Time should never be wasted focusing on what others possess but, rather, should be spent honing our own natural strengths and improving ourselves in areas we regard as important.
Dan Barry, founder of Marc Skid, LLC, a cheeky, eco-friendly underwear brand owner with a passion for giving back. Made with the finest cotton, Organic Pima, and with a recycled water bottle in each waistband, Marc Skid underwear is dedicated to the betterment of the world and its people. The mission of the brand is to allow people to Make Their Marc on the World by donating four dollars per pair to 4-Star Charities dedicated to saving, feeding, and curing the world.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
I hope the story of Marc Skid inspires other people to hold onto their dreams and ideas and make them a reality when the time to do so is right. There are two key points of inspiration for the brand. The idea behind Marc Skid came to me more than 25 years ago. I was drinking a few beers and chatting with a good buddy. We started talking about underwear because he had a pair of high-end underwear on the coffee table. Both of us got a kick out of observing that all an underwear company needed to do to sell its product is put a “fly bod” on its packaging and roll with it. More than any other apparel item, underwear seemed to embrace this empty, superficial, vanity-driven marketing approach. That’s when the idea came to us that all brands – not just underwear –should possess the same qualities as people we admire, those qualities being a sense of humor, a strong character, and a goal of living a purposeful life. My Dad often taught little lessons with quotes. One of his more frequent quotes was, “Everybody would be beautiful if they could be.” Yes, it is true that we all aspire to a better self. Physical beauty might be one aspiration – but there are so many more important aspirations. One of the main desires of Marc Skid was to make those aspirations immediately actionable. When you buy a pair of Marc Skid underwear, you are making an eco-friendly choice – that’s an action. When you decide which charity to donate $4 to – that’s an action that can impact the world. The other key inspiration for me came from being blessed to see great examples in my life about the responsibility of the individual to give back to the greater world. The closest examples were my parents and Sister Laurinda – each of whom now has a Marc Skid underwear style named after them. My parents have been, and are to this day, very involved in my hometown. Each of my parents has served my hometown community in elected offices and as volunteers in programs bettering the community. Sister Laurinda, my Mom’s childhood best friend, became a nun, and started a mission in Honduras. I saw her good works in action when I joined her in doing mission work in Honduras. To this day, nothing has impacted me more than my mission trips. So, in 2015, when my 25 year career in the beer business ended, I had no doubt what I wanted to do next!
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day usually starts with being at the gym for a 5 a.m. workout. The amazing thing is that working out these days is more for my mental awareness versus my physical well-being. I then get home to help with our 14 month old, feeding him and getting him ready for daycare. When I return to the office, I start cranking away at various tasks associated with a start-up. One of my biggest things is always trying to gain PR for the brand and its mission. In addition, I spend a lot of time working on social media and packing and shipping all the orders that I receive. At 5 p.m., I pick our son up and get him fed as he waits for Mom to come home. Disgustingly routine, huh?
How do you bring ideas to life?
After a 25 year career in the beer industry, this is my first start-up. I, however, have always been an observer and I’ve had many ideas. I always enjoyed my career in the beverage industry so I never pursued entrepreneurship earlier because I was content in that industry. As mentioned before, the seed of this business idea was planted over a quarter of a century ago and based on a simple observation.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The increase in “conscious consumerism.” That’s where individuals are looking to somehow help others and the world through everyday purchases. This is a known attribute of millennials. It is vital for Marc Skid to find a way to connect and have a continuing dialogue with those looking to make a purchase with a purpose! The choices we’ve made were determined by the ethos of our brand and that is that brands should be like the people we admire in life, possessing a sense of humor, a strong character, and a purposeful existence. You can find humor in our cheeky name and character in our use of the world’s most eco-friendly materials, organic Pima cotton – the finest cotton in the world – and our use of one upcycled water bottle in each waistband. The brand’s purposeful existence is found in the $4 donation we make on behalf of the customer for each pair of underwear purchased to one of nine 4-star charities dedicated to Saving, Feeding, and Curing the World. Our call to action is Make your Marc on the World!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Life as an entrepreneur, or creator of a start-up, in the beginning is a very solitary pursuit. I think it’s my ability to dream and my tenacity to follow my dream that makes me productive. As defined by Webster, an entrepreneur is one who organizes, manages, and assumes the risks of a business or enterprise. I believe that definition is incomplete. You take on these things because of a passion, because of a dream, because of a purpose that is calling you.
What advice would you give your younger self?
It would be to be more confident in oneself. I think as you go through life, you sometimes focus on the individual strengths of others when, in reality, we are all blessed with specific strengths. Time should never be wasted focusing on what others possess but, rather, should be spent honing our own natural strengths and improving ourselves in areas we regard as important.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Ha-ha! I can talk about Marc Skid. Well, this is a fact so after explaining it to others, people realize I am right but before I inform them about it, almost no one knows that water bottles are made of the same material as the polyester we wear as clothing every day. Why is that important? We are the only underwear company that upcycles one water bottle to make each of our waistbands. The product is called REPREVE. Although much more expensive than virgin polyester, we believe this is the right thing to do because it detours that water bottle from a landfill. 85% of plastic waste, which can take up to 1,000 years to decompose, goes to landfills. As far as Marc Skid is concerned, we feel that not one ounce of virgin polyester should be produced until we’ve accounted for every single water bottle.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Being hands on. When I decided to launch an apparel company, I realized that I knew very little about apparel. I was from the beer industry! Sure, I like nice clothes but I knew nothing about what went into the making of a great piece of clothing. For me, believing that I will be successful, I needed to be hands on so I could learn about fabric, sewing, manufacturing, shipping, and every nuance of the apparel industry. In the industry, they have what they call “full package” which is where you allow someone to take your idea and make it for you. I knew that no one would have the same standards as me plus there’s no better way to learn than jumping in and doing it yourself. I chose “cut and sew” where basically I was responsible for sourcing all the materials to make my product. I then hired a company to cut and sew the fabric according to my specs.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
As mentioned before, this is my first start-up. I haven’t technically had a failure as an entrepreneur. Of course, being a 14-month old start-up, the jury is still out as to whether or not the brand will be successful. Since I’m a self-financed start-up, I think having utilized one of the many crowd-funding sites may have helped gain some additional awareness and financial strength prior to launch.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I am of Irish descent. I’ve always appreciated the traditional Irish custom of an Irish wake – a celebration of life. If you go to an old Irish funeral home, there is a separate room where the body is waked but, basically, the rest is a bar. I never understood why, in the United States, when you go to a casket viewing, everybody stands in the back and catches up with friends and family, they are always talking nervously and self-consciously in whispers. Eventually you make your way to the front to pay your respects where you really need to be solemn. The other part of this is that I don’t know of a single person offered the choice between this dreary, solemn ritual or a final celebration of one’s life where those gathered are laughing and enjoying the time with mutual family and friends who would not choose the joy of a spin-off of the essence of the Irish wake. I know when it’s my time, I’d rather be looking down and watching my loved ones sharing the beautiful gift of laughter in my honor.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
It would be the money I spent for swim lessons with my 14-month old. He loves the water and I love the opportunity to be sharing that experience with him.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Without a doubt, it was my decision to have my website hosted by Shopify. It is a great platform and in a world where it is impossible to speak with anybody live, their customer service is awesome! As a 52-year-old, many tech things are not intuitive to me. It is so appreciated to be able to get someone knowledgeable on the phone even if it’s just to hold your hand on something about which you are unsure.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
First, since I love history, my favorite book is “Truman” by David McCullough. From a business and marketing standpoint, it would be “ZAG” by Marty Neumeier. The premise of “ZAG” is that when everybody zigs, you zag. It’s a great book to help you gear your mind to looking for white spaces, or need states, that have not yet been addressed. It will also help you to differentiate yourself from the masses.
What is your favorite quote?
I don’t have a favorite quote because there are too many quotes I like and I’m in love with the power of a good quote to motivate and inspire! You will find a couple of quotes on our website, even a few, penned by yours truly, but one quote has done more to inspire me personally and the belief that people want to make a purchase with a purpose which is a key part of Marc Skid. That quote is the following from Malcolm Bane: “If you wait until you can do everything for everybody, instead of something for somebody, you’ll end up not doing anything for anybody.” Of all the thousands of inspiring quotes out there that call each of us to do better, to do more, and to reflect on our own personal existence, this one reminds us to take action today – and each day. It’s a reminder that giving can come in the form of time spent on a mission trip or monetarily in a donation, sure. But it can also be as simple as a smile or a kind word.
- To believe in yourself, your individual strengths, and the quest for constant self-improvement. Nobody is better than you, just different.
- Make your Marc on the World! It’s not the size of the splash you make but that you make one at all.
- Keep hold of your dreams and ideas and make them a reality when the time is right for you.
- Let’s Make a Marc on the World together – buy Marc Skid underwear!
Facebook: @Marc Skid Co
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.