Marc Eckō started airbrushing t-shirts to sell to friends at school when he was just thirteen years old. And like so many other entrepreneurs who simply can’t wait to pursue their passion, he dropped out of college to create his own small business: eckō UNLTD.
Mr. Eckō figured out how to use channels in Photoshop to improve the screen printing process which allowed him to print clothing with photorealistic designs while his competition was stuck with the traditional printing process. And he used that advantage to grow his business into a billion dollar lifestyle company. Since then Ecko has added other ventures, including a lifestyle magazine for young men.
In 2007, Marc Eckō spent $752,467 to buy the baseball that Barry Bonds hit for his record-breaking 756th home run. He then branded it with an asterisk and donated it to the Baseball Hall of Fame. We like that kind of moxie.
Here are a few things that Marc Eckō has said that will inspire other small business owners looking for their own success:
“Entrepreneurs often think that there is a formula for running a business: measure this, check that box, and you’re done. But it never looks like that on the ground. It’s messy, but it has to happen organically; that’s heuristics. …you can’t learn everything in school. Sometimes your philosophy develops from your interaction with the world.”
“Every time I’ve gotten lazy and relied on somebody else to decode problems for me, I’ve run into more problems. You have to apply yourself and find the mechanisms that drive your business with your own hands. …if it’s your company, you need to be the one to blaze the trails.”
“You have to get lost in the woods of your own doing and discover a way out. You have to find the right path over the creek, under the rock—whatever mechanism is good for your body’s size and your stride and your cadence and your tolerance for wet or cold or humid weather. That kind of learning comes from having a tolerance for failure, and extracting lessons from your failures.”
“When we finally reached about $300 million in sales, the perception was that we got there overnight. At our high point, we were doing $1.5 billion in retail sales worldwide. It’s a fallacy that it happens overnight. It took almost fifteen years.”
“To run a business, you have to be a kind of masochist. You have to be willing to compete against yourself and call you on yourself. That’s especially rare in my industry.”
“…as I’ve gotten older, I’m realizing that it’s as important to exercise being naïve.”
“The greatest advances need not happen in an ivory tower. They need not be editorialized in the heralded pages of a gatekeeper’s newspaper. Yes it is a crazy disruptive time in media and our economy, but it also is a hyper exciting time: a CREATIVE moment. So do something that jogs your comfort zone. …Ask yourself ‘have I done something to inspire myself today?’ Have you inspired someone else around you?”
—Marc Eckō, Entrepreneur and Founder of eckō UNLTD