Real Talk – Charlie Hustle

Hi, I’m Kendall Gammon, this is real talk with Real Media. Today I’m joined by Chase McAnulty of Charlie Hustle. Chase, appreciate you joining us.

Thanks for having me.

KG:  When you look at your company history, tell me how you got to where you are today?

CM: It’s been crazy, actually. We’re six years in business with Charlie Hustle, but what many people don’t know about me is I used to collect vintage t-shirts through high school and college, and ’85 Royals t-shirt, ’88 Jayhawks t-shirt, and I just loved the fit and feel, and kind of the softness of these t-shirts. And really the stories they told.  I was living up in Lawrence, I wanted to see something different out in the market for Jayhawks gear, for one, and so my mom was one of the first designers at Gear For Sports, so it was always something in the blood, I guess. And so when we started Charlie Hustle, it was kind of a refined version of everything that I had been through growing up. I had a company when I was 20, didn’t really know what we were doing, but it kind of laid the groundwork for Charlie Hustle, and here we are. I got into it to kind of do the collegiate apparel thing, and we’ve had this KC Heart kind of take off. It was kind of our iPod, if you will, and really helped get us to where we are today, and now we’re kind of pivoting back to maybe some of the original focuses because of that, so …

KG:  I think what I hear you saying is you looked at yourself, and what you thought the need was from your point of view, and you turned that into a company that’s just been wildly successful.

CM:  Absolutely. And I think any kind of small business, or entrepreneur, kind of … they look for those opportunities, and try to find a solution that maybe that’s not currently out in the market.

KG:   One thing I’m curious about, what do you guys do better than everyone else?

CM:   Sure. I think we have a real millennial appeal. And that’s kind of attributed to maybe what we do in the community. I think as a young business owner, you see the millennial mindset wants to be involved in maybe something greater. And we’ve built resources, and kind of created this cool brand, but it’s based on a lot more than just the product that we put out there. We’re heavily involved with the community, and different charities, and giving back, and I think that goes a long way with the attraction to our company. And really has kind of laid some groundwork for our success.

KG:   It’s almost as if you’ve created a mass appeal to being individualistic, which is kind of nice.

CM:   Yeah, absolutely. I think this has always kind of been … I didn’t know if it was my dream or not, but it was something I was always interested in. And I think as a young business owner, that’s why you get into business. And it’s been a joy just to be able to do something that I love, and we’re kind of riding the wave.

KG:   How is the organization, Charlie Hustle, where do you see them going in the future?

CM:   So, we’re six years in business, and we’ve built up a lot of different good resources. And obviously I got into this to kind of do the collegiate apparel thing, and we’re really pivoting into some of those other markets. We’ve had a lot of success here in Kansas, and Missouri, and kind of a fun local brand. But how do you scale? How do you take it to the next level? And so our focus is really tapping into … we’re saying eight different states, and really owning the middle of the map. So Nebraska, Iowa, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, a little bit of … right in the middle-

KG:   Right.

CM:  Is kind of our focus.

KG:   The heart of the Midwest, absolutely. It would seem to me that maybe you have to get immersed in the culture a little bit to really feel what they feel, and be who they

CM:   Absolutely. That’s a perfect question, because our job is really to kind of apply the culture we’ve created here to some of these other markets. It’s not putting “Nebraska” inside of a heart. We’re trying to kind of protect that for Kansas City-

KG:    Right.

CM:   But what is that for Nebraska? What is that for Iowa? And then we’ve built, again, those resources. We’re getting really good at creating garments. We produce everything just outside of Los Angeles, and it’s all shipped here, so opportunities kind of are coming with that. And other businesses are kind of forming, and so it’s just … you’ve got to stay the course and have that focus on your business, but there’s a lot of different things that we haven’t even tapped into yet that I’m real excited about.

KG:    And I think it’s … part of the success of Charlie Hustle, probably, I’m curious your thoughts, which is talk to me about the culture of Charlie Hustle?

CM:     Culture is one of the most important things about our brand, and I think it’s gotten us to where we are today. Culture is how we hire, and we use that first as a starting point, and then kind of worry about skillset second. Everybody that’s involved with Charlie Hustle kind of breathes the brand the same way I do.  And I think I’ve had the pleasure of kind of being around some really good business mentors over the last couple of years, and understanding culture, and core values, and all that kind of stuff. And it’s really been interesting, as I started this from a very creative standpoint, so the business side is all relatively learned. And I think the coolest thing about Charlie Hustle is that we’ve created this voice, and people are listening. And as long as we have that voice, we’re going to use it do some good, and I think that speaks to where our culture is at, so …

KG:     It’s really amazing to me because when I look at what you do, and the apparel, and what you sell, you sell it in mass quantities, yet the people that wear it, they seem to feel unique, and I think that’s something that people want these days.

CM:    I think so too. I think it’s, again, it’s the storytelling piece, it’s something special that … whether it’s the shirt or just the brand, people have gotten behind it, and they want to back that. And I think that’s a very special thing.

KG:     We’ve talked about a lot of different things, the culture, where you’re going, where you’ve been, but something that I think is very dear to your heart and Charlie Hustle as a whole, which is how they give back? How does your company give back to KC?

CM:     Well in the last segment we talked kind of about core values, and one of the core values in our company is being charitable and involved in our community. And again, we use those core values to hire, fire, promote, all that good stuff. So everybody is coming from kind of a background that … whether they’re involved community wise, involved in a charity, something that touched them in their lives, so that’s a big culture piece in the beginning.  And it helps us kind of really map out what does Charlie Hustle as a brand want to be involved with? And we’ve got three main initiatives that we every year. That’s American Heart Association, Big Slick-

KG:      Mm-hmm (affirmative), right.

CM:     Which kind of happened this last couple of weekends. And then Susan G. Komen breast cancer in October. But throughout the year we have a lot of different things going on, and a lot of different ways we give back as a company. My mother actually passes away four years ago to ovarian cancer, and that certainly gave a deeper perspective on life. And I think medical research nowadays, what’s been done is insane, and I think she might even still be here based on where we’re at today. So I think we have the ability to change lives, and giving back and cancer research, it’s such an important thing and it’s easy to say, but getting involved and doing it, and seeing the progress, I think that’s what’s most important.

KG:     Well certainly with talking with you and seeing the passion in your voice and what you do, the company wise, you’ve been successful and certainly giving back to the community as you talked about, and all those worthwhile functions is greatly appreciated, and very, very impressed. So I appreciate you stopping by and joining us today for this little chat, and it was great having you.

For Real Talk with Real Media, I’m Kendall Gammon.



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