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Kevin Lavelle, Founder, Mizzen+Main

Kevin Lavelle, Founder, Mizzen+Main

Mizzen+Main is a one of kind men’s fashion company specializing in performance fabric dress wear. 

What’s the story behind your company?

Ten years ago, working in Washington, D.C. in the summer heat, I watched a staffer run into a very important meeting – soaked in sweat. His shirt was two different colors, sticking to him, and all-around terrible looking. It was unflattering to an up and coming statesman. An hour later when his shirt was finally dry, it was wrinkled and disheveled. This was right around the time performance polo shirts started to become popular in golf and tennis. The idea for a moisture wicking dress shirt was born.

What were you doing before you started this company?

I worked for Hunt Energy Enterprises which focused on emerging energy technologies.

How do you stay organized?

I have an amazing team. We’ve researched and tested SO MANY productivity apps…and we’ve settled on a few that real help: slack, todoist, and evernote.

What were some of the challenges you faced when launching your business and how did you handle them?

When I started this company, moisture wicking material was only reserved for athletic clothing. We had to prove our concept before we could find success in investors and customers. The first way to do that is to show off the product. Making one men’s dress shirt in the manufacturing industry is virtually impossible. I had a difficult time finding anyone that would make a prototype. So, I found a local seamstress to make one shirt from materials I found. It took 4 months to get the initial prototype finished. From there, we’ve only improved. With the amount of media and industry recognition we have received over the past two years, we have grown tremendously. One specific challenge we are facing now, is keeping up with demand.

How do you stay motivated?

I recently got in the habit of reading biographies of other entrepreneurs. Learning that others have been through similar struggles and come out on top seems to be encouraging. I also have high hopes for everyone on our team. My goal is to make everyone as successful as possible both financially and emotionally.

How did you delegate and build your team?

Well, we are still building our team – but we’ve grown by leaps and bounds over the past year or so. Company culture means quite a lot to us…and we’ve been very careful about who we hire and keep as a part of our growing family. I could probably delegate quite a bit more, and those close to me are always telling me that I need more help…I hear that’s common with entrepreneurs!

There’s a lot of interesting insights and science behind the habits of entrepreneurs. How do you start your day?

I try to start my day with a work out. If I don’t work out in the morning, I will certainly not get to it at another point in the day! I feel that exercise really gets my day and my mind off on the right foot. I encourage our entire team to do the same.

How do you unplug, disconnect, and recharge?

My wife and I have two dogs that we love very much (Duke and Beau). The most relaxing thing on the planet is spending time with them and making them happy. Wag more, bark less!

How do you celebrate successes?

I’ve been told that I’m not great about celebrating! BUT – my wife is the QUEEN of celebrations. She can find just about any reason to pop a bottle of champagne!

If you had one piece of advice to give fellow entrepreneurs, what would it be?

This is going to be a long and wild ride – get your team in place. Your team will make or break your growth!