As entrepreneurs, it is so important to network and build relationships with the leaders and companies that you admire. M.LaHart and it's founder Michael have been an inspiration to us at KYLE CAVAN. Michael recognized a similar problem in the collegiate space - there was a lack of quality. Learn more about Michael and his beginnings in our interview below and make sure to check out the full range of gifting options on the M.LaHart website.
1. Why did you start M.LaHart? Did the company always look like this?
I went to business school in France, and I knew the woman who ran the campus bookstore – she did a great job but they were struggling to develop some nice ties. She showed me some designs over lunch one day – and the project caught my curiosity. It wasn’t long before I was traveling to Como, Italy to meet with some of the top silk mills. They worked with big names like Ferragamo or Yves Saint Laurent – but I think they were so surprised that this kid was calling them up, that they agreed to meet with me. So I started in ties at a few Ivy League schools – and as the line developed, I saw that there was a much broader opportunity in the gift category. I then developed my own collection of watches, and then added jewelry and other accessories – always wanting to make something nice, memorable and with great quality.
2. Tell us something unique about you!
I was a registered stock broker on the Paris Stock exchange.
3. Tell us what has helped you become successful in the collegiate space.
I’ve always wanted to create products that people would really enjoy – not a chotcky souvenir that ends up in a drawer. I think that if a product is going to represent your university – and your time at the university – it should be that much better! There’s an emotional connection here. So much of the gifts in the college bookstore are mediocre quality – the sort of thing that could just as well have the UPS logo on it.
4. Tell us what inspires you about being in the collegiate space.
Some of my most important friendships are from my time in school – those relationships have stood the test of time and are as relevant today as they were way back when ;) That’s why it really bothered me that so many products were so trashy, so disposable. There’s a great range of apparel but the pickings were pretty slim if you wanted a nice watch, piece of jewelry or other commemorative gift.
5. What brand partners do you have?
I’ve also thought ‘why not start at the top’? So when I was developing the brand partner concept I reached out to TAG Heuer – the premier luxury sports watch in the world. They saw the potential and were keen to connect with the up and coming customers of tomorrow. We had a great response to the line and have expanded the concept to include a number of well-known brands such as Montblanc, Movado and Simon Pearce in addition to younger, emergent brands like Stubbs & Wootton and KYLE CAVAN.