The My Biggest Lessons podcast is back in person and better than ever! Josh Shapiro, founder of Baseball Lifestyle 101, joined Chris Meade on the pod to talk all things baseball and business. Check out the full episode below! ⤵
The World Series is in full swing, so what better time to talk about a baseball fanatic's brand than right now? (The Phillies definitely have this in the bag).
Josh Shapiro has always been a huge baseball guy — playing from a young age and working his way up to a competitive level in his teenage years. He was having so much fun playing the sport and spending time with his teammates, that he decided to start the Baseball Lifestyle 101 Instagram account.
Baseball Lifestyle 101 was mostly curated content in the beginning, with Josh sharing photos of what it was like on a traveling baseball team, baseball memes, photos of equipment, and all things baseball. Fast forward to now, Baseball Lifestyle 101 has transformed into a wildly successful lifestyle brand that makes top-quality clothing with aesthetically pleasing branding and fun, baseball-related quotes and one-liners.
Growing a fun meme page into a full-fledged, successful business is no easy feat, with many lessons to be learned along the way. Interested in learning more about the steps Josh has taken to continuously grow his brand and baseball empire? Keep on reading!
Taking your sweet time 🕰️
Josh started Baseball Lifestyle 101 on Instagram in 2013 when he was just 15 years old and playing high school baseball. The account started out as purely something for fun, but quickly started gaining a large following. Within the first year, he'd gained over 10k followers with his content, and knew that this could be something more than just a meme page.
Josh went to Bill Rom, his mentor at the time, with the idea of building a community through a clothing line that represents the everyday essence of a baseball fanatic. Bill gave Josh advice that ultimately led the brand into success: take your time, focus on growing the Baseball Lifestyle 101 community, and when the time is right and the numbers make sense, introduce your product to your established community.
Founder dynamics 🤝
Co-founders will always have their similarities and differences, but this can be exaggerated tenfold when there's a generational age gap involved. Josh is 12 years younger than his counterpart Bill — a pretty large difference in age and life experience. They met when Josh was only 12 years old, and have always treated each other as equals. Bill mentored Josh, helping him for free up until 2018 when the business really started to take off. They've been official business partners ever since.
The large age gap between the two is something they've taken full advantage of to help propel their business, as they both have different, fresh perspectives on all aspects of life. The most important thing to note for any up-and-coming entrepreneurs with co-founders, age gap or not, is to always treat one another as equals and respect any perspective that may differ from your own, as it could make or break the success of your brand.
Building your roster 🛠️
Putting together a team of experts, whether they're in-house or contractual, is a big stepping stone for a growing business. Some of the biggest mistakes that Josh has made while building his brand have been financial — from overpaying for materials, to investing and ad spend.
When your brand starts to grow as rapidly as Baseball Lifestyle did at 50-60% a year, it can be really easy to lose control of what's happening and what you know. Hiring a fractional CFO has been Baseball Lifestyle 101's saving grace. Having a financial expert, even on a part-time basis, helped Josh understand important benchmarks, fluctuations of cash flow, and when to reinvest in their business. Important hires like this help drive success to the new or struggling businesses of entrepreneurs who don't have a deep understanding of every single aspect of business — something that is completely normal!
Online to in-store 🛒
Although Baseball Lifestyle 101 has amassed over 700k followers on Instagram alone, in-person shopping and activations are super important for the brand. One of the biggest events for the brand is the annual College World Series in Omaha, where thousands of their fans show up for their pop-up shop and activations. With an established community that shows up in-person in large numbers every year, shifting into the retail channel has been a profitable move for them.
Buyers from the sporting goods retailer Scheels, who happened to be fans of Baseball Lifestyle 101, reached out to Josh and wanted to immediately take his brand national. This has been a widely successful move for the business, as some of the best sellers in store have surpassed sales online. Adding retail to your sales channel as a growing business, although risky, can be beneficial and profitable in the long run.
Want to learn more about eCommerce growth through the personal trials and obstacles of industry professionals? Subscribe to the My Biggest Lessons podcast on YouTube, Spotify, and wherever else you listen to podcasts.