Episode 127: How To Build A Brand From Scratch with Rogue Territory
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Episode 127

How To Build A Brand From Scratch with Rogue Territory

Podcast Guest

Karl Thoennessen & Leslie Yeung

Founders of Rogue Territory

Rogue Territory

"We've always tried to be very authentic about how we present the brand. It's not very polished or corporate by any means. Karl is the face of the brand and very in touch with our customer base. I think that has a lot to do with a customer feeling like they have a relationship with us and it's more than just a product or just a pair of pants."

Our special guests on this episode of our podcast may come as a bit of a surprise to you.


Well, Karl Thoennessen and Leslie Yeung are the founders of Rogue Territory – a global brand that focuses on creating high-quality, handcrafted denim goods and apparel.

If you've been tuning in to our podcast for awhile now, you know that we typically learn from entrepreneurs who have built digital businesses, membership site experts, and online course creators.

Here's the thing: Rogue Territory sells physical products like denim jeans, shirts, and bags, both online and in stores around the world.

If you're starting or growing an online business, you might be wondering what could you possibly learn from entrepreneurs who make and sell high-quality, handcrafted denim goods.

Well, Karl & Leslie started Rogue Territory back in 2008 and have since significantly grown their business and following. Through authenticity, a commitment to absolute quality, and a knack for innovation they've successfully built a brand with a near cult following.

If you've ever wondered what it takes to grow an incredibly loyal fanbase in your market, this episode is for you!

We go behind the scenes with Karl & Leslie and hear how they first started Rogue Territory, attracted their first customers, and then implemented smart systems to triple sales and grow their business.

But there's also another reason this episode is so special. But you'll have to press play and hear for yourself. We wouldn't want to spoil the surprise for you…😉


4:23 Karl describes the early days of getting Rogue Territory off the ground
8:40 How to change the direction your business is heading as an entrepreneur
12:13 Understanding the joys and challenges of wholesale vs. direct-to-consumer sales
15:15 How to build a loyal fanbase of customers from scratch
25:11 Finding the balance of creativity and analysis in business
27:00 How Leslie helped RGT triple their sales
41:10 Mistakes to avoid when marketing a new project
44:20 A look at the impact of 10 years of social media marketing
45:00 How to spot major red flags when considering a business partnership
55:00 How should you run your business: With your MBA or intuition?
56:40 A question for Karl & Eric: does entrepreneurship run in the family?
1:06:04 The ONE trait Karl & Leslie notice in all successful entrepreneurs

Full Transcript

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Karl: If you want to ask about what Leslie and I fight about as spouses working together, it’s the angle at which she takes the picture of me.

Leslie: Karl is the worst!

Karl: In the morning before we’re trying to get our kids to school.

Leslie: Yeah. So, at the busiest time of our day, we’re trying to get our kids… We have a four and a two-year-old so it takes literally 45 minutes to get shoes on them.

Karl’s like, “Do you want to take a picture real quick of my outfit?”

And I’m like, “Here we go.”

So, we go outside and I take a bunch of different pictures and Karl’s just like, “No. No. No,” to every single one. I’m like, you are the worst! You’re not fun to take pictures of…”


You’re listening to Karl Thoennessen and Leslie Yeung talk about how they snap the perfect Instagram photos for their business – Rogue Territory.

They’re a global brand that focuses on creating high-quality, handcrafted denim goods and apparel. Karl & Leslie started the company back in 2008 in a custom denim workshop in Los Angeles and have grown and evolved their brand significantly over the past decade.

Now, before we dive into our conversation, I want to say that this is a really unique episode of our podcast for two reasons:

One is because Rogue Territory is a brand that produces physical products like denim jeans, shirts, and bags. They sell their products both online and in stores around the world.

Typically, here on the Subscription Entrepreneur Podcast, we hear from entrepreneurs who have built digital businesses. So, it was fascinating to learn how Karl & Leslie approach physical product creations and launches, the joys and challenges of wholesale vs. direct-to-consumer sales, and how they navigate guiding and growing their brand as entrepreneurs.

The second reason this episode is so unique is that Karl is actually my brother.

Over the years, I’ve watched him grow his business and it was really special to bring him and Leslie onto the podcast. We have a really fun and open conversation about what it takes to start a brand from scratch, grow a devoted and loyal customer base, course correct when the business is going in a direction you want to change, and experiment with new directions for your business. And towards the end of the episode, we talk about why entrepreneurship might run in our family.

So let’s get to it!

I’m your host Eric Turnnessen and this is Episode 127 of the Subscription Entrepreneur Podcast.

Eric: Hey Karl and Leslie. Welcome to the show.

Karl: Thanks for having us.

Leslie: Thanks!

Eric: My pleasure. Thank you guys so much for taking the time. So, Karl, you were telling me earlier today that you are working on a new product launch.

Karl: Oh.

Eric: Yes. Oh. What exactly does that look like for you these days?

Karl: Well, it’s a lot of juggling. There’s finishing production. So, at this point, all the product is finished and reviewed. Depends on the product and the project but this project is in collaboration with a retailer of ours in Germany, Cultizm.

And they will be releasing the same product tomorrow with us. So, they already have their product. They’ve done their product shots. And we, to help kind of amplify the amount of eyeballs and people aware of the product, we provide pictures of the shots. So, we kind of share a lot of the marketing heavy-lifting.

But, for me, at this point, I’ve been measuring all of the product. So, we’re doing a shirt and a trouser. So, I measure it all to make sure that the specs are correct. And then I’m reviewing all of the product. Leslie already shot all the product on myself and our fit model for the website and she built the pages. So, there’s just kind of a lot of getting all of our ducks in a row before the release tomorrow morning.

Eric: Yeah. And that’s… sorry to kind of ask just a super general and high-level question right up front. But the reason I wanted to do that is because the place that you’re at now is very different from where you started. Like basically what you just outlined, and you probably only touched on a certain percentage of everything that actually goes into a product launch these days but even so is still pretty complex. But can you talk about how this all started for you? What were the early days of Rogue Territory like?

Karl: More or less the same.

Leslie: Well, it’s kind of funny.

Eric: No, it wasn’t the same.

Karl: All right.

Leslie: We’ve kind of come full circle though. So…

Eric: What do you mean by that, you’ve come full circle?

Leslie: So, it’s back to just me and Karl doing everything right now, just like it was when we started it. So, yeah. For us, it feels like…

Karl: So, that’s why I mean more or less the same.

Leslie: Yeah. For us, it feels like it’s come full circle. We’re kind of back doing the day-to-day logistics but also still doing the higher-level business stuff.

Eric: Yeah. But I think that maybe it’s just become so comfortable for you that you don’t realize all the things that have actually changed because, as far as I know, and I don’t know everything, but there’s definitely a lot more planning and coordination that goes involved in this. Like, for example, you just said you’re working with a company in Germany. You’re co-launching this. That wasn’t happening in the beginning. Everything was being done on your own. You also weren’t thinking about seasonality and doing things in advance.

Karl: Well, yeah. And my response is accurate in a way, which sounds crazy but we decided, around maybe halfway through last year, that we wanted to bring Rogue Territory back to the way it was in “The Golden Years” where we weren’t so caught up in seasonality and scheduling and planning and kind of just doing stuff that excites us and we look forward to. Yeah. And as far as collaboration, that’s always been the heart of Rogue Territory from the beginning. The collaboration started with myself and Leslie. And anybody that has come into the RGT family, we always position it that way. We don’t really set any kind of guidelines or rules; we just kind of roll with it and-

Leslie: But, I mean, Eric, to your point, the evolution and the growth of the business, it has obviously changed. And as your customers change, your business needs to change. So, in the early days, we were doing majority of our business as web sales, direct to consumer. And then the natural evolution of a brand is you kind of start to grow the wholesale side of the business. And as that happens, that’s really what forced the change of planning ahead, seasonality, developing collections a year ahead of release. And that has now become the bulk of our business.

And so what Karl is saying is that we kind of want more of a balance of that. So, we’re trying to throw in some fun, kind of quick-fire releases that require less planning, require less seasonality to it, that we can just drop it literally whenever we want. So, that’s kind of where we are now, is kind of one foot in the wholesale seasonality and one foot in the quick releases, exclusives that we like to do with some of our top-tier accounts like Cultizm in Germany.

Karl: But, to your point, Eric, I guess I do water things down and simplify. We started this conversation… Well, I started thinking about the product back in December of last year. And then the conversations started with Cultizm in March of this year. So, from that point until release tomorrow, there have been numerous conversations going on between us and Cultizm, numerous conversations between myself and Leslie. And then obviously, making sure all of that product gets made and all of the logistics involved with that is happening at the same time. So, in that respect, some things kind of can happen quickly and other things take a little bit of time with some rollout and a lot of steps involved.

Eric: You both kind of touched on in different ways this arc of the journey, starting at a point, where you reflected on from this point as The Golden Age, and coming to a point where you go to some other place where you’re getting into a certain area of the business. And then now, coming back into balance. So, that’s a journey that I think is somewhat very much the entrepreneurial journey.

You start off doing something that you’re in alignment with. In your case, being creative, making clothing. Just a 100% executing your creative control. That, thankfully, people enjoy. And then things grow on their own and you get to a point where there’s a momentum that carries you to a place. And some day, you realize, “Oh wait, this isn’t the place where I actually wanted to set out to be,” which you can’t actually realize until you get there. And then once you do realize that, then you course-correct.

So, with that setup, I mean, I think this is a really interesting thing to dive into. And I think I’d like to hear from both of you how that happened because I know, Leslie, your role is very important and completely different from what Karl’s doing. So, let’s start with when did it hit you that you were in a place that you wanted to correct from?

Leslie: I think for both of us it kind of happened around the same time. And it was recently. Definitely recently. Probably in the last year or two. I think with any entrepreneur of any small business, the first part of your journey is really exciting. The growth is astronomical. It’s just the demand is growing. You’re doing a lot of fun projects. And then you get to a point where you kind of got your bread and butter going and the machine is just working and it’s a fine-tuned machine.

And you just get to a point where you feel like, “Well, I feel like it’s another season, another year and we’re just doing kind of the same thing.” And I think, for us, that’s when we both kind of looked at each other and said, “What do we want moving forward? Do we want to keep doing this year over year? Do we want to try to mix it up?” And, for us, that meant maybe pulling back a little bit on the wholesale.

Wholesale is an extremely important part of our business. Our wholesale partners have helped us grow the brand and its presence and our reach across the world. But it came to a point where we felt like it was running our business and it was making decisions for us and that we felt like we had less flexibility because of the size that it had become. So, we kind of wanted to scale that back a little bit and do more fun projects and do exclusives for our customers that’s only available on our site or whatever it is and get more creative with the fabrics that we can use and price points and things like that. So-

Karl: Yeah. Because that drove a lot of our decisions over the last few years was, “Okay, well, we see where Rogue Territory should be with regards to price point but with that, there’s a lot of things that you have to balance. And costs across the board continue to rise for everybody.” So, it makes it that much more difficult to say, “Well, this is where we want to be with the cost of our products but how do we sustain that as things are changing around them that are out of our control?”

So, one way to at least balance that is to get back a little bit more control on the wholesale-side business but also offer product direct to consumer which helps make up that difference.

Eric: And just so I understand, what’s the main challenge with the wholesale situation from your perspective?

Leslie: So, the main challenge for a manufacturer when it comes to wholesale is almost always cost. So, we always have to take into account the cost of goods sold, the cost that we have to make the good, the margin that our retailers need, and then ultimately what that forces the retail price for the end consumer to be. So, for our cost, if our cost increases $1, by the time that reaches the customer, that’s a $4 increase. It quadruples the cost of the retail. So, we’re always very, very sensitive about that because our retailers need to make their margin. Our customers can only sustain a certain level price point without it being ridiculous.

So, that kind of cramped the creativity a little bit because Karl and I will come across some beautiful Japanese fabrics and we really want to use them but the pricing, it would make it like a $400 shirt or something ridiculous so we can’t do it. And so, we’ve passed on fabrics like that in the past because we’re always designing for wholesale. So, when we do web exclusives, because we’re selling direct to consumer, it allows us to do more specialty things in smaller volume

Karl: And absorb that.

Leslie: We pay more to produce smaller volume but we can absorb that because we’re not selling to a wholesaler, if that makes sense. So

Eric: Right. So, your margins are higher-

Leslie: Exactly.

Karl: Yeah.

Eric: With direct to consumer.

Leslie: Exactly. And it allows us to do smaller cuts. And we pay more per piece but, for us, it’s a way to release some exciting stuff that we wish we could offer to wholesale but we just can’t purely just out of price point.

Eric: Right. And then wholesale, the benefit of wholesale is its distribution, right?

Leslie: Exactly.

Eric: So, switching over to the brand that you’ve built. So, was it the strength of the brand that allowed you to trust that you could go direct to consumer, still reach the size market you wanted the reach, and make your margins?

Leslie: Well, I mean, interestingly, I don’t know if this is like most brands’ paths, but we started off as direct to consumer. So, when we first launched ready-to-wear, really our only physical retailer was American Rag and that being because Karl was the in-house denim tailor at American Rag.

Karl: In Los Angeles.

Leslie: In Los Angeles. So, it made sense to test what a ready-to-wear collection could look like in American Rag. And the manager at the time was very supportive and she was like, “Yeah, if you want to make some jeans to put on the floor, let’s do it.” So, we did that and they started selling.

And at that time, we’re like, “Okay, we got to launch a web store.” We didn’t have very much stock but we started selling through the web store. And I think then, kind of word of mouth was traveling and that’s when retailers were reaching out to us and saying, “Hey, we like what you guys are doing. Do you guys sell to wholesale?” And then that’s when we kind of started piecing together what the wholesale business could look like.

So, for us, it’s always been very natural to sell direct to consumer. Our audience and our consumer base are extremely loyal and very passionate. So, we’ve always had a very strong online following.

Eric: How did that happen, your fan base being extremely-

Leslie: Loyal.

Eric: Loyal and… because that’s not a given, right

Karl: Right, right.

Eric: So, was there an intentionality which made that come about?

Karl: I think it all started with an open and honest exploration and conversation with people who, at the point, for me, were not seen as customers. They were seen as like-minded individuals that found an interest and a passion in raw denim. And I happened to be lucky enough to fall into an apprenticeship that taught me how to sew and draft patterns and a lot of that was… I shared that through forums. Just shared my experience and kind of-

Leslie: So, for any young listeners out there, forums existed before social media existed. So, there was forum called Superfuture…

Karl: Superfuture, yeah.

Leslie: … which a lot of people who are passionate about premium denim were on and talking and connecting. And in the early days, when Karl was just making jeans for Eric and making jeans for me and doing custom jeans, he was sharing a lot of his projects on Superfuture. And people were engaging with him and giving him feedback and we just kind of… he built kind of a community there. And then when Instagram came out-

Karl: It was just an extension of that really.

Leslie: Really. Yeah. We were early adopters of Instagram and really, hands down, the Instagram community is what has driven the success of RGT.

Karl: Right. And yeah, I think I can’t associate any one thing with why we have loyal customers. But I think that the timing was right. There were a lot of people that were kind of saying, “Hey, what is raw denim about?” And then they would start searching online and they would come across these forums and then dial into, “Oh wow, there’s actually people making jeans? That’s really interesting. I, myself, wouldn’t make a pair of jeans but I’d like to see what goes into making a pair of jeans.”

And then from there, being able to build relationships with people not through trying to sell them a product but just like-minded and passionate. That translated once we decided that Rogue Territory could be more than just a denim atelier, where I was making custom jeans and repairing denim for other people, into a wholesale business.

That really only came because, first, the manager and denim buyer at American Rag showed interest in what I was doing. But very shortly after that, two buyers, who we still do business with today, Need Supply and Dutil Denim, they reached out to me because they one, saw me in American Rag and the other was following me on Superfuture. And they just said, “If you are ever looking to sell your product via wholesale, we would love to be the first to carry it.”

But none of this was planned. So…

Leslie: So, I think, yeah. I think, going back to your question, it’s we’ve always tried to be very authentic about how we present the brand. It’s not very polished or corporate by any means. And Karl is the face of the brand but both he and I are very accessible and very in touch with our customer base. And I think that has a lot to do with a customer feeling like they have a relationship with us and it’s more than just a product or just a pair of pants.

And then I think just we’ve never forced anything. Everything has been very organic in the sense that we didn’t set out to say, “Okay, well now we need to have a wholesale business.” That grew because our customers were reaching out to us saying, “Hey, have you guys ever thought of doing a wholesale business?” or, “Hey, have you ever thought of doing this?” So, we just kind of listened to that. I think that our customers have helped to guide the journey a lot.

Eric: Yeah. And that’s the same thing I’ve experienced at MemberMouse. And Karl, you mentioned it about it was about having a conversation. And my observation has been that not only was that conversation happening through the channels of Superfuture and Instagram but you were also having the conversation through the product itself. I don’t know all the examples but I do remember certain instances where you were like, “Oh, I’m going on vacation and I wanted this type of garment so I just made a sample myself and I wore it and then that became something in the line.” And I think that happened a number of times.

Karl: Yeah. It still happens.

Eric: Yeah. That’s a conversation because you’re not doing “market research” to figure out what to make, right?

Karl: Every product I’ve ever produced, I have tested and worn. That’s the only way for me to really understand… Everything needs to have a purpose. Of course, we’re a fashion brand and you want to hit every point in a man’s wardrobe and you’re like, “Oh, there’s always a need for something.” But at the same time, for me, at least, it goes beyond that. I want to be able to look at my wardrobe and say, “These all serve a purpose and it’s not something that is- ”

Leslie: Trend-based or-

Karl: Yeah.

Leslie: Yeah.

Eric: Right. And I think that’s, again, where the wholesale thing became an issue because the decision to what to make had to go away from that, in a sense, because people were asking for this and they’re asking for it a year in advance before the season. So, your choices in terms of what you were making became less about your just natural day-to-day, “This is what I want and what I’m interested in,” and more about what the market is asking for.

Karl: Yeah. Exactly. What may be interesting in a year.

Leslie: Right. And then you touched kind of on timelines and deadlines also. That’s another thing about wholesale that we didn’t really realize until you get into it, is that for a creative, for someone like Karl, you’re now putting walls around him and saying, “You need to design and be creative during these months of the year because we have to release line sheets and catalogs twice a year in these months.” And it kind of messes with your creative flow a little bit because now we’re working against deadlines all the time.

Karl: Mm-hmm. For me, the design process is very fluid. So, if I’m excited about something, I have the tools that I’ve learned over the past 11 years to say, “Okay, I can make this pattern. I can bring it to the sample sewer or I can sew part of it myself. Whatever it takes, I already have the vision in my head of what I want to make. I want to make it now. Do I have the fabric? No. But I know what fabric I want to use.” This is all kind of how it works in my head.

But then when it comes to designing seasonal stuff, it’s like, “Oh, okay, all those things that I was excited about for now, I have to then give those, what I would see as passion projects, to other people and say, ‘I trust you with this and I hope that you will be as excited as I am- ‘”

Leslie: Next year.

Karl: “next year” So…

Eric: And that, metaphorically and literally, just is not sustainable unless, of course, that’s what you’re trying to create. But you both are very clear. And I think this is also why your brand works so well is you don’t treat your Instagram like a social media platform. You’re like, “This is my way of communicating and sharing.” There’s no strategy to it. It’s just, “I’m communicating about this.” And it’s not 100% “Oh, this is all just business and Rogue Territory.” You share things about your family and your kids and just things you’re generally interested with. So, it is your Rogue Territory account but it’s also a personal relationship. So, I think that that’s one of the successful parts of the branding as well, is there is a realness to it because it is real.

Leslie: And 90% of it is still actually iPhone shots, which is very rare these days for Instagram but yeah.

Karl: hashtag nofilter.

Leslie: No filter.

Eric: #iPhone.

Karl: If you want to ask about what Leslie and I fight about as spouses working together, it’s the angle at which she takes the picture of me.

Leslie: Karl is the worst!

Karl: In the morning before we’re trying to get our kids to school.

Leslie: Yeah. So, at the busiest time of our day, we’re trying to get our kids… We have a four and a two-year-old so it takes literally 45 minutes to get shoes on them. Karl’s like, “Do you want to take a picture real quick of my outfit?” And I’m like, “Here we go.” So, we go outside and I take a bunch of different pictures and Karl’s just like, “No. No. No,” to every single one. I’m like, “You are the worst. You’re not fun to take pictures of,” but yeah. That’s how our Instagram content is created.

Eric: The behind the scenes.

Karl: Yeah, behind the scenes.

Eric: Yeah. Speaking of different angles, I think this is an interesting component of the situation as well. So, we’ve talked about Karl as being the creative person and that’s always a good thing. But there is a lot of things that come into a business that need structure and need to pull back the reins on that. And so I think Leslie, that’s kind of the role that you’ve played. And can you talk a little bit about that in more detail and how it’s been important?

Leslie: Yeah. So, I think, again, this is why we work well together because Karl is the creative side. He’s product-focused and creative. And I’m everything else. And I think you need both. But what’s also important is that we understand each other’s worlds. So, I have a creative side to me so I can very easily understand Karl’s world and his process. And he has that analytical side to him as well so he understands the business side. But we stay in our own lanes and we don’t step on each other’s toes.

But yes, so you can be the most amazing designer in the world, just designing in an echo chamber, but if you don’t understand how to bring that concept to market and how to be organized and how to run a business and all the other “non-fun things of running a business” then it will never see the light of day. So, I think that’s where I excel and I actually really enjoy that stuff.

So, for a long time, the first half of RGT’s journey… for me, RGT was nights and weekends. I still had a full-time corporate job doing marketing. And it wasn’t until the beginning of 2013 that we were really like, “Okay, something’s got to give. I have to make the jump into doing RGT full-time.” When I did that, we tripled our sales the first year literally because I can now bring processes in place and I can take over wholesale and do sales and do the website and do all the things that it takes to sell a product. Yeah.

Karl: Not only that though, you packed all the orders.

Leslie: Yeah. And answered everyone’s emails.

Eric: Let’s slow down a little bit here because basically, the first year you quit and you came on and you did… you tripled sales. So, can we understand more specifically? Like what were the really the missing pieces? What was falling short that those sales just weren’t coming in?

Leslie: I mean, at that point, it’s literally just bandwidth. I mean, just literally physically having another pair of hands and having someone now that can respond to… I mean, Karl and I used to… before I left, we would fight all the time about Karl would take two weeks to return emails because he just had so much on his plate. And those are the lost sales and lost opportunities. When I could come on board, and Karl just sent a quick email to everyone, introducing, “Hey, Leslie’s coming on board. She’s now your go-to person for wholesale, sales- ”

Eric: Don’t talk to me anymore.

Leslie: Yeah, exactly. Now, I can be super customer-focused and be very responsive and attentive to our customers’ needs and everything just started growing from there.

Karl: Because at that time, I was learning so much. I was still in the weeds about how to be a production manager. I was learning all of this on the ground. I didn’t have any experience before this. So, for me, I didn’t feel comfortable just leaving our product on autopilot. I needed to babysit every process. And with that, came long days downtown, where Leslie would be like, “What did you do all day?” And I was like, “I don’t really know. I can’t put words onto what I was doing but it was important.”

Eric: When you say “downtown” you mean at your manufacturers because you do all your manufacturing in L.A.

Karl: Right, right. So, that in itself, we were working with small, family-run businesses and there’s a trust there that you need to build. There’s relationships that you need to build that are of extreme importance and value. And anybody can sew a pair of jeans but what that takes to make exactly what I wanted to make took a lot of hours. 

So, it was literally I would come home and Leslie would come home from Toyota and be like, “What went on today?” And I’d just be like, “Oh my god. I don’t want to have this conversation.” And then she’d be like, “Okay, well, here’s what I can do to help.” And it was always that. It was I always felt overwhelmed and I felt like I had to catch up.

Leslie: So, yeah. Just me taking… I took a lot off of Karl’s plate and said, “You know what? I’m going to head all this up. It’s new to me. I’ll figure it out. I’ll learn it.”

I rebuilt our website that year and just made it more user-friendly. And I knew a little bit about web design because I’d worked in digital marketing for Toyota and Scion. But I was in a situation where I needed to learn all these things because it needed to happen.

So, just taking all of that side of the business off of Karl allowed for the product to be better, for the production to be better. So, yeah. It’s important to have clear roles and responsibilities and have people in those roles who are excelling in those roles and those are their strengths. I think that was huge for us that year.

Eric: Nice. So, better responsiveness with the customers and probably wholesale accounts at that time too, right?

Leslie: Yeah. Wholesale accounts, being more responsive with them. And then the website redesign was big, yeah.

Karl: But even inquiries from new wholesale accounts. I would just let them sit. I wouldn’t respond to them because I’d be like, “Well, I don’t really know what to say to them because I’m making product right now.” But Leslie knows how to word it in a way where it’s not like, “Don’t bother me. I’m doing stuff.”

Leslie: Yeah. Many years of experience at customer service.

Karl: Right.

Leslie: So-

Eric: “Stop trying to give me money. I’m busy.”

Karl: Yeah, exactly.

Eric: That’s a common thing for businesses. I mean, it manifests in different ways but I think that situation is really common, where we get so overwhelmed and with blinders on about our particular focus that we don’t allow space for things that also have a priority in growing a business. So, it’s really fortunate that you guys had each other to create that partnership and move forward.

Karl: Yeah. I think one thing that we kind of always stressed when we were talking to other people that are looking to start something with a partner or working on a creative project that could potentially be a business with other people is you really have to be upfront and honest about what you are comfortable doing, what you want to do and what-

Leslie: What your endgame is.

Karl: What your end goal is, yeah.

Leslie: What’s the endgame? And if you guys aren’t on the same page, it’s not going to work out.

Karl: It’s not going to work out. So, that’s something that has always been core to Leslie and my relationship, is we’ve been on the same page. We have the same goals. And, at the end of the day, that’s really all that is driving Rogue Territory in any one direction, is what we truly believe and what we’re honest about and what we both are continuing to explore together and push each other.

Eric: What are the ways, right now, where you want to go? We talked about how you went through the wholesale experience, kind of got lost in that a little bit, and now you’ve brought it back into balance where you obviously have wholesale accounts and that’s still a very important part of your business but you’re keeping it in balance with not taking over your entire creative efforts so that you can still focus on your passion projects, do that. So, now that you’ve kind of come back to that, when you’re looking ahead and the things where you want to go now, what are you talking about?

Leslie: Should we spill the beans? Well, I mean…

Eric: No, don’t spill the beans if they-

Leslie: Some of our loyal followers who’ve been following us know about RGT.A, which was a passion project and something that we kind of low-key threw out there and just tested. And it was a really great learning experience for us. Aesthetically, the design direction was… it was a deviation from Rogue Territory, which is what Karl wanted. He had a lot of creative stuff he just wanted to throw out there into the real world, which we did. We learned from that and I think we have a much clearer understanding and vision of what we want RGT.A to be moving forward. So, without saying too much, it is something that, when we have time, we are going to reenvision what that’s going to be.

Karl: Right. Reintroduce.

Leslie: And it’s going to in another direction so that’s kind of what we want to focus on.

Eric: So, you’re basically more intentionally building that brand.

Karl: Yeah.

Leslie: Yes. We kind of threw it out there. It was a little rushed because it’s just something that we had talked about for so many years. And then it just got to the point where we’re like, “Just… Let’s just get it out there.”

Eric: Just do it.

Leslie: “Let’s just do it,” right?

Eric: Yeah.

Leslie: I mean, we learned so much from it. But looking back, it was a very rushed, kind of impulsive thing, whereas now, it’s going to be a little bit more focused and-

Eric: So, now, this time around, where you’re basically coming to the table and you’re looking to start something, what are the kind of key areas that you’re focusing on? And I’m asking this question for people who might be in a similar situation. And it doesn’t have to be with a fashion brand. But basically okay, “I’m coming to the table. I have a project I want to do.” From your experience, what are the things that are key to look at in order to ensure that that project’s going to be a success?

Karl: Oh. Well, we-

Leslie: Well, I think this time, we really… you have to really understand, if it’s a product or a service, who your customer is. So, the first iteration of RGT.A, we weren’t really thinking about the customer. It was so product and design-focused on what Karl creatively and aesthetically wanted to just test out so we just made the first collection and put it out there.

And then there was a lot of confusion, I think, as to, “Well, who’s the customer for this? Is it our existing Rogue Territory customer? Is it a new customer?” And so, marketing-wise, it was very difficult to launch the first iteration of RGT.A because we ourselves were confused and did not know who it was for.

So, this time around, we have both sides of the equation. We know aesthetically and creatively what we want it to be. But we also have a much clearer understanding of who our target demographic is.

Eric: But do you know who the demographic is because of that test?

Leslie: Yes.

Karl: Yes.

Leslie: Yes.

Karl: Yeah.

Eric: Okay.

Karl: What I originally released was basically talking to people that weren’t already aware of RGT or Rogue Territory at all. So, those people that weren’t aware of us wouldn’t have seen .A or RGT.A at all. So, the only people we were talking to were current Rogue Territory customers or fans or people that may have bookmarked us as a brand that they might be interested in. But then they’re like, “Wait, so are you telling me now that I need to maybe dress a different way? Or… ” So-

Leslie: No, it was a good pilot because it answered a lot of questions for us and we also got a lot of good feedback. There were some good conversations from some customers that were happening on Reddit, which is the new forum and where everyone is talking now about denim and men’s fashion. Everything’s happening on Reddit. And so it was kind of interesting to kind of go on there and read some of the initial feedback to the launch and what people thought and what they were confused about. And so that really just helped us decide, “Okay, we need to make some decisions on what exactly this brand is going to be, who it’s going to be for, what the price point is going to be.” There was just so much that was confusing about it and so that pilot really helped us answer all those questions. And now, I feel like we have a much more focused approach to what we think it should be or what we feel like the second iteration will be.

Eric: In retrospect, do you feel like there would’ve been an easier way to figure that out or do you still done it over again the same way?

Karl: If I had just listened to Leslie, it would’ve been-

Leslie: We had a lot of internal conversations and-

Karl: Yeah. Because, for me, it was, yeah, it was more…

Leslie: But no, it had to happen-

Karl: It had to happen, sure.

Leslie: Because Karl and I were just beating a dead horse. I had my opinions about the approach and Karl had his. And ultimately, Karl is the lead on creative. He is the designer. And so we just got to the point where I was like, “I support you. Whatever you feel is right for this first iteration of RGT.A, let’s just put it out there and we’ll see what happens.” And so I feel like we needed to go through that process. And Karl really needed to go through that process. There were some doubts that I had about price point or sizing and just more logistic stuff that I questioned.

Karl: Well, the thing that I kept getting stuck on when it came to the creative side of it was Rogue Territory’s expected to be this. But I want to do that sometimes. And I feel like I can’t do that under the Rogue Territory name. But when I released RGT.A, what wound up happening was the Rogue Territory customer gravitated towards the designs, they really liked them, but then the fits weren’t the same. So, they were having a hard time adopting RGT.A because the fits were different.

So, what I wound up doing was essentially taking all the designs that I made for RGT.A and rolling them into Rogue Territory with Rogue Territory fits. So, the big, kind of eye-opening kind of breath of fresh air for me with design was, “My customers, or some at least, are interested in both what I do for Rogue Territory but maybe something that is outside of that as well. And I can get more creative with Rogue Territory and they will accept it. Or they won’t. But at least there are some who are like, ‘Oh, I get what you’re doing here. I’m all for this. And please do more of this instead of giving me more of what is expected from Rogue Territory.'” So, that, in a way, was really refreshing.

Leslie: Yeah. And-

Karl: I was like, “Oh, okay. So, I can keep pushing design through Rogue Territory. It doesn’t have to be a new brand in that respect.”

Leslie: Right. And I think another important lesson learned was that if you start your company with one service or one product and you have, at some point, the idea to release a sub-brand, a diffusion line or whatever it is, a sister brand, they really need to be distinct. If there’s too much overlap and they’re too similar, there’s a lot of confusion. And then it begs the question, “Okay, do we justify the existence of both?” So, that was a big lesson learned for us in that there really needs to be a clear distinction if we are going to do a sister brand. So, all of that gave us clarity in terms of the new direction that we’re moving in. So…

Eric: Sweet. So, outside of really understanding the customer a lot more, understanding your own relationship to a sister brand, what should be in that, what should continue to be Rogue Territory, all these lessons learned, when you are going to approach this, what are the other major things in terms of getting it to market that you’re thinking about? Maybe on the sides of more of the marketing side and broadcasting it side, distribution. How are you thinking that you’re going to strategize?

Leslie: You know, it’s funny. I think even though the world, especially the social media world, is very different now 10 years later than it was when we started Rogue Territory, I think we were really lucky. We really were launching Rogue Territory at the time that social media was really taking off and Instagram was a pure platform back then and it was very different today. So, even though all of that has changed, I think our core approach is still going to be the same because we have the luxury of treating this as a passion project and we don’t have expectations. We don’t have sales meetings and say, “Hey, we need to break even by this point or we need to hit this volume of sales by this point.” It’s really growing it organically again.

And then understanding that though you have a core base and you might have one successful brand, if you do launch a sister brand, I mean, you have to treat that as another business and know that you are starting that from the ground up again, that there’s no shortcuts and you’re building a new audience and a new community for that. Yes, there’s going to be some carryover and some really loyal customers that are going to buy in and support anything that we do. But I think we underestimated that the first iteration. I think now, it was an eye-opening experience to say, “You know what? We have to treat this like it’s a brand-new brand and no one knows about it.” And I think, for us, it’s just still having a very authentic approach and growing it organically and not expecting it to blow up overnight, you know?

Karl: Yeah. I think there’s isn’t a definitive approach and there shouldn’t be, for us anyway. So, it would start with Instagram. It would start with that conversation, direct, to mostly our existing customers and then seeing where that takes us and then kind of following it from there on out.

If we find that we need to push to a new customer, I feel like we don’t like to force things. So, it would be a conversation as to what the next steps would be as far as getting more eyeballs on the brand.

Eric: Yeah, like you said Leslie, I mean, you were both saying it, you’re approaching it organically and you don’t have to put pressure on it. It’s like you’re going to birth this child but you’re not expecting that child to go work right immediately, you know?

Leslie: Right.

Karl: Mm-hmm.

Eric: … to help you survive. And the benefit of organic is a lot of times time, in that process, brings the surprises of success. In organic, you can discover where the channels are and you don’t have to have all that pressure in the beginning to figure it out and then you could end up forcing it. So, should be an interesting process.

Karl: Yeah. That’s kind of been our approach from day one. If we had set off to launch a clothing brand together, I feel like it would’ve been short-lived maybe and it wouldn’t have had the same kind of appeal that Rogue Territory has in our minds and in our customers’ minds.

Leslie: Yeah. I mean, I think we’re fortunate in that when we started Rogue Territory, we were young, we were down to grind it out and work hard. And I think we were really fortunate that Instagram did not exist when we started Rogue Territory because, for any younger listeners, it’s really hard today, now, with Instagram. You see snapshots of brands, lives. And Instagram is just a snapshot. And everyone, you know, you fake it until you make it. And it’s just constantly in your face like the end goal, the overnight success, etc., etc. But we didn’t have that example to look at. When we started, there wasn’t social media. There wasn’t all these other young kids that we were just constantly looking at on Instagram, saying, “Well, how did they do it? How did they blow up and get 50,000 followers overnight?” and etc. You just focused on what you were doing and you worked hard and you did it.

And so, we kind of carried that work ethic over to the new brand. Even though social media and Instagram has changed everything now and has changed people’s expectations, we kind of are still looking at it through that lens of like organic growth for us has proven to be the best route for us and we want to see how that goes with the new brand. I don’t think that we’re going to jump into like, “Oh, we’re going to do Instagram ads and we’re going to buy followers and play the game.” That’s not something that we would ever do.

Eric: Or recommend that other people do, right?

Leslie: Right.

Karl: Right.

Leslie: Yeah, don’t do it.

Karl: Yeah and-

Leslie: You just flush your money down the toilet.

Karl: Any endeavor is very not only emotionally taxing but it’s also monetarily taxing. And if we were to start a business saying, “Wholesale is what’s going to generate income for this business,” you have to have a lot of liquid-

Leslie: Capital.

Karl: … capital to play that game. And then that usually means partners or it means investors or you’re fortunate enough to have that kind of money. But there’s no way around it. It’s very capital-intensive. So, we don’t want to be in a position where we have to take money.

We’re self-funded and we will always stay that way. And there’s nothing that’s going to force us into a position where we’re like, “We really want to grow this business a lot more. We need to take money for that.” I don’t think that that’s going to be a position that we’re ever going to want to be in. We’re comfortable with taking baby steps and having it grow organically.

Eric: And sustainably.

Karl: And sustainably.

Eric: I mean, I think that’s the thing about organic growth, is it’s naturally sustainable. And one of the things you also mentioned that was really important to, at least from a personal perspective and probably for the success of the company, is your partnerships. Can you talk about your approach to considering partnerships and any pearls of wisdom you may have to share with our listeners about that process? What works, what doesn’t in terms of partnership?

Karl: What we’ve found that doesn’t work is when… and it doesn’t happen often but there’s always going to be people that are like, “Hey, I heard this is the new, cool thing. I want a part of that. I want a piece of that.” And then you’re like, “Sure. We can have a conversation about it.” And then we’re already apprehensive in a way.

All of the partnerships that we’ve had that have been the most successful are the ones where they are true partnerships, where they’re just as passionate about what we do as what they do. And they welcome us in the way that we are and the brand that we are and they don’t try and say, “Well, you really need to be like this for us to be a successful partnership.” So, I would say, across the board, all of our partnerships that are the most successful are the ones that understand us and how we’ve chosen to run our business and accept that and we have mutual respect for each other and we respect what they’ve built and try to do what we can to support that as well.

Leslie: Yeah. It’s just transparency and making sure everyone’s goals are aligned, you know?

Eric: Right. The same that you were talking about, Karl, about… or maybe it was Leslie, you were talking about if you’re going to work together with somebody or try to grow something with somebody, it’s the same thing: transparency, make sure you’re going towards the same destination.

And I know there’s been many different types of partnerships you have. Some are surprising. You’ve partnered with a potter to make cups specifically for Rogue Territory. You’ve made pens and key chains and kerchiefs. I don’t know if you call them kerchiefs but whatever those things are.

Karl: We don’t define anything. I’m just as passionate about learning about what other people do and how they translate their creative vision into an end product or service. And Leslie is too. We both just have a kind of a joy of the creative process and that’s why we… Leslie coined the term, “Keep the trade alive.” That’s a slogan that, it doesn’t define Rogue Territory; it defines just our feeling about wanting to work with people that are wholly invested in what they are doing.

Leslie: It’s a like-mindedness and a lot of it is an energy. So, when it comes to partnerships, your gut is almost always going to tell you if it’s a miss or if you’re vibing with this person. And you really have to listen to your gut. So, the collaborations we’ve done, they’re enjoyable because you’re working with someone who is 100% the same energy as you. They’re equally passionate about their trade. They’re not in it to make a million bucks overnight or to use you for your platform or your following and just get their name out there. They’re genuinely interested and have a passion for what we do because they have a passion for what they do. And those are the individuals that we’re drawn to. And you can feel that out really early in a conversation of just talking to someone about how they approach their business, why they do what they do. And you just know if it clicks or if it doesn’t, you know?

Karl: Yeah. And that’s why we’re able to work with people on things, where you’re like, “Oh, that’s interesting. Why are they working with a ceramicist?” or, “Why are they working with a visual artist on figuring out how to put their imagery on Rogue Territory product?” For me, I see what we make as art and I see what other people make as art and I think that they can work together when everything aligns.

Leslie: And I think-

Karl: I just like the stories that-

Leslie: Again, it happens organically. Almost every collaboration we’ve done that has been a product outside of our core competency has been first and foremost an RGT customer. They wear our product and they know our story and our brand. And they come to us and say, “Hey, I think we could do something together.” Or it’s a customer…

For example, the pens. Customer of ours, he wears our stuff. Karl clicked on his website one day and was like, “Oh, I like what he’s doing. And he’s supporting me and I want to support makers. So, I’m going to buy some pens from him.” So, Karl bought some pens. Used them. Is like, “You know what? I think my customers would really like these too because I personally like this pen. It’s functional, the craftsmanship. Everything that I appreciate about a product. So, I’m going to share it with my customers.” So, we started off just like, “Hey, do you do a wholesale program? We would love to share your product with our customers.”

And then from there, the conversation organically came into, “Okay, well, how can we do something that’s a little bit more special for your customer? That has an RGT engraving on it or whatever that is?” So, nothing’s ever forced. We never look out and say, “We need to go find a ceramicist to work with.” It’s just all happens.

Eric: You guys are familiar with the movie Kiki’s Delivery Service, right?

Karl: Mm-hmm.

Eric: Probably a lot of people are familiar with this movie. It’s a Hayao Miyazaki film. But basically, the arc of the story is, it’s this witch. She has these special powers. And then she goes off to use them. At one point, she loses them. And then she has to find them again.

And so, I feel like the root of everything that you’re talking about is passion first. Passion, trusting your intuition, organic, all of these things beyond what we’re being told by social media and all these things that are trying to tell us what to do, trust these things because whatever you plant in that soil is going to grow true, regardless of how much time it takes. Keep the trade alive. Now, I don’t have a physical product brand but I feel like my philosophy is the same. I could be part of the keep the trade alive thing because, to me, it’s about passion too. If I don’t enjoy what I’m doing, what’s the point?

And so, you got to a point, like you were talking about, where you were kind of feeling pressured to do something that you didn’t feel like doing. RGT.A kind of was a release for that. But coming full circle, you kind of got to a point where you know how to balance these things now. You know how to determine, based on your feel, trusting your gut and trusting your intuition, when something comes in front of you, is this a yes or a no? You don’t even really have to think about it too much. Like with the pens. “Oh, this is cool. I like this.” That’s enough.

And I think in the entrepreneurial journey, there’s so many obstacles. And I think the not-trust-your-intuition can be one of those biggest obstacles. As soon as you decide that you’re going to listen to something outside of yourself, you have to constantly go to that well. But passion, intuition, these things drive us to… they dig our roots into places where we can tap into organic sources of energy. So, we end up doing these things and creating these things with little effort and little expense, relatively speaking, right?

Karl: Yeah. I would say, though, in any endeavor that anybody chooses to take on or a journey that they choose to go on, you’re going to get lost.

Leslie: It’s part of the process.

Karl: It’s part of the process.

Leslie: You have to let it happen.

Karl: Yeah. To a certain extent, for sure. For me, personally, I didn’t know that I would’ve been here even two years before Rogue Territory was a thing.

Leslie: To Eric’s point, so we have had failed partnerships. Every instance that I can think back to when Karl and I kind of looked at each other and was like, “I don’t know but everyone else is telling us that this is what we need to do.” Every single time we haven’t listened to our intuition, it has failed.

It isn’t until that happens that you, in hindsight, can look back and say, “You know what was right every single time? My intuition.” And so, you do have to fail. You do have to take risks and maybe trust in other people and see… You have to test your own intuition also. You’ve got to see if it’s solid and if it’s telling you to do the right thing or if it’s not.

For us, we’ve made enough of those decisions where we went against it and it did blow back on us, that we now are very, very confident in our intuition. And we run our business 100% on our intuition. Karl and I do not have strategy meetings. We do not have sales meetings.

It’s funny. I went and got my MBA in grad school and I run my business the exact opposite as I was taught to run a business in grad school. But that doesn’t work for everyone. It really, again, depends on your end goal. So, it works for us because-

Eric: Well, it depends on your personality too like if you’re… what your interest is because somebody’s interest and intuition may have guided them to run a business exactly how they’re teaching it in grad school. That’s their personality. And there are serial entrepreneurs who… they like just doing the thing over and over again and creating the business. And that’s their thing. That’s their passion and creative expression.

And speaking of that, so Karl, you and I, we both run businesses. And our brother, Kurt, also has an entrepreneurial side to him. He’s done a number of things in life. Do you have any theories about why it is that we’re like this?

Leslie: Your genetic code.

Karl: No, I don’t. I think, to our parents’ credit, they believed in us. I guess, ultimately, that’s what it came down to. They believed in us as people. They didn’t see us as products. They didn’t see us as a cog in the wheel.

Eric: They also didn’t strap Harvard sweatshirts on us when we were kids.

Karl: That’s what I mean, is they didn’t see us as the, “All right, well, this is your goal from age 3 to age 20.” And then after that, the expectations are already there as to what you should be doing with your life.

Leslie: I think that’s, for me, knowing your family and having a very different upbringing, I think that concept of happiness is not something that all kids or all people are fortunate to grow up with. I was raised to always have a very practical view of the world and my career and, first and foremost, always making sure that I was doing something that would support me so that I could be independent, which, to my parents’ credit, I think has a lot to do with my work ethic and my drive and my confidence in my abilities to always know that I can do something to take care of myself. But what suffered because of that was the creative side of like, “Well, can you have it both ways? Can you do something that practically can make money and support your life but also- ”

Karl: Be something that you enjoy, yeah.

Leslie: “… is making you happy, something that you enjoy?” And so that concept was not really something that I understood until I met Karl. And I was like, “Oh, interesting. Yeah. I guess I should pursue something that fulfills me creatively and is a passion of mine.” But for you guys, I think you guys have always been raised in a house where happiness and what makes you happy is something that you should always strive for.

Karl: Yeah. I also am afraid to support that kind of ideal because-

Leslie: Well, it’s a balance of both, right?

Karl: Yeah.

Leslie: You can’t be like, “Okay, I mean- ”

Karl: Yeah. “Just go out there and figure out whatever makes you happy.” Yeah.

Leslie: It’s a balance of both. But I think raising a kid that understands both of those concepts, I mean, it’s… you’re going to-

Karl: That’s…

Leslie: Yeah.

Eric: Well, it’s basically like the boundary between a helicopter parent and you let the line out to freedom but you don’t let it so long that it’s dangerous. You still need to have boundaries.

Karl: I think that from an early age, I was always looking for a relation between what I saw as a value and what others saw as value. And, for me, I wouldn’t say from a very early age I envisioned myself as a fashion designer one day or even in the fashion industry, but I saw that there was a value. There was a conversation between clothing and how people felt wearing it and how they interacted with it. And that, to me, mixed with branding and marketing was really what drove me and something that I was really interested in from a very early age.

Leslie: And I think that’s where we connected, the branding. When you and I met, I was having a quarter-life crisis. I was working in biotech and wanting to change careers. But I was always that person that always paid attention to branding, the way that Karl does. When I look at a product, packaging matters to me, logo matters to me, color palette. All of those things speak to me and speak to Karl. And so when we met, we kind of had this creative energy where we knew we really wanted to build a brand together. We didn’t know what that was going to be but we just wanted to do something creative together. So, yeah.

Karl: I saw that in my parents, though, and not that they were materialistic, but they valued what they purchased. My dad didn’t… He worked in insurance and he worked in New York. You would think that he would’ve had 30 suits. But he literally just wore the same suits in different ways every time he walked out the door. And that was something that always resonated with me. He cared about-

Eric: And I never noticed that.

Karl: Yeah.

Eric: Until you mentioned it, I trust when you say that that happened that it happened, but I never noticed that.

Karl: Right. Yeah. I would just sit in his closet, just looking at his clothes and his shoes and the labels and just kind of that all… not so much about the fashion of it but more just appreciating.

Eric: What I noticed about his, is that he took very good care of everything. He would always be polishing his shoes and he would always hang things up. That’s what I noticed about… it’s interesting how, yes, we all have a certain creative aspect but in terms of what we perceive and what we pay attention to-

Leslie: It’s different, yeah.

Eric: … you were seeing how people’s clothing had to do with a conversation, whereas I was always running around in the same turtlenecks and sweatpants all the time. That was my wardrobe. If I had a closet, you would open it up and it would be all the same thing on like 20 different hangers, right?

Leslie: Steve Jobs…

Eric: That wasn’t my form of expression.

Karl: Yeah.

Eric: I was in it before Steve Jobs. I wore turtlenecks before him.

Leslie: Yeah, you started it. You started that turtleneck movement.

Eric: Yeah.

Leslie: So, I don’t know. It’s a really interesting conversation because now, as parents and having offspring, the whole nature versus nurture thing. I think everyone’s creative. It’s a spectrum but there are some people that are just really creative and expressive of that creativity from a very early age. I mean, you look at our oldest daughter, Stella, who… this girls draws and colors every single day of her life. It’s the first thing she thinks about when she wakes up. Before she eats breakfast, she wants to do an art project. And she’s been like that since-

Karl: She could draw, yeah.

Leslie: … five months old, since she could hold something. She just gravitated towards that medium very early. And that’s not because we were constantly pushing crayons on her. It just that’s who she is. So, yeah, I think it’s genetic code.

Eric: Yeah, it’s interesting. Karl, do you remember anything about me in childhood that was kind of related to maybe a whispering of a future in entrepreneurship?

Karl: Money was very important to you.

Leslie: Explain what you mean by that.

Karl: But it was more of a calendarization of it. One of my favorite memories is your… that silver box that you inherited that you, in various ways, would save up money and then you would break that down into denominations. But you had to go to the bank with your $50 bill. And one day, it was changing it in for 20s and a 10. The next day, it was changing in for all 1s. And then it went from 1s to quarters. And then you had a coin counter and you had all the sleeves and you would go back and forth, breaking all of it apart and putting it all back together. So, yeah. You didn’t really care about the value of the money because that wasn’t what was important to you. It was the process of breaking it down from one bill to hundreds of coins and then bringing it all back to the bank and changing it back.

Eric: Well, I think, at that age, I did feel like it was about the money because I remember there was a situation where I feel like I had $420 or something in a savings account. And something happened where it became clear that I actually didn’t have that and I was very upset about it. Temper tantrum-level upset.

And now, this age, I think I’ve come to realize kind of how you have to misunderstand something first in order to come and understand it, I realize that the value of money that’s important to me is what you can accomplish with it, not the amount. But I think that that’s the value of trade, the keeping the trade alive, is people who are truly passionate about something, they’re doing something because they want to. Stella draws in the morning because that’s what she wants to do. There’s an energy and a magic to the things that are created when somebody’s doing that. And then trends happens. And then brands try and spend a lot of money to replicate it, which is why it’s important to keep the trade alive because then it’s real.

Karl: Yeah. That’s all we’re trying to be in life, is real. If you’re not real with yourself, if you’re not real with what you can offer and what it takes to get there, then there’s no point in exploring it. So, we didn’t understand what it took to build a business but we were open to putting in the time and the energy that it takes. There’s no way around it.

Even if you have all the money in the world, there’s no way around having to put in the sweat equity to build whatever dream you have. Ultimately, when we talk to other people that have their own businesses, it always comes back to that. If you have a dream, if you have an idea of something that you want to do, it doesn’t get started without actually putting in the time and the energy yourself.

Leslie: Yeah. There’s like two entrepreneurs. There’s the one that wants to start a business because they like to talk about how much they have a business and how they’re an entrepreneur. And then there’s the entrepreneurs that start businesses because it’s genuinely passionate about it, put their head down, work hard and don’t talk about it and they just do it. And, for us, we gravitate towards the latter. And I think that’s one thing that I think gets overlooked now in the days of Instagram.

It looks so easy on social media. It looks like anyone can do it. And everyone is quitting their day jobs left and right to start these businesses. And it’s like someone needs to have some real talk with you and explain to you that it’s not going to happen overnight and you are going to be working around the clock. This is going to be your life. You are literally going to put every ounce of energy and every minute of every day into this in order for it to go somewhere. And if you’re not willing to stick it out and you’re not real about it and your intent is not genuine, then it’s probably not going to work out.

Eric: Exactly. Well, cool. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to talk about all this. Final thing is where can people go to learn more about Rogue Territory?

Karl: Rogueterritory.com. And our Instagram handle is RGT. Anywhere else on the World Wide Web?

Leslie: That pretty much covers it.

Eric: Reddit. Reddit and Superfuture.

Leslie: Superfuture. Is it even in existence?

Karl: Yeah. I think it is.

Leslie: It is? Yeah. I don’t know who’s on there now though.

Karl: I don’t know.

Leslie: Bunch of trolls probably.

Karl: Just DM me on Instagram.

Eric: All right. Well, thanks again, guys.

Karl: Thank you.

Leslie: Thank you.


That just about wraps it up for this episode of the Subscription Entrepreneur Podcast. Thank you so much for listening to this entire episode. I hope you enjoyed getting to know Karl & Leslie a bit and hearing stories from they journeys as entrepreneurs.

Be sure to check out Rogue Territory online and on Instagram. You can find links to them as well as all the other resources mentioned in this episode at SubscriptionEntrepreneur.com/127. There you’ll also get the complete show notes and a transcript of our conversation.

For more interviews with successful entrepreneurs, experts, and authors be sure to subscribe to the podcast on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, or Stitcher.

We’ve got some great guests and episodes coming up next for you, so stay tuned! We’ll see you next time.

Thanks for Listening!

Thank you so much for listening to this entire episode. We hope you enjoyed getting to know Karl & Leslie and hearing stories, lessons, and insights from their journeys as entrepreneurs. Leave us a comment below and let us know what you thought of the episode. We’d love to hear from you.

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