Episode #1518 Shaun Neff: The Artistry of Building A Brand

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Moe is joined by brand aficionado, founder of Neff Headwear, and partner of Beach House Group, Shaun Neff to explore the principles and philosophies of developing a T-shirt and beanie business into a $100 million cultural icon.  


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Shaun Neff

Entrepreneur, Advisor, & Investor View Full Profile

The correlation between living a great life and building an iconic brand

Growing up, each of us has our own portrait of what a picture perfect future looks like.  To many, it’s making it big - becoming a professional athlete, a Hollywood celebrity, or now-a-days, simply an influencer who builds a following and makes money by just being herself.  Eventually though, life happens - we start to mature, and reality starts to show the overwhelming majority of us that the stories we’ve been telling ourselves are hardly the ones that we experience each day.  Sadly, far too many choose to settle for what life brings - but for the rare few, like Shaun Neff, that’s not an option.      

Like many teens, Shaun grew up with more interest in the logo he wore on his chest than in the lunch the cafeteria served.  He was a surfer, a skater, and a beach kid who never lost his boyhood wonder.  He dreamed of starting a Tee-shirt company and by his freshman year at BYU, his backpack was full of screen-printed Tees with his namesake.  At 19, he had the foresight to attract the attention of champion snowboarders, only to discover contractual obligations that prevented them from sporting his T-shirts.  Not one to run away, he realized that their contracts made no mention of headwear; so in true hustler fashion, he bought a one-dollar beanie, ripped off the tag and used a black sharpie to write “NEFF” across the top - And, in that moment, NEFF Headwear was born and formally launched in 2002. 

As you’ll discover in our conversation, Shaun’s success didn’t stop with NEFF - through his affiliation with Beach House Group, he has launched multiple brands with A-list celebrities Kendall Jenner, Shay Mitchell, and Tracee Ellis Ross.  Undoubtedly, his brand and business building expertise are at the forefront of his repeated success; still as you’ll quickly learn, it’s his unwavering commitment to remain true to himself that distances him from the crowd.  Here’s a sample of what we discussed:

  • How a 12 year old got fascinated with the concept of brands & branding?
  • The turning point that led Neff Headwear to its first $1 million in sales?
  • The distinguishing characteristics that distance an elite modern brand?
  • The art of developing lasting business partnerships?
  • Making celebrity relationships work - Snoop Dogg, Kevin Durant, Kendall Jenner, others...?
  • The real power of gratitude?
  • Spotting trends and the importance of observation.
  • The principles of winning in business and in life?
  • Living a life on purpose.
  • Resources: