I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jason and Brandon last Saturday while watching the University of Arizona game in Santa Monica, California. Jason, the newest Los Angeles resident, and myself began to talk about doing some guest blog posts for each other’s site. Always one for collaborations, Jason was down for some guest bloggage.
With that said, I began to brainstorm topics to write about for the wonderful Zox Blog. I quickly read through the old posts and saw one post that struck me – ‘Making It Count’. This entry really hit home for me because it brought me back to the roots of my first company that I started with my business partner, Kevin Gressley, back in Tucson, Arizona.
I was 22 at the time and in dire need of employment. I had just over drafted my Bank of America checking account again and I received a very angry phone call from my mother. The ultimatum was that I had to bring in at least 300 dollars a month to help pay some of my own bills while I was attending the University of Arizona. Dreading employment under someone else’s bidding, I decided to reach out to Kevin Gressley about his screen-printing business that he started in October of 2010.
At that moment my passion for apparel was born. I loved what I did so much that I did not mind getting roughed up and told no during sales calls.
The best story I have about my rejected sales attempts came from the first day I went out with Kevin to try and “sell some stuff”. We went into three businesses and pitched some screen-printed tees, embroidered polo’s, or heck, even some dang key chains. No, no and no were the answers received.
These resounding “no’s” weren’t just any normal no’s. These were vicious rejections that had a nice little sting to them. Walking out of the third business, a local Tucson car dealership, I heard a loud crack of thunder. I remember looking up at the sky and seeing it coming, the rain. It was summer, so the monsoon season of Tucson was in full force. Before we knew what was going on, Kevin and I were in a torrential downpour after being rejected for the third time.
Slowly walking back to Kevin’s black Ford F150 we looked at each other and shook our heads in disbelief. Staring straight into Arthur Miller’s ghost, I somehow saw the life of a salesman. A joke seemed appropriate as a way of diffusing our despair. I turned to Kevin and sarcastically quipped, “I thought the three rejections were pretty bad, but this is just demoralizing.”
Rain the size of nickels pelted us like muskets and must’ve knocked away our senses. We were just sitting there outside — laughing almost maniacally. I couldn’t believe that even the weather was rejecting us in these desperate times. I held back the worst one-liner of all time back then, “When it rains it pours.” It seems more appropriate now.
From that point on I knew I was going to love my job and the people that I worked with. I had an amazing business partner in Kevin Gressley and we were able to make light of a bad situation. Since then we have built our company, Youth Monument Clothing, Inc. in a similar fashion by hiring employees who share a passion for clothing, a great attitude and willingness to not give up.
It is important to practice these values in your everyday life, not just in business. I am a firm believer that luck does play an important part in both personal and business life but you must make your own luck. The only way to do this is to stay focused, keep trying, and never let a few “no’s” get your spirits down.
For all aspiring entrepreneurs who feel stuck, let me leave you with a few words of wisdom. Press on.
“Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race” – Calvin Coolidge
Thanks to Jason and the Zox team for letting my share my thoughts and stories here on your blog! Check out Youth Monument at www.wearvenley.com.