Don’t be scared. If you don’t try you’ll never know. When starting out, you always have that feeling that someone else is doing it better and bigger, but the truth is, you’re probably more significant than you think or feel. A lot of businesses I looked up to and admired were mostly smoke and mirrors because most of them are no longer around today.
I had the pleasure to interview Harald and Lynn Husum. Harald and Lynn are the co-founders and CEO/CCO of the children’s clothing line Appaman. Launched in 2003, Appaman is a successful children’s clothing business known for its expert tailoring, style, and casual hip attitude complete with trendy styles and playful prints.
Thank you so much for joining us Harald and Lynn.Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My wife, Lynn and I were having breakfast at Veselka in the East Village, when I saw a dad and his son walk by. The dad was wearing a cool band tee while the boy was sporting your typical cartoon. I thought, why can’t the kid wear something like the band tee? Given I had recently been laid off from my graphic design job, now was the perfect time to indulge in my idea to create an irreverent line of tee shirts for kids, inspired by my love of American Pop Culture and street art. That’s how Appaman all started.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
I would say meeting my production partner Linda at a children’s clothing trade show. She was just starting out as were we. We were one of the first brands to be produced in her factory and she was our first factory partner — we’re still with her today! Together we helped each other’s businesses grow. She and I also brainstormed what was missing in the children’s clothing space and a slim fit tailored suit was born. Our Mod Suit is one of our most sought after styles still to this day.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?
Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that? — When I designed my first pair of pants for kids — they were corduroys. I measured them myself and they were exceptionally skinny and long and only fit a couple kids. We definitely had to make changes after that, but the funny thing was, we kept getting requests for those cords from Connecticut only. I had no idea what I was doing. The learning is to hire someone who knows what they’re doing. As much as you’d think something is common sense, it’s actually a lot harder to perfect than you would think.
Can you describe how your organization is making a significant social impact?
Our mission is to let kids be themselves. We want to spread the message that kids are the best versions of themselves when they feel confident. We have aligned our brand with the anti-bullying movement and spread confidence and kindness in our messaging. In addition to spreading a positive message through our brand, we always like to give back to our community through the Good+ Foundation. We have been actively donating clothes and product to their cause for over a decade, and will continue the relationship moving forward.
Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who has impacted this cause?
My parents more than anything. I was raised with strong values and taught the importance of kindness and acceptance. I use those same guiding principles to run my company.
Johann Olav Koss, an Olympic athlete and children’s rights activist. He founded Right to Play, an organization that empowers children all over the world to rise amongst everyday challenges through all forms of play — games, sports, poetry, performance, dance, art and music — creating lasting impact and empowers them with the knowledge and skills to drive change in their lives.
Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?
- Aligning our brand with partners who have a similar mission to express. Power in numbers. The more people who are spreading positive messages, the more who will hear it.
- Continue to grow a brand where you are allowed to express yourself.
- Promote positivity through self-expression and shut down negative talk. With the launch of the social media era, grown ups are the biggest offenders when we should be the ones educating our kids on kindness. It all starts at home and when we’re young.
How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?
Good leadership is knowing when to take charge and knowing when to not. Sometimes you just need to step back and learn from the people around you.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- I’m glad people didn’t give me too many warnings because that would have discouraged me
- We started 16 years ago, I wish I had known how big direct to consumer was going be 😉
- Focus on the core business and make sure you’re logistically set up to before you add more categories (distribution, sales, marketing, etc.)
- Trust your gut more than anything else.
- Don’t be scared. If you don’t try you’ll never know. When starting out, you always have that feeling that someone else is doing it better and bigger, but the truth is, you’re probably more significant than you think or feel. A lot of businesses I looked up to and admired were mostly smoke and mirrors because most of them are no longer around today.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
“Oh wow, I didn’t realize.” 🙂 Hands down, it would be anti-bullying. Bullying has become an epidemic and social media has made it easier to deliver it and hide behind a screen. We have the opportunity to educate our following on the importance of kindness and acceptance. Our hope is to continue to grow this movement and align ourselves with like-minded influencers and organizations who can help us achieve this growth.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote?” Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Trust your gut. If you make a bad business decision based on your gut and fail, at least it’s what YOU wanted. You just do what you think is right for you at the time.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
I could name 100 but right now I really need to talk to John Oliver. He’s the funniest Liverpool fan so we have a lot to talk about.
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