Meet Adam Muncy, creator of The Hounds Ltd, a clothing company with a heart for fashion and philanthropy. Adam grew up as a military kid in the small town of Cedarville, Ohio. A talented town, as he described it, where football is big. It's a socially conservative place that isn’t very tolerant of “outliers.” Of his graduating class, he was the only one to go to college outside of Ohio. After some time going to school in Kentucky, he returned to his hometown to continue his college education until he realized that the whole college thing just wasn’t for him - so he left. He was selling sunglasses at the time, sold a pair to the right guy, and was offered a job in banking. Up until a few years ago that’s what he was up to. Originally the plan was for him and his brother to start the company together, but when his brother chose another path Adam was forced to start it himself. It had been an idea of their’s for a long time, and one day Adam finally made the decision to do something about it.
While working his job in banking, Adam was also writing for a locally run blog, The Village Style. While he enjoyed writing content for the blog, and the free clothes that sometimes came along with it, what he really valued most was the people he got to sit down in a room with. Every interview with a retailer, brand owner, or designer was another lesson learned, and another contact to add to his growing rolodex of people that could help him on his own journey.
Adam’s brother originally wanted The Hounds to be more of a preppy brand - both of them had gone to a private, liberal arts school in Ohio where everyone wore an Oxford to class. Adam had grown up a skater when he was really young. And then he was a scene kid. His brother had always been more all American in style - boat shoes, collared shirts. All of Adam’s siblings have full sized dogs. That’s where he they got the name: The Hounds. Their primary product: a reimagined Oxford.
Adam began with market research. He did thirty days of Oxfords: a photo journal. That was to build his taste because he didn’t really know what his taste was. Then he tore apart his favorite shirts and brought them to a pattern maker.
He knew he wanted to do something socially, and was super inspired by Toms. He had interned with organization called Inner City Impact in Chicago, Illinois, and he knew he wanted to do something to help those kids. He gave them a call and they came up with a plan: every Oxford sold would provide a kid with their school uniform. Once he knew the mission, he had his friends over at BadSpark Design create the visual brand, he flew to Honduras to work with his manufacturers, and he built hype all along the way.
His vision quickly caught a lot of attention, but the Oxford was still on it’s way. He didn’t want to keep people waiting, so he made a T-shirt to test the brand and its mission. In the first week and a half, Adam sold fifty shirts! The money from those shirts went directly towards providing for twenty kids from Chicago to go camping!
In six months alone, Adam took the brand from printables to cut and sew.
Adam just brought all of The Hound’s marketing in-house. Before last month, they had all of their photography done by contracted photographers. Now Adam is taking their pictures.
He’ll also be spending a lot of time looking for influencers who’s values match up with those of the brand - people who are working towards the betterment of their own communities.
On top of those two things, Adam says, they’re just going to keep designing. He has a long sleeve shirt coming out soon that’ll fund camp for kids this year. As he designs and works towards new causes, his main thought process through it all is this: “this doesn’t exist, and I want it to exist, so I’m going to make it exist.”
Adam’s first piece of advice is to figure out what your goals are. Whether your goals are philanthropic like Adam’s, or business oriented (or both) - have something to work towards, have a mission however that looks for your company. A mission will help keep your actions in line. As your brand begins to build momentum, more opportunities will arise for you and your company. At first, all of these new opportunities may seem exciting, but it’s the mission that’ll keep you grounded. Does “x” opportunity line up with your mission? If so, you can jump into it wholeheartedly. If not, you can decline knowing in your heart that you did it for the right reason.
Adam’s second piece of advice is something I haven’t heard on the show before:
It’s important when working with foreign manufacturers to do so respectfully, and knowing how to speak their language is huge! It’s not an absolute necessity, but you might be surprised how far simply trying will get you with the wonderful people who make your product.
In other words: start small. This hits home for me personally. My original (uninformed) plan included a big launch with a bunch of products and full blown out marketing, but that just wasn’t and isn’t feasible for me right now as a one man operator. So, instead, I’m building the brand one shirt at a time, keeping it simple all along the way. Starting small allows you to learn the art behind the business with relatively no risk, so that when you are ready to take a leap into something bigger, you’ll be ready to take the risk as it grows with your business.
It’s the same principle that we were just talking about, but with marketing. Before you shoot for the stars, make sure you know how to build a spaceship (does that even make sense?).
Next I asked Adam about working with nonprofit organizations as a business. I’m not quite sure how yet, but I want the SANS END brand to benefit the homeless of Madison, WI. Adam’s advice was straight forward and to the point. “If you’re wanting your brand to help the homeless of Madison, you should already be helping the homeless of Madison.”
And that’s just it, whatever your mission is for your brand, start living it now and your mission will scale with the business as it grows. Practically speaking, if you’re living your mission out today, you’ll be in the right spot to expand it with your business tomorrow.
FOLLOW THE HOUNDS
Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20