I usually start out phone calls by giving the guest a little bit of background on me and how the show’s going to go, I edit that out, and then we start our conversation. I was going to to ask Matt a bit about his work with influencers like John Hill and George Poulos (EP 8) later in the episode, but we sort of jumped right into it naturally. I’ve done a bit less editing on the intro than usual to give you a little peak into what that initial conversation was like before jumping into Matt's story.
Meet Matt Gresia, creator of Canswer Sock Company. Matt grew up just outside of New York City in a smaller town with a slower pace. He’s always had a desire to have a clothing brand - he can’t really explain why, but he does know that he’s super passionate about it. The idea of seeing people wearing something he’s made really resonated with him. Coming from skate culture himself, he knew that the desire of many skaters is to get sponsored as a sort of right of passage. He had dreams of creating a skate team through his clothing company, so that he could sponsor kids and make their dreams come true. While Canswer Sock Co. doesn’t have a skate team and probably won’t (Matt’s looking to expand beyond only the skate scene), its purpose in helping others remains.
Cancer had always been something that played a role in Matt’s life. His grandfather was taken by cancer before he was even born. And as he grew older he saw cancer’s effects on the friends and family he loved. Now, he’s no scientist, but he did know that he wanted to start a clothing company, and he could use that to help raise money for cancer research.
So, that’s exactly what he did! Like there are now, two years ago when Matt began this journey, there were a countless number of clothing brands on Instagram - sometimes it feels like EVERYONE’S got their own brand. How could he distinguish himself right off the bat? Socks. He had that idea in his freshmen year of college (Manhattan College) when he was sixteen. That same year, Brett Conti, creator of Fortune NY, and alumni of Manhattan college was giving a lecture on how he started his company. Matt had no idea who Brett was, but definitely knew Fortune, so he took a friend and attended the lecture. Matt saw a bit of himself in Brett’s story. He pushed past his shyness to introduce himself after the talk and even got his email, but didn’t yet mention what he has in mind for Canswer. A couple days later he emailed Brett.
That led to their first meeting, and that first meeting led to their friendship. So, with his dad’s help (an entrepreneur himself) and Brett’s experience, Matt spent his summer (and his money) on getting an LLC, trademarking the name, and getting everything else covered on the legal end. Then he found a manufacturer, made a design, put it on his socks, and has been running Canswer Sock Co. ever since!
Lately Matt’s been super flooded with working on new projects. “It’s like the best busy can be.” Since socks, he’s expanded to hats, hoodies, and shirts! Basically, all he’s doing now is trying to grow. He’s working on getting into a franchise store (a huge source of income for clothing brands).
He’s also working heavily on his brand. September 15th is the day he opened up his website for Canswer. He wants to make that “Canswer Day.” September 15th 2018 is obviously just around the corner as of the release of this episode, but in 2019, Matt is looking to do a popup! He sees that day being a movement where everyone posts pictures of their Canswer clothes. In the meantime, this year, Matt is dropping a shirt in three different color ways - stay tuned!
Matt started skating when he was around eleven or twelve. Unfortunately, he broke both of his ankles… twice. While he’s not skating as intensely as he was before, he’s still very much involved in the culture. When he found skaters on YouTube, he saw himself in what they did and started watching them all! When it came time to send his socks to “influencers,” he knew exactly where his first socks were going.
Now Matt has the relationships, but it wasn’t always that way. He mentioned he was a shy guy. So am I, and maybe you’re shy as well, so I asked Matt how he pushed past the anxiety of stepping out to create those relationships.
It’s that same theme of regret that we explored in our last episode with Gerald and Elena Flores. Are you going to regret it if you don’t [blank]? Or, in other words, how much do you want it? Here’s the bad news: the anxiety usually doesn’t go away until after you take that step. Here’s the good news: it usually goes pretty well once you do.
I always like to ask what my guest would do if a kid walked up to them at one of their pop ups and asked them what advice they’d give in how to start a clothing brand? It’s a question that isn’t looking for a super specific answer, but something simple enough that even a kid could understand and use towards chasing their dream. Funny enough, that exact scenario happened to Matt at John Hill and Brett Conti’s popup. Matt had gone with George Poulos, and for the first time in his life, kids knew who he was - they were asking him to sign their clothes and get pictures with him, and one kid happened to ask how he could start a clothing brand of his own. The answer isn't a short cut, or magic word, or key to success. It's committment, hard work, and love.
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Podcast SANS END theme music: Church by BenJamin Banger. Find him @ http://smarturl.it/hjfi20