that comes from past experience. We knew what we wanted to do this time around and we are implementing that on a daily basis.
What led to choosing Charlie Hustle as the name of your brand? It kind of rolled off the tongue. Obviously it has a tie with sports and more specifically Pete Rose, but we wanted something that connected with both youth and the older crowd. I think the word ‘hustle’ gets misconstrued in so many ways, but it speaks to how we run our brand, doing whatever it takes to make things happen.
Your brand seems to have its own unique following and culture, different from many other clothing brands, thoughts on why? It’s our community. It’s grassroots, but it connects with everyone because of its nostalgic vibe. People’s happiest moments in life where when they were kids. No inhibitions. We are trying to bring them back those moments the best way we know how and give it a modern feel at the same time. We carefully choose what stores carry our brand as well. It has to fit, it needs to be just as relevant as we are.
In developing CH, how have you used social media or the internet to develop your brand and it’s following? It’s a word of mouth brand so social media is huge for us. We tackle it as a team, we all have access to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, etc. and we kind of designate each avenue for one member to focus on and that helps us stay connected with what we are all doing. We also all don’t live in the same states so the use of apps for our business is vital as far as communication goes. Using Kickstarter to Build Your Business
Crowd funding isn’t anything new and has been going on for years. The online crowd funding website Kickstarter has become the go-to tool for entrepreneurs, authors, musicians and everyday normal guys hoping to start up their dream business. While many people attempt to utilize the platform to start their business from the ground up, more and more brands are starting to use the crowd funding platform to obtain the funds to take their brands to the next level. Recently, Charlie Hustle started a Kickstarter project to help get the needed funds to develop their newest line of vintage shirts dubbed “The Negro League Collection” and during our interview I spoke with Chase regarding his decision to go public and seek funding from the public on Kickstarter.
What made you decide to look into using Kickstarter for your new line? Kickstarter has allowed us a platform to seek funding in a creative way out side of finding investors and possibly losing equity in our brand. We don’t want to do that. We want to grow properly and organically. I think it allows us to maintain our current production without tapping into our cash flow to create an entirely new collection. We also are doing it for our Negro Leagues collection and I think it’s important to go all it and give it the justice it deserves. It’s an amazing opportunity for small businesses to build a community as well.
Do you feel like Kickstarter is a useful tool for startups? Can it work for anyone? Crowd funding is not a new concept, however with the ability of the internet and social media to share with the world, it makes you wonder why it hasn’t hit the internet sooner. Now, it’s not an avenue to just simply raise general business expenses. It must be a clear and concise project. We have spent nearly six months diving into our campaign and literally having everything in place prior to launch. I highly suggest you take your time, it’s not something that happens over night. Tips on Building a Brand
One of the most important things I feel anyone can walk away from an interview with a business owner is personal advice. Starting a business from nothing and working to keep that business successful takes a lot of will power and dedication. Getting the opportunity to hear what it’s really like from someone who’s been through it all can make a world of difference for someone struggling to make their dreams come true. During my interview with Chase, I took the opportunity to ask him what he felt like he could have done better when he started and of course, what advice would he give to someone looking to start their own business.
What is one mistake that you wish you could rewind and redo? How did you rebound? I wish I was a little more mature business wise when I was younger, that’s all. For the most part though it’s helped me in where I am today. As long as you can learn from your mistakes and are willing to learn in general, you’re off to a good start. I don’t like handling the books, early on I was trying to do everything and this was always the thing that got put on the back burner. We did a lot of backtracking in our first year because of it and it created a lot of headaches.
What does your typical day as founder of a business consist of? I am big on eight hours of sleep. I say that because I feel it’s important to keep your mind and body healthy and aware. I usually work late as a lot of my ideas come at night so I am often in the office until 1 or 2 in the morning. Wake up, make breakfast and then stay as productive as possible. Everyday brings a new task, whether it be stocking a local boutique, doing an interview or picking up product. No, we don’t just sit around and design all day, it’s grueling work, but it’s a eustress as oppose to a stress. We’ve created this madness, but we get to do it our way, there’s a lot of happiness in that.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start their own business? Do it! Dig in and don’t look back. Learn as you go and do everything you can to make it a reality. It’s as cliché as…you have one life to live…think about it.
Where do you hope Charlie Hustle to be in the next 5-10 years? We want to be a nationally known brand and share our stories with the world. 10 years….international. It would take all day to tell you exactly where we’re going to be, but just know…you won’t be able to miss us.
If you’re interested in helping Charlie Hustle with their Kickstarter project, click here to become a supporter.