Wayne Shulick has owned high-end retail stores and night clubs over the past 20 years. He has always been interested in fashion and design. It has been a passion for him. He started in the clothing business and built a chain, Premium Denim, and that led him into the night life business and his club, Denim Lounge. Wayne ran Denim Lounge from 2006 until he sold it in 2012. It is still considered to be a premier establishment of Philadelphia nightlife. His next night life concept is yet to be revealed, but he expects it to do very well after the coronavirus pandemic is behind us.
Wayne founded, designed, and sold Denim Lounge in 2012. It is still considered the pinnacle of Philadelphia nightlife. He has had several other nightlife successes since both as an owner, designer, and consultant.
In the last few years, what lifestyle, habit or behavior change has had the biggest positive impact on your life?
I saw a recession coming last summer and early this year. Business wise and personally, I started preparing for that. I changed my business decision and personal habits based on my belief that there was a bad recession coming. Now, granted, I did not know the recession was predicated on a pandemic, but I just felt the stock market, and something had to come back to reality. Mid last summer, I became much more conservative in my personal lifestyle and professionally with some opportunities that normally I would have moved forward with, but I chose not to. Personally, I pulled back a lot of the way I live to prepare for this. I got caught unprepared in 2009, and I swore to myself I would never let it happen again. My business experience and what happened in 2009 taught me a valuable lesson.
When you feel unfocused, what do you do?
Normally, I would just get away somewhere quiet for a few days to re-focus, find humility again, get grounded, and get my creativity back.
Obviously, it is a little difficult right now with the coronavirus pandemic going on right now. Also, my father had a stroke on March 6, 2020. I got him out of the hospital on March 20, 2020 and have been his fulltime caregiver since that time. My situation is a little more exaggerated than anybody else’s.
What advice would you give a smart and ambitious young entrepreneur? What advice should they ignore?
My advice would be to be overly capitalized and overly patient. In this environment, with the way the economy is and how slow it might be to come back after the coronavirus pandemic, I think that’s the only way you could approach it. If you’re not patient, it’s not going to work. If you’re undercapitalized, it’s not going to work. You need to be both. Even if you are patient and you’re not capitalized well, it won’t work. Even if you’re capitalized well and you’re not patient, it won’t work. You need both coming out of this.
People should ignore the advice that things will never be the same. Americans have short memories. After 9/11, no one was ever going to a mall or a sporting event again. I don’t know when, but things will be normal again. I don’t know when. I hope sooner than later. Not to minimize how bad this was, but at some point, people will go to nightclubs again. People will go to gyms and theaters and yoga classes. Don’t believe that this is the new normal.
What is one lifestyle trend that excites you?
I think coming out of the corona virus pandemic, anywhere in this country being able to be create and think of ways to be able to make people comfortable and safe, whether it’s a yoga studio, a restaurant, a lounge, and still create a cool venue and be able to generate enough revenue to make money, which ultimately it’s all about, and yet still have a safe environment, to me, it is fun to brainstorm with friends and partners and other business associates to come up with some concepts and things like that. We have some genius concepts that we worked on establishing pre-pandemic (I can’t take credit for) that will fit what we believe will be the post pandemic model perfectly, so I am excited to test those out when things get back to normal.
Who has been the biggest influence in your life and why?
My parents have been a positive influence in my life because they adopted me. This is part of what has inspired me to create a foundation to support adoption agencies and orphanages. I know there are people that have been brought up in difficult situations, and I could have been in one of those situations myself. For me, it’s an important thing because I believe deeply in helping children in these difficult situations. When time presents itself, I really would like to spend a lot more time in this area.
What’s one of the biggest life lessons you’ve learned (can be personal or business related)
It is okay to fail. It is okay to hear no, personally or professionally. You’re always going to hear it.
What do you think it is that makes you/someone successful?
I think its drive and determination. I literally think you can outwork your competition. I also think a lot is luck and circumstance. I think you make your luck and circumstance, but a lot is timing and being in the right place at the right time. There are many examples of that. I think it is a multitude of things, but it comes down to hard work, a great team around you, especially balancing all the things that you don’t do well and to hire people around you to do those things well. Fortunately, I’m blessed with that. Literally, a lot of it, especially in the past few years, has really been being in the right place at the right time, luck, and circumstance.
How do you stay motivated?
I have had good experience and bad experience with partners and teams. At this stage, it’s just doing some cool things with people I’ve either done DOPE things with that through thick and thin we’ve stuck together, and/or people that we’ve always wanted to work together.
To have guys looking down on you from 30,000 feet above and you blink the wrong way and they drive you nuts for six months is not what I’m looking to do at this stage of my life. I’ve had that. You can make these guys $100 million and they’ll send you a plaque and ask why didn’t you make me $101 million? That would not motivate me anymore. Dope company, no agendas, no motives, give back and build something we love
The projects and the concepts that we have had on the plate prior to the coronavirus pandemic were with people I’ve had great outcomes with and that have been with me for a long time and/or are people that we’ve always wanted to do things together. These are concepts in the night life field that we will do once things resemble some normalcy again.
We also have business plans in the pet field as well. We will be launching a pet line called Modern Bone. It will be really cool line of pet products, including leashes, beds, and jackets and pet accessories.
Even before the coronavirus, I thought the days of a big nightclub with 500 people were over, other than in Nevada or places like Marquee which is like a landmark. I thought it was more restaurant, lounge, smaller occupancy, better crowds, marrying the world with age groups and things like that. Post coronavirus, I think it’s even more like that. I think you just have to find creative ways how to generate more revenue with less people because your occupancy is going to be reduced, at least for the next 12 months at a minimum.
People have a short memory, but still, you don’t want to be that restaurant that they trace back to where somebody got the virus from. You want to be responsible and abide by the rules.
What legacy do you hope to leave behind? I have recently started a foundation. It’s important to me to give to adoption agencies and orphanages, as I am adopted, and they have played such a big role in my early life. Also, giving back to organizations that prevent animal cruelty are critical to me as well. It is important to me to be a good person and to do the right thing. I want to be able to put my head on the pillow knowing I chose to do the right thing