Tyler Jorgenson 0:01
You’re listening to biz ninja entrepreneur radio. This show was created for entrepreneurs, business owners, marketers and dreamers who want to learn from the experts of today and drastically shortcut their own success to build a business that supports their dream lifestyle. Since 2011, Tyler Jorgenson has been interviewing business thought leaders from around the world, a serial entrepreneur himself, Tyler also shares his personal insights into what’s working in business today. Welcome to biz Ninja, entrepreneur radio. Welcome out to biz ninja entrepreneur, radio. I’m your host, Tyler Jorgensen. And today we have the privilege of talking with and listening to the story of Zach Hurley, who is the co founder and CEO of indie source.com. And these guys are kind of the behind the scenes from a lot of brands that you may have even seen and can help a lot of entrepreneurs bring their products and their brands to life. And so I’m really excited as somebody who has launched a lot of products, to be able to have someone share their entrepreneurial journey and how they support other entrepreneurs. So we’re excited to have you out, Zach.
Unknown Speaker 1:14
Yeah, thanks for having me.
Tyler Jorgenson 1:16
All right, Zach, When was the first time in your life when you realized you’re an entrepreneur?
Zack Hurley 1:22
Well, the funny thing is that I didn’t, I think I had it flipped, where I did a lot of entrepreneurial things growing up, that I had no idea were entrepreneurial. And I mentioned this before, when we were talking that it didn’t really occur to me that being an entrepreneur was a possibility until I started reading, you know, Tim Ferriss stuff, and this is after I’d already graduated from college, and I was already sort of like, I, like have my first job in and it wasn’t, then until I read, I was like, holy crap, I’ve been doing this number one, right. And I can do this for like, like, forever, and I don’t have to have a boss and I can actually make this a reality. For me. It’s sort of like that made it okay for me to like, actually call it that, if that makes sense.
Tyler Jorgenson 2:06
Totally. So when was that first Aha, that you realize, man, you might be able to leave the nine to five world, right and go a different way. Was there? Was there a specific moment? Or was it just kind of that general reading the four hour workweek and embracing it? Or do you remember a moment where the light bulb went?
Unknown Speaker 2:22
Well, the light bulb went off the specific part of that book where he was talking about liberation, I think it might have been called. And I was like, holy crap, I was like, wait, so I was in a sales job. And I’m like, reading, I’m like, this is what you do. This is what you do. And it says, step by step. But at that point, I had already really started the bones of nd source and started sort of like, making it happen. But I was kind of on the side, it was a side thing. I wasn’t giving it attention. And I remember reading through this, and then like reading to the bottom, where it’s that final part where he says, you basically give them an ultimatum, if you’re good enough, just kind of say, like, Hey, I’m gonna be working remotely. And at that point, I had been doing so well in my job and my sales position that I was just like, I’m just gonna skip to that part. And so I remember walking into my boss’s office and being like, I’m moving to California. And I really want to keep working here. And I would like to make this work. So, you know, if you’re willing to keep me on salary, you know, I’d like to work remotely. And of course, then the superiors had to get involved and his boss and his boss, and they’re like, Well, we’ve never done this before. This isn’t happened, you know? But eventually they’re like, all right, yeah, do it. So that was huge. Because I was like, Oh, my God, I can’t believe that worked. I was in DC at the time, I flew out and moved to Los Angeles, and started this company with my buddy on on a houseboat in the Marina and love it. That salary really helped me to get started.
Tyler Jorgenson 3:53
Oh, yeah, that’s a big deal. So Alright, let’s break the seal here. What is in the source? And what do you guys do?
Unknown Speaker 4:00
indie source helps fashion entrepreneurs to bring their ideas to life, and then manufacture products at scale that they can, you know, build their businesses around. And we primarily focus in apparel apparel is the main thing. And apparel can be everything from athletic wear to contemporary fashion. We do accessories I do, you know, headwear, anything that can be cut and sewn from fabric, which gives you a lot of choices at that point.
Tyler Jorgenson 4:25
Yeah, can be made by our team. Awesome. And so one, why did you decide like, of all the things to create and build, right? Why was this the thing that you co founded? Well, I
Unknown Speaker 4:37
think like many things, you start to dig a little bit as you see opportunity. And in the beginning, you don’t always know what that’s going to look like. In the beginning. Some of the aha moments that we felt were talking to brands at magic, which is a trade show in Vegas and learning about the challenges that they had creating custom apparel, and just being like, how come you’re all printing on gildan you Guys all look the same. Like, that’s weird to me. We had had the fortune of knowing and producing in out of Peru because we had somebody that we met who made amazing Pima cotton shirts. And it was just so much better than the stuff we were seeing at the trade shows. So we’re like, there’s something going on here in this industry. And I was just the beginning. We’re like, let’s see, I think that there’s an opportunity here, and you don’t know in the beginning, but you know, enough to keep going. And that’s kind of
Tyler Jorgenson 5:24
where it all started. Why were you even attending these kind of trade shows? Like what I mean, what even got you into the fashion world? Or in what got you attending these types of things?
Unknown Speaker 5:34
Yeah. So I think it starts by letting yourself be an entrepreneur and saying, Yes, I’m going to look for opportunities. And that’s step number one, step number two is expanding, and in working with people in your network that have these opportunities, and so, friend of mine, who I went to college with, and we, you know, we created a fraternity together, and I trust, like, with my life, you know, he hit me up at some point, it was like, you know, we have this, I have this other friend who’s in Peru, and he’s been down there. And so the connection came through a friend. And that was it. That was all it took, it was a cool opportunity. And, you know, I studied international business, marketing and Spanish, so I was like, shoot, this would be a good thing for me is lined up, like, like, that’s exactly the kind of thing I want to do. So I was like, I’m gonna follow that. And that was how it got to there. And what sort of got us to this trade show was a guy who on the factory was like, I need your help getting my product into the US market. So we were running his sales for him getting his product from Peru into the US market. And that’s where we were we sort of like saw what was going on in the industry. So now we’re like in the industry, wow, we can start asking questions, we can start learning, we can start seeing Well, what’s going on with this industry, we come to find out it’s a disaster. I mean, it’s completely archaic. It’s so confusing, it’s really only set up for bigger brands to be successful, yet you have 10s of thousands of entrepreneurs that now because the barrier to entry is lower, and they can directly market to their, their customers, they want to, but the back end is still, like just terribly archaic, and isn’t set up to help them. And that was that sort of contrast. And we were like, oh, man, this is a huge opportunity, because of how bad it is.
Tyler Jorgenson 7:11
Yeah, so I love that. So how similar is starting a business to starting a new fraternity?
Unknown Speaker 7:19
It’s eerily similar.
Tyler Jorgenson 7:22
So I mean, did it because Is this the same person? Is that your co founder?
Unknown Speaker 7:25
Yeah. So like, did
Tyler Jorgenson 7:26
you know by working together in that relationship, like, Oh, we could run a business together.
Unknown Speaker 7:31
I mean, think about it this way, you have to get, we had like, 50 guys that we had to somehow convince, to do community service, to get certain GPA to just do like, an inordinate amount of stuff that it was not partying and drinking, and we couldn’t even pay them. So it’s like, that was exactly the aha moment was like, dude, if we can if we can rally these people around an idea of being a founding father and building a legacy, and doing something bigger than ourselves that will hopefully last for years and years to come. If we can do that, and we don’t pay them anything. And this works like we could start a business for sure. You know, so that was definitely directly related to it. And the fraternity exists, they have a house, they still there, you know, it was a terror they have no I mean, they barely know the stuff that I went through to fighting with, with the school. I mean, it was very difficult for them to let us be on campus as a whole thing. And it took four years. And but now they have it. Yep. There. So love that. Yeah, I would say a lot of a lot of similarities there.
Tyler Jorgenson 8:33
So with your current team, do you do hazing? Do people have to have like a senior, you know, brother
Unknown Speaker 8:38
stuff, or we actually don’t one of the things, we were the anti fraternity fraternity, so we really didn’t do some hazing at all it was we were similar. I always laugh about, like, you know, old school is kind of similar. It’s like, it’s just like a bunch of people that don’t want to be in a fraternity that are creating a fraternity. Right? It was really like that. And part of our DNA was we don’t think that hazing is the way to go. But we do. Obviously lots of bonding and things like that to get people together. But yeah, I mean, some of those kinds of things obviously can translate into business.
Tyler Jorgenson 9:08
Yeah. So from the more positive side, like how do you now that your team is growing? You’ve got a good company, like how do you make sure you build good morale, good team spirit within your business,
Unknown Speaker 9:18
they got to understand the why they got to understand what’s going and I just, today’s the third, I mean, every the first of the month, or I guess this was just yesterday, we had all team meeting with everybody. We’re about 35 people right now, just our direct core team. And then there’s a lot of other people that are a part of the organization outside of that. But the way to do it is to make sure that every single person on the team feels empowered to be an entrepreneur or I call an intrapreneur in the organization. And so that’s been the most critical thing because when one of the things that you sort of realized and I’ve realized going through like waves of running companies is that when you have a bunch of people that are thinking the way you do, it’s just so much easier when you have a team of have employees and they’re doing what you tell them to do. It’s impossible. So threading the line between those two things is a huge opportunity. And it starts by giving them the keys to be able to drive something on their end, you know. So that’s what I’ve seen to be impactful recently.
Tyler Jorgenson 10:18
I love that. So give me a case study of a brand that you guys have helped kind of what was the idea that they had, you know, where are they stuck? And how did you guys help them make it a reality and take it to market? Not either specific or general?
Unknown Speaker 10:30
Sure. I mean, there’s different categories, I would say. What’s interesting about our business is that we get people from all categories, including, you know, like medical, and inventions. And then we also get people from all stages. So sometimes they’re really in invention stage, like they have just a concept. And it’s never been made before. And it like literally doesn’t even exist, like we made like an antigravity suit for somebody will make somebody wants to make certain jackets that are like protect you from bullets, like people have crazy ideas. And then sometimes people just want to make leggings and athletic glides. And then on the other side of it, we have brands that are in sort of like growth mode, they’re scaling, they don’t really need us to help them invent anything, but they need us to help get them to the next level. And so we support them on that. And typically, the way that it works is that people will come in, they bring inspiration and things that they have anything that would be relevant to to share their idea. And we kind of like get it out all on the table and do a big, you know, kickoff meeting so that they can kind of like, explain, Hey, is this possible Is this something that really works. And then from there, we put together like an actual plan. And we we go through the process of sourcing all of the materials, they approve everything, we make patterns, which is the engineered two dimensional shape of a garment that then gets cut out of fabric, and then sewn together. And so the process of product development is one that I think is always overlooked in this industry. And so it’s fun to work with people on this really critical part of actually giving it time and attention to build something that doesn’t exist. Super cool. I’ll give you one example that I always like to use, which is rod Cruz, a famous Baseball Hall of Famer. So he has a heart condition. And he has, it’s a certain kind of, you know, medical equipment that he needs to carry. And so we develop this shirt that has these different straps and things that you can put all around the shirts like an athletic mesh material. And so that was an example of a functional product built around a need for that particular niche. And so what you’ll notice, if you look at my clients list is that they’re very niched, they all do a very specific, like, sort of thing that they are making, because they, you know, they might feel underserved or left out of the market,
Tyler Jorgenson 12:47
you’re building something to fit that need that they haven’t seen. I love that man, it’s, uh, you know, and in your ability to help them like you said, Come and just drop it all on the table, say, here’s the ideas, like what can we do, you know, really cool to be able to help people take it an idea to a reality, you know, people just getting started, let’s say, what what do people need to know about the creation of manufacturing process? What do you find yourself having to, like, constantly teach new clients?
Unknown Speaker 13:15
The first thing is the stages of developing something, because most of the time people come to me with an idea. And they said, How long is production? production is like the last part, right? And so, understanding and and it’s tricky, right? Because you know, and I would say this is a very good in terms of our business model, because step one is asked to tell them that this other thing exists called product development, and then I have to tell them, they have to pay for it. So it’s not always the easiest thing. But in the end, it is something that they do get once they realize, okay, we have to source fabric, we have to build an engineer, the process we have put together costing and you’re in the financials to make sure that there’s a margin for the product up front and early so that we’re not just like guessing at what your margin is going to be. So we’re blending together, the process of creating a prototype, making it financially viable, and giving them an experience at the same time. That’s really the magic.
Tyler Jorgenson 14:06
So walk through making it financially viable. What does that mean?
Unknown Speaker 14:10
Well, that means that we’re starting from the way to do it, is to start from the retail price point. Okay. And rather than start from cost, a lot of times what people do is they say, this is a huge piece of ice, what does it cost it is to go around and start asking people, how much does it cost? How much does it cost? How much does it cost. And the problem with that is it’s not pegged to the retail price point, which is what the market is willing to pay. So instead, the way to figure out all of this is to first do research on market viability and what you want to sell it for. And you sort of you can create some assumptions. You say, all right, I think that this thing that we would make, I could sell for this amount of money, you look at other brands, you see what they’re selling it for that are similar, and yours can be above or below based on whether yours is going to be better or worse. I try to tell people to not compare themselves to Nike or any big brands, because the economics that they’re dealing with are totally different. So you want to look at other indie brands and compare yourself to them, because the economics are going to be a lot more similar. Yep, once that’s done, then you need to create a margin for yourself. And so that margin is going to be based on your business model. Now, the cool thing about a lot of direct consumer brands now is they basically have like, no overhead, right, which is good. But they typically replace that overhead that they would have with more marketing spend to acquire the customer. So they need to determine what that margin they want to be. And then also build a plan for how much they’re going to spend on marketing as well. And so that’s just giving yourself a target. So for simple math, if it’s $100, we might say art, well, we want to make this thing for $25 all in, and that includes the labor and the materials. So now you have a target, you have a goal, you know, alright, I want to make this for $25. And I’m willing to do this many units, because the other part of the variable I know, we’re nerding out a little bit on the numbers. But the other part of the variable is how many units are you willing to do? And the question that every entrepreneur has to ask themselves in the beginning is, would I rather make more units at a lower price point, but expose myself to inventory risk? Or would I rather make less units at a higher price point, and now, I won’t make as much money, but I’ll at least be able to validate the products in the market. And then from there, I can make 300 instead of 1000. And that way, you know, I won’t be stuck with inventory, if it doesn’t sell the decision every entrepreneur has to make? And I’m sure you know, you probably have dealt with that too. Right?
Tyler Jorgenson 16:30
Yeah, every product launch, right? You got to go through that concept. And, and the answer isn’t uniform, right? It Right, based on the risk, the finances, the capital, what’s the you know, the model? What do they have? If it doesn’t work in their first place that they go to sell the product? Do they have an alternative distribution channel, all those kinds of things, right? And so all those factors have to come into play. What is one brand out there in the market that you think is totally overrated? Like, man, they charge a lot of money for a product, that’s just okay, in the apparel space.
Unknown Speaker 17:01
I don’t want to call it one brand. But I think that my answer is always around the mainstream brands that you see kind of trying to outfit the general, like the general consumer. And that’s problematic to me. And that’s sort of like what we’re fighting against. Because if you look at the industry, I mean, this is all changing. But you know, when we were younger, we go to the mall, right? And we’d go to the department stores, and there would be these brands. And they would kind of not really fit, but they would kind of fit and they were like whatever. And so a lot of these brands have been designed from day one to fit the masses. All right, just enough so that they’re like, all right. But what that does is it makes people feel like, this is kind of crap, you know, the quality isn’t very good. It’s mass produced such a scale. And so that happens with almost every major, major billion dollar brand is what I see issues in the market. So the transition is to more brands, more entrepreneurs that are coming in and making products that are better quality, and having a direct relationship with a customer rather than just producing tons of product, destroying the planet and dominating the world. You know what I mean? Yeah, it’s a different conversation.
Tyler Jorgenson 18:10
Sure. It’s almost like it’s almost like we went from like Main Street USA, the small local shops that were either custom tailoring or small batch ordering to Okay, we went to department store mall, where everything’s just mass market manufactured. Now that we’re going digital, we’re seeing the rise of the small brands again, right? Yeah, it’s
Unknown Speaker 18:27
like Main Street USA is coming back, but they’re online, or they’re, and it’s a different experience. And it’s fun, it’s really fun to see that because you feel like you’ve got all these people like doing it right, and like building something that people actually need, and like the ones that do something that people they’re probably gonna not succeed. And that’s obviously part of the game. But the accessibility now that that anybody has to have an idea to get it out there and make it happen. And test is just, it’s so cool that anybody can do it. Now, it wasn’t the case, before, it was very difficult to get in, you had to invest over a million dollars, you had to have sales reps all around the country selling to stores. It’s just the business models totally different. Now,
Tyler Jorgenson 19:04
the decrease in the barrier to entry is really exciting for anyone who’s wanting to get into apparel or wanting to get into e commerce or, and because you can test stuff out right with a very low risk. It’s not zero risk, right?
Unknown Speaker 19:16
You’re not a product business.
Tyler Jorgenson 19:18
Yeah, it’s not the same as print on demand drop shipping or something like that. This is definitely you’re actually building a brand you’re taking care of. You’re bringing an idea to life, which is really cool. And you wouldn’t take my bait on, you know which brands you’re going to throw into the bus. Appreciate that was really excited for you to toss a couple but we’re all right. Let’s talk let’s go back to kinda like Zach got into transitioning from employee into business owner, like what’s a major obstacle that you’ve had to overcome? And it might even be recent in your business and how did you guys overcome it?
Unknown Speaker 19:48
So many, so many obstacles at so many different points. I think I face is the obstacle that many entrepreneurs that are scaling face which is just giving level of like true autonomy to leaders in the organization. So basically what happened with our company, and I think it’s kind of cool to explain this, because this was definitely a vulnerability that happened to us. Um, you know, in the beginning, we grew pretty quickly. And, you know, 2016, up to 2016, we had an amazing year, we crushed it. And I made a mistake, where I had too many people on the fulfillment side of the business, but not enough on sales, right. So I didn’t have the scale balanced properly. And so we had a huge issue there. And so that ruined my next year, my next two years didn’t ruin it, but we didn’t make as much right. And so we had to sort of rebuild and set the scale. And so now we’re in a place where we have the team. But I think what’s been exciting to do is now actually give the keys to the people in the departments and let them really run the show. And so right now, for example, like bringing in heads of product development, head of manufacturing, head of marketing department, and actually getting from the point where it’s just me and my co founder, managing many individual contributors, versus having managers that are in between us to support the growth and the ultimate vision of the company. And that’s been really hard, because I think, you know, anybody that’s built a company, you know, like over a million dollars, I guess, like, Sure, it’s hard to justify, like, I’m gonna pay a manager, this extra salary, but they won’t actually have output. They’re just going to manage other people.
Tyler Jorgenson 21:26
Yeah, it’s a big shift, when it’s not a direct ROI, you’re working on, return on time, are you looking thing in the early stage of your business over almost every team member has a direct, like, ROI,
Unknown Speaker 21:38
right? Exactly as that
Tyler Jorgenson 21:40
Yeah, it’s a big change. But it’s allowed you to kind of like step back higher up and really be a, it’s so
Unknown Speaker 21:45
huge man, I can’t even tell you. And it’s just and we’re just really getting to that solidification of it, because it’s takes a while to get you there. But now, exactly. It’s like, we’re having these people in the seats, and also letting them make important decisions about what’s best for them and the whole group, right? It’s just all good. And it’s going to mean that we’re now on that next level of being able to grow and make sure that everybody in the company feels supported by their manager and the directors above them. And so that’s been a challenge, though, like for sure. It hasn’t been linear. It’s been like all over the place. And I think putting people in seats that really have that leadership and want to solve problems genuinely, and not do things, the way they’ve always done is the solution. And because I’ve also hired people that are like, this is how it is in the industry. And I’m like, No, I know that. But I don’t want to do it that way. That’s the problem. It’s been like that in the industry. But this industry is a lot of terrible things going on with it. Like I actually want to do the opposite as much as possible. And so I’ve made the mistake of hiring people that are qualified, but they’re so ingrained in the way things have been that they’re not really like interested in going against the grain. And so the hiring process of just looking for those people that are like really willing to push it, push the limits and do a different it has been, I think the thing that is pulling us out after Yes.
Tyler Jorgenson 23:03
So there’s a difference between being qualified and being a good fit, right. And I think finding the blend, like when we’re hiring, a lot of times, I’ll take someone slightly less qualified, if they’re the right culture fit. And then we can, I can train, right, we can build up, but if they’re not going to fit, it’s just going to be, you know, fighting against it the whole time. Man, I’m a big believer in lifestyle design, right, since we started the call talking about four hour workweek. And, you know, it sounds like you’re making a lot of those big moves where the business is built for you, right, and not just to have a job, but to be able to build a lifestyle. What’s one major item on Zack Hurley’s personal bucket list, so you’re gonna accomplish in the next 12 months?
Unknown Speaker 23:42
Well, this has been a big one, it’s just it’s so we’re going through some really transformational leadership processes. And so basically, the structure is one that does lend itself to me being able to take myself out of the weeds. And this is something every entrepreneur deals with. And so basically, now I feel we have the team. And the next thing over the next 12 months, is building the process out from a leadership perspective and a management perspective. So that each person there in that group, there’s like seven of them all are like, they feel they’re basically there are many CEOs of what they’re doing. And so over the next 12 months, I want to build them up and power them. You know, there’s a lot of analytics behind it in terms of making sure we’re doing good by our clients. And we’re, you know, in a position to scale further. So over the next 12 months, it’s really creating a foundation for them to be successful. That’s my priority. And what does that mean, for me, it means that then I can take a step back, you know, obviously, like, have conversations like this, but also spend more time with my family of eight month old, you know, was born right when Corona hit. And so getting more time with him is important to me. And so, these are the kinds of things that that I’m thinking about, like over the next 12 months. Awesome.
Tyler Jorgenson 24:56
So like a true entrepreneur, your personal answer, always start with business and then ends with so that I can have more time with my family, right, which is cool. What is your absolute dream client?
Unknown Speaker 25:07
Oh, that’s so great. Someone just asked you that recently, I start by saying what my worst client is. So the worst client is somebody who comes in, doesn’t actually know anything about the process, and is extremely demanding about, you know, getting things done with no empathy or understanding of like, Hey, what do you have to do to make it right? People say like, oh, a sample that should be done in two weeks? Okay, tell me how you would do that. Like, what would you do? They don’t know. And so when I look at what kind of client we want, part of, it’s always nice to be introspective, but part of it is somebody that has that is coming in, that has been educated, probably by us, to some degree, least by our marketing, I do a lot of educational stuff. And a lot of, you know, pre funnel like top funnel like, hey, Brian, consider talking to us. Like, here’s some stuff that really matters. I put out so much content around that, because I know it’s just not even out there usually. So I don’t expect everybody to know the answer, right? But somebody that comes in with a true desire to be successful with a true a willingness to listen and partner with us, rather than it’s not a transactional thing like this is we’re going in the weeds baby, like we’re gonna have to really, like we’re grinding together. This is not easy. We’re building a product that doesn’t even exist. We’re making something it doesn’t even exist. So our best clients are ones that like they’re rolling up their sleeves, they’re like, Alright, let’s do this thing. Like, right, we’re gonna deal with the dye house that is having a color issue, we’re going to deal with this fabric vendor that shipped us too many yards, like the apparel industry is extremely fragmented, right? So at the end of the day, we’re not selling a product, we sell a team of people that are exceptionally good at what they do. And the outcome is a product. And up we will always do our best to manage this crazy supply chain. But it’s always going to be Nannie people involved to get to the end result. Yep, totally
Tyler Jorgenson 26:58
agree. All right, guys. I hope that that gave you a little bit of an insight into what is possible in the manufacturing space. What is what you could do in the apparel space, a little bit of Zach’s journey. Please go check him out at Indy source calm and now it’s your turn to go out and do something. Thank you for tuning in to biz ninja entrepreneur radio. What you didn’t hear was one more very important question that Tyler asks each guest if you want to be a fly on the wall when the real secrets are shared, go to biz ninja.com slash VIP and get your access today. Remember to subscribe so that you don’t miss any future episodes. And our one last favor. If this episode was meaningful to you, please share this podcast with a fellow entrepreneur so they can grow along with us is ninjas. It’s your turn to go out and do something