We really love this sit down with Matt Snipes, host of the Self Made Podcast. Ryan and Matt delve into Matt's background and experiences that led him to start the podcast. This is a wide ranging discussion from starting and growing an apparel business to great stories on Matt's journey to Southern California working with Carey Hart.
We really love this sit down with Matt Snipes, host of the Self Made Podcast. Ryan and Matt delve into Matt's background and experiences that led him to start the podcast. This is a wide ranging discussion from starting and growing an apparel business to great stories on Matt's journey to Southern California working with Carey Hart.
Ryan Alford [00:00:15] Hey guys, it's Ryan Alford, host of the Radical Company podcast. It is Podcast Friday here at Radical, Rainy Radical, I should call it. I think we've had 100 inches of rain this year, last year. The parking lot is flooded, and I'm looking out there and try not to be depressed in the new year. But anyway, I'm really excited about today's episode. I'm joined by Matt Snipes. Matt, excited to have you. Matt is the host of the self-made podcast and has been doing that for about a year. I've been following Matt's content lately. And, Matt McIlveen, who works here at Radical, pointed me to Matt and was like, "we need to get together." I'm super excited to have you on the show today.
Matt Snipes [00:01:02] Yeah, likewise, man.
Ryan Alford [00:01:03] So Matt, let's just start from the top. You know, a lot of people that listen to our podcast, consume a lot of other podcasts would love to just start straight down the path of maybe a little bit of your background and then what got you into the podcast scene. I know we're both kind of local boys. A lot of people who see my content think I'm not from here but in Vegas. We were just sharing stories with mutual family and friends back in the past. Give everyone a little bit of your background. What led you to start the podcast? We will get down to some of the apparel stuff, business stuff. We will try to just blend in the marketing aspect of people that we have. Let's just talk about a little bit of your background and what you've been up to.
Matt Snipes [00:01:59] So I knew from an early age that I didn't want to work with, “a normal job”. That's just because it didn't seem fun to me. Just like with school, you know, I did really well in school when I applied myself. But, as I got older, I had four wheelers and dirt bikes and started getting into girls and like, "this is way more interesting." So it's hard to focus on school. I'm like, "Why would I do that when I could focus on these things that are a little more fun?" So that kind of led me down a different path. I always worked what you would call a regular job, but was always seeking something else. Growing up and riding motorcycles, I was big into the motocross scene and I was like, "that would be a fun job. That would be cool things like a lot of perks." All of that industry is in Southern California. I took the long way around figuring out how to get to Southern California, but I finally got there. I landed a job with one of the bigger companies Hart & Huntington, owned by Carey Hart, Pink's husband. Some people call him Mr. Pink. He hates that.
Ryan Alford [00:03:02] He may hate it, but it's not such a bad gig.
Matt Snipes [00:03:04] Yeah, it's not bad at all. That kind of threw me into the mix of the action sports world. I was able to meet a lot of other very influential people. People that when I grew up, I was watching on TV, buying their signature bikes, and different things like that. They had become friends. These people are just as pumped to be in that situation as you would be if you had gotten that opportunity yourself. They were grateful that they were in that position. That really inspired me. They say, don't meet your heroes, you'll be disappointed. I was very fortunate in that, mine went the complete opposite. All of my heroes became heroes outside. You know, they became heroes in life. They were a good family man. They were just good at doing things with their money, doing things in their community. That always sat in the back of my head how they did things like that.
Then getting into podcasting, I had listened to the Joe Rogan podcast probably for seven years now. It was almost brand new when I started. I noticed after a year or two that as crazy as some of the things I talked about, I was like, "I'm getting a lot of value out of this, and it's kind of making me change who I am." It's cliched or it's cheesy, but it's making me treat people better. I feel like just hearing Joe. I don't give him all the credit in the world. I don't think he's got it all together, but he had a lot more of it figured out than I did. Then I started branching out and finding other podcasts and many others. I would find myself like parroting some of the things out here on a podcast to friends, whether it was about nutrition or working out or all these different aspects. It didn't feel genuine because those were not my words, but I'm like, these people will not give these guys a chance. They don't listen to podcasts. People just don't listen. I'm like, "OK, well, I'm learning this from a genuine form. I'm not going to school for it, but I'm getting it." I'm getting the information from good sources. So me repeating it, I'm still learning it right. It's the knowledge that I possess so the way that I share it doesn't really matter. So if I can start a podcast, a lot of the people that I know won't give the Fear Factor guy, Joe Rogan, who's making people eat disgusting stuff.
Ryan Alford [00:05:43] It's so funny not to get down too many rabbit holes, but I only remember Joe as the road guy. I mean, I follow his content now, but it's more so in the last year.
Matt Snipes [00:06:01] He's doing that and he's a commentator of mixed martial arts and all that stuff, but he's got a lot more knowledge. A lot of people aren't going to give him that chance because of that. Or some people, which I have a problem with myself as I listen to certain podcasts and they talk so far over my head. I can't keep up. I have to pause it, Google different terms or look at different things. It's literally like a day or two of studying before I can dive back in and feel like I'm staying afloat. Most people that I know fit that category. If I do it, I've been very fortunate that people have always supported whatever I've done, my friends, my family and a lot of strangers. Maybe I can reach those people because I know they're probably going to support just like they always do. If I can get that information to them, that's what I need to do.
The podcast started as more of an entrepreneur based thing, because I also wanted to document. This is around the same time I started in the clothing company. I wanted to document that because I had no formal training. I worked at Hart & Huntington and I did some stuff with the clothing, but it's not the same as starting your own. There's a lot of things you don't know going on. I wanted to document that because I always hear the excuse, "I don't know how to do that or I don't know where to start." I didn't know any of that either. I had never built a website. I had never done anything with clothing. Never ordered my own. Never had an online retail store, never done any of that. But, I wanted to do it badly enough to figure it out somehow document and let people see. Since then, the podcast has evolved into becoming the best version of yourself, which is something else. Joe says a lot, but that's what I try to do, surround myself with people like yourself, like Matt, that are doing their thing and fields that I'm interested in. That's what launched the podcast. To Be honest, It's a selfish thing too. I'm able to steal people's time. Sometimes it feels like I talk to people so much smarter than me or just so far down the road in business that I'm like, if I didn't have this podcast, I probably wouldn't get this opportunity, not to the same degree. It's a way for me to have conversations with people I might not get to have. It's uninterrupted. It’s unfiltered. I could hit you up on Instagram and I could have said, "hey, I'll buy you lunch if you'll let me pick your brain about some stuff and maybe you say, yeah," but the waitress comes over refilling the drinks, there's a baby crying somewhere. There's people walking and somebody walks in and sees you and you have five minutes. It's not the same as the podcast. When you get to put on the headphones and get locked in and just have a conversation with someone. So, it's also selfish for reasons.
Ryan Alford [00:08:54] I'm going to back you up. You went down a couple of paths that I want to delve into. We'll talk about the apparel stuff because I think that would be really interesting. Being interested in that myself and wanting to hear your background and where you went with that. I know it's been a little bit on hiatus as we talk precession. But, let's talk about Mr. Pink for a second. I think that's really fascinating. I don't want to sweep that under the rug. We were talking before. Talk a little bit about that experience. I think it's fascinating that we were talking precession and I really believe in this. If you want to get close to the sun, you get close to the sun. You were talking about that principle of what you did. I think taking those steps is a radical step. It's a radical mindset for a lot of people who think and want to do things. It's a lot of talk, but actually taking action. A guy from South Carolina picking up and moving to Southern California for that opportunity. Let's talk a little bit about that experience and what led you to how to do those steps and what you learned from all that?
Matt Snipes [00:10:07] So to get in with them was no easy task. I had gone to Atlanta. Carey had a Supercross race team. I had gone to Atlanta the night before the team was sponsored by Dodge. They were doing a signing at a Dodge dealership. I went down there early, way before the signing and an attempt to make myself available, see who I could kind of rub elbows with and just see where it went. I saw the team manager, Kenny Watson. I knew who he was because he's been around forever. He was putting graphics on the bike and I asked if he needed any help. Fortunately for me, he was in a bind, you know, push for time. So he said, "Well, yeah, if you know what you're doing, you're welcome to do it." So I made it a point to finish my side before he finished his side, and thought that would look good. So I asked him, "Hey, you guys don't need any help in the pits tomorrow." The tone instantly changed. He kind of laughed literally on my face and was like, No man we are good. He walked off. No thanks, nothing. Knowing Kenny now, we're kind of friends, that's just his demeanor. That's how he is. If he loves you, he's still going to treat you that way.
Anyway, that kind of fizzled out and got me nowhere. But, I didn't get discouraged. I saw that one of their tattoo locations in Orlando was having their fifth year anniversary party. I decided to go and make myself available again. I wanted to make a couple friends. Worst case, I'm not just some weirdo showing up by myself. I offered several friends who are also into the same stuff. They're into moto. They're into Carey. They are into the same stuff. I said, "Hey, I'm paying for everything if you want to go." They're like, "man, you're kind of wasting your time with this." They knew I was going. I express my motives. I'm trying to get my foot in the door. They were kind of skeptical and rightfully so. It was a long shot. Needless to say, I drove down there by myself, got there early, and as soon as I walked up, things couldn't have gone better. The owner of that franchise location knew me from social media. He said, "What are you doing here, man?" I was like," I just came to hang out. Do you need any help?" Can I help you set up tables or tents or whatever? And he was taking his eyes like, "Oh, no no. We got that." You put me with the GM of Hart & Huntington. We ended up talking, having drinks. While we're sitting there, Carey walks in, sits down like, "OK, this is good. It's a small table but it's a good table." I'm in the mix here.
Ryan Alford [00:12:45] The sun comes in.
Matt Snipes [00:12:47] So he snaps a photo and I'm a full on eager beaver. I'm like, "Oh, I wonder where that's going." Is that going somewhere? My face wasn't even in the photo. It was just the table and the drinks we were having.
Ryan Alford [00:12:58] Let's talk about the time period here. What time period are we in?
Matt Snipes [00:13:01] This is probably 2012 or 2013. He snaps a photo and finally he's got some stuff he's got to go do and before he leaves the meeting he says, "Hey, get his info, we might want to do something with him." I was through the roof. I was by myself so there's no one there to exploit it.
Ryan Alford [00:13:25] Put on a poster boy, the fist bump for us.
Matt Snipes [00:13:27] Exactly, you just got a poker face. Nice to meet you and whatever. That's another big thing. I was a huge fan of his and I hadn't met him before signings. But it was important to me not to fan out because I knew they would instantly kind of keep some space from this. It was a very casual conversation. I ended up getting the guy's number. The GM and I exchanged info. He told me at the end of that weekend if you get out to Southern California, we'll have a job for you. Two weeks later, I drove my 92 Acura Integra with all the stuff I could fit in. I was like, "I'll figure out a bed. I'll figure it outside." It will take just the basics and just enough room for me to drive. So I drove out to Southern California. I hit him up before I even really got there. I was like, "Hey, man, I'm in California." He was kind of cold. He's like, "Oh, there's not really a position yet. I didn't know you were going to make a move. In hindsight, I probably should have reached out before and said, "Hey, I can actually make the move fairly soon, is there? But I didn't want to. I guess maybe in the back of my head, I knew maybe he would say, wait a minute.
Ryan Alford [00:14:50] You didn't want the rejection.
Matt Snipes [00:14:54] Exactly. I'm here now. Here's the pressure that you said there's a job. A pretty good while a job opened up with them. Then one finally opened up like an internship, which I was happy to do, and spent all of my extra time at that office. The GM of Hart & Huntington is a very driven guy and he's very passionate about what he does. He doesn't hold normal business hours. He's always got his laptop. He's always working on something. He's always going back to the office doing stuff. I was just like a puppy dog following him around, one, trying to impress him and show him that I was serious. Two, I viewed it as an opportunity to soak up as much knowledge about that whole business and the organization as I could. There were obviously a lot of perks that come along with it as well. The different athletes they sponsor that I had looked up to as a kid or definitely knew who they were. They were always popping in and hanging out. We're going to see them and take care of them with care packages and stuff like that. There were a lot of perks, but it was still an internship for a good while. So I'm making no money. That was pretty standard in that industry because there's a lot of people that want that job for obvious reasons. I don't know that I agree with that whole business model, but it is what it is and that's what I had to work with. That was the foot in the door kind of thing.
When I got the job offer, it was a big one within the corporate office. I skipped a few rungs on the ladder. I would imagine that because in the beginning, nothing was out of my wheelhouse. We've got a design room that's a mess, I would clean it. I would literally do anything. Go pick up lunch for the office. If they said, "Hey, what do you want to eat?" I was the first volunteer. I'll go, grab it. Just trying to show, "Hey, I'll do whatever it takes to be here." That worked out to be a really good foot in the door for all the other avenues I wanted to do because it put me on the map with certain people. When we moved the corporate office to Vegas, Hart & Huntington was big there because of the tattoo shop. Carey has spent so much time in Vegas. Once people know you work at the corporate level, at Hart & Huntington, a lot of doors would open there. You were treated well. Not like a celebrity per say, but meals were comped and things like that. It really made me see, "Oh, this is all just one big act that everyone is playing." As cool as it was, I realized that every piece of that puzzle was just a normal person. At the end of the day, I put Carey, I put all these other people on such a high pedestal and they were all just as excited to be there as I was. I thought that it was cool.
Ryan Alford [00:17:55] That is cool. It's funny how people are still people. We make celebrities. We make things out to be something. At the end of the day, we all put on our pants every day, and do things at work. There's a normalcy that I think becomes a surprise for people when they have that mindset that it's going to be something. Not that it's a disappointment, but there's just that realness.
Matt Snipes [00:18:24] Some celebrities do treat that as like, "Hey, I'm different, you should treat me better". I was lucky that the guys I think weren't famous enough to command that kind of silliness to me. They were never on that level. They were always super cool when fans came up. They're any different than the fans. They would talk as long as you wanted to talk, whatever you want to talk about and sign whatever you want to sign and take pictures and be happy to do it because they appreciated the opportunity that they had, just like I did. Nobody's asking me for my picture, but I'm still very appreciative of the opportunity and the position that I'm in. That's the one thing that I learned from all of those guys is always appreciate that situation that you're put in. Somebody somewhere wanted to be me. The guy that's behind the scenes, but I'm right there. My foot's on the line, somebody wanted that position I have.
Ryan Alford [00:19:24] When did you get back to the Greenville area?
Matt Snipes [00:19:32] I moved back to Greenville in 2015. After my time with Hart & Huntington, I did a few other things we can talk about if you want to. I started working for a friend of mine, TJ Lavin, very well-known for his show on MTV, very well-known in the BMX world, which is how I knew him. Again, another childhood hero. I saved up money to buy his signature BMX bike when I was in the BMX and stuff. Again, another really good opportunity opened a lot more doors for me as well. However, someone on his level that has so many things going on, genuinely needs an assistant. I was able to fill that role for him. Since we were friends before that, it just felt weird. It didn't feel comfortable accepting money every week from him. I'm like, if I wasn't working, I would be doing all this stuff I'm doing with him anyway. Basically, I will be getting paid to hang out or house sit his dogs, which I would do anyway. You don't need to pay me for that. That was uncomfortable.
My girlfriend at the time was a dental hygienist and she had moved from Southern California to Vegas with me. She had done really well. We had come up with a strategy where she goes into an office and sets her own price and works for a week for free to prove how she can increase production and all that. Having that under her belt, it was an easy sell for me to convince her, "Hey, let's get out of Vegas." We weren't sure where we wanted to go. She was from Oregon. I was from South Carolina, but we knew we wanted to get out of Vegas. So I said, "Hey, go to South Carolina, you can work your same angle." She was worried about pay because in Vegas she was making like fifty bucks an hour, and in South Carolina, it's twenty five an hour. She was kind of downplaying that. I'm like, "Hey, you need to understand, that's in South Carolina, the cost of living and all that stuff is low. That's pretty decent money. It was a fairly easy sell to get her back here. We moved back in 2015 and I actually started working at Harley of Greenville, a local Harley dealership here. That job opened up as we were on the road. I kind of walked into that, which was nice. Again, completely different.
Ryan Alford [00:21:52] How was that experience?
Matt Snipes [00:21:54] It was good. It was everything you think it would be for a guy that loves Harley motorcycles. I had never done vehicle sales. I had done some retail sales. I'd done some other things, but selling vehicles was completely different. But, I learned a lot of lessons about handling customers and things like that. How important follow up calls are and follow-up emails are? I learned a lot about business that I didn't know at the time that I was learning about business. Things that I implement now and different things that I do. So it was a really good experience. I bought a Harley, which is probably not smart.
Ryan Alford [00:22:33] I think whether it's purposeful or not, that pause before saying that is what I imagine anyone and I don't own a motorcycle, but before they buy a motorcycle, I feel like there's like that natural menopause.
Matt Snipes [00:22:47] I had rode bikes throughout my whole entire life on-road, off-road, Harley, different brands, whatever. But, I had always bought used because that's what I could afford. I think I was two weeks in before I bought one of the most expensive bikes we have there. I was like, I got to be the part. I think that's how I justified it to my girlfriend. How am I going to sell it if they ask me what I have, and I said, "oh, I drive a different brand or I have an older bike." I need what I'm going to sell.
Ryan Alford [00:23:17] What is the Harley mindset? Is it just that freedom and the open road? I've always been fascinated by what that is. I value my life too much and I'm not. I'll flip off the dock. I'm 41 years old. It isn't like I'm scared of life, but there's something in my brain that just says some idiot in the car is going to kill me. If I'm on a motorcycle, no matter how good I drive,
Matt Snipes [00:23:45] That's exactly it. I think that lives in the back of your head and that's exciting. It's adrenaline. It feels good. You do feel badass. Harley, it's got the rumble. It's got the shake. It's got the look. It's timeless. You still hear Harley and it puts a certain thought in your head and you don't even own one.
Ryan Alford [00:24:14] I know the brand. I get it. I see it. I see the material and I can get my mind around the experience that they're selling. Let's talk back on the podcast side of things and then I would like to venture down the parallel side. On the podcast side, you were a year into it, talking about where the self-made kind of came from. Where did the mindset come from with building it around that name? What's been the things you've learned and experienced and some of the guests you've had on the podcast?
Matt Snipes [00:24:58] Yeah, sure. A lot of people associate it with the tattoo. I've got it tattooed on my knuckles and so does Travis Barker. A lot of people associate self-made with being well-off financially. Like, I've made it, I've arrived, I'm here. My meaning was much different. I had a very colorful background when I was younger. I was a screw up as a kid, not for lack of good parenting, because I literally had some of the best that you could have. I just made some poor choices. I was just running wild. You couldn't tell me anything, losing my license and just all kind of madness. But, I took responsibility for that. Here's a funny story. A friend of mine, I may have given him the information, but I knew that when they park school buses, they leave keys in the ignition. We happen to be driving by school late at night. That made me think of that. When I saw the buses, I told him he didn't believe me.
Ryan Alford [00:26:02] Sounds like it's going good.
Matt Snipes [00:26:07] A car full of us pulls in, he jumps out. He jumps on the bus. He runs back with the biggest smile. I recite, "the keys are there, the keys are there." He's like, "I'm going to drive it. Who's coming?" There was literally a car full of us. Not one person moved. He gets back on the bus, doesn't care. He takes off. He's gone for a good little while. Finally, we're like, "Is he coming back?" Are we expected to follow? What's going to happen? A guy runs around, gets in the driver's seat. Granted, there's been several minutes, but on the surveillance tape, it kind of looks like we just dropped him off, he stole a bus. None of us got on the bus, none of us drove a bus. We all got the same sentence as him, which now knowing that I probably would have driven my own bus because if I'm going to go down for it, I want to have the fun, too.
I had done some things that landed us in jail for a little while, just for a few hours, but still had a bad background. All the rest of the kids called their parents. My parents only found out when one of the other parents showed up to get their kid out and this was a kid that I was close with. His mom was like, "What are you doing? I'm like, "I'm just going to figure it out." She called my parents for me, but I took ownership of that immediately and said, well, my parents had nothing to do with this. I didn't want them to know. I genuinely didn't want to put that burden on them. I'm like, "Let me see what I can do on my own first." So self-made came from me wanting to take ownership for where I'm at, whether it be good or bad. I take credit when I do good things as well, but I take credit for who I am, where I'm at in my life. I try not to blame other people for that because we can all say, "Oh, well, so-and-so screwed us over or I had a bad roll of the dice or whatever." That's the cards you were dealt and you've got to play those. I put self-made on my knuckles for that reason. Then starting the self-made podcast, it was a play on words and it was literally a self-made podcast. I had no information other than that. I had YouTube, some Tim Ferriss stuff or something on starting a podcast and some equipment, some dos and don'ts, but other than that, I started it on my own. I knew nothing about the website where it's hosted. But I was like, "I'll figure it out because I don't have the budget to pay anyone." So that's how it all got started.
Ryan Alford [00:28:40] I love it. I think a lot of people overthink the podcast thing a bit. People are starting to consume more and I really encourage people to just figure it out. It's a YouTube video away. You don't have to have five hundred dollars and equipment. You can literally get started with the anchor app, which is where we push out the podcast for Radical. You can really use your smartphone and record your voice into it and start there.
Matt Snipes [00:29:15] Anyone that says they may want to start a podcast, I try to make myself available to them for that same reason. I'm like, "OK, well, this equipment ranges from eighty bucks to a couple thousand. What's your budget? What's this." I don't ask for anything in return. As you figure out different things or something better, share it with me. I don't feel like I'm special. I've been fortunate that my podcast has become successful. The numbers I see in the downloads we get and stuff, but I don't feel like I'm special or I'm any different than anyone else. I think everyone else could do that.
Ryan Alford [00:29:54] It's definitely being relatable. I listen to some of your episodes to get to know you. There's a relatable factor to you and how you interview people and how you talk. Joe Rogan and some of these guys, they're great, but I think that's a unique miss. Some of that comes I think being Southern guys and South Carolina boys a little bit. I think there's just a realness. Most people that I meet, I think that's a characteristic that comes off, but that was something that I really embraced from listening to some of your stuff.
Matt Snipes [00:30:31] That's really good to hear, because that was another reason that I wanted to start. It was to be relatable because you look at these hackers are people that are trying to improve their lives. Tim Ferriss, Rogue and all those other guys, they've got a huge income. Their time is a little more flexible and people are quick to write them off because of that. They said, "Well, of course, you can eat good when you've got an unlimited budget or you've got a chef that lives with you like Carey does or you've got this. You don't have to go to a normal 9 to 5 job. They'll write them off for that reason. I'm like, why do I have none of that? I don't have a big budget. I do go to a 9 to 5. I do have to figure out things on my own. If I'm still able to do it, so are you. That was another big reason for wanting to do it. I felt like I could be more relatable to them. Just like you said, even with the southern thing, I have a slight complex with my accent being from the South because in TV or cartoons or anything, they want to portray someone as ignorant that gives them a Southern accent. So we kind of catch it for that.
Ryan Alford [00:31:38] I lived in Manhattan for five years. But, I use it to my advantage because I would walk into a room of New York guys and Manhattan guys. Nobody is from Manhattan, but they're all either been there longer than me or from some northern city that you know. I get sly as a fox, sit in the waiting room and, you know, dissect it. I'd say something like, I don't know, but then bring some zingers out. They are like, "OK, this guy knows what he's talking about." But then the clients thought it was charming.
Matt Snipes [00:32:13] The same thing with girls in Southern California. They love it. It's like you're from a different country. They are like "oh say this word or say that word, and I was happy to oblige.
Ryan Alford [00:32:23] Talk about the apparel side. That's very interesting to me. With what we've been doing with Radical and Hustle, we've got an apparel component that we've been toying around with. But, I'm fascinated by all of that. Especially on the way and being owning an ad agency and having clients in the direct to consumer space. The retail game has changed so much with Instagram and Facebook and all these platforms where you can go direct to the consumer. You don't have to have a storefront. It's fascinating to me. Then from a fashion perspective, I'm just into certain looks and feels. But I'd love to delve a little bit into your fashion side, which I know you said you took it to a certain place and maybe it's been a little on hiatus, but maybe starting to come back. I love to get your perspective on how you started, some of your experiences or recommendations for people that might be listening and thinking about that segment lately.
Matt Snipes [00:33:23] So I started that. I like a simple style. I don't like big, loud, busy graphic shirts. But, I also didn't want to spend a ton of money on just a plain colored t-shirt. 40 or 50 bucks for a nice blue t-shirt. So, I decided to start a clothing company and I was going to do just very simple designs, very small logos, and subtle. Something that you could wear out to the bar or anywhere, and it kind of works. It's not that you're not out of place. So to start that, I looked at a bunch of different blank manufacturers that have the different blank t-shirts, because I knew I wanted it to be premium. In the past I had bought a lot of t-shirts from a lot of friends, either for a fundraiser or whatever they're doing that were printed on really low quality shirts. I bought it to support them and I never wore it. It gets me nothing if I just get that one sale and they don't wear that shirt to kind of push it and promote it. So I knew it had to be on a premium shirt. I found a website. They kind of stocked everybody's-all the different apparel vendors. So I ordered my size in ten different brands and then multiple different styles. As soon as I got there, there were some that immediately went in the trash. I was like, "oh, this is garbage, this one too." This fits weird. That's kind of square. I work out. I want people to be able to know that I work out. So I want to form a fitting shirt without being too tight. So when I narrowed it down to the ones that I really liked, I started wearing those shirts. I'd wear them to work. I'd wear them to the gym. I'd wash them multiple times because that was another big thing. If I'm putting my name on this, I don't want crap. I don't want them to unravel or seem to come loose or anything like that. So I finally narrowed it down to the brand that I wanted to use. Then I tried to source the cheapest I could, find out who carries this brand and who will sell it to me for the cheapest. I found a website. For those people listening, PPS Apparel is where I buy it and there's no minimum for one hundred and fifty dollar order or more. They ship for free. Their shipping is really fast. I had gone to local printers and said, "Hey, I will tell you what I'm buying the shirt for, you don't even have to beat it. Just match it." So far, even to this day, no one has ever been able to even match it. So the prices were really good.
Ryan Alford [00:35:55] So you get them yourself and you'd have them screen printed.
Matt Snipes [00:35:57] Yes, exactly. So that was a thing in itself. I don't know if you've gone down this road, but everyone that I've talked to about clothing has gone down this road. Screen printers are a different breed. In my experience, at least, they've all got their hang ups. I found one guy who was great. I mean, he knew exactly what I was going for. I even wanted the inks off. I didn't want the ink on the shirt to be hard which I knew would eventually flake from. But, also, I just felt better, looked better. He knew all that. He got all this stuff. I mean, even with colors, like any tweaks or adjustments or ideas he had were always good, like on point. His communication was horrible. Getting him to answer the phone, answering emails, even when I owed him money was hard. I'm like, "man, if I owe you money and you won't answer the phone, then what's going to happen when I need something?" Then a couple of times he dropped the ball on the date. In his defense, he did stay late and he got my stuff done, but he would admit he completely forgot.
Ryan Alford [00:37:06] Welcome to the creative world- the creative art space. I kind of have both sides of the creative and Taipei account guy, I think, at least with my brain. But I'm definitely more of a Taipei account guy as far as I've been. If someone emailed me, I'd write them back within 30 minutes. If I get a text. Yeah, I'm pretty quick at communication. But creative generally speaking, in the advertising world, you've got the account people that are Taipei, like box checkers and then the creative guys, brilliant ideas, but boy, like timelines and awareness of schedule, goes a little by the wayside
Matt Snipes [00:37:46] That's why communication is so big for me. I learned that, working out at Harley. There were a couple deals that I lost just because the other dealership reached out to them faster. They had shopped to me, shopped for someone else and our price was the same. It was just, "Oh, they called me back quicker." I was like, "I called you as soon as I got in, well, maybe that guy got in thirty minutes sooner. So to me that made a big difference.
Then I found another printer. Everything was good. Their prices were a little high but everything was good. But me doing this all on my own, I had no investors. Nobody put in any money. I didn't take out any loans. It was very small-scale. I'm running like this style-48 shirts, this stuff-78 shirts. I was just trying to figure out where this is going to go. This company went under new ownership and those numbers weren't even on their radar. I'm like, what my company is now may not be what it is in a couple of years, only because I had some things in the pot that I thought might project some sales. I didn't want to pull that card or sound like an asshole. But, I wanted to let them know, like, hey, this 48 or 72 might turn into 500 or 1200 very soon. Keep that in mind. They just didn't want my business. And, other people, their prices are too high and I'm trying to do it all local. So I have probably tried every local shop around here and they all have their quirks. Some of them I can live with, but I just want to find that one where it feels good, like I walk in and I set my blanks down. I want to sit and talk with the people there.
Ryan Alford [00:39:26] We're definitely out to talk offline on that, because we do this for a couple others. I want to support local and I want to do that. But the print-on-demand game has gotten a little better. It's also more manageable, especially if you have a built in audience. It's hard if you're selling one. You don't know what size the stock is. If you're selling ten thousand units, you can manage this because you've got the sales coming in to support that extra stock. But when you're selling one hundred or fewer, try to know how many small, medium, large, extra large, you need. That is a guessing game.
Matt Snipes [00:40:09] That was a huge mistake I made. I ended up with a ton of extra large, which fortunately for me is my size. But I view myself as the average size guy. Most guys were ordering large. Even guys that should order extra large were ordering large. So I just ended up with extra inventory. But to touch on that, I have a friend who owns a company called Unit - a clothing company. They credit two or three different styles, although they had well over 100 something for their success. This last year of owning the Unit, I think they were 2000 dollars shy of hitting like 20 million dollars for the year. So they did really well. He stepped away from that company. It started as he and his brother, selling shirts out of a trunk- a true rags to riches kind of deal. And it grew, grew, grew. They said once they got like 50 people. I noticed out walking in the office, there were people I didn't really know. Then it turned into one hundred and fifty people and we had an H.R. team. I was literally locking myself in my design room and trying to stay away. It wasn't fun. So he sold that. But he started a print-on-demand company. He is based out of Australia and they've recently launched one in California. So I was fortunate enough to get to pick his brain about doing that because, well, that's where it's at. That way, I don't tie up any equity. It would be a really good path. That's his company. That's his business. We were going to do business together. He said, coming from someone that would make money, if you sign up with me, I don't think you should sign up with me, and here's why. Fortunately, a lot of people worry about being the small guy and not selling a lot. That can be a positive. Where that’s positive is I'm the one packing the orders and I'm the one doing everything. So when I see a name, I search it in my system in the back end and if I don't see where they have ordered before and I don't recognize the name, I've got their information there. Sometimes I pick up the phone and I call and I just say, "Hey, this is Matt, I'm packing your order. I just want to tell you thanks for shopping with us. It's going out right now." They're like, " It's Matt Snipes." I'm like, "Yeah." They're like, "Wow, this is cool. I appreciate it, man. I like your stuff, Thanks for the call." Use that small time because hopefully there will come a time where you can't do that. Send them an email. Sometimes I would search their name, say like on social media especially. I would just look through my following because that's really the only place I was marketing any of my stuff . Most times they either follow me or follow my company page. So I would find them on social media. If I could verify them. I just send them a DM like, "Sending out your shirt, throw a couple extra stickers in there for you.
Ryan Alford [00:43:02] I love that Idea. We manage a certain dentist that has got the most watch of any video on Facebook this year- Dancing Dentist. It just gave me an idea we should have him Skype call some of his fans. We've sold five thousand pieces of merchandise for him in the last three months. We need to just Skype call one of his fans and they'll be great content.
Matt Snipes [00:43:25] So I started doing the handwritten cards and all this stuff. So the print on order thing, that doesn't work because even my packaging, like I put it in like a poly mailer, just like everyone else. But I found a really nice blue looking one. I couldn't afford to have the poly mailers printed with my logo and have it all nice and professional. So I went and bought a thirty dollar stamp of my logo and I stamped everyone. It looks like it's printed on there. You can't tell, but it's all those personal things. Even that blue when you open your mailbox, it's not a white generic mailer, It's bright. It's blue. It's got my logo stamped right in the middle. He's like, we can't offer that. Right now that's probably going to set you aside from the other guys.
Ryan Alford [00:44:12] The biggest thing I've seen with the print on demand is the quality. It changes from almost shirt to shirt, and that's been a hard thing. We've had some of the Dr. C stuff. It's been good enough. Most of it's going back to cancer patients. It's his brand and we want it to be a certain thing. But, we're giving up a certain amount of personal touch that we might do now for the things that we want to do with our personal Radical and great Hustle and all that. We want it to be more branded like you're talking about. That is where the print-on-demand gets tough. I don't know if someone can figure it out. We're hoping that someone around here pops up that we can offer the best of both worlds.
Matt Snipes [00:44:58]That's the thing too with what you do in Greenville Hustle, man. It may not look good if you're subbing that out. I guess Greenville Gear supports Greenville. We're supporting business over here.
Ryan Alford [00:45:12] Yeah, exactly. That's why we haven't picked a vendor yet.
Matt Snipes [00:45:16] To the screen printers, you got to give us something to work with. I don't ask for much. I went against everything. All my friends in business that I really admire. I sat down with all of them trying to launch this clothing thing, just picking their brain, even if they had never done clothing. I knew they would have something they could offer. I went against everything that they said. That's how I felt good doing business. For example, giving them the number that I'm paying for shirts, I said, "No. Make them give you their number, which I know from sales. I know the Hustle. I know that. That may get me a better deal. If you can make a couple cents and I can still get the same price, I'm comfortable with this price. If I could get it lower, great, but if I don't, this is still a comfortable number for me. Can you make money giving it to me at this cost? I said, "No, don't do that." That's how I like to do business.
Ryan Alford [00:46:14] Are you promoting your merchandise now? Is it out there?
Matt Snipes [00:46:18] No. So what I did is I made certain styles. I made everything and this is where I dropped the ball trying to do it and the podcast at the same time. It became a conflict. It's all coming from one pot of money. I had had offers of investment into my clothing- substantial offers, really good offers. Some of them were coming from friends that I immediately turned down only because I was just really scared. Even if it goes really, really good, then you're a smaller percent. Visually, It isn't going to look like my percent. I had seen that firsthand. When certain cars and houses and stuff like that. They are like, "I'm a partner in that." I'm not driving. He's going home telling his wife, even though they're making good money. Even if it goes good, in my mind, it still goes bad. So friends were a no right off the bat. But to us, like although my clothing lines know where I want it to be, we have zero debt. We don't have a lot of the stuff that I want us to have, but we carry no debt. That was a good place to be. So I had turned down money investments.
When I got into the podcast, as you know, buying equipment gets very expensive. Same thing goes with building the website and hosting it and doing all this other stuff. All that money was coming from the same pool. My resources for the clothing were dwindling. I couldn't order as much, couldn't do as much because I'm allocating these resources somewhere else. I look back and I justify that by saying, "Well, I wasn't making that much money and I told myself that because again, going against the grain on size, you know, 2X, 3X, whatever." I've got a lot of friends that are naturally big guys. Those shirts, those blanks cost me more to buy. I charge the same for those as I do a large one because I'm like, "This guy is just big." It would suck if I was that big and had to pay extra just because I'm born big. So again, I went against the business advice. They're like, "No, no, no. Clothing has to have this amount of markup. You're selling premium shirts. You should charge more." I'm not paying more than X amount for a t- shirt. I don't feel good about charging that even if I could sell it. There are Supreme brands that sell hoodies for like six thousand dollars, and although that's great, I would never want to be that guy. I mean, as you get older, you know it's just a thing just to say you got it. I don't want to do that even if people would pay that. It sounds crazy. I don't want to make money that way. It's not money I can feel good about. Doing that I told myself that's why I wasn't making that much money. I just focused all my attention on the podcast.
Then one day, I randomly got out my books and started looking at numbers. I'm like the t-shirt thing was very profitable for me. This is another spot where I messed up and I would encourage anyone that starts any kind of business to not do what I did. I had one freaking bank account for three businesses and my personal. So everything was just in one big pot. It's just money in and money out. It doesn't work that way. Even if you're good with your money, you can't track it. Especially when tax time came, it was horrible. No accountant even wanted to mess with it. They're like, "What? three different LLCs and your personal are all on. What are you doing man?"
Ryan Alford [00:49:53] So hopefully rectify that.
Matt Snipes [00:49:55] We've gone a different direction now. That was a mistake I made early on that I would encourage others to not make. It seems small in the beginning because there's no investors, I'm not going to have to give any percentage. There's nothing. I just thought, well, same pot, you know, money in, money out. That's kind of how it goes. So I let the clothing thing die on that hill off well. It wasn't really that profitable. Although I enjoyed it, it was more of a labor of love. I love the podcast a little more. Not going to do that.
Since then, I've decided to go a different direction and now I'm glad I didn't take any investment because now I'm willing to at least entertain that conversation. We're going to go a different direction and that I want to also sell products that I think are good- different supplements. But, I don't want to start my own supplement brand and do all that. A common thing with me is, I don't have to make a ton of money off any one thing or any one person. So some of the supplements that I really enjoy that I believe in, I would just set up a wholesale account with them. I would retail on “hey this is what I take."
Ryan Alford [00:51:08] This is more like curating.
Matt Snipes [00:51:09] I wanted it to be more of an optimization website that has fitness equipment that I like, supplements that I like and all that. Still do the clothing, but just offer different products. Now I'm really glad I didn't take that money because mentally I'm in a better space. Obviously, financially I've separated everything. It's ready for a partner because some of my friends probably would have invested money. Not a real investor will look at all that, but a friend is just like, "OK, here's five grand. Let's see some returns soon." That's it.
Ryan Alford [00:51:44] Well, Matt, I really appreciate all the insight. I think it's been rewarding hearing your story. I think for people listening, that will probably delve into more of your content. I'd love for you to maybe tell people where they can find your stuff, like your podcast, links and all that stuff.
Matt Snipes [00:52:06] Yeah, the podcast is on all the big platforms. It's The Self-made podcast. You can go to theselfmadepodcast.com and just click directly on the link, search it on iTunes. It's on Google and everywhere else. For me personally, I'm pretty much an Instagram guy. I'm not huge on Facebook. I have a Twitter account only so I could secure my handle on there.
Ryan Alford [00:52:28] You're not the only one. I know people say it's coming back, but I just can't find enough time because I know it's more conversational. I can't find enough time to do it.
Matt Snipes [00:52:37] Exactly. Yeah, I'm not interested in that. So Instagram, all my social media, Twitter, everything is just @Matt Snipes, just my name. I try to keep it simple. If you're listening to this and you've got questions, and you think I can help you, you're welcome to reach out to me. If I can answer any questions for you or give you any guidance, I'm more than happy to do that. That's what I enjoy doing. So don't hesitate.
Ryan Alford [00:53:03] Great man. I really appreciate you coming on. It's been great getting to know you more and look forward to doing it more and maybe a venture onto the podcast with you one day.
Matt Snipes [00:53:13] Yeah, absolutely. I'd love to have you.
Ryan Alford [00:53:15] Well, thanks so much. We've really enjoyed today's episode of the podcast. Really appreciate Matt Snipes coming on. Keep following all the content on Radical.company and then Radical Company podcast at iTunes, Anchor, Google, you name it. We're all over the platforms. I hope everyone has a great rest of the day, no matter what day that is when you're listening. We'll talk soon.