Lessons Learned By Marcus Harvey of Portland Gear


Artist, Marcus Harvey

Ann Rea: I met Marcus Harvey at Pioneer Nation last week. He’s a successful clothing designer who founded Portland Gear. In college he studied business but he got bored with it. So he started studying art and design. Surrounded by the Nike culture of athletic clothing and gear, he got very interested in apparel design. And as Portland native with big Portland pride, he decided to express it. Rather than just selling his Portland pride apparel through traditional retail channels, he’s created an experience and a genuine and engaged community of over 144,000 followers via Instagram. Marcus side steps the establishment by personally meeting up with his peeps in Portland to celebrate their Portland Pride by styling and profiling with his apparel line.

That’s the value that he delivers above and beyond his clothing designs.

I asked him to share his three biggest fattest failures and he delivered. Big Fat Failure #1 Marcus failed to set expectations around budget and changes with his first big client. He and his business partner lost all of their time and materials, and they did not get paid. Because they where afraid of disappointing their customer, they wired all their money back. All $7000. Lesson Learned #1 Always set expectations around budget and changes. Define clear boundaries and expectations. Big Fat Failure #2 Marcus shared vital resources with people who wound up nabbing them from him. For example, he gave a new photographer a chance and did a lot work with them. Once the photographer became part of Marcus’s network he got new jobs, got busy, got what he wanted, and he forgot about Marcus. Lesson Learned #2 Lay out clear expectations before you bring someone into your fold. Make sure that they are loyal to you and your relationship. Big Fat Failure #3 Marcus did not realize how vulnerable his business was when his primary marketing channel, Instagram, was hacked. Lesson Learned #3 Protect your business assets and know that genuine relationships can save your business. One piece of parting advice.

Believe in something.

“You need to commit and go all in.” “Even with kids, a mortgage, and a real job.” “Be proud of it. Talk about it. Don’t be ashamed about it. Own it.” “It’s not going to be easy and you’ll have to give some other things up to succeed.” “It’s in the business code of conduct that you are going to fail and fumble and then you’re going to have to recover from it.” What do you believe in? Leave a comment below.    

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