My name is Matthew Brown and I live in Salt Lake. I am probably about 3/4 Scandinavian with Swedish and Danish ancestry. English ancestry accounts for the other 25% and my last name. I am one of the co-owners of Goat Head Gear
, LLC a Utah based outdoor product company. We sell a specialty product called Sole Spikes which can be used in any outdoor activity where you would want better traction. We are focused on fly fishermen/women and trail runners, but they can be used for anything from backpacking to winter walking. My business partner Jeff Johnson and I used to work together at a local health care company and always talked about starting our own business. He called me one day about 2 years ago with an idea for an engineered screw that could be used for trail running. I instantly saw the application in fishing waders and we set out to design a great product. After working with a local independent engineer for design help, we went through a lot of fits and starts with various manufacturers and prototypes until we really felt like we had something unique and marketable. I am responsible for our graphic and web design and a lot of our social marketing. You can follow us on Twitter, Facebook, or Pinterest to get keep in touch with our progress and get information on new products we plan to release in the next year or so.
What is your favorite activity to do outdoors?
My absolute favorite outdoor activity is fly fishing but honestly I just love being outdoors whenever I can. I also get a lot of enjoyment out of watching birds. There is something fascinating about them and it is always fun when a new backyard visitor comes to the feeders. I gained a real love of the outdoors from my Dad and Grandpa who always took a break to stop and look around and just enjoy the moment. It is really fun for me to pass this on to my kids.
What was the most surprising moment as a business owner?
I am continually surprised by how willing people are to lend a hand to spread the word without expectation of compensation. It has been awesome to work with people from all over the world. We have reached out to bloggers in the US as well as Finland, Sweden, and the UK and they have been great at helping get the word out. Much thanks also to the Danish Mama, Kathy Dalton. I don’t know if this is common or if we have just been lucky, but it has been great. My most surprising moment was when I wrote an email to one of my fly fishing idols, Gary Borger, to see if he would like to try our product out. He was very quick to respond and willing to even share his thoughts on our product through his blog. The best part, however was that the day after I contacted him we both happened to be in Denver so I was able to meet him and hand deliver his Sole Spikes. It was awesome!
What challenges have you faced as a business owner?
I think we face the same challenges anyone has starting a business of dealing with the tensions of time vs. money vs. marketing vs. product development. Not being independently wealthy, both Jeff and I have had to keep our day jobs and starting a new business demands A LOT of time and energy. Our spouses have been very supporting and understanding and that is the only thing that has really made this possible.
What is your favorite children’s story or fairytale?
My favorite children’s book has always been “Homer Price” by Robert McCloskey. I had so much fun reading it to my kids recently. It is full of crazy situations and characters and is good for a lot of laughs. I really love Robert McCloskey’s illustrations and strive to ink sketch like him. His other books “Blueberries for Sal” and “Make Way for Ducklings” are also high on my list.
What are your favorite Scandinavian companies, stores, or food?
I guess my favorite Scandinavian store would have to be Ikea only because I don’t really know any others :). I have a favorite piece of fishing gear from Denmark which is a really cool collapsible fishing net. I don’t use it a ton, but I always liked the efficient and clean design. Do Swedish Fish count as a food?
What advice would you give to a new business owner?
Keep with it if you believe in the idea. When we started out, we thought we could get our product banged out in about 4-6 months and be selling quickly. We ran into a lot of roadblocks that we could have easily let get in our way, but we really felt like we meet a need in the market and have a unique offering to take advantages of current trends in the industry. Almost 2 years later, we are finally rolling. I would absolutely recommend getting active in social media to get your message out. It is free (other than the time cost) and we have made SO many great connections using it (including Danish Mama). Social media is driving probably 95% of our sales at this point and helping open new doors for us into the retail space. I honestly don’t know how anyone would have been able to do what we are doing before the advent of the internet and especially social media. Also, don’t be afraid to ask people for help, you never know how they will respond and in our case, we have really had some amazing experiences in our short period since opening for business at the end of December.
How can we contact you? (email, twitter, linkedin, facebook page, etsy shop, pinterest)
Our website address is http://www.solespikes.com. You can pick up our product there on the site and hopefully soon at local retailers. We keep a blog and there is a contact form if you want to send an email. Otherwise you can follow us at the following places:
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GoatHeadGear
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/GoatHeadGear
- Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/goatheadgear/
- Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/company/goat-head-gear
- Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/111683076314014501472/111683076314014501472/posts