Ep #21 – Behind the Golf Brand Podcast | Lie and Loft, Luke Davis (Founder)

Paul Liberatore Paul Liberatore
November 3, 2020

We made it to Episode 21 of the Behind the Golf Brand Podcast. Thank you for all of the comments and emails. In this week’s episode I interview my good friend Luke Davis, the Founder of Lie and Loft. Home is where the heart is. Yeah, I know, it’s cliché but it’s true. For golfers, […]

We made it to Episode 21 of the Behind the Golf Brand Podcast. Thank you for all of the comments and emails. In this week’s episode I interview my good friend Luke Davis, the Founder of Lie and Loft.

Home is where the heart is. Yeah, I know, it’s cliché but it’s true. For golfers, we often feel most at home when we’re out on the links chasing whitey with our friends and family. When you think about it, home is feeling. An experience where you feel at peace with the ones you love. Even though you can’t spend every waking moment out roaming the fairways, that doesn’t mean you can’t take that feeling of home with you when it’s time to shut the trunk and leave the course. Let us introduce you to Lie and Loft.

Paul (01:09): What's up guys. This is Paul from golfers authority and welcome to the Behind the Golf Brand Podcast. I don't even know, uh, uh, episode I'm on this week because I always lose track. So I should be my opening monologue. Now at this point. So anyways, I have a good friend of mine today. I feel like they pretty much make the best, uh, having a nice home decor golf related. I mean, they're more than just that kind of bread. They have so much cool stuff. I don't even know where to begin, but today I have lie and loft on the show and this is my friend, Luke Davis, uh, and I'm really excited to have him on. I'm a kind of a fan boy a little bit, because I actually reached out to him. I don't know, probably four or five months ago just cause I was on his website and I was like, Oh, I need that.

Paul (01:53): That stuff's awesome. Well, I was decorating the studio. So without further ado, this is Lyon loft. So welcome to show Luke what's going on. Thanks for having me on the show. You're welcome. Welcome to my abode. So where are you at your house? I'm at my girlfriend's house right now. That's house, man. Find a quiet spot to hang out. If you're in Arizona, you can hang out in my garage. I will let you do that. That's your studio? Yeah. Nice. I actually invited a bunch of my garage so far, but no one one's taking me up on it. That's okay. COVID whatever Kevin makes things interesting. So it makes, I mean my garage ain't that big, so maybe it out, it would be cool. I got people hanging out. If I like to mix here, I could do like that point counterpoint or something. But so whenever I talked to a brand and I didn't really do it with you because I talked to you first, so where I was like, just talk about working together and what I liked about your brand, but I always ask a brand and I'm always like, Hey, what's your story?

Paul (02:47): Right? Cause I don't really know like, what I'm trying to do is figure out this person. Cool. Really? That's what I'm trying to figure out. It was personal, but I want to work with, so tell me about like you, when did you start playing golf and lineage now? Like that kind of thing?

Luke (03:00): Yeah, golf, uh, I've had like a on and off relationship with my entire life back to when I was just learning how to walk. But, um, my dad played golf recreationally and it was something that we shared together as a pastime. Like when we spent time, he would bring me out to the golf course. My parents were divorced while I was growing up. So, um, when they were together, we actually lived on a golf course in Spain. He was in the air force. Yeah. And we lived on one of the holes and I was at the time like first learning, how to walk, hobbling around type of thing. And we'd go out onto the course and hit, you know, swing the clubs. I have my own set of like little clubs that I would whack it, a plastic ball. Um, so I was introduced to it early and just played it kind of recreationally growing up.

Luke (03:52): I played pretty much every other sport and um, golf. Wasn't something I did competitively. It was just something, like I said that my dad bonding time. Yeah, for sure. Um, but that quickly changed in college where I'd pretty much dedicated my life to it. Oh really? So did you go to college? Where'd you go to college? I went to NC state in Raleigh, North Carolina. I still live today. Yeah. That's cool. So then did you go like to play golf, like on a scholarship or you're just playing golf like full time and you just got good at it because you were having fun and you enjoyed it. Uh, so there's a major called professional golf management, which is a program that's accredited by the PGA of America. And they partner with universities for a bachelor of science degree, usually out of the college of hospitality and business or, um, college of natural resources or business administration. So that was what I decided to do after. So I went to college originally. I played baseball really cool up in New York. And when I got to that school, I was injured. Couldn't play baseball

Speaker 4 (05:07): [inaudible]

Luke (05:08): I would, I was a lefty. So my left shoulder was pretty shot. My rotator cuff pitcher. I was a pitcher. Yeah. I have a friend of mine. Who's a pitcher. He goes number one, draft pick in like 2004 or five out of high school. And like he got fricking, he was 18. I tried to buy the reds like fresh out of high school. Right. Did it seem, kind of made it no, he went to the miners and they pitched them a lot. Right. And he didn't get the rest enough and he blew out his shoulder, Tommy, John surgery, and then they cut them after that. That's what happened? No, no. They just pitched you way too much and you couldn't have a time to heal. Yeah, it was, it wasn't my high school coach. It was more so the travel ball, it was doing all your stomach times, you know, you're trying to show off your arm and like you're playing to get recruited and that sort of thing. And just really wear you down. I'm not like a huge person or big frame. I'm five 11. So for me it probably wasn't in the cards. Long-term it'd be a picture anyways. So

Luke (06:12): What is the overuse of that L the shoulder? Yeah.

Luke (06:15): Yeah. Had to hang it up at some point. Um,

Luke (06:19): You switched sports. You're like, wow, I must go do right like that. I could avoid in your life.

Luke (06:25): Yeah. I got a job at a golf course doing maintenance and grounds. It was the grounds crew job. So

Luke (06:33): That New York was that back in North Carolina.

Luke (06:34): It was in, uh, Cicero, New York. Yeah. It was a public course. I think it's closed down now, but they used to have a symmetric tour event go through there. That was cool. But at the time I was like, dude, when, I mean, I'm talking about playing golf to that point. It was just like going out with my baseball teammates or again, my dad.

Luke (06:55): Yeah. Goofing off like most people. Right. Isn't it? Yeah. Like that's. Yeah.

Luke (06:58): So I didn't know anything about how to maintain a course, but you know, through working and doing something and trying something new, you learn a time and I got hooked on playing. We would go in for our shifts show up super early, like four 30, five o'clock and I would mow greens and tee boxes and like repair irrigation systems collect all the trash from the day before you name it. And then we'd be done by like two o'clock. And there was a crew of like 12 of us. And we're all kind of in college,

Luke (07:31): Young guys, right. Young guys is like, this is all 20 or 21 years old. Yeah.

Luke (07:36): Yeah. But I met a super nice guy, my age that had done the PGM program at coastal Carolina, who was there that summer plan, a lot of golf, uh, and had mutual friends. And we would just go out and play every day after I got off my shift and just got, I got hooked and heard about the professional golf management program. Didn't know what the heck I wanted to do at that point in my life. Like most freshmen, sophomore year college kids, I took a year off from school. Well, I figured out like what school I wanted to go to and stumbled upon NC state. And then yeah. Went through and got my I'm a PGA member today.

Luke (08:14): That's cool. So did, where you from, did you grow up in North Carolina and you grew up somewhere?

Luke (08:20): I grew up all over the place. So I guess I lived in Spain for a little bit, traveled a lot and all over the world. My dad, uh, he got stationed at different places. So,

Luke (08:30): So you had no real home, right? Like real home state or home place?

Luke (08:34): Um, I grew up in, I would call Mexican New York home in terms of where I grew up also. That was from the time of being four years old to 17.

Luke (08:47): That's probably why I play baseball out there too. Right in New York.

Luke (08:50): Yeah. We're up in the sticks, you know, upstate and fights, soccer, basketball,

Luke (08:56): Baseball, football, and then everything else back yard. Like it was definitely an outdoors. He said new York's gorgeous. I like it up there. Not a lot of golf. So I didn't, you know, it was just still these like rinky-dink courses. You're just play at where it's like hard, hard soil. I'm not like the greatest turf. And your golf season was like two months. That's like the Munis here. They're like ground as hard as a rock. And they all like desert. That's like all they have around it, you know? And then it's like, everyone's like, Oh, you can play golf year round. And I'm like, have you ever played golf when it's 120? Cause I have, and it's not that fun. Like, like my dad almost died on the golf course. Like for real, it's like, I remember being like 16 and my dad was like, we're in another, another town.

Luke (09:45): Like we're up in Northern Arizona. And it was hot as . And I remember I was, I just got my driver's license. I ain't got my driver's license. Yeah. We were on like, we were the only people golfing. It was 122 degrees outside and we got like 16 and my dad liked didn't look well. And he was like, we got to go. I was like, my dad would never say that in a million years we had to be at the golf course early. I was like, why? And he's like, I don't feel good. I was like, Oh my God. So I drove all the way back to the hotel. Right. I'm 16. My dad is like, and so I drive them all way back to the hotel. Am I here? Like complete heat stroke? Like we had put, like, we put ice on him and stuff in the bathtub. Like he was seriously. I was like, Holy crap. He's doing excellent. He's still old. And he's annoying.

Luke (10:25): It's scary. But it golfs a lot. But I got, it's probably like 10 times a week and he's retired now, but which is like 10 times more than I get to. But, well, we grew up in complete opposite conditions. Like, it'd be like us playing golf when it's 20 degrees outside. So I went to college like in Indiana, I went to Purdue for undergrad. And so like when I played golf in the Midwest, like I remember like in the fall and the winter, when it wasn't snow and they try to open the course to back up, they had those giant, remember the holes are like really huge. They'll make the holes like smaller. Is that how it was to, you know, like, I don't know, that's an East coast thing or a Midwest thing. I have no idea. I don't know, because out here we don't do that.

Luke (11:08): It's always, I mean, we got really golf right now cause they just receded like all the golf courses. So it's kind of slow this month out here. And then Bruce, when rates go up because once the new grasses in and rates go up, so. Gotcha. That's okay. Um, so then you guys, all right, so then you, what did you have for college? Like you didn't go create lion loft right away. Did you sometime happened? Happen during college? When I was at NC state, we had to do work experience. We had to do 16 months of internships, like crap. Yeah. What was bad, I guess if you're local. Right. But if you have to travel somewhere else and do that, that'd be like, Oh, that's cool. As a college student, I thought it was awesome. You get to do an internship

Luke (11:54): And get college credit. I did. I worked as an assistant professional, um, throughout college, like I mentioned, I was up to upper Mount player in New Jersey. Then I was down at TPC, Sawgrass, Florida, and then back up to Westchester country club and New York, right outside of New York city bounced around a little bit throughout college

Luke (12:18): Being paid and you get to play golf. There's really nice courses.

Luke (12:21): Yeah. It was a great way to spend college and learn and see the golf industry and work in the golf industry and meet a lot of people. But at my last internship at West gesture had a great mentor. Learned a ton was well, had a good foundation in terms of if I wanted to go down the head professional route director of golf route, um, work at a private club I could have and how to just, uh, you know, it all kind of set up. And I ended up having a tough conversation with, with him, J K John Kennedy and say, Hey John, I'm graduating. Um, but I want to leave the golf industry. I don't know that it's for me.

Luke (13:05): Yeah. Because he don't mind. Why, what, like what made you realize that's not kind of what that normal, normal route, I guess you could call it

Luke (13:15): Back to when I worked grounds crew, you know, I then worked outside operations and then like moving into the shop and teaching and running the merchandise side of it. And just like,

Luke (13:27): You've seen it all, you literally worked your way up. Right. You've seen every little part of the company or the, of the industry.

Luke (13:33): Yeah. And I honestly, once I got to those higher levels, it sucked the soul out of golf for me. And I became like, you know, serving, serving others. And yes, I was spreading

Luke (13:47): Take the fun out of it. I took the fun. There was no, it was no longer fun. Right? Seven days a week. Yeah. It was a job.

Luke (13:54): Well, most people don't, uh, how hard and long a golf professional work.

Luke (13:59): And they don't make that much money. Right. Like honestly,

Luke (14:02): No, you don't, you don't make it sound. You can, there's obviously those great jobs, but they're at these elite courses where you are still serving this like Uber elite group of people that it's like, I dunno, it's just not,

Luke (14:17): You get it anymore. So then what'd you do? It's a weird one. Right.

Luke (14:21): And it, it it's hard happens. It can happen in, is natural and should happen multiple times to someone, you know? Right.

Luke (14:30): Right. Well, yeah. But as a young, at a young age, it's harder. Right. Because you feel like, you know, I bet for you, baseball was your identity. Right. Because that's all you did and then you blew shoulder out. So then golf became your identity. Right. And everyone thought that's what he's going to do. He's going to be a golf pros and we'll click off. And then it's like, no, I'm not gonna do that either. No, but no, that's cool. So then what did you do? Like, so what'd he say, he's like, what the hell is wrong with you? And he's like, no, I get it.

Luke (14:57): Uh, he cried a little bit teared up, uh, which hurt me even more, you know, he felt kind of a personal, uh, you know, um, you know, as a, as a mentor, it's like hard. Yeah. So, but, um, you know, he absolutely supported my decision and we've still talked to this day at different times and it's still

Luke (15:18): Your mentor and

Luke (15:21): A friend. Yeah. Someone I respect

Luke (15:23): You look up to and yeah. So what does he do? Does he work at the same course or did you retire?

Luke (15:28): He's retired now. Yeah. He runs his own consulting company for other golf professionals and things like that. And really he's, he's just a great advocate for the game of golf. Yeah.

Luke (15:40): Cool. So then how did lie and loft start,

Luke (15:44): Um, lion loft started with the thought of making golf feel more like Callum, as cheesy as that sounds like there was a why behind it. That for me has been like throughout my life, uh, how golf is welcoming to people and how it feels like, why are people connected to golf? Like, what does it mean to them? What about golf makes them feel at home? Right. Um, I knew I could do that through artwork and home decor as being like the by-product or like the physical, tangible part of that connection. Like where it all kind of came together was when I was looking for prints for my house. And Mike's, I got my first place after college and wanted to, you know, make it my own and was doing some research on like courses I'd worked at like, is there any course maps out there? And you know, there was, and it was in golf art in general, like there's options, but it wasn't like, Oh man, this is like, what I want for sure. Like,

Luke (16:45): You're like, this is so, okay, what year was this? What year would you start?

Luke (16:52): 13 is 14 ish.

Luke (16:54): Was this like a side? Was it like a thing? You start with the realization that there wasn't cool decor, right. Let's call it. That is connected to golf. Is that what kind of sparked it in? You're like, Oh wait, there's a, there's something missing here, you know? And that, how is that how you started it, then you started realizing you saw there was a need. And you're like, well, I can do that. I mean, I'm, I'm talented. I'm an artist, right. Is that how

Luke (17:20): I saw like a, a way to combine everything that I was passionate about into one thing. And I saw there being a problem that could be solved at the same time.

Luke (17:32): Yeah. You're problem solving. It's like me, I'm like, that's exactly why I started my website. I thought it was all a problem. I thought it was a problem. Maybe it wasn't, I don't know. And then that's, you know, the more you get into it, the more fun it gets. Right. Because you're like, Oh, that's cool. So then it's 2013 when you started the site, but when did you,

Luke (17:50): No, we didn't get things going until 2015, 2016 timeframe.

Luke (17:55): So you saw the need and then what happened? Like you started doing artwork or did you just, how did that transpire

Luke (18:02): Started drawing course maps? Like, that's what I started with of places that I'd worked at

Luke (18:10): Best stuff. Like seriously. Like I love that.

Luke (18:13): Yeah. I mean, I appreciate that. It's not just me or not me at all. Like I give full credit to everyone else. So like for me, I don't consider myself an artist, a novice designer at best. Really. It's just,

Luke (18:28): You've got you surround your use for us around yourself, with good people, right. That are

Luke (18:33): Great talented designers and artists and all the credit definitely goes to them in terms of everything that,

Luke (18:39): But the quality level is like off the hook, you know, like no one was doing it. I don't know. I mean, I'm not like I never really knew of anybody doing this really in the last couple of years. And then I saw you guys, but there are certain scales of it. Right. So people like we'll post it on Etsy or red bubble or whatever. Right. Which is not saying anything bad about those artists or whatever, but it's like, you guys took it to another level because like you have so many courses. Right. And you have, it's just, the quality is so high. Right. And I dunno, that's, I think that's really cool.

Luke (19:12): Yeah. Of course. Maps will always be kind of our bread and butter in terms of prints. It's where people felt, feel most connected to exactly. A tangible place. And that's what, again, tying it back to the why we, I started like by going to golf course, a golf course. So it wasn't about building the consumer brand or like that being the focus from the beginning, really that side of it was just, you know, with social media and being able to have a storytelling platform. Instagram was huge in terms of, I could just like slowly develop this identity for a brand. Without that being the focus, I was really focused on going back to my network and hitting the road and going door to door at golf courses, selling, um, prints course maps. And I was also a sales rep for some other brands in the industry as an independent contractor, independent rep independent, rough. Yeah.

Luke (20:11): Both. Right. So you can sell, you can make a commission on or whatever on those. And then, but you're also selling your own stuff too at the same time.

Luke (20:17): Yeah. And I was honestly pushing their stuff first and my stuff. I wasn't even like super well. Yeah. I wasn't even, it was, we, we truly, you know, it started from nothing and it, it was, uh, I dunno, it's been just a long series of problem solving and trying to like, how do I make this better? How do I make this better?

Luke (20:44): Well, you didn't make a product, you made a brand. Right. That's what you did. And so like a lot of people will say, um, I, you know, you see, I see this a lot. Now it is. Well, I have just with what I do, where a lot of people go, I'm going to make a glove or I'm going to make teas or something cheap. Right. And so they try to sell that one product and they try to build their brand around that one product. But it's like, it's different. You got to, there's no connection. I think the best who I talked to about this Starnet I talked to a brand, I don't remember who it was. And they always say the first thing I'd like to ask yourself, they're pretty big brand now is what's your why? Right. What's your why that's really what it is.

Luke (21:18): And then from there you work through it, not just you come up with a product and a natural, why, you know, I think that's a deep when he asked me that this person that, cause it was pool, it was or what brand. But when he asked me that just with me with what I'm doing, what I do, I was like, dude, that's really deep. Like, I didn't know what to say. I was like, he's like, well, you shouldn't really be able to answer it right away. You should be able to, you should be able to think about it and then work towards it. So

Luke (21:43): Yeah. I mean from day one, that's what we focused on. And I made this brand book back in 2014. That is just like a word vomit and of like brand identity. The why? The voice like storytelling.

Luke (21:59): Yeah. Like who are you? What are you doing? Right. Why are you spending time on this? There's really whatever, you know, like, why does it matter? Why does it care? Why people connect to it? You know? And I think, I dunno, that's I think, I mean, for anybody who's listening to podcast and you want to start a brand, like that's the most important thing you ever learned from this podcast is figure out what your why. Right. That's a V that's step one. After that, everything's easier, you know, because you're working towards that. Why

Luke (22:24): Simon is it Simon? Cynics? Yeah.

Luke (22:27): I remember hearing that like two years ago that podcast. Oh no, it was a Ted talk. Wasn't it the first time. And I heard that and they like blew my mind. I was like, somebody else had said, Oh, you shouldn't listen to this guy. And I like saw that. And I was like, Holy crap. Like, yeah, he's brilliant. That guy just freaking off the chart. Seriously. It's a great talker.

Luke (22:46): Yeah. Great communicator.

Luke (22:48): Okay. So then you started, you had the idea in 13 and then 15, you started really started the brand, but at the same time you were trying to sell your artwork of the courses at the same time, while you were going to the other courses, just to, as an independent rep. Right. So you're still sort of growing the brand right. Slowly, thanks to Instagram. Mainly I would assume you're able to show that artwork. And it's a, it's a perfect medium right. To, to show that to the world. And I also think that the demographic too, because you know, Instagram, you know, the age group is like twenty-five to 50, let's call it. Right. So like, that's, that's, I mean, that's what I've found, you know? And I think that's the people that are fi that's a perfect medium for a brand that's for home decor. Right. Or like, I don't want to say home to Cortland. It's more than that, but I don't know how to say it,

Luke (23:38): But is it,

Luke (23:40): I feel like, I think of like, Oh yeah, I dunno. It's but it's more than that. Right. It's like,

Luke (23:46): I would consider more of like a lifestyle brand. That's a better way of saying we certainly focused on home-related things and that's the only enough experiences to, and our storytelling and trips and stuff like that. Yeah. You guys have the it's so cool. Like the way, I don't know, it just, it blows my mind when I see people do really innovative stuff and like, they're the first one to do it. I'm like, Oh, that's really smart. You know? And it's not because we're trying to sell some product. It's like, they're doing it. They have a product to sell, but that's not why they're doing it. They're doing it because it's actually cool. You know, like the trips are like, just, I don't know, your photography is awesome. Right. Even your site, you're like, we'll look at that in a second, but so were you the only employee then at this time of the brand?

Luke (24:32): Oh, wow. So when did you start bringing on more people as you got bigger, had a couple individuals I worked with throughout the early days of it. And then fast forward to, I don't have like my LinkedIn up in front of me to see the actual LinkedIn. I'm like, this is the boring as podcasts ever. He's like, well then yeah, now that I think it was like 2017, I was working out of a coworking space. It was really cool. Yeah. It was a creative coworking space as designers and Raleigh. Uh, it was about 20 of us in the space, super talented people in there that had all different backgrounds. So it was a neat way to collaborate on projects together. Like it did projects for the city of Raleigh rebrand and then all the different local restaurants. There's just so cool documentary filmmakers in there.

Luke (25:22): So it's this great diverse group of talented people. And, uh, I felt a little bit out of place in there. I'm a golf guy and they're like, get the hell outta here. I mean, they've definitely had a vetting process and were stoked to have me even apply and welcome me into the open arms. And I was tired community and was great, great people of artists. Right. Of all different kinds. Like not just like everything from filmmakers to designers to, you know, like branding people like to be in that kind of world to they'd be in a bubble, let's call it. I mean, that would, that was probably like, you know, a huge moment for you because now it's like, Oh cool. I other people share these ideas I have. Right. And like actually grow these products that I want to do. It was an incredible space.

Luke (26:12): I can't say that enough. I don't dunno. Just to be around all different types of creative people that have made it, you know, like they're all freelancing, hustling have their own things that teach that people think that like, you can't teach how to hustle. You just can't is there you have, or you don't. Right. Like, and I think it's like that hidden drive. Right. So how do you get successful? It's like, you need to work your off and need to be passionate about what you're doing. That's it. And you know, I mean, that was like, what you, I mean, that was your hustling, right? You mean I'm hustling,

Luke (26:44): We're all hustlers, right? There's a certain type of people as a hustler and wherever that is where that spectrum is. But I mean, it's hard to you can't teach that you just can't, you know, even employee the person who's able to do their thing and leave, or you have a hustler, like worked their off

Luke (26:58): For me. I think it's just, I can't turn my brain off.

Luke (27:01): I can never turn my brain off. Like for reals, like my wife thinks I'm crazy. She's like, what the hell are you doing? And I'm like, I just can't. I just can't. I never been able to frills. Like, that's a good thing

Luke (27:13): Though. Right? Sometimes I don't

Luke (27:15): Even know where the last time I turn my brain off, but

Luke (27:18): On a golf course, probably. Yeah.

Luke (27:20): I get mad, you know, like, Oh God, this set up. I think I figured out how to fix that.

Luke (27:24): Not for me golf is that moment where I don't think about anything else. I think that's like, those are the moments that is about. Yeah.

Luke (27:33): Yeah. Maybe that's why people connect golf so much too. You know? It's like when you go to nature, right. Or when you're on vacation or nature, you know, like on the mountains or whatever, you don't think about anything else in the world. Right. You're just there at that moment. I feel like that's a lot I do with golf too. Like you're in that moment, whatever that moment is, you're having a good time, a bad time hanging with your friends, not whatever it's like, you're not where you're at all time. You know, it's like almost an escape from reality or your daily reality. I really thought about that, man. He goes, cut this episode all deep and stuff for like, thanks a lot for being so deep on this episode, Paul, so you guys blew it. So you guys started growing the band brand. Oh you did. And what happened after that? With the coworking space?

Luke (28:14): Yeah. Through the coworking space, the guy that sat next to him, I write Britain shop, shout out Britain. He, uh, introduced me to this guy, Andy. He was like, Oh, I know a guy who is from Pinehurst and plays golf. And he's just, he's in the design program at NC state senior. I'll link you two up because at the time I was like, I hate a full-time designer. I can't do this.

Luke (28:38): Can't do by herself anymore.

Luke (28:39): It's time to start like yeah. Seeing who can, who wants to be a part of this really? And we met for lunch the next day. And literally that night we're already working together. It became, that was 2017 or 16. I think it was 2017. And Andy, yeah. Andy worked with me for two and a half years and it was just the two of us for a long time. So he has a big part to do with everything that lion loft is too. But from there, you know, we just slowly grew with different people helping. We really, we wanted to have, for me, it came full circle. I started offering internships back to the PGM program, had PGN, interns that work for us, uh, learning, doing things and sales marketing, or production or um,

Luke (29:31): Other stuff, right? Like, Hey, golf is not just what you learned right. Through your experience. Like you can make golf completely different, right. By building a brand and all kinds of other skills that come along with that and doing your own thing. Like that's how you can grow the game of golf anyways. Right. I mean, that's, I feel like that's crazy. So then how big is the team now? We've got about four to five people full time. Um, and are they all freelancers employees with probably six to nine different artists at any given time on things and that's, what's so cool about this, a gig economy, right? Like you can find really good people. They're not even in your state. Like there's nobody on my team. That's an Arizona. Well, I guess there's one person, but like, it's crazy how you don't have to have everybody in same office.

Luke (30:25): Right. And you use talent from around the world around the country or whatever it might be. So then what do you have now? Do you have your own like warehouse or do you have your own office space or how does that work? So we are in our fourth, fifth office now, since I have time, I feel like the five years where there's just so much could be talked about in terms of a lot happens in a startup in five years. And I would still call us a startup. It's always, you always want to treat your brand like a startup though. Right? Because then it has not been easy. I get, we are not successful yet. You know, we're not even close to, to where it's like, all right. You know, so you still, you're still treating it like a startup though, right? Like, cause you never want to end that.

Luke (31:08): I don't know. It's hard. That's the hard part. Right? I mean more than a startup where a small business, we are a definitely a small business, you know, we do it, we do what we do because we love golf and we love designed. Exactly. It's hard. I don't know. I mean, so you're in your fifth office then right now you said you even need an office. I mean, with COVID and stuff or is it weird there? Like is, I mean, we're in a house three bedroom house. It's like thousand square feet roughly. And we've got like a little front lobby area. That's cool man, computer desk area. That's the large, the large room. And then we've got our back production area. So we still do, we do all of our printing in house. Oh really? Oh, production in house. Yeah. So people really cool. Local can come by, pick up friends, that sort of thing.

Luke (32:03): And that's really cool idea though, for your aesthetic. Like, because you're a lifestyle brand, right. Or home aesthetic brand. And, but your office is a home, right. Like it's probably, that's cool. That's a great idea. It's not like an office Plaza or something, you know what I mean? So it's almost like fits perfectly into the brand. I don't think we could afford an office Plaza either. Now we've been afforded a garage. I was fancy garage and we did it out of my town home for awhile. It's you know what, like, that's, what's kind of interesting about this. Like about the podcast or disabilities brands. I work, like everyone starts out small. Right. Even the big guys start out small, but it's that grind it's that it's that drive to make it bigger. And I always find that fascinating because I feel like there's, there's so many like connections with other, all brands are connected somehow with the same, that same story, you know, it just, how did they get to that? But I mean, so do you actually, do you guys do all your own shipping then too? I'm assuming right

Luke (33:01): Out of the house for frame, for frame items, we do have a framing partner in Hickory, North Carolina. So yeah, we, I met her at a market in Atlanta and we hit it off and she frames for like home goods. So she does like big quantity, like professional framing for big customers. And she's right up the road in Hickory up towards the mountains in North Carolina. So it was a great partnership. So anytime that we have a frame print, that's where it's being manufactured from. Um, so we, we, I I've always felt from the beginning, like, all right, if I'm selling prints, I need to, I look around my house and I have like 10 prints curled up in tubes, just sitting on the ground. Like they don't get up on the wall unless they come friends or, you know, it's so true. It's hard to, yeah. It's hard to frame them yourself. It's expensive. The frame

Luke (33:57): It's super, super expensive. You go to Michael's, you can buy some cheap for aim. That's still expensive though. It's like 50, 60, you know, whatever it is for like, uh, it doesn't even look that good. Yeah.

Luke (34:07): The problem with that is it's not mounted properly. So over time the paper will buckle and other things will happen. So getting it framed at the all at once is that is huge for us to be able to offer like our frame prices. I feel like are very reasonable on our site that we're able to offer it because it's all done right at once

Luke (34:27): Her, the trip to the image or does she just, how does that work? So she framed these meet up with her or your team does,

Luke (34:34): She has the same exact printer we have. So we're able to duplicate all the specs and

Luke (34:40): Cool. This is definitely like, I love this. This is really our now it's cool because it's not like you're, you guys will look at a site in a second, but it's like, the stuff you guys do is really cool, but it's like, you still treat it. Like, I don't know what the word is. Like a, like a, like a small business where you have connections and people do the same stuff. And I don't know. I think that's, that's really neat, you know, because you could be like, Oh yeah, we get them printed in some big facility and then they ship it out for us. And it's like, it does complete

Luke (35:08): No, our full-time employees are people that are touching the handling each year, each and every order.

Luke (35:13): Right. It's the love of a, like a, a craft. Right. I feel like that's what, this is a more of a craft thing. It's tangible. I want to tell you guys this, because it's like, I'm going to get ready to do an unboxing next couple weeks, uh, blue sending a bunch of stuff to me. And he already has, and like, dude, they fricking draw on the box. Like he drew on the box, like a whole scene. It's the coolest thing I've ever. I can't wait to show him the unboxing video because I'm like, that's a whole nother step. Right? It's like when you send here's our tip, if you said like a written letter, somebody it's a big deal. Right. As soon as you say a thank you letter, that's a big deal. That goes a long way because nobody does that anymore. Right. It's that little extra, that's not the norm. Right. And so I know that's cool as hell.

Luke (35:56): It's fun. Like you get to know your customers that way we get letters back and like, you know, people reach back out and repost things on Instagram because it is, they feel connected to us. And we're able to share this dialogue with them. I think

Luke (36:12): A lot of times like people, like, I always have my opening email to a lot of, you know, on my website or my email list is like, tell me more about, you know, say hi or, you know, tell me what you know about you or something like, you know, with the golf and stuff like that. And like, I always respond to every single one of those emails, right. Hundreds of hundreds to get a month and then be like, Holy , you actually responded. I'm like, yeah, like I responded. That's why I said that in the beginning. And I, you know, I just feel like you would want to cut to that audience. Right. They're the ones who are supporting you. I mean, you know, or you're, you're, you're a consumer.

Luke (36:44): Yeah. I mean it's, to me, it's just a big group of golf domains really is.

Luke (36:51): That's how it is golf homeys, dude. That's exactly what it is. Oh, that's because you have in your website, I'm going to look at your site. Yeah. I thought you were going to, you need a fricking trademark called homeys. Did you do that yet? You better do that.

Luke (37:02): Edit that out of this before someone does it first.

Luke (37:05): No, because you have it on your website and a big pop-up. It says golf homeys on it.

Luke (37:09): We've got a golf Army's podcasts. It would do. That's a golf on, this is kind of like, you know, the group of people you feel at home with, you know,

Luke (37:23): It's the people you want to hang on when you can really play on that. . I didn't think about that.

Luke (37:27): That's where it came from. Yeah. Our first thank you. Notes ever were printed on stationary that had like the definition of like, you look up in a dictionary Helmy and we like wrote homeys, someone you feel at home with, uh, you know, like that was kind of our mantra from the beginning is yeah. We want to be spread the feeling of foam and celebrate golf with our golf friends. A homemade could be someone you've never met in person before

Luke (37:55): When you go golfing. But like you, you can sit with three other guys. Right. And like, have you, I mean, not everyone's like or gals. Right. And by the end of the thing, you're all friends. Have you noticed now a golf, like everyone's like one weirdo with you, but like, it's so weird. Like it's like, you're all chumming around, joking around with each other, talking crap. You don't even know like 15 holes before that you never even knew this person was, you know? And it's like how there's no other game like that. You know, it's just weird because you're not competing with people either. You're just there to have fun. Right.

Luke (38:28): I'm there to wax them every time. No, you're not.

Luke (38:31): You probably would be able to do that. You've waxed my . I know that, you know, if there's money

Luke (38:36): On the line,

Luke (38:39): Jordan,

Luke (38:41): We usually play it for like a dollar per that, uh, you know, it's big money.

Luke (38:46): Yeah. I started doing my friends and I'll play better. So let's take a look at your site. So here's your site. This is cool. I mean, you guys have a coolest aesthetic, obviously. So is this shot, like this is a Shopify site. How'd you pull the site. It's really nice. I'm like, I'm a website nerd. So I like like design and stuff like that. Did you build the site yourself or did you have a team that helped you build it?

Luke (39:07): Andy and I grinded for a long time on a Sandy worked plenty of midnight plus hours. Yeah. We built it. We went through actually two developers first that just butchered butchered it. And we're like, screw it. We're just gonna bite the bullet and then rebuild it ourselves. And yeah, it took some time and obviously refine it. And it's been, it's treated as well. So far. Knock on wood.

Luke (39:32): It's a six site. I mean, that's a thing. Like I built my site, right. The first thing I want, I realized like a long time ago is if you start hiring developers, developers are not graphics. People have no idea. There's not a make a thing and they're not going to read it. It's so hard

Luke (39:47): And usability for like UX, future editing and changes that you'd want you'd want to make as an client. Yeah. Yeah.

Luke (39:56): It's almost, yeah. It's almost impossible. Like developers or developers, they develop, they don't create. Right. They're not creators. And so like, if you're gonna

Luke (40:04): One guy completely, our first one completely like went Mia after handing this over a non-working site and took the money and ran

Luke (40:12): That's about, that's a norm too, right? Like it's like these guys, man, they don't even know like that was all time. They always go Mia, halfway through builds and they are, let's say you get a guy an hourly. And you're like, what? The F seriously, that's your hourly. Like I don't, this thing doesn't even work. Oh yeah. Don't get me started on developers. I mean, I have a developer that I hired after the fact. So I built my site. I built on WordPress. I knew nothing. I was like, I want to learn how to do this because if this thing breaks or I wanna change a color or something, I don't want to rely on somebody else. And now it's like a big problem or something I need to figure out. I just send a developer, but he was a referral. So I was like, I'll use that guy. Cool. This is you guys like, this is so sick, man. Where's is this the house? Or is this your house?

Luke (40:54): This is a cottage that we sit. They gave us like a budget and said, here you go. Here's a clean slate for this cottage that we want to turn into an office, little, a little office space. And this was from that. Yes,

Luke (41:09): That's so cool. So then when did you start getting into planters? Tell me about the planter.

Luke (41:13): So a buddy Joe sank out in Durham, North Carolina, he plays golf and he's a Potter by trade. And first found out about him through mugs. These really dope mugs that he got,

Luke (41:25): Oh, I saw that you sent me one for the on boxing. That's a dope .

Luke (41:28): We are sold out. We've been sold out of mugs for a while. So Joe's business has grown tremendously over the years. So, but we've done like small runs of mugs and planners and ball marks. The ball marks came from the idea of like, we're a sustainable company in general. We try and avoid plastic as much as possible and reuse things in creative ways. But we were making these mugs and we were putting slabs of our patch, landmark logo on the mugs. So it has like this, a 3d logo popping off. So these little patches, we're cutting out clay with these stencils, like a one inch by one inch square. And you just kind of like a cookie sheet, right. You're cutting out cookies. And I was like, Holy . Like these could be ball marks. You know, like put me on a mug. Like let's just make these really cool ball marks that are sustainable and made out of clay and continue to promote that message of, um, like thinking about what we're using plastic wise and that sort of thing.

Luke (42:29): So you have different styles of maps. I'm looking at your site where you're talking like you have like a, you know, if you want, you have the modern, you have modern course maps, right. Or national that's cool. Yeah.

Luke (42:42): Can you scroll up to the, you go to like the menu? Sure. I'm a right side shop. And then you can go to like the course map collection. You'll see. There's a couple different styles. We also do tons of custom work for people. So if you have like a specific color way that you want, or, you know, different style or aesthetic, we, you know, we're here to help make a design come to life and that sort of thing. But these are kind of the two standards that we've got up on the site. Right.

Luke (43:09): And then they can decide, right. So if they pick one, they're like, Oh, let's just look at this, uh, look at chambers. Right. And then you can choose like the size you want. If you want it to have a frame or not, do you want to have a rail? And the price is like, so reasonable dude, even like just this without a frame is $30. That's so reasonable.

Luke (43:28): We do these big sales too on the first Friday of the month. So if you wanted, you did want some discounted goods. That would be the time to check it out. But, uh, yeah, I think we try and make it again, like approachable and affordable as much as possible. Would it be in made to order and like NEDA and house? It's something that,

Luke (43:48): Yeah, it's not mass produced. You're not mass producing crap. You know what I mean? This is still custom made. Right. It's made on demand. So it's like, that's, there's a, there's a level of, uh, you know, time

Luke (44:02): Or cutting them down or packing them up to be shipped

Luke (44:05): Original paintings.

Luke (44:07): So yeah, homie, Josh is a, he makes our golf ball coasters and does original paintings as well. So we've got

Luke (44:15): The painting. Doesn't even look like a painting, a picture.

Luke (44:18): He is insane. There's so that's 18 by 24. There is so much detail when you actually see as saying in person to the point of like the waves are coming off a dude that looks a freaking

Luke (44:32): Picture.

Luke (44:32): You click on the second one. You can see it.

Luke (44:36): I mean, you guys, if you guys ever get a chance, watch this YouTube video on it. This is insane. Oh my God. That's I've never seen anything like that before.

Luke (44:45): Yeah. Our entire shop is just filled with his paintings and yeah, he's super talented. He can do fine art. He can, he's got a great eyes for,

Luke (44:54): This is cool. I like your dependents. Those are neat.

Luke (44:57): You've got a new shipment on the way. We're going to fill it out for awhile, but

Luke (45:00): I can see why. I mean, when we were kids, remember that I had a pencil on my wall when I was a kid, you know, like for baseball team or whatever. I love penance. So those coasters you're telling us about right. Oh, wrong page.

Luke (45:15): It's a broken link. Cause we sell out of them. So we'd like throw them up on the site and batches. We usually like our email lists or Instagram followers, like, yeah, we've got a new batch of coasters in from Josh.

Luke (45:29): Josh is making them. It's not like this. It's not like his subs come from China. This is being made in North Carolina.

Luke (45:34): Yeah. We, I mean, you can look at our blog and go back to the early days. We first, we had a wood shop and our office space two times ago, which is where we worked with Josh. Um, those, and we also made our own wooden poster rails in house and we still get those made locally here in Raleigh. So yeah, everything is made right here. It's all handcrafted.

Luke (45:57): The Picasso powder. The idea of with the soap,

Luke (45:59): This soap is actually homies of ours out in Portland, shout out to Zach and Megan with clean. When they, uh, hand handmade, she makes these by hand and their sense are just so incredible. And they last a long time. You can actually like cut off little slivers and make them last forever. Yeah.

Luke (46:22): That's awesome. Who does the candles? You guys make the candles there. You guys made the candles.

Luke (46:26): You've got a friend birdie candle company. That's in North Carolina. She hand pores these for us. So right now we've just got two batches we've done that are inspired by a couple of our favorite golf places. That's a painting that Josh did of sheep ranch. So that's called Pacific waves and then Carolina Pines on the road.

Luke (46:45): It's like so cool. Because like you're getting artists other artesians I guess you could say too, in their skills and crafts to, with their products, you know what I mean? Like they've made, you know that you co-branded or they, you know, that's just so cool. I didn't know. I had no idea

Luke (47:00): Is important. It's very important. It's uh, yeah.

Luke (47:03): That's cool. The ball markers, the Josh rank these.

Luke (47:06): No. So those are, uh, Joe, the guy that makes our pottery.

Luke (47:10): Oh, that's cool. And then who does your now the hats are sets

Luke (47:15): Are not, the hats are not made in Raleigh.

Luke (47:19): Aren't you making them by hand? I think you should be selling them together.

Luke (47:23): I mean, I had this L and L hat that I made, uh, by fair ends. So they, there are a company out of Portland. I w I went to a design conference back in 2016 or 17 called Epic occurrence. And there, we got this hat with these felt letters. And I was like, ah, L and L it's perfect. So I had this L and L hat made and wore it nonstop. You know, that type of hat.

Luke (47:48): Yeah. It's like your hat. So the hat you wear all the time,

Luke (47:51): People just started asking about it. And so the original hat is that L and L hat. And then people just have been asking over time for more types of hats. And we get asked all the time for t-shirts and other emerge. So

Luke (48:05): She, you, me through a logo design and the name of it.

Luke (48:09): Yeah. So lion lion loft actually started as land and loft. That was the name of this company. And originally it wasn't just golf. I was wanting to have it be a, an art and adventure brand based around all the things I was passionate about. So it was more like camping and the outdoors.

Luke (48:26): Yeah. Well it's too broad or something. Yeah.

Luke (48:32): There's no direction. I felt like golfers might be into that stuff, but the other people might not necessarily be into golf. So I decided golf is so niche. I need to focus on that first. Like, let's be super focused, just focused on golf. And I was like, all right, I need another L and L name. And I was like, it was a, no-brainer why I'm off right off the bat loft originally with Lanham off was about home and land and loft, like the land and elevate it and then home. So with lie and loft, it worked out perfect. Like the two measurements on a golf club plays alive. Like seriously, play it as alive, give it some loft, you know, all these sayings. And then home with loft that connector there, it was literally be perfect. Like, you know, that there was a Tiffany moments. It was just like, this is it where you just say rush to buy the domain name and

Luke (49:24): All time. I like buying somebody's domain names. Also good to go on Amy don't name names. And I'm like, Oh crap. And you look at it like six months later, like, Oh, why did I buy that? That's stupid. But it's something like $10, like, whatever, I'll just won't renew it. But no, you find that domain name. Like, I like golfers authority. They're like, how'd you get that domain name? I'm like, friggin, I tried everything, but, well, how'd you come with the logo then one last question is then how did you, like, did some, did you design that or did somebody else, or how did you come up with that? That's pretty cool. But the mountain looks like probably North Carolina, right?

Luke (49:56): Yeah. So L and L you know, is a logo. I was like, the gee that's like the logo of lion loft. And then lion loft is a type face. Is it own logo? Um, where I went through type exploration where you just have an AI file filled with all these different ways of lion loft, like all uppercase, all lowercase, blah, blah, blah, and like sand surf.

Luke (50:17): And so

Luke (50:19): I went through that. And then at the time I was working with a friend of mine who also his name's Luke, Luke Flint. He's done a bunch of the collage style prints on our site. And he was originally one of the guys I was working with to get this started before Andy and I flew up to Boston. He had gotten a job, uh, and moved up to Boston at the time that we were kind of like working on this together. I flew up and we sat down in his apartment. And the whole day I just spent like working on this logo and I knew I wanted it to be outdoor related, connecting the outdoors, like the different geo landscapes that are within golf. I wanted it to be simple and like be able to be applied to a lot of different mediums. And then I wanted to have the L shapes in there.

Luke (51:03): So why I'm off to L and L it's like, if we can make this like composed at ELs, and we took a look first at the flag was like the big thing, because a golf flag as a logo has been done a certain way over and over and over. I was like, I want something that's completely different. And it just came together with this concept of two ELLs, forming the flag at rest, which is like, where there's no wind, which the perfect time you're on a golf course to see that flag just drooped down along the pole. Like, that's that concept that we were like, all right, this is it. Like, that's a golf flag at rest where you feel like totally calm and just made the two hours. And it was perfect. And then from there built the landscape around it with ELLs. So the whole thing is just kind of like L based.

Luke (51:52): It's all these little things, right. It's not like, it's not like you went and hire some graphic designers, like, Hey, front line loft, make me a logo. You know, it's like, there's thought every thing you've done, right? Like from the, from the logos to the products you sell right now to the connection with, you know, goods that are actually made in the United States. Right. That by, by artesians, I mean, that's just, it's like a whole nother level. I don't really know of any other brands that do that. Honestly, other brands might say they kind of do it, but they're full of . You know? I don't know. You can just, it's cool to actually see it and hear it and I can open it up. See what I got from you. I think it's cool stuff. So

Luke (52:31): We are sold out of a lot of stuff, which is the nature of all these like handcrafted goods. So it wasn't able to put together an entire portfolio, but certainly got some good things in there.

Luke (52:41): Oh, that's cool. I don't care. I'm excited. Anyway. I mean, it's just excited. I used to be two boxes, so I got some good stuff. It's not just one. They drew on both of them, but is cool. Well, awesome, man. Well, I just want to say thank you for being on the show today. I mean, I'm a fan of lion loft. I will, that's why I reached out to you. I just saw your stuff. And I was like, this guy knows what he's doing. This is really cool. Um, I appreciate you, uh, coming on the show and telling us your story. And, and so you guys have carrot lion loft, like seriously, if for your office, for your house, it doesn't matter if you love golf, you want Prince go to lion lock. If you want some cool, like aesthetic stuff, it's golf related, but not really, but it is, you know, like go to Lyon loft, like seriously there's I don't know of any other brand that does it, honestly. God. So

Luke (53:26): Yeah. So anyways, it's on Instagram keeping, like we always are doing golf things that are fun. So that's another thing too, is like, we're here to entertain and like show all the good things in golf that we love and can share. So yeah, all the, all the things you just said would be awesome. Link here. I'm going to have my blue blinking. It's like now I wish I was that fancy with my editing skills, but I'm not. So anyways, thanks for being on the show and I hope to have you on again, maybe in the future, it'd be really cool right on. Thanks for having me. Cool, man. Thank you.

Luke (54:05): Thanks for listening to another episode of behind the golf bread podcast, you're going to beat me, uh, get off, stay connected on and off the show by visiting golfers authority.com. Don't forget to like subscribe and leave a comment. Golf is always more fun when you're with stay out of the beach and see you on the green.

Paul Liberatore
Paul Liberatore

As the founder of Golfers Authority, Paul Liberatore Esq. has spent the last 7+ years writing about the best golf equipment and gear, and has been a writer for both GolfWRX and Sports Illustrated Golf. When not practicing law, Paul can also be found on his YouTube Channel, or heard on his syndicated Behind the Golf Brand podcast where he talks with the leaders of the golf industry.

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