Celebrating a year in business: An interview with our founder
Marc Skid launched just over a year ago. After 365 days of wins, losses and crap-shoots, we asked Dan Barry, Marc Skid's founder, some questions about the first year at the helm of a startup.
What has one full year since launching your brand taught you?
First of all, that there’s nothing better than waking up every day and having the opportunity to work on your passion, your dream.
What’s the old saying? Do what you love and you’ll never work another day in your life. Marc Skid is pretty much a one-man show – me. Key for any startup e-commerce brand is awareness and my background did not prepare me with the social media tools that I must utilize. Thus, this has been a wonderful learning experience for me.
Have I made mistakes? Heck, yes. But you know what? The fact that I get to own the good and the bad 100% is really cool. At one year, the brand’s future success is yet to be determined but it will require my hard work and my ability to learn on the fly.
However, I would say that the single greatest thing I’ve learned in the past year has nothing to do with Marc Skid. A month before I launched Marc Skid, my wife and I welcomed our first child. As wonderful as the opportunity to try to Make a Marc on the World with Marc Skid is, having my son put all other things in life into perspective. Start-ups mean going through daily ups and downs but the beauty of having a son makes those ups and downs seem as fleeting as they really are.
What has surprised you the most about being an entrepreneur?
As defined by Webster, an entrepreneur is one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise. To be honest, I think that definition stinks and I cannot relate to it.
Sure, it's true. But the definition is void of the reason one takes on these things. You take on these things because of a passion, because of a dream, because of a purpose that is calling you. We are all entrepreneurs.
The ethos of Marc Skid is to create a brand that has the characteristics of people that we admire: a sense of humor, a strong character, and a purposeful life. It is that search for purpose that drives us to take on challenges, to make a difference that can come in the form of raising children, learning a new language, going back to school, pursuing a new career, etc. Every new enterprise is different and mine is a self-financed start-up and, as such, is a solitary endeavor. I’d have to say that the motivation that I get from a kind word about the brand, about what I’m doing, or even a sale, can really recharge the battery of my ambition.
What are the 3 things someone should know if they are thinking of starting their own brand/business?
To be honest, since launch, I haven’t spent much time looking at my business plan. But I would encourage everyone to create a business plan. It helped me organize my thoughts, gain a greater understanding of the financial obligation of this endeavor, and refine many points. It is just a great process to go through.
In today’s environment, one should also look at opportunities to gain awareness prior to launch. I feel like I could have done more in this area which would have created a little bit of a head start for the brand both in awareness and financially. Maybe I should have utilized one of the many crowdfunding platforms.
Probably the final and number one thing is patience. Understand it is difficult to find people that want to work with start-ups and even when they do, you will not have their full attention. In my world, suppliers’ cost is in set-up so when you are not offering a significant order, it’s very difficult for them to justify or spread that cost over your order.
How important is it to love what you do?
It is everything and I would not recommend that anyone contemplate a start-up without a love and passion for your purpose. Most businesses fail and those that do find success do not do so overnight. It is a grind and it is your passion, your dream, that will drive you every single day.
How many dollars have been donated in the last year and what can a $4 donation do?
You can always check our total donation amount by visiting the tracker on our home page. More importantly, with a purchase, you can make it increase by $4. We welcome your visit!
To date, we have donated $3,368. Because the consumer chooses whether to Save, Feed, or Cure the World and then chooses which charity to receive their $4, I can’t give specifics on meals, vaccinations, trees, etc. But to understand the power of the purchase of one pair of underwear and the $4 donation, let me give you some examples. $4 for one pair of underwear can plant 4 trees, vaccinate 2 children, feed 12 children in the developing world, deliver $80 in medical supplies, or provide safe drinking water for an individual for 7 years.
How many pairs of Marc Skid undies are out there walking around?
Including the ones that I wear? About 865 pairs.
How many cups of coffee would you guess you’ve drunk since starting Marc Skid?
To my wife’s chagrin, I’m a pretty routine guy. Since I have two cups of coffee every morning, I’d say 730 cups plus or minus five percent.
How many months or years of prep went into the brand before the launch?
Since I wrote the business plan in January-February of 2015 and I launched on October 1, 2017, it would be about two years and nine months. The old adage is that when you want to launch a business in one year, you should probably plan on it taking two years. My business plan called for a launch in June 2016.
What's something you want people to know about Marc Skid?
First, I’d like to thank anyone who has visited us and considered us. I’d like everybody to know that there truly are some very unique attributes associated with Marc Skid.
We are the only underwear company using the finest cotton in the world – organic Pima. Organic speaks to how the cotton is grown. However, most experts will tell you it doesn’t change the quality of the cotton. It is the Pima which sets our brand apart with regards to comfort. Pima is widely considered the finest type of cotton and is extremely rare, actually even more rare than organic. It is said that only .0005% of the world’s cotton harvest is potentially organic Pima.
We are also the only underwear company using one upcycled water bottle to make our waistbands. Most people don’t know this but water bottles are polyester and they can be detoured from landfills and upcycled into high-quality textile polyester. We believe that no virgin polyester should be made until every water bottle is accounted for and upcycled.
The final point is our approach to Making a Marc on the World. Our approach is quantifiable and transparent as we tell you up front that we donate $4 to charity on your behalf for every pair sold. Although all buy-to-give platforms are great, I’m confident that our approach creates the biggest charitable impact in the apparel industry. Other give-back brands typically use the percent of profits model. This is not a percent of gross profit but rather net; net being the profit after every single expense, such as salaries, office expenses, insurance, has been accounted for.
For example, an item might have a $10 gross but the net is $1.50. In general, there’s typically an 85% drop from gross to net.
In addition, we offer the consumer a choice on how they want to Make their Marc: Save, Feed, or Cure the World. This is then done through 9 of the best charities in the world. We believe that to Make the greatest Marc that the money should go into the hands of the experts. They can do it much more efficiently and effectively than any individual because that’s what they do.