Posted on November 11 2019
How and why Brave American was started…
The story of how Brave American started really starts about five years ago. We owned a different business at the time and a good friend of mine did wood working. I reached out to him as we had just moved into a brand new office and I needed some work done to make it feel complete. I had him build me a desk for my personal office, a sliding barn door, and then I asked him if he thought he could build me “one of those wooden American flags.” I sent him a photo of an example, and he built me an 8 foot wide American wooden flag for my wall. It turned out amazing and was the focal point of our office when you walked in. The name of my friend who did the wood working is Andy. Andy is a veteran who served in the Navy. He’s in his early 30’s and is the kind of guy who just has a gift to bring things to life when it comes to wood.
A couple of years go by and it never failed, anytime someone new came to our office for a meeting, the first thing they’d say was “where did you get that flag?” People literally loved it. I always joked around with Andy after he built that for us that I could sell a flag to every new client that walked into the office. Alright, so let's fast forward a few more years. My business partner and I at the time were having great success in our current business, but we were feeling unfulfilled. We wanted to wake up every day and feel like we were making a difference. Luckily for us, we had an internet marketing background. We knew if we picked a product we could reach the masses on the internet but it wasn’t that easy. Remember how I said in our last company that we felt unfulfilled? So what could we do that would make a difference... like a real difference? As I was sitting at my desk thinking about it, I looked up and that eight foot flag stared at me, and it clicked. That's it! Let's build handcrafted American flags. We'll hire veterans to build them so we can employ and empower veterans. On top of that, let's give a portion of every sale back to veteran organizations! Boom! We had our idea.
I called Andy that evening and ran the idea by him. I told him we’d have to start small as we were unsure of the demand for the product. At the time, Andy had his own woodworking company that he was doing, so it wasn’t a problem for him to do some wooden flags on the side. As my business partner Mitch and I sat down in the days to come to plan out the business, we had to figure out things like a business name (which originally was going to be Freedom Flags), how to build a website that allows you to sell products online, boxes, shipping, supplies, and so much more. What we thought would be a quick start-up turned into a six month turn around. We decided against the Freedom Flags name because we knew that we wanted to eventually be the number one American home decor company in the country and that name would limit us to just flags. I was sitting down with my wife chatting about business names and I asked her “when you think about veterans and Americans what do you think of?” She said “being brave.” I jumped up and said "thats it, Brave American!" It just worked.
Fast forward a couple of months and we were ready to launch. I remember being so nervous for some reason. The website went live and we pushed it out to our Facebook friends and family. Instantly sales started coming in, but there was one problem. Friends and family were only buying our apparel and we didn’t sell one flag. Mitch and I looked at each other in a little bit of a panic. What if no one buys our flagship product? No way can we survive just by selling some t-shirts and hats. A few more days go by and we get our first sale from a gentleman in Texas. I will never forget that. A notification popped up on my phone alerting me of the sale. We were so excited, it was working! Obviously on a super small level, but regardless, the feeling of having an idea in your head and bringing it to life is incredible. We called Andy and told him to build our first flag order.
Over the next few months we began to figure out what marketing did and didn’t work. We were able to get our name and mission in front of more and more people. We had opportunities to collaborate with certain celebrities, and things were just falling into place. News stations were calling us to do interviews when they heard about what we were doing. We went from selling 8-10 orders a month to over 100 flags a month, fast. Remember when Andy told us he could “build some flags on the side?” Well, about six months in, Andy had to focus his entire time on building flags for Brave American. We had our first full time veteran staff member! We were so proud. Fast forward to today and we have multiple staff members that we get to work with daily as we continue to build our brand. We wake up every day fired up to make a difference. There is no greater joy than serving our veterans. More doors have opened than we could ever have imagined, and at the end of the day, without a customer purchasing our products, we don’t exist, so thank you! Because of you, we can make a difference in this community. You may not directly see it, but you're not just spending money on a flag, a hat, a shirt, a piece of home decor, you are putting food on the table for a veteran's family. You are giving back to veteran organizations, you are making a difference. Our mission is to build the largest American home decor company in the country. With that, we will be able to help and employ tons of veterans and give a lot of money and resources back to organizations that need help. We are thankful for you. Stay tuned, this journey is just getting started.
- Matt & Mitch CO-Founders - Brave American