Sandy's Entrepreneurial Lifestyle Insights, Inspiration & Ideas...
Hi! I’m excited to share a great entrepreneurial profile with you, especially as #SmallBusinessSaturday just occurred and hopefully we can help maintain that concept throughout the year. This line would be a great Holiday gift too.
Matthew Schildkret named his business Late Sunday Afternoon after that coveted feeling that the words evoke. He says, “I created the Late Sunday Afternoon line of scarves as a way to inspire that perfect time in the week when cares are minimal, love is flowing, and time is eternal. I believe that this perfect time should come wrapped in a perfect garment.”
There’s a lot of emotion that surrounds this business. In fact, these are more like prayer shawls that Schildkret says are made with “intention and love, to bring comfort and life force to people who are called to them.” Schildkret’s journey to entrepreneurship began in 2010 when he organized a local movement in Venice, CA called Occupy Venice, in conjunction with the national movement, Occupy Wall Street. He was immersed in the cause and living in a sustainable community in Venice where he built his own hut and lived with his dogs for nine months before moving to a local apartment when his business began to take shape. Venice, CA is a hub of creativity and a sort of artisanal headquarters for many entrepreneurs.
Schildkret has another side to him as well, an academic background that’s indicative of his passion for living in a healthy community on a healthy planet. Before moving to Venice, Schildkret worked at the White House for the Council on Environmental Quality in 2009, just after graduating with a Masters degree in Urban Planning from Univ. of Michigan.
He likely wore a pressed suit in Washington, DC but now he’s a self proclaimed “bohemian surfer dude,” who dresses the part. During that Occupy Venice time, he found a scarf and began to wear it. He had never worn a scarf before and it felt serendipitous to him as it led to a series of events that began to mean something to him.
He had gone into a fabric store and was immediately taken by all the colors and textures of the rolls of fabric. The seamstress there helped him create his own scarf from fabrics that he picked from the $1 scrap bin. He began wearing them everyday and they became a conversation starter.
One day, while at a bar in Venice, he explains, “A woman interrupts me while I’m talking with a friend and tells me how much she loves my scarf. She asks to try it on and then says to her husband ‘Give him whatever he wants, I have to have this scarf!'” That became Schildkret’s first transaction ($80) and he unofficially launched Late Sunday Afternoon in 2012.
His father had recently passed away and Schildkret began to focus on something that he had always told him, “All you need in life is one idea.” Schildkret had always thought that it had to be much more complicated. He immediately reinvested the $80 in fabric and made more scarves. He went back to that original fabric store and used their sewing machine in the back room. Next, he opened an Etsy shop online.
The Infamous Knot
At this point, Schildkret began to solicit business advice from his brother and other friends he admired who had business acumen. His brother had said that the unfinished ends on the scarf felt sloppy. This constructive criticism led to the now infamous knot and blessing that accompanies each scarf. The knot was symbolic. It made the scarf feel like the Jewish prayer shawl that he wore growing up, called a tallit. He realized that he was actually making prayer shawls but people wanted to buy scarves.
He also met with a cousin who helped him begin a business plan of sorts in the form of a list of things to do to build a solid foundation for the business. Schildkret began to exhibit his scarves at the Renegade Craft Fairs and was selling out quickly. He thrived on meeting the customers who appreciated the deeper sentiment that went into his scarves.
Everything used at Late Sunday Afternoon comes from within 50 miles of Venice, CA. Schildkret says, “All of our machines and thread are second hand. All of our trimmings get stuffed into burlap bags and go to a dog rescue foundation. Creating a company within fashion that is sourcing fabric that already exists without environmental harm carries great vibration.” He doesn’t feel compelled to have seasonal collections and follow fashion trends. He continues to grow the business organically at a manageable pace selling both direct to consumer as well as wholesale.
Schildkret met a well-known local fashion photographer, Michael Dumler, who really loved Late Sunday Afternoon so he began to do the company photography for Matthew to showcase the brand in a professional way. He also taught Schildkret about social media, where he began posting his own pictures daily on Instagram, FB, Twitter, Pinterest and Tumblr. He says, “Social media has been a beautiful way to reach people in a really delicate way. People are looking at the feeds and get to be part of something they normally wouldn’t see.”
Now that the business is growing and has a great online presence, Schildkret is able to create a larger family company in which he can provide more local jobs and livelihood for his community. He says, “I learned in urban planning that every dollar spent locally is like spending $10. If everyone wants to invigorate their community, they should spend locally, in locally-owned stores so that those people make money and hire more staff. This filters through the tax base with more money for roads, schools etc. I want to stay in Venice, grow my factory, hire locally, pay a great wage, buy my employees lunch, play music, laugh, work fun hours, surf together and make a difference in the community. I still make 100% of everything that goes out.”
Building A Storefront
Schildkret spent the summer of 2015, completely remodeling a 1924 building in Venice to launch the Late Sunday Afternoon Magazine & Factory. He says, “The storefront came out of the realization that it was time to congregate with others through my process and to engage in conversations around what I do and how I do it. My flagship store is a destination to peak into a world where we preach about how important it is to generate positive vibrations in the world. We ask everyone who buys our garments to bless themselves daily and see how it changes the world around them.”
Schildkret explains, “With the new store, I brought on a Partner/Creative Director (Thomas Brodahl). Thomas was my eighth customer. He came to my original studio with his best friend to buy a scarf. Next, I hired my intern after an impressive summer of her running the show as I built the store. Now the store has two amazing associates that help me run the ship. We are as nimble as you could make a business. When I launched the business I was focusing on trade shows, that was my opportunity to reach the stores of the world who had a greater reach to the people. Now, with my flagship store in Venice, I am welcoming the world to come to me and share in my experience.”
Paying It Forward
As business continued to thrive, Schildkret wanted to give back. In July 2105, he began a large initiative to create ‘blankies’ for foster kids entering the Department of Children and Family Services. He says:
“There are so many of us in this life that weren’t blessed with a wonderful family situation. I make things for people to bless themselves to generate a healthier vibration in the world. Providing these children with luxurious blankies was a powerful way of telling them that life is magical and that there are people out there that love them. The DCFS staff initiate the gifting of these blankies. I had a meeting with them about how to present these blessed blankies to the children as a magical blankie that could protect them and love them during the hardest of times. I pray that this initiative can go global and bring attention to all the orphans of the world.”
Schildkret says, “Over the next three years I will open a factory that supports a mentorship program from the Dept. of Children and Family Services. I will offer 16-21 year olds who have had no family or chances to blossom, a place to be supported for the future. My community is filled with 30/40 yr. olds with no kids and a ton of experience. Our factory will be a platform for the community to come and volunteer their time to teach these adolescents valuable skills about the world and creating a life worth living. I pray that in 3 years we are in 300 stores and have a strong online community that supports this vision. I believe strongly in voting with one’s money. This empowers the consumer to show the world who is doing work worth supporting. We are leaving behind the world of cheaper is better and finding ourselves in a world of united people.”
The line has expanded from scarves to bandanas, ascots and pocket squares. Once you touch these products…any moment can feel like late Sunday afternoon.
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