Ep. #1017 - Dare to Be Different
In today’s episode of Startup Hustle, we ask the question: would you dare to be different? If your answer is yes, then Lauren Conaway and Kerry Michaels, CEO of William Murray Golf, have the perfect conversation for you! They talk about what it means when you dare to be different in any given industry and the benefits you stand to cash in on by owning your uniqueness.
Covered In This Episode
When starting a business, is your plan followed to a tee? Why is intellectual property a huge concern in retail? What is the importance of storytelling in brand building?
Lauren and Kerry answer all these queries in their conversation. They also talk about how Kerry discovered an opportunity to start William Murray Golf and the challenges she had to conquer.
Be inspired and dare to be different today! Tune in to this Startup Hustle episode now.
- The Kerry Michaels story, from being a researcher to entrepreneur (01:41)
- The inspiration to build William Murray Golf (05:45)
- Approaching Bill Murray to get him involved (10:55)
- On being a job hopper and learning along the way (13:02)
- Challenges that Kerry had to deal with (15:30)
- What makes the William Murray Golf product line different (18:09)
- On daring to be different in the industry (20:53)
- About changing the narrative of the sport (23:04)
- How Kerry cultivated the brand (26:41)
- Intellectual property in retail (29:49)
- The future of William Murray Golf (31:48)
- The way you tell your story matters in retail (33:53)
- Best practices that entrepreneurs can use right away (35:44)
- How to activate the team around your mission (37:41)
Networking works because you never know who you’re gonna meet and who you’ll be able to impress.– Lauren Conaway
What ended up kind of evolving was that these prints were conversation starters. And people would interact with each other . . . It sparks conversation. I think that is so exciting.– Kerry Michaels
We still want to respect the game; it does have a long heritage. And we want to respect that. But we want to shake it up a little bit, too. We want to have fun with it. And we want it to be approachable. I think that has been missing from the sport for many years.– Kerry Michaels
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Following is an auto-generated text transcript of this episode. Apologies for any errors!
Lauren Conaway 00:01
And we are back! Thank you for joining us for yet another episode of the Startup Hustle podcast. I’m your host, Lauren Conaway, founder and CEO of InnovateHER KC. And I got to tell you about today’s episode sponsor, friends. Today’s episode of Startup Hustle is sponsored by FullScale.io. Hiring software developers is difficult. But Full Scale can help you build a software team quickly and affordably. And they have the platform to help you manage that team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. All right, friends, today we have with us, we’re going to be talking, I imagine, a little bit about sports swing in golf. And this is going to be fun for me. But we’re gonna be talking about a lot of things with Kerry Michaels, CEO of William Murray Golf. Kerry, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with us today. I’m really excited to hop into the conversation.
Kerry Michaels 00:52
Lauren, thank you so much for having me.
Lauren Conaway 00:55
Yeah, well, let’s go ahead and just get started. So first things first, friend, tell us about your journey.
Kerry Michaels 01:01
Oh, my journey. So you know, growing up, I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, but was never quite sure what that looks like, right? You know, my dad was an entrepreneur. So I always looked up to him. And he very much inspired me along this journey. But, you know, after college, it was like so many people, I really didn’t know what the thing was. So my first job out of college was for a marketing research consulting group. And there, I got to work for some really big, cool brands. And it helped give me a good perspective on consumers and what it means to have targeted brand messaging. And from there, you know, I was like, well, this is a really cool job. But I don’t want to get pigeonholed into marketing research. So I ended up going to get my MBA. And the idea was to kind of broaden my skill set. And I did focus on entrepreneurship there. But really, what it was, I was taking classes and finance and accounting and ops and kind of all the things. And so after my MBA, I started working for a company out of Connecticut called Waterworks, and they do really high-end plumbing. And I really fell in love with the brand. But there, I had, it was kind of my real-world boot camp, MBA boot camp. And there, I was doing strategy. I was doing finance. And I remember, you know, this was almost 15 years ago. Somebody, there had asked me, hey, Kerry, do you know anything about social media? Like, do you have a Facebook account? And I was like, yeah, you know, I have Facebook. And they were like, well, do you think you can run our Facebook for the company? Can you help us start that? So I did, I helped start social media there. I helped start e-commerce. And I really started getting passionate about the digital world. And so I was getting my hands on a lot of things. And then I jumped again. And I jumped over to Oakley, on the other side and in California, and was working in sales, development, and operations. And so honestly, it was one of those things where I was kind of worried at some point where I was like, gosh, my resume looks like I’ve been jumping all over the place. But in reality, it gave me an opportunity to see up close how all the parts of the business work together, you know, from the finance and marketing to ops. And so, I really think that it was a great background to kind of help prepare me for that entrepreneurial journey. So when I started William Murray Golf, I was actually an employee at a company called the Chive. Are you familiar with Chive?
Lauren Conaway 03:55
I’ve heard of the Chive. Isn’t it like a well? Doesn’t it have a newsletter?
Kerry Michaels 03:59
Yes, they have a newsletter. It’s a humor blog, and it has a huge online following.
Lauren Conaway 04:06
Yeah, I’m pretty sure that I’ve at least subscribed to that newsletter. Yeah, like a little digest. Funny. Yeah, there’s some kind of like the kind of takeoff of the onion.
Kerry Michaels 04:18
Yeah, it’s very similar at the time, for sure.
Lauren Conaway 04:22
So you were at the Chive. I was five.
Kerry Michaels 04:27
I was head of ops for their e-commerce business, which was doing really well-selling t-shirts like funny t-shirts. And they actually had Bill Murray’s license for t-shirts, and so they had these t-shirts with his face on them, and they would decorate it for different holidays.
Lauren Conaway 04:47
And so, wait a minute, like the awesome guy from Caddyshack right now. Is that what I’m thinking of? There was a meme that went around for a while, and it was just awesome. Yes, yes. Yeah, you’re right. I can picture it exactly in my head.
Kerry Michaels 05:05
Yes, that’s one of the shorts, and so they built this huge loyal following with Bill Murray around some of these T-shirts. So I was an employee there. And I had seen this one t-shirt that they did with our now William Murray logo. And it’s an image of Bill tossing his golf club. And, you know, the idea is, you don’t know if it’s a good shot or a bad shot. You know, he’s just having a good time out there. And so they sold this one t-shirt for charity. And I think they sold 2000 units in 24 hours. And it was like, wow, you know, this is pretty cool. They’re on to something. And so I had been chatting with the founders, and they were like, gosh, wouldn’t it be so cool? If we could do something with Bill and golf? And I was like, Well, yeah, actually, that would be incredible. I came from Oakley and loved the sport performance world. Honestly, at the time, I was like, I don’t know that I understand the funny t-shirt world, but I get golf. So, you know, I was I say I started really as an intrapreneur. And I went to them and said, Hey, do you mind if I build out this business plan in this concept and see what the white spaces are like? You know, let’s see if there really is an opportunity here. Yeah. And they kind of said, Yeah, carry run with it, go for it. And when I really saw that whitespace I saw at the time, everybody in golf looked exactly the same.
Lauren Conaway 06:39
Oh my gosh, yes. Kind of archetypal. Well, I’m gonna take a guess here. Can I will you indulge me? I guess yes. No, I’m picturing an older white gentleman. Prop maybe with a beer in his hand that with a caddy like a golf Tam and the very, like the IZOD ‘s and the very standard, like, kind of preppy 80s Country Club gear. Am I close? Are you very close?
Kerry Michaels 07:06
I’m okay to a tee. Right? Yeah, if you go even further, I mean, it’s the khaki pants, you know, and the blue stripe Polo?
Lauren Conaway 07:19
I’m just picturing it in my head. You’re, you’re a wizard putting images out there? Like, that’s great. No.
Kerry Michaels 07:26
And it was what I call the CEO, blue stripe polos. And, you know, having come from that world, I was like, gosh, all of the players, all the big players are putting out the same Polo. I didn’t understand it. I was like, why are they doing that? You can’t differentiate one brand from another. And so that’s what my aha moment was. I was like, you know, do you think everyone really wants to look the same? I would imagine that you know, at the time, I was like, golf, needed an injection, and they needed some fun. Because in 2015, golf rounds were down. You know, no one knew how to appeal to the younger golfer. And I was like, Well, that’s because it’s, it’s, you know, it’s very stuffy right now. And so the idea was, well, who better to bring some personality into the golf apparel world than somebody like Bill Murray. So that was like that.
Lauren Conaway 08:24
I like when you think so. I immediately think of Caddyshack and like he’s got that iconic attack or attraction or connection. There you go, iconic a trend or connection to golf? Yeah, yeah. He has that kind of young sensibility. Like he’s become a meme. He’s kind of pop culture. Touchstone. Really?
Kerry Michaels 08:47
Right. He has 100%. And you know what? What was interesting to me at the time, when I did the research, I was like, okay, yeah, Caddyshack, everyone thinks of Bill Murray and Caddyshack. But is there something even deeper here? And what I discovered was that Bill is actually one of nine kids. There were six boys in the family. And all of them grew up, Caddying and outside of Chicago. And so they all grew up golfing and loving golf. And I think it was 2015. They were all inducted into the caddy Hall of Fame. And so I was like, whoa, whoa, wow. So there’s like an authentic story here. It’s not just based on this one movie Bill did that everyone knows for, but there was something real here. And I always tell people now, too, you know, on any given day, they’re one of those Marines out there playing golf. Someone’s on the course. So it felt like a very authentic story as well. And that’s really what inspired me.
Lauren Conaway 09:50
Wow. So you found somebody who could very easily become a face or emblematic of Have this historically very like tear like you said stuffy thing this various. That’s really that’s really cool. Um, so how did you approach Bill Murray to get him involved? I need to know.
Kerry Michaels 10:15
So, you know, the first time we tried to approach him, you know, we went the lawyer route. And so I will say, you know, the Chive had a great relationship there on the t-shirt side of the business. And so we initially tried to reach him that way. And, you know, they were like, ah, gosh, sorry. There’s no way Bill is gonna say yes to something like this. So we did initially get to know each other. And then, you know, the Chive would sponsor the Murray brothers Golf Tournament that’s down in Florida every year. And so they were a big sponsor there. So I went down there with my pitch deck in hand, and I was like, well, maybe we’ll meet somebody down there, maybe we’ll meet a brother, or maybe we’ll get to, you know, have a connection, where we can really share our ideas. And, you know, we got very lucky, and my co-founder, Brandon, and I went down together. And he was playing golf with a group, and I was kind of, you know, I was on the golf course, walking around and wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself. And I ran into Joel Murray. And I didn’t even quite know who he was at first. And I was like, oh, you know, you’re one of those brothers. That’s so great. And I was like, should I, you know, in the back of my head, I’m like, should I be pitching him right now? Should I talk to him about this idea? I really kind of wasn’t sure at first because I didn’t have Brandon there with me. And I didn’t have the rest of the team. And so anyways, I went ahead and said, You know what, Joe, I would love to figure out how to get you some better golf pools. Yeah. And, you know, he laughed and said, Listen, my brothers and I have always wanted to make golf apparel. We just don’t know how. And so it was a perfect opportunity for me to kind of lean in. And I said, Well, actually, I have a concept here that I love to share with you. And so then Joel and I rode around on a golf cart for the next three or four hours. And, you know, it’s a long story after that, but we’ll say the rest is history.
Lauren Conaway 12:22
Yeah. Well, that’s incredible. And I feel like Lesson number one for listeners at home is, hey, networking works. Because you never know who you’re gonna meet, and who you’re gonna be able to impress. That’s pretty cool. So I want to go back to you a little bit, though, Kerry. You know, one of the things that you noted that I find so interesting and fascinating about entrepreneurs is the fact that you mentioned that you were a Job Hopper. And I gotta tell you, my friend, I was to, you know, and I find that often, the best entrepreneurs, like you don’t necessarily have to change jobs every couple of years, like I did, or maybe it carry but the fact is, you have to learn all kinds of different skills, so that you can be adaptable within the startup environment. I mean, the fact is, none of us have enough money, none of us have enough time or people or, and we often have to do things that we’re deeply uncomfortable with, right, like, what were some of the things that you had to do in starting a business that maybe didn’t fall naturally within your wheelhouse? Talk to us a little bit about that.
Kerry Michaels 13:25
Yeah, I mean, I think there’s, there’s so many, right, but I think kind of going back to jumping around in my career and whatnot, you know, I always had that mindset of, well, why not? You know, let me figure it out. And just having that curiosity is always what led me to that next thing was being open to things that were not in my wheelhouse and that I didn’t have a ton of experience in. You know, I think every day to this day, there are things I’m learning and I’m challenged with, you know, I thought going into this, you know, I had, that I knew everything in some ways, right, you know, business background, I got my MBA, I’ve done all the thing, you know, strategy, finance, you know, a lot of different things, but when I came to realize is, gosh, that only that only scratched the surface. I mean, there’s so much more. You know, I always tell people the legal side of it, I think it’s under-appreciated. There’s so much every day I am reading contracts, I feel like you know, almost on a daily basis.
Lauren Conaway 14:34
And that’s like legal education in and of itself. Like you have to learn the verbiage and you have to learn sometimes you have to learn not just what to say but what not to say and like there. Yeah. So that’s impressive.
Kerry Michaels 14:47
Yeah, so many things.
Lauren Conaway 14:50
Well, so let me ask you, this, you come to the table with all of these skills. And I’m going to ask you to talk about so what are some of the The challenges that you dealt with, like we already know that you got, you know, from from Hillary when you reached out to his team, and that that had to have been a challenge or an obstacle, one of the things that I love most about entrepreneurs is our inherent ability to take a challenge or take a barrier, and either blast right through it or figure out how to go under it. So talk to us a little bit about that, because I feel like you know, it maybe even especially as a woman within a historically pretty male dominated space, like, I’m sure, as an entrepreneur, you’ve probably dealt with some challenges. So talk to us a little bit about that.
Kerry Michaels 15:36
Yeah, so many challenges. You know, I always say, you know, there’s so many advantages to the way we started and how we built this business. And, and having, you know, an icon like Bill Murray, as the face of the brand, is incredible. And it’s a gift. And I think a lot of people might think that makes my job so much easier, right? But I always say we have the same headwinds as every startup. And I would say that, you know, running an apparel, business, and cash is always the biggest challenge over the years, especially in the first few years. You know, we were growing fast. And the biggest challenge was, well, how do we afford to buy inventory? And where are we going to raise this money from? You know? And this is going to put us out of business. And so those early days of trying to figure out how to keep the company afloat financially, were really tough. And I think that’s what you hear from so many founders is, you know, that those are, those are stressful times. And so we made it through that. And, you know, we’ve, we’ve raised a couple of different times, you know, we have all Angel family friends on our cap table, but we’ve raised from over 70 people. So we’ve got a lot of support behind us. And it’s really helped position us for the growth and how we’ve built the brand today.
Lauren Conaway 17:08
That is incredible. Well, we’re gonna dig a little bit more into that funding piece. I feel like later, I made a note, but I do kind of want to backtrack just a little bit. And we’ve talked around this, but I want to get a little bit more specific and tactical. Talk to us about the product line itself, you know, how is it different? What does it look like? What does it feel like?
Kerry Michaels 17:29
Yeah, so what really inspired me from the beginning, is, you know, we talked about the sea of blue striped polos, right. So what I wanted was to tell Bill Murray and his family’s stories through prints. And so the concept was, let’s break away from the norm, let’s do something different, let’s have fun with it. But let’s not be a print just to be a print, let’s have it have purpose and meaning. And so all of our designs have some sort of story that ties back to Bill and his family. And whether some of those are family stories. You know, we have this, this plaid, we, it’s the Murray family tartan, that’s incorporated into everything we do. And a lot, you know, that is kind of tying back their ancestry and their heritage into the line. So that’s really key. But you know, everything goes back to a story. And some of them are the stories of his movies. And I think people get really excited about those prints. You know, because he’s been making movies for over 40 years. And so we’ve got a lot of stories to draw from. And that makes it really fun and it makes my job really exciting. Because I think this truly is what differentiates us in space.
Lauren Conaway 18:57
That is so fun. I cannot wait to jump into that with you. But real quick friends, I need to remind you that today’s episode of Startup Hustle is sponsored by FullScale.io Finding expert software developers doesn’t have to be difficult, especially when you visit FullScale.io where you can build a software team quickly and affordably. Use the Full Scale platform to define your technical needs and then see what available developers, testers, and leaders are ready to join your team. Visit FullScale.io to learn more. All right friends, we are talking to Kerry Michaels of William Murray Golf and I’m so intrigued by this brand story Cary has been telling us about their affiliation with Bill Murray. What I really really want to know is you’re talking about the product line and how you’re featuring this Murray tartan. How do your customers feel about your apparel? I’m sure that you get a lot of feedback that you are introducing fashion that has previously not been seen around the golf course. And so I imagine that it is creating a unique experience for you, for your audience and for your customers. So talk to us a little bit about that. What are some of the things that you hear about this, this very different daring product line that you’ve come out with?
Kerry Michaels 20:13
Yeah, you know, I think we are so fortunate because we have an amazing community of customers. And they reach out to us all the time. And we call a lot of their notes love letters. And that’s because, you know, they truly are excited about what we are creating, and how it is different. And we get stories, you know, from guys who are like, listen, I never thought I would wear pink. But I love this print, and I’m wearing it. And my wife is so excited, she has no idea how you got me to wear this color. We hear stories like that, you know, we get a lot of stories from customers who say they get more compliments in William Murray Golf than they do in any other brands. And that people will stop them in the middle of the street. And honestly, we hear that, you know, day after day, and it’s so cool. Because it’s part of what I didn’t really understand what’s going to happen with the brand, right? I mean, what ended up kind of evolving was that these prints were conversation starters. And people would interact with each other and be like, Oh, wow, that’s a really cool print. Hey, is that Carl Spangler from Caddyshack. And that is what that is, and so you will get really into it. And it sparks conversation. And I think that is so exciting. And I think it brings so much joy to us and the team. And, and our customers, our customers love it. And you know, they want to see more of those stories told. So we do get a lot of advice as to what movies we should look at next.
Lauren Conaway 21:54
Oh, that is so fun. And I think it’s really important. Like as you’re talking I’m kind of thinking through the implications of this, because Golf is a very Golf has a very storied history amongst sports fans, you know, maybe maybe even particularly here in the US, although I think it wasn’t invented in Scotland, I don’t remember. But at any rate, you know, you have this your what you’re really doing, there’s a very foundational key piece to what you’re doing. You’re changing the narrative of golf. And so I would say like, imagine that you are someone who has historically maybe not felt comfortable engaging in golf, like, I don’t go to the golf course, I don’t know how to play golf. Nobody ever taught me and I never made it a priority to learn. But there have been times in my adult life where I’ve regretted that decision. Like, why didn’t I take the time to learn, I know that business deals happen on the golf course, it seems like a fun activity. But I feel like maybe seeing, you know, people that are wearing products that are a little bit more reverent and a little bit more accessible and a little bit more fun. might make it easier for someone like me to to look out at the golf course and be like, Oh, maybe I do belong there. Maybe that is a space for me. Yeah, you know, see, see, you’re making, you’re doing much more than then upping the fashion of golfers. You’re changing the narrative of golf. Yeah, right. I mean, do you feel that way? I feel that way. Do you feel that way?
Kerry Michaels 23:26
You know, it’s funny, because, you know, we always said, Listen, we still want to respect the game, you know, it does have a long heritage. And we absolutely want to respect that. But we want to shake it up a little bit, too. We want to have fun with it. And we want it to be approachable. And I think that is something that has been missing from the sport for many years. And I think you know, how you dress really does impact how you show up. And that is, that’s important to us, I will say to you now, we just launched women in April of 2022. And so that was really a, you know, an important project for me personally, because, you know, I did see how we were making the game more approachable for men. And I was like, I want this for women to know, we are confident going out there. And if you’re if you feel good if you you know, feel good and what you’re wearing, you’re gonna I think you’re gonna show up
Lauren Conaway 24:30
better you’re gonna play that. I don’t know, you might squeeze a couple strokes off your average. Yeah, I don’t even know, like I said, I don’t play golf. That’s fine. It’s okay.
Kerry Michaels 24:41
But that’s you know, and I think that was what was exciting to me as I was like, we belong out there too. And we were getting so many customers saying hey, but you know, so many females saying, Listen, I got this from my husband, but I’m a fan too. I like Bill Murray. You know, I want to wear this stuff. You know, help me get some great gear together. So that was kind of the idea. But I think you’re hitting the nail on the head and wanting to make this game more approachable for all.
Lauren Conaway 25:10
Yeah, well, I of course love that. I don’t think our listeners are going to be surprised to know that I definitely like it when I see more people being welcomed inclusively into a, into a process or into an industry or, you know, to a sport. So very, very cool. Now, one of the things I mean, clearly your branding game is on point, you know, and that has to be a very, very important piece of what you’re doing. And I love the fact that you are daring to be different within a space where like, not a lot of people dare to be different. So talk to us about that. How did you kind of cultivate the brand? What is your what is what does your brand look like? What’s its tone and voice talk to us about that process? And kind of where you landed?
Kerry Michaels 26:01
Yeah, well, when you say daring to be different, that kind of was a lot of what drove us from the beginning, even in how we wanted to come to market. So, you know, most traditional golf brands start with a heavy wholesale model. And so they’re going into pro shops and selling their product in that way. And so my background was in E Comm, and in digital and I was like, oh, you know, I don’t know that we want to start a rep force right away, I think we can go direct to consumer. And that was completely different from what the industry was used to. It’s unheard of on this day, it’s unheard of. And people are like, Gosh, why aren’t you in this club? And I’m like, Well, I mean, you know, we are in some orange 250 doors. But we have one person managing that for us in house and she is a rock star. But you know, that that wasn’t what was going to allow us to scale quickly in the early days. And so we flipped that, that story on its head. And it’s really done well for us. And now we’re starting to balance it a little bit more. But it is something that differentiates us in the market.
Lauren Conaway 27:26
Very cool. And how are people responding to the different newness of the apparel? Like you’ve already talked to us about how people who might have come to golf through William Murray Golf, you know, but how is the old guard? I’m going to call it? How’s the old guard handling the shakeup?
Kerry Michaels 27:44
Well, you know, it’s fascinating to me, because when we started, I was like, Gosh, I really want to change the way people dress on the golf course. That was kind of the big vision. And I never would have guessed that we would be setting the trends. I always said I don’t want to look at what other people are doing. Because I don’t really care what other brands are doing. You know, I want us to set the trends. Now when I go out in the market, I’m like, oh, gosh, there’s a lot of competitors out there imitating some of our prints. And I find that very flattering. And it’s crazy to me to see some of the blue striped polo brands not going to name any names that are out there doing prints. And they’re doing fun prints, they have drinking themes, they’ve all got, you know, there, but they are mimicking much of what we’ve been doing. And I think that’s pretty cool. You know, I really do think we were, you know, on the cutting edge of the beginning forefront of changing the way people dress for golf. And I’m proud of that. But you know, there are a lot more players out there now doing similar things. But I think what continues to differentiate us is the storytelling piece and having our prints that are not just a print of your print.
Lauren Conaway 29:09
But there’s something that’s rooted in purpose. Not only not only do they mean something, but they mean something that already connects wide swaths of the population which is, you know, a love of Bill Murray says, I gotta love that, you know, I have to kind of notate here something really interesting that you just did and I have to admit, I have never heard another founder do this or say anything approaching this. IP is intellectual property as always a huge concern when it comes to in particular retail. And you just said that you view it as a compliment when people rip off your designs and when they imitate and and I do believe to an extent that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and so I can see where you might come to that, but your attitude about about the whole thing is really, really incredible. You know, and I kind of love that, you know?
Kerry Michaels 30:09
Don’t be fooled, we are trying to protect many of our designs. You know, but you should know, you definitely well, in particular, if you have like that, I haven’t I, I know a little bit about IP.
Lauren Conaway 30:16
And I mean, I know that tartans, in particular, those are highly proprietary things. You know, they’re very, very important to the families that own them, and have held them in some cases for generations. And so I can see why you would want to protect your IP. But yesterday, the way that you framed that was really quite beautiful. So thank you for that. That was a little treat for my day. Well, so talk to us about it. Talk to us about the future, you know, you are an up and coming brand, you’ve achieved some market saturation, you’re in, you know, clubs, you’re doing things within the retail space, what are you seeing, you know, a few years down the line?
Kerry Michaels 31:08
That’s a really great question. You know, I think one of the shifts we’ve started to see even just this year, is that there’s been a little bit of a shift into stores, and wholesale. And so that business has done really well for us this year. And so we’re starting to lean into that more. We’re actually, I don’t, I don’t know if I am allowed to say this, but we’re gonna be doing a test with Dick’s Sporting Goods next year. Oh, wow. And I’m really excited about that. And so I do think, you know, for us as we grow and scale, now, we’re at a point where we can afford to get into wholesale and we can, you know, spend more time and resources on building out that rep force. And so I think that will be something we look to do. And I think that’s in coordination with the, you know, even having an in store experience, you know, when we think about some of the challenges with e-comm are that you can’t touch and feel. And we’re trying to tell all these amazing stories online, and sometimes that can feel limiting. And so for us, I can’t wait to get out there. And to have an experiential store. Somewhere where people can really get to understand who we are, and what the stories are behind the prints. So I think that is something we will continue to lean into as we grow.
Lauren Conaway 32:38
Yeah, well, and I mean, it clearly like that the importance of that storytelling aspect really, really comes through as you’re, you’re sharing your journey. So what are some ways that you have have tried to get that story out, because the fact is, like, if you were to walk into a country club gift shop and find a William Murray Golf shirt, like, there probably aren’t that many opportunities to share the full story, like you’re just kind of presented visually with this product. You know, so talk to us about some methods of storytelling that you use to get that, that very important piece of your brand out.
Kerry Michaels 33:13
Yeah, you know, I think there’s, there’s a couple of ways, but this is also one of our opportunities, you know, as we grow the brand. You know, I think we tell all of our stories online on product pages. So you know, that is kind of our first and foremost, and especially because we are DTC first, our social community is also really strong. And we’ve got an incredible, incredible following. And so that, for us has been a great mode for us to tell those stories, and to really get in more detail and kind of show some of the fun aspects of the brand. So I would say those are, those are kind of the two main ways. You know, we’ve done, we’ve gotten some great stories and press out there. When it comes to, you know, individual products and some of the brand’s story. But we still, you know, we still have a lot to do.
Lauren Conaway 34:12
Well, I imagine that the future is very, very bright. So talk to us about this. i One of the things that I do love to do on the show is offer our listeners real tactical advice. Like, you know, a lot of our listeners are entrepreneurs and startup founders themselves. And they listened to Startup Hustle because founders like you share their stories so authentically that they can learn from them. And so what if you could come up with like maybe one or two takeaways for our listeners at home? Maybe not a golf brand specifically, but like when we’re talking about branding, and we’re talking about differentiating yourself in the marketplace, which clearly, you have done so well. What are some of the best practices that you could recommend? and that our listeners at home could start doing tomorrow.
Kerry Michaels 35:04
You know, I think there’s something to, you know, setting that mission and the vision from the get go is, you know, you talk about it, and you hear it in business school all the time. But it really is so key because it sets the roadmap for how you’re going to grow and scale that brand and what you want to become, I think that is super critical to think about in the very early days, along with your company values. And I think I didn’t understand the importance of that early on, until we were like, you know, 18 months in and you know, you’re hiring and trying to do things and you don’t quite understand why things might not be fitting, or at least I didn’t, until we kind of got back to the well, what are what are our values as a business? And how do we want to show up? I think that is really important to set from the beginning. And to lay that out in a few of the co-founders to make sure that it’s a collaborative process, and that everyone’s on board with where you’re going, and how you’re going to get there.
Lauren Conaway 36:16
Yeah, well, in just real quick, what are some ways that you have engaged with your team to make sure that you’re bringing, I guess, so I actually use the phrase, bring them along with you? Yeah, all the time. I love that phrase. And I love thinking about ways that I can get the innovator team activated and engaged in thought because when you have that with your team, that’s when you see really successful teams like you as the founder, you’re always going to care the most. But if you can surround yourself with a team of really smart people who are also passionate about what you’re doing, well, then you’ve got a pretty beautiful situation set up. So what are some ways that you have engaged your team around your mission and your core values?
Kerry Michaels 37:01
Yeah, I think there are a couple of things. And some of it is, you know, every year we go through our company goals for the year, and we’ve been doing this for many years now. And so, you know, it is a very collaborative and engaging process for us where we talk about what we are trying to accomplish? And how are we going to get there? And then what does that mean for all the teams and the individuals involved, it is really important to make sure that your employees feel empowered to make decisions. And I think as an entrepreneur and a founder, that can be challenging at times, right? Because at least for me, you know, in the very beginning, it’s like, well, gosh, I want to make that decision. And this is how I want to do it. But as you grow and you look at, you know how you’re going to build the most successful team, you really do need to empower people. And that means letting go as a leader, and letting them take charge, letting them lead a brainstorm, letting them lead the meeting, and letting them make some difficult decisions. And so, you know, that is some of my advice and things that, you know, I’m continuing to learn on this journey, and continuing to try to lean into that. But I do think it is critical to have a high performing team, for sure.
Lauren Conaway 38:22
Well, and I in one of the pieces that I love about what you just said is like that get out of the way piece, like sometimes the best thing you can do for your team is to let them do what they do best. And sometimes, it’s best to give them the opportunity and the safe space to fail. Honestly. I mean, when you’re not there, like holding up the ship, you have to know that if you walk out tomorrow and get hit by a bus that there’s going to be a team of people dedicated and ready to carry on the mission and the vision. And it sounds like you’re setting up your team for great success there. Congratulations. That’s a really hard thing to do. And I think it’s really important that you acknowledge that it’s a process and it’s one that will never be complete. Really, like you can always keep growing and reaching for it. But that is really really cool. Kerry. Well, so we have come up to the human question. And in true Lauren fashion listeners, I don’t really have one in my head right now. I’m just talking until I make one up and I get it. Okay, here goes. So my question is, what is yours? What’s the phrase? What is your walkup song? Like? You know, you’re you’re, I’m gonna ask you kind of a sports related question but like you walk up to the plate, you know, playing baseball and you got to walk up song or you walk up to a speaking engagement, and they’re gonna play a song and it’s gonna, it’s gonna indicate who you are and what you want to share with the world. What is that song?
Kerry Michaels 39:54
Oh my gosh, Lauren, this is so . . .
Lauren Conaway 39:58
I just break your brain. I didn’t mean it in my brain.
Kerry Michaels 40:01
I will tell you this, I love music. And I have no idea the names of any songs. I don’t know, artists, my kids always make fun of me for that, like, Mom, you know, that’s totally okay with it.
Lauren Conaway 40:14
If you sing a few bars, we would be fine with that.
Kerry Michaels 40:20
Either. And I would tell you, you know, my co-founder Brene. And I have a song for the company that we play before all of our big launches, and I have no idea what it’s called.
Lauren Conaway 40:31
Oh my gosh, okay, well, I’ll tell you what, I want to know what that is. So you’re gonna have to back out, so you’re gonna have to find out what it is. And we’re gonna have to figure this out. Maybe I’ll even get them to put it in the show notes. I’ll see you. Okay. All right. I’ll ask you another question. Okay, what is my I’m just kind of like looking around my office, like for some kind of visuals? Ah, well, okay, let’s talk about, well, we’ll talk about clothing because, hey, that’s kind of what we’ve been talking about. So I’m just gonna ask you, what’s your what’s your, what’s your favorite article of clothing that you own and why?
Kerry Michaels 41:08
Um, so I will say, you know, this is okay, if it’s William. I know, I’m like, this is like a pug. But, um, we just made a new pair of pants. And so typically, I wear yoga pants a lot. I think like so many women.
Lauren Conaway 41:26
Yeah. I love endemic fashion. Can I just throw that out there? It’s like my favorite thing,
Kerry Michaels 41:32
right? Well, we just came out with a pan. It’s called the pitch and pan. And I wear you know, I wear it on the golf course. But I also wear it with heels and I dress them up. And they fit so amazingly. And the fabric is awesome. So they’re so stretchy. They’re so soft and comfortable. And I also have a waistband like a normal pants waistband, but they fit like yoga pants. So that has been my favorite pair of apparel recently.
Lauren Conaway 42:06
Okay, well, if you know what, I think that that is a lovely answer, and it’s totally okay to shamelessly plug yourself and your product, so never feel bad about that. That is totally okay. But I gotta tell you, Kerry, thank you so much for taking the time to share your story to chat with us. I’m gonna have to check out the website because I want to figure out what this Murray tartan looks like. And I want to see if maybe I can pick up some new fashions. But thank you so much for sharing William Murray Golf with us.
Kerry Michaels 42:38
Lauren, this has been so much fun. Thank you for having me. I really appreciate the time.
Lauren Conaway 42:44
Absolutely. Absolutely. And thank you, listeners, for coming back in and listening to us week after week, month after month. We are very, very grateful to you. We’re also very grateful to Full Scale, our episode sponsor, if you need to hire software engineers, testers, or leaders. Full Scale can help. They have the platform and the people that help you build and manage a team of experts. When you visit FullScale.io. All you need to do is answer a few questions and then let the platform match you up with fully vetted, highly experienced software engineers, testers, and leaders. They specialize in building long-term teams that work only for you. Learn more when you visit FullScale.io. And friends, I gotta tell you, you know, I don’t know if y’all know this, but we actually have a TV channel. We’ve got Startup Hustle TV out there. We’re on a little bit of a hiatus on new episodes, but we’ve got some really funny ones. So check out our YouTube channel, Startup Hustle, find Startup Hustle TV, and check out some of your favorite hosts. The mats are going to be there, and I’m in there. We pull some really amazing founders from the Kansas City community to share our stories. And in some cases, they’re kind of embarrassing and stupid. And so I’m going to point you to them, and I’m going to tell you the left. Thank you so much for listening, and we will catch you next time.