The following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with Macklemore, Rapper and Entrepreneur, from the CNBC Small Business Playbook event, which took place today, Wednesday, August 3rd. Video from the interview will be available at cnbc.com/small-business-playbook-events/.
All references must be sourced to the CNBC Small Business Playbook event.
DOMINIC CHU: So let’s get right into it. We’re here with Macklemore right now. And I guess the big question is, I mean, you’ve got so many things going on right now – you’ve got the music thing, and then you’ve got the golf thing. How do you find the bandwidth to make both of those work?
MACKLEMORE: You know, I don’t know that I am succeeding in finding any sort of balance in my life right now, but I just keep going. I drink a lot of caffeine. I try to exercise and I just keep working. I don’t know how to do it any other way. Just go hard.
CHU: So, I mean, that’s kind of typical. A lot of these successful entrepreneurs that we kind of know and hear a lot about talk about this idea that it’s about devotion. It’s about commitment. It’s about really trying to kind of throw themselves at their work. For you though, there are so many different irons in the fire. I’d like to focus specifically on the Bogey Boys aspect because we kind of all know about the recording side of your life and how many awards you’ve won and how many albums you’ve sold. But why Bogey Boys and why golf?
MACKLEMORE: Golf I randomly got into. It was about over three years ago on vacation, got dragged out onto the golf course, didn’t want to go. Definitely hit a couple of houses and then finally – a five iron out of a fairway bunker and I was just enthralled. Like, what was that feeling? I need that again. Shortly after that, went to probably a Sports Authority type of store and realized that the pickings in terms of golf fashion were very slim. And that’s to be generous. And I was like, you know what, there’s a lane here. I’ve always loved fashion. I’ve always loved golf attire, particularly from, you know, the 70s and the 80s and the early 90s. So, I think that there’s a lane here. I think that I can create something that sticks out. That is a little bit different than what we’re seeing right now in these stores and these pro-shops and I think I can make an impact. And we started Bogey Boys.
CHU: So, it’s amazing because that story has played out how many times? I don’t even know. I can’t even count them. Umpteen times throughout every entrepreneurial story’s history, right? This idea that you can come up with a great idea and then you have this idea that there’s a niche that you can follow and lane that you can get into. But there are very few success stories on a relative basis compared to the number of ideas that start off for how to start a small business and make it bigger. So, what exactly was the key for you? I mean, to go from idea, which you just spoke of, to actual execution and the actual kind of profit and loss – the revenue side of the business?
MACKLEMORE: That’s a great question. I think for me, it started out as I am passionate about this idea. I’m passionate about clothing. And it’s the same with music. I’m like, where is there a void? All I need to do is speak my truth into something that I feel like I understand. I understand why people resonate with music, I understand why certain brands fold or certain brands succeed. And I didn’t go into this as this needs to be my bread and butter. This needs to be, you know, the thing that’s going to pay my kid’s college tuition. I went into this like you know what, let’s see if we can do something cool. And do it from a place of authenticity. And I think like there’s so many like get rich quick schemes right now like whether, you know, people hop on certain you know, the NFT or you know, now these new coins are coming out on Coinbase and we need to hop in quickly and then dump it. All these really quick ways to make money and sometimes there weren’t. People get people can get really rich off of these ways. And the general public for the most part, though, does not. This was never something that I’m like, you know what, if I don’t make X amount of you know, profit in the first year, it’s a loss. This is like you know what, let’s get something dope out. Let’s see if there’s a lane. I think that there is. And sure enough, after day one sales it was like okay, I wasn’t wrong.
CHU: So, let’s talk about then the target market for who you’re trying to go for. You mentioned, some of the retro feel and inspiration that you got from like the 70s, the 80s, the 90s – the gear there. I mean, I kind of remember I started playing golf back in the 90s. And I remember the baggier clothes, the Ashworth stuff and everything else. And I kind of see what it’s like right now. It’s very different. So, what exactly is kind of like that melding, if you will, for styles? And we know that this is targeting, maybe the younger demo in some ways, but maybe also the nostalgic side of things in others. So, what exactly is the vision for how you want to sell that product, ultimately to the “masses”?
MACKLEMORE: Whenever I’m designing something, I think would I want to wear this? Would I rock this? That to me is my barometer. And if it’s like I’m on the fence or like, you know, if I don’t exactly know if I would wear it, I’m like okay, well who is going to wear this? I think that that’s a good point about the nostalgia aspect of it. And yet also the youth. It’s cyclical. Trends come back around, you know, the baggy pants you know, with the pleats will be back like they already kind of are. It’s just not happening in the golf space. And I think that people that are designing golf clothes are kind of have one archetype of a male, white dude in mind. And golf is much bigger than that right now. You know, the one thing that happened with the pandemic is that golf skyrocketed, and we were already in production by the time that that hit. And you’re seeing this trend of golf fashion in streetwear space almost. You know, you can go to HYPEBEAST and see articles on golf. That’s something that’s very new to the game. So, there’s a whole new generation of young people that maybe got into golf in the last one, two, three years that don’t want to look like they sell real estate. And I think that that’s great.
CHU: So, if you have that kind of a scenario, and you had the pandemic really be the tailwind, right, the the real rocket fuel for the for the golf industry – we’ve seen it everywhere from equipment makers, to apparel makers and everything else. I guess my question to you is, do you feel as though this is a trend in the golf business and industry that can continue? In other words, is that pandemic tailwind going to be there for golf? And if it starts to fade, what exactly does the industry need to do to keep growing the game?
MACKLEMORE: Well, I will say this about Bogey Boys. You don’t have to play golf to wear these clothes. I think for so many other brands it’s contingent upon, you know, I mean, you look at the sales that have happened the last couple years. It’s contingent upon people playing golf, or else you’re not going to wear these clothes. I’m wearing this polo or this hat or whatever it is that I have on to whatever it is I’m doing throughout the day. Again, I just want the clothes to look dope. And if golf goes down a little bit, as you know, as the stock does of any sport, waxes and wanes, that’s okay. The clothes are still going to be top notch. The quality is going to be great, and people are still gonna feel great and look great in the garments.
CHU: And I guess if you take a look at the way that your whole kind of ecosystem – the sphere that you operate in – is starting to evolve over time, there is this kind of melding of your music side with the golf/business side. I mean, tell us a little bit about the inspiration and how each of those might bleed into the other in your daily life.
MACKLEMORE: Well, creativity is creativity. I love design. You know, I just put out a brand new song called “Chant” last week. There’s so many parallels in that universe of making a music video, of picking a font, of picking a Pantone – it’s the same thing in the golf space. You know, it’s like this is a sample, you know, we need to make sure that the length is perfect, that you know, that the embroidery sits right on the chest. All of these little micro details are the same within music. And whether that’s in actual design or whether that’s in the creation of the art, they are – you have to be meticulous. And you have to make sure that every detail is checked and that it’s up to par with where you want it to be. I think that there’s a ton of parallels. You know, the one thing in the manufacturing space with garments is that things tend to take longer than in the music industry. You know, I’m an independent artist. I always have been. If I want to get a song up in two weeks, I can do that. If I want to get a tech vest performance vest made, that’s gonna take me a little bit longer. So, I’m learning patience. It’s not fast fashion. I want to make sure that things are coming out right and that we’re not just contributing to some more stuff in the world. But we’re contributing to something that is making its mark in the fashion space and in golf.
CHU: So, Macklemore I mean, we’ve just got a couple of minutes left here. For my last question, I’d like to kind of get you on the record about something with regard to “Chant.” Because you’ve gotten out there, you’ve put out this new song. And by the way, you’re going on tour soon, because of this whole kind of phenomenon that you got going on around your life. So, how exactly are you going to prioritize things? How exactly are you going to make that life work given the fact that you’re going to be on tour as a musician with a robust schedule and at the same time having to have you and your team sweat out that that supply chain or the lead time to develop new performance tech vests or anything else?
MACKLEMORE: My manager will be on the road with me. And he also oversees everything Bogey Boys. I love this. This is – it is a job. It is more work than maybe I thought that it was going to be when I first set out with the idea. But I wake up and I get out the iPad and I started sketching things up. I started looking for inspo from past generations. This is – and weirdly on tour, you know, I perform for on this tour 45 minutes every night. That’s what it will be. There’s a lot of time in the day to continue to design, to brainstorm, to think about ways to turn Bogey Boys into one of the biggest golf brands in the world. And I know that we have the capacity to do that. It’s just a matter of when.
CHU: I think entrepreneurs all around the country and all around the world are cheering for each other and cheering for you as well. Macklemore, thank you so much and good luck with the Bogey Boys enterprise and everything else. And we look forward to seeing you on tour with “Chant” and everything else.
MACKLEMORE: Thank you so much. I appreciate it.
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