BGBS 060: Tim Parr | CADDIS | Own Your Age
Most of us try our best to slow it down.
But can you blame us? How do we learn to embrace our age in a society that trains us to want to feel 15 years younger than we are?
Tim Parr’s company, CADDIS, is challenging those standards and redefining what it is to “age” in contemporary culture. CADDIS has a refreshing take on aging, rallying around the notion that it is absolutely right to be the age that you are, and beyond that, they demand that you own it.
Tim definitely knows what he’s doing, but don’t take it from us. Brands such as Patagonia, L.L. Bean, Filson, Burton, and many more have trusted his methods and guidance on big issues that steer ships over long periods of time. He has also conducted lectures at the Stanford School of Design, the San Francisco Academy of Art, and the California College of Arts. Before CADDIS, it all began with the founding of the iconic bike brand, Swobo. We also can’t forget touring with Tim’s Bluegrass band throughout the Western US and how learning guitar was an essential influence for CADDIS’s messaging today.
This episode celebrates the irreverence of 80s Thrasher magazines and emphasizes selling the message more than the product (though this product speaks for itself! I mean, check out the top of these rims). You’ll learn lots about building a brand in this episode, but if you forget it all, make sure you remember this: The fun lies in changing people’s minds.
[0:02] I think developing some type of talent as you recognize your passions is super important. If you just blindly go after your passions, I think it’s a good way to get hurt.
[8:45] It felt punk rock. It was like, okay, we’re going after a taboo subject matter that freaks the hell out of people. That seems like fun. And we’ll create this house called Age and the reading glasses are the door prize. Join our club and here’s your badge, which became the glasses.
[12:19] The dusted over, unsexy categories? That’s where the gold lies.
[17:37] I attribute a lot of how I was wired to the early 80s, Thrasher magazine…I viewed that as communication. And it was visual communication in a way that was very new. It was that irreverent part that that didn’t really exist before that. It was irreverence meets punk rock meets some form of street culture, fashion, all wrapped up into that magazine.
[19:20] I remember going through old W magazines and Vogues and the rest of them when I was like 10 years old and just rapidly flipping through because I didn’t care about the content, I cared about some type of communication… At the time I just thought, what were the hidden easter eggs inside this medium, to where I can get knowledge of what’s happening?
[25:38] I don’t know if we go into it trying to be the cool kids. That might be a byproduct of it. Or a semi-intended consequence. I have to just think it just boils down to: it’s just more fun. And then when you really kind of peel away the onion on it, it’s more profitable. Because there’s less people doing it, which makes it a whitespace.
[48:12] There’s no easy path. It doesn’t matter what it is or what gifts you have, they’re all hard.
LinkedIn: Tim Parr
Music Farming Nonprofit: musicfarming.org
Tim Parr 0:02
I think developing some type of talent as you recognize your passions is super important. If you just blindly go after your your passions, I think it’s a good way to get hurt. So for some reason, and it goes back to those, as you recognize it does early 80s, Thrasher magazines and you know, for the for most of my life I’ve been stewing on what works and what doesn’t work when you’re talking to people through this particular medium.
Marc Gutman 0:37
Podcasting from Boulder, Colorado, this is the Baby Got Backstory Podcast, where we dive into the story behind the story of today’s most inspiring storytellers, creators and entrepreneurs. I like big back stories and I cannot lie. I am your host, Marc Gutman, Marc Gutman, and on today’s episode of Baby Got Backstory, we’re talking about readers. That’s right. Those cheap glasses you buy at Walgreens the supermarket when you get older and can’t see so good. Well, not exactly those readers. We’re talking about cool rock and roll readers. Trust me, you’ll love it. And before we change your perception on what readers are and who they are for, here’s a gentle reminder.
If you like and enjoy the show, please take a minute or two to rate and review us over Apple podcasts or Spotify, Apple and Spotify use these ratings as part of the algorithm that determines ratings on their charts. Does anyone really listen to this and review us over at Apple podcasts and Spotify? Probably not. So let’s get on with the show.
Today’s guest is Tim Parr. Tim has both founded new companies as well as worked for some of the most respected brands in the lifestyle industries, brands such as Patagonia or being filson. Burton, and many more have trusted his methods and guidance on big issues that steer ships over long periods of time. In his conducted lectures at the Stanford School of Design, the San Francisco Academy of Art in the California College of Arts. It all began with the founding of the iconic bike brand Swobo. And then, as Tim puts it, elevated the shoveling Yak manure with Yvon Chouinard, the Patagonia throwing some years as a touring bluegrass musician, and now he has founded CADDIS, the brand that will redefine what it is to age in contemporary culture.
CADDIS is a unique brand, because they’re making readers cool. They’re helping their community to own their age. And this topic is especially resonant with me, as I think about age. I have an ageing father. And that gets me thinking about my own age a lot lately. And the truth is, I’ve never felt the right age. When I was young, I wanted to be old. And as I get older, as we all do, I want to be younger. I think it’s about time that I hear Tim’s message and own my age. Maybe it’s a message you need to hear as well. Tim power has had quite a journey, always able to follow his passions and start businesses. I am fascinated by Tim’s outlook on brand and business and I know you will be too. And this is his story.
I am here with Tim Parr, the founder of CADDIS and Tim, let’s let’s get right into it. What is CADDIS?
Tim Parr 3:55
CADDIS is a lifestyle brand that is specifically going after 45 to 65 year olds, which is a market that hasn’t seen lifestyle marketing branding, go after them. And go after is the wrong term. I would say rally around is a better way to put it.
Marc Gutman 4:16
Yeah. And to clarify a bit CADDIS also, I mean, you specialize at least your flagship product and your I see you’re starting to branch out a bit but your flagship product, you’re the product you started with readers, which is a very interesting kind of product to start with. Because I think the perception of readers as Walmart and old people and a lot of things, we can talk about that. But what really, I think is cool about this brand and I’d love to talk about it is right away right up front, you kind of you’re not selling readers, you’re selling this idea of owning your age and it being okay to grow older. And I can tell you personally, that’s something that I struggle with. It’s something that I have a really hard time with. And I think about a lot. So this idea of age is this is this something That’s that’s consumed You or been on your mind is as you start to grow older?
Tim Parr 5:03
No, not at all. And in fact, it wasn’t even prior to us selling anything, I was in the process of raising money. And before we had this clarity on on what we were really doing, which was what you just described, we were in the reader market. So, I mean, as a as a concept, and we were just, you know, we were selling cooler, hipper, and for terrible words to use, but they cut to the chase, reading glasses, you know, with a lifestyle marketing angle. That was the entirety of, of what we were selling. And then it wasn’t until prior to that, we weren’t selling anything. Up until this point, we were I had, I had six pairs of glasses, and I was trying to raise a little bit of money to get this thing off the ground.
So I was in a meeting with someone in San Francisco, at a at a venture capital place, and the person is, you know, going to the gym stood the product, and everything was lining up perfectly. And on the back of our packaging, there’s this quote, about aging, and just to own it, and they go, well, what’s this, and I had literally just slapped it on there in the 11th hour, subconsciously, it seems like a good idea at the time to call people out about how they think about aging. But But we hadn’t really delve into it. I go well, I just kind of think that people should own age. And they told me like, you can’t do that. And everyone wants to believe that they’re 15 years younger that they are, and this won’t work, you can’t do that. And meeting was over at that point, because of our position, which wasn’t even a position at a time. It was it was some flipping copy that I wrote on the back and had it printed on the packaging.
And then by the time I walked from that desk down to the street, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Like oh my god, like that’s what we’re doing. Like, we’re not in the reading glass market. Like there’s a whole much larger idea here. It was the first moment where I really found our why in our business, like why should we even matter? Like, why do we exist, and it feels just to cut different frames and put reading glass lenses in. It wasn’t enough. And then by the time I hit the street, it was I had it like that this is the business that we’re in, we’re in the business of owning age, just like Patagonia owns corporate stewardship, or, you know, Casper owns sleep or a way owns travel. Like we’re gonna own age. So that’s where it that’s basically where that’s where it came from.
Marc Gutman 7:58
Yeah. And it to this point, were you were you searching for that Why? Or like what was going on?
Tim Parr 8:03
Yeah, but I didn’t know it. Yes. It is on hindsight, because I wasn’t like I was in it, but I wasn’t fully bought into it. Like, okay, like this is a white space. Like the only product that’s on the market is $10 garbage from Walgreens or CVS. We know we can do the design, we know we can do the marketing. We know we don’t know. But we have a strong inclination that the market is there. We’re not the only ones that feel this way about the product and the experience of buying the product. But it wasn’t, it wasn’t enough and there hadn’t one foot in, and then after that meeting I had both feet in because at that point, it felt punk rock.
Like it was like, okay, we’re going we’re going after a taboo subject matter that freaks the hell out of people. Like that seems like fun. And we’ll we’ll create this house called age. And the reading glasses are the are the door prize? You know, it’s like, join our club. And here’s your here’s your here’s your badge, which became the glasses.
Marc Gutman 9:11
And so you said it wasn’t working? Like tangibly what wasn’t working for you? Like why? What was going on?
Tim Parr 9:17
I don’t, I didn’t, because I didn’t need to do it. And these things are hard. Let’s be honest, they’re really hard. Most of them don’t work. You know, it’s not my first one. It’s like my third or fourth one. So and it was like okay, it was just that So what, you know, okay, so what so so you found a niche to sell more reading glasses, and it wasn’t enough. And it again, remind you, I don’t have this type of foresight. This is all looking backwards and I can evaluate what was going through me after the fact and I didn’t have that that Big Picture, this is why we exist. We’re going to own age and we’re going to change how people feel about aging in an in this culture.
Marc Gutman 10:11
And so you’re walking out of that meeting, it hits you and and, you know, help me fill in the gaps if I’m if I’m not retelling the story. it hits you, it’s like a lightning bolt. It’s punk rock like, this is what we’re selling. Like, how did you know that that was the thing to hold on to now and that this was what you were going to the market, you were about to enter?
Tim Parr 10:33
So it was the thing that when I got that response from that person, who is a venture capitalist, who you know, has a very conservative, you know, point of view about a lot of stuff. And if I could get that reaction out of somebody, I can get a different reaction out of a subculture. So if if that person was so against that idea, if something tells me inside of me, I could tap into a crew, that would be the Yang to that ying.
Marc Gutman 11:14
So who was the first person that you ran, and said, I got this and told this?
Tim Parr 11:19
I remember, dialing my phone, because I had that we there is after, after I started, I grabbed four or five co founders with me to do the heavy lifting in the early days. So I remember running down the street in San Francisco and dialing each one of them saying, Okay, this is what we’re doing now. And it was that it was a 50/50. I don’t know. And all right, awesome. Sounds great. So yeah, I remember vividly.
Marc Gutman 11:53
And so like why even readers? So you mentioned that this is, you know, you’ve had multiple experiences in starting businesses. We’ll talk a bit about your past. I mean, you’ve had some great brand building experience in education, like of all the things, you know, and that you could have, you could have done like what, why readers?
Tim Parr 12:11
That’s exactly it’s the, your reaction to it is exactly why you should do it. And so the dusted over unsexy categories. That’s where the gold lies. Not the cool sexy categories. does sound kind of redundant, but I knew that’s where the fun lies, is to change people’s minds about things. So one, it’s a product that people need. And it’s a it’s a, by definition, it is a medical device. So people need it. It’s not like we were making another pair of denim jeans, or you know, something that you’d have to justify, you know, picking yet another pair for your closet or something. So there is there was that aspect to it. When I needed him, and I couldn’t find anything that worked. So I wanted to create the ones that I wanted. And it just felt right, because everyone thought, you know, like, Who? Who cares about readers. And if you go back to my pass, like I had a stint in cycling, and it was the same thing. It was like we went up against a black lacquer short. So it was almost like it was doing it all over again. I had another foe to go against it, which was the crappy $10 only option at the moment.
Marc Gutman 13:42
Yeah, and the way that I’m imagining it, and filling in the gaps of your story is that like you’re at Walmart or something, and you’re standing there looking at readers, and you’re like, these things are messed up. And it’s weird, like I you know, like, I don’t have a lot of experience with readers. And so it’s also confusing, you know, like, when I first became aware of your company, I was like, do I need readers? You know, like, how do they work? And there’s like this magnification, there’s this kind of like this weird thing around them. They’re not, you know, I think I grew up where you you go to the optometrist, and you get glasses or whatever, you know, they tell you, you it’s not like really the self diagnostic thing.
And to your point, I think, to me, readers just seemed like this thing that you did, because maybe you couldn’t afford glasses or like like, like it was like a stopgap or something. But that that’s neither here nor there. Was this how it happened? Where you were you you mentioned, you needed readers, readers standing there in front of the display being like this thing. This is this is just messed up.
Tim Parr 14:36
Yeah. And I don’t wear glasses, normal eyewear until I need reading glasses. So the whole process of corrective eyewear, I had no clue. I didn’t know how things get fixed. So I was down in Malibu and I was killing time. So I walk into this optometry shop.
I’m like, I got this problem or I can’t see and like oh yeah, you reading glasses, pick a frame. And we’ll, you know, we’ll figure out what you need. And we’ll pop them in, we’ll send it to you in 10 days or so. All right, I guess that’s how it works. And I don’t know. But I started looking at the frames I want and there’s, you know, between 300-800. And then I had to wait like 10 days and long story short, I ended up getting nothing. And walking out of there just thinking something’s broken here. And I asked the guy in the story go like, Is it true? Like, either I’m spending $10 at Walgreens? Or I’m spending $400 here? And is that kind of it?
He goes, Oh, no, no, no. So he goes in the back of the store, pulls open a drawer, you know, it optometry store in Malibu, it’s just like, you know, like a beautiful merchandise thing. The readers were all crammed into a drawer in the back. And they’re like, purple and blue, and like cateye, and you know, they fold 800 different ways. And it goes, Well, you can choose from any of these. And, you know, those are like 40 bucks, or, like, really, like, That’s it, I’m going to put these things on my face. And that’s the spectrum of choice that I’m looking at. So it was like one of those classic situations where, you know, person needed thing thing didn’t exist, go make the thing that you want. So that’s, that’s basically how it all started, was from that moment, and then did some homework and you know, reading glasses 90% of people in this country will need them at some point over the age of 40.
Marc Gutman 16:39
That’s a great stat when you’re starting a business and looking for a target market.
Tim Parr 16:44
Yeah, 90, 90% of people over 40.
Marc Gutman 16:49
And that’s my that’s my case, you know, these are reading glasses. I don’t wear them all the time I wear I’m in front of the computer. And exactly to your point. I mean, I felt like I had two options was Walgreens, so the optometrist and end up going to the optometrist. And here I could have been doing things a lot different. And so Tim, what I get is this real sense, though, that, that you have this this quality about you that you look, and notice when things are broken, and where things don’t make sense. And so and I could gather that’s probably you can you can tell me if it’s untrue, but you know, looking at your past experience as well, that kind of holds true that you’re a serial entrepreneur. I mean, it was not always the case for you.
Like when you were a young, young kid, were you looking around the world and being like this, this is this isn’t working, or this is, this is what I want to do. Like, where were you like, as a kid, were you entrepreneur?
Tim Parr 17:37
No, but I think I attribute a lot of how I was wired to early 80s, Thrasher magazine.
Marc Gutman 17:48
Which I am a massive fan of, you probably aren’t a big fan of Baby got Backstory, but I talked about it a lot on the podcast, and it’s a whole reason I moved to California after I went to college, because I had fallen in love with the beautiful imagery of Venice Beach, only to realize that none of that was true. You know, it was Venice was it was it was a lot harder. And their kids, those kids who had really hard lives, but I thought it was awesome.
And so I’m a big fan, so I can’t wait to hear where you’re going with this.
Tim Parr 18:15
So I viewed that as communication. And it was a it was it was visual communication in a way that was very new. It was that irreverent, you know, part that that didn’t really exist. Before that. It was it was it was irreverence meets punk rock meets some form of street culture, fashion, all wrapped up into into that magazine. And I remember, I remember doing that. And with something like let’s say, I mean, back in the day, it was like action now or surfer magazine, just flipping through the pages as a teenager or even younger, and registering what was right or what was wrong, just from just from cues. And I think that had a much larger impact on me than just about anything in my life.
And I remember my mom used to collect a lot of fashion magazines and I would do the same through those I’m or going through old, old web magazines and Vogue and the rest of them now has like 10 years old or something and just rapidly flipping through because I didn’t care about the content and I cared about some type of communication and like I would just I wouldn’t know it until I saw it and then I would see it and at the time I could just kill I just thought like okay, well what’s what’s talking what’s cool, what can I what were the hidden hidden almost like easter eggs inside this inside this medium, to where I can I can get knowledge of of what’s out. happening. And I put most of how I am from those early days.
Marc Gutman 20:07
Do you have a sense of where that came from? And where your parents in the communication were they into That kind of stuff?
Tim Parr 20:13
No, it’s probably a lack of.
I mean, to this day, it’s probably why I started companies is so I can talk to people.
Marc Gutman 20:21
Yeah. And were you Where did you grow up? Was it Southern California, Northern. And so when you were growing up in Northern California, and you’re looking at these magazines, like, what did you think you wanted to do with your life? Like, were you your kind of plans at that point?
Tim Parr 20:37
I didn’t have any. It was it was to surf and skate. And that was my plans. So my whole existence in high school was surfing and skating. And then when I got to senior year, it was okay, how can I get to live on the beach? And to really do that was UCSB because you are living on the beach. So that’s where I ended up going to school so I could serve, you know, and it’s just it. It was trying to just find that critical path of the least that I had to do in order to achieve the lifestyle that I really wanted. So I went to UCSB so I could serve, you know, got out of there with a 2.0. And then, you know, just kind of started figuring stuff out after that. But it was it was really that drove everything.
Marc Gutman 21:24
Yeah, and were you interested in anything other than surfing at UCSB did you start to think like, hey, like, there might be something else out there? Was it all surf all the time?
Tim Parr 21:34
Yeah, it kind of was, you know, living in it after that and lived in a van and, and that was in riding mountain bikes. You know, mountain biking was just coming on the scene and the to complement each other really well. So now I can’t really say I thought past the next month.
Marc Gutman 21:54
So when would you say you got your first real job?
Tim Parr 21:57
I’m still working on it.
Marc Gutman 22:02
I like that. That’s you, you’ve mastered that. But it did look like that you had some experience at some other companies prior to starting your own?
Tim Parr 22:13
Yeah, I would say the first real job was the company that I started, which was called Swobo. In the in the cycling industry. And before that I was you know, racing bikes. And I was lifeguarding or something, you know, just to make ends meet. But yeah, the first job real job was simply one that I created.
Marc Gutman 22:34
And what’s the story behind that?
Tim Parr 22:37
It was early 90s, mid 90s. It was and the answer to the to what was happening in cycling. So you had at that point suspension fork had come to mountain bikes, which opened up the category immensely. And you had snowboarding’s snowboarders in the summertime now hopping on mountain bikes, because there were now fun because of suspension and, and became relevant to a much broader group of people rather than cyclist. So, when that started getting off the ground, the apparel world was still just black lycra shorts and jerseys from Europe, you know, tight like rich jerseys. So we were credited with kind of changing the look of, of mountain biking culture, in a way. And not unlike reading glasses. I mean, the first product that we had, we were we were, besides the traditional one or two, three vendors that had been doing it for last 100 years, we were the ones to bring back first bring back wool jerseys. So we brought back a traditional fabric that no one wanted anymore. And then we paired it with a with a bike messenger kind of punk culture. And we urbanized so cycling before that was pretty tight, a, you know, serious athletics, blah, blah, blah. And what we wanted to do was just take that and change it. So people fixated on the bicycle itself, and the lifestyle around a bicycle that one could have without needing to be an Uber athlete.
Marc Gutman 24:22
And then was that business plan the way you just articulated it? Was it that concrete and thought out at the time, or were you just like, Hey, I like cycling. I like mountain biking. Like, I want to do something cool. Like Like, where did it land on that spectrum? I mean, were you really saying like I could make this a disruptive business?
Tim Parr 24:40
We didn’t use that word back then because I don’t think it existed. Because it was early 90s. But yeah, I think there was that mentality because we just watched what snowboarding did to skiing, right? Which was massive, right? It turned to ski on its head. So we saw that there’s a similar thing you could do in the streets, specifically, and in urban centers with, with the bicycle and with cycling, like modern cycling. So, yeah, I think it was pretty conscious actually.
Marc Gutman 25:21
And so what is it about that idea that that punk rock counterculture idea that, you know, we’re gonna come into a category and disrupt it say, hey, like we’re the cool kids? Like, what is it about that for you that that’s appealing?
Tim Parr 25:38
I don’t know, if we go into it trying to be the cool kids. That might be a byproduct of it. Or in semi intended consequence.
But what is it about that? I have to just think it just boils down to it’s just more fun to write. And, and then when you really kind of peel away the onion on it, it’s more profitable. Because there’s less people doing it, which makes it a whitespace. So if you can, which makes your marketing cost lower, right. So if you’re not competing with it with similar messages, there’s less noise, therefore you can maximize whatever it is that you are saying. So I mean, that’s not anything that I was conscious of at the time. But in hindsight, if you’re to look at why would you do that, there’s economic reasons for doing it. And there’s reasons to do it. Because it’s, I just find it way more fun.
Marc Gutman 26:46
Then, as you were trading this new brand, it’s Swobo I have that right? Kind of like with? Yeah,
Tim Parr 26:51
yes. S W O B O
Marc Gutman 26:53
Yeah. Swobo? Like, were you getting resistance? Where people not happy with you, you know, that we’re the establishment in the category? Oh, yeah.
Tim Parr 27:04
Yeah, there are plenty people who are not happy with us. And that’s how you rally the people who are happy with you.
You know, but, uh, you know, it’s a fine line. And I think we had incredible respect for all the right things, and no respect for things that didn’t matter. So when if you were, so when we were do the trade show, I would have bank messenger from New York City, you know, let’s say 25 years old blue hairs, you know, piercings all over their face, holding up the same piece of clothing as like a 65 year old nostalgics skater or skater, cyclist, they could point to the same thing and go, that’s cool.
And I and that’s always been a goal of mine is is to make the product almost agnostic to the message, make the message be the product, and articulate that better than most. So, so so so that there is old school cyclists that really appreciated what we were doing, and respected the craft of the, of the merino wool and, and the heritage of it and bringing it back and caring about it. And then there is a kids in the streets that were stoked, because it wasn’t all, you know, super clean athletes that the sport was about.
Marc Gutman 28:33
Yeah. And you said, and I’ll paraphrase, because I probably won’t get it get it totally right. But it was this idea about make the message, you know, something bigger than the product and articulate it better than most. And that’s a pretty, like, advanced sort of idea. You know, I don’t think most people just enter the market and think think that way. Now, was that something that was intrinsic to you that that came natural to you? Or did you learn this idea that like, hey, you’re really selling something else, something bigger than the actual product? Was that was that something you actually learned or that just come naturally?
Tim Parr 29:10
It came naturally. I didn’t learn it anywhere. I think it’s just instincts
Marc Gutman 29:15
Some good instincts.
Tim Parr 29:16
Good. Thank you. It sounds like taking it. So you say you take a very true the most traditional piece of cycling apparel you could possibly make, which is the the wool jersey. And then when we first came out, we had a model, this woman with a short crop punky like purple hair. And like that picture was spread everywhere. Every media channel picked it up. I mean, it leads people to ask the question, What’s going on here? It’s not so straightforward. And that’s something that I always am shooting for, is the brand is always on a journey to keep people engaged on a level to where they Asking questions rather than a brand just pushing answers back out.
Marc Gutman 30:09
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And so as you’re as you’re building this brand, is your building slow, like, What’s going on there? I mean, did you know that? I mean it? Was it just a rocket ship from the beginning? Or were you?
Tim Parr 31:20
No it was a shit show! It was my first business.
Marc Gutman 31:29
What happens to what happened with that business were to ultimately go,
Tim Parr 31:32
I sold it to Santa Cruz bicycles.
Marc Gutman 31:35
it was it was not a good was that a good sale for you?
Tim Parr 31:38
No, no. No, but you know, it’s, it’s it’s live and learn. You know, I’ve been asked this a lot, you know, like, would you consider it a success? And what would you do different? And mainly people ask like, well, what would you do different. And I honestly wouldn’t do a single thing different.
I would have. I mean, it was pain, like to liquidate, you know the brand when you’re young and and to take that one right in the chops, dealing with some unsavory invest investors. But come the end of the day, like we had a mission to change the way people thought about the bicycle. And I think we we helped in that in some way, shape or form. So it was a success. We learned a lot. It sucked in many ways at towards the end. But at the same time. I just I know it sounds cliche, but I just when seriously wouldn’t change a single thing.
Marc Gutman 32:43
And so coming out of that experience you you liquidate did you go work for Santa Cruz or did
Tim Parr 32:47
no no’s actually, like that same month, I got a call from Patagonia CEO. They’re saying we have this surf business that’s fledgling and can you come and fix it.
Marc Gutman 32:59
And was Yvonne, Yvonne are the CEO at the time.
Tim Parr 33:03
He was not his name is Michael crook. And that’s who called me. And then Luckily, I did get to work with Avon because Avon was very passionate and wanted this thing to work, it was going to work. So he wanted to make sure that it was somewhat hands on so to this day, I consider myself incredibly lucky to have you know, driven up and down the California coast with him and go out to the ranch to Hollister ranch and just have long conversations with him about all kinds of stuff.
Marc Gutman 33:36
So I imagined that had to be an incredibly well maybe not like what you’re hoping for for someone to offer you a job if someone’s gonna offer you a job after your first business to get the call from Patagonia to come get involved in something you love and care so deeply about surfing. I had to be pretty awesome.
Tim Parr 33:53
It was great. It was great again lucky. So I was there a year year and a half and it was turned it around. It was successful. People were happy Yvonne was happy. And then from there started a brand consultancy.
Marc Gutman 34:09
So why not stay at Patagonia why why start a brand consultancy?
Tim Parr 34:15
Because we were living still up in up in Noe Valley, California, which was a plane flight away from Ventura. So I was literally flying down Monday mornings, and I’d leave the house about 4am to get to the airport for a six o’clock flight. I’d stay down to Ventura till Thursday night, and then fly home Thursday night and do it all over again Monday morning. And so I did that for a year. That was a big part why
Marc Gutman 34:46
I’m exhausted just listeningto you talk about it, I can only imagine. I get it and so you decide that you’re going to part ways and you you form a brand consultancy. Like how did that go? It was
Tim Parr 35:00
Again, I see I feel that was another gift. I mean, anytime people welcome you into their home like that. So that was fun. So I called it par Goldman and burn. And there was no Goldman and there was no burn. But sounds. Yeah, it worked up until I was I was in the boardroom of LL Bean. And I just delivered a project that I’d spent. God knows how long eight months maybe. Can’t remember. And it all went well. And I had my business card there picks it up. And the guy looks at he goes, Okay, so where’s Goldman and burn? I go, Oh, you know, Oscar Goldman from the $6 million, man. Yeah, I guess.
Well, I kind of wish that he was my partner, but he’s not really my partner. And then David Burns from the talking heads. I love that guy, too. So I wish he was my partner, but he’s not really my partner. Okay, I think it’s funny. They didn’t think it was funny.
Marc Gutman 35:58
They didn’t think it was funny? I mean, like, from from the, if you’re gonna hire a brand consultancy, it might as well be one that’s like, you know, having made a partner’s of their boyhood dreams, you know, and
Tim Parr 36:10
the logo looked really regal. You know, if the shield if you look really closely, there’s like a Shaka inside shield. So that was like the giveaway that maybe something was up.
Marc Gutman 36:23
Literally, you had a part with LLBean and as a customer, because
Tim Parr 36:26
oh, no, no, no, it was it was over it because I had delivered the goods. And I was done. But it was the only time that that name didn’t work. And, you know, I had great and fantastic clients like Kona mountain bikes. To this day, I’m still close friends with and Patagonia and a lot of outdoor industry or sports or surf related, talking about big, you know, big strategic thinking around brands. And I remember having one meeting where it was just painful, as in every consultant has, has these clients.
And I just remember walking out thinking I’m done. And I remember reading this quote, which I thought is so brilliant. And it never occurred to me, but the quote was in order to do something different, you can’t do things the same. Yeah. So if I don’t want to do this anymore, like I need to stop doing this. Like right now. I can just stop and I need to do something different. And that’s when I stopped consulting.
Marc Gutman 37:31
And it was it was it as cut and dry. Is that did you fire? You know, fire any existing clients?
Tim Parr 37:37
well, they were not? Oh, well, I was I was not I ran out a couple of clients. You know, I did tell him that I was kind of closing up shop. And yeah, and then that was that.
Marc Gutman 37:49
What was your personal life? Like at this time? Did you have a family did you have? Yeah. And so what was that conversation like?
Tim Parr 37:57
Well, it gets better because then I think a month after that, I decided that I was going to learn guitar and start a bluegrass band and tour the United States, the western United States. So my, my wife has a successful dance business in in Northern California. So we were able to I could work for the dance business, doing marketing related things while I was on the road playing music. So it all kind of worked out in a way. So I joined the family business for a while. And played music.
Marc Gutman 38:36
Yeah, how did that that musical career go?
Tim Parr 38:40
It was super fun. I mean, I didn’t really know how to do any of it. So I spent time learning how to learn, which was interesting. And a lot of this with the music was a catalyst for what we’re doing now with CADDIS because I had to learn I had to learn how to learn being at the time in my mid 40s, late 40s. And your brain is different.
So there’s a strategy to learning something difficult, like acoustic guitar, you know, flat picking bluegrass, and, and you don’t want to waste time when you’re that age. So I did a lot of reading on how to learn and then got a really good teacher. And I was practicing six, seven hours a day and to get up to speed. But a lot of that process is is context for your this whole aging platform of what is now CADDIS. This is actually before CADDIS was even created. So it’s all it all kind of leads to where we are today.
Marc Gutman 39:51
Yeah, and you mentioned that we we learn differently and their strategies for that. Like are you able to talk at like a high level like, what those are like?
Tim Parr 40:00
So, I mean, specifically for music, let’s just stick to a sentence. So it’s concrete. But I’m sure you can apply it to a lot of different things. You have to really pinpoint what you want to learn, break it up to a bunch of different pieces. Don’t spend any more than 15 to 20 minutes on, like, focus on it. And then go just like put it down and go do something else, like completely leave it and then go back and do it all over again. And you have to break everything down in small chunks of material and in time. And there’s a consistency to it.
Which makes your your learning curve, do this instead of this, which isn’t 100% true, because eventually you do this and you plateau. And then you kind of need to find these incremental gains. But in a nutshell, it’s and this is complete layman’s terms, but it’s break things into small chunks. Don’t spend, you know, hours and hours kind of dwelling on IT spend like because your mind will wander, like spend 15 2030 minutes in a real deep dive, and then chill out and go do something else. And then come back to it and deep dive again.
Marc Gutman 41:17
Well, thanks for sharing, that’s awesome. Like, I just assumed we kind of had a normal learning pattern throughout our lives, I didn’t realize that we, we learn differently as we as we grow older.
Tim Parr 41:27
Yeah, the brain, the brain changes. And one of the best things you can do for your brain as you age is learn music. Because it’s one of the few things if you think about it, you’re using audio, you’re hearing something, you’re thinking about something you’re acting, there’s a physical action to it. And then you have to, you know, recreate there’s the hand movement, his left hand, right, and it basically hits every lobe on your brain.
Marc Gutman 41:56
Well, you just gave me permission to tell my wife, I’m going to read new guitar for the 10th time in my career. I think I picked it up and set it down too many times. But I love that. And so after the the music career did is that when you started CADDIS?
Tim Parr 42:11
Yes. So it was actually during, you know, I thought I could do both. So I’m going to start this company. I’ll tour I can work out of the van, you know, with my laptop. All good. That’s a bad idea. Let the record show that that’s a bad idea.
Marc Gutman 42:34
You heard it here first.
Why do that you made the comment, I think earlier in our conversation that you probably really didn’t have to do this like this, you didn’t have to start another company. Sounds like that you had the ability to work for the family business and pursue your dream of playing bluegrass on the road. Like, isn’t that enough? Like why? Like, why start a company? You know, at this point in your life and what what you have going on?
Tim Parr 43:02
Yeah, it got to a point where I couldn’t not do it. Like it was it was irresponsible of me like to do it and not to do it. If I didn’t do it. Like it was like, Okay, my circle of friends are my contacts are the people to do this thing. If you don’t do this thing. Someone’s gonna do it. And it’s, it may not be as good. So you have to go do this thing now.
Marc Gutman 43:34
And were you starting to circulate this idea and get positive reinforcement? Or was this just bubbling up in the back of your own mind?
Tim Parr 43:40
No Yeah, I was getting I was getting a mixed bag. Some people just didn’t get it. And some people really got it. And it took a friend of mine. I just came back from playing. You know where it was it was we played the the the telluride Bluegrass Festival. And I remember coming as long as drive home and and I went to dinner a couple days later with a friend of mine. who at the time was, I believe he’s the CEO of Nixon watches. And he asked me like, and I’ve known him forever. And he goes, well, where are you at with this reading glass idea? He didn’t told me about it. Oh, yeah. Looking into this and I’m looking into that and, and he just he saw right through the bullshit. He goes, No goes you start that tomorrow.
Okay, so then I came home and told my wife what Scott told me and and I, what do you think she’s like, Well, what do you think? Oh, all right, let’s let’s do it. You know, because you got to have everyone on board because as we noted earlier, they’re hard and they take a toll on everybody. So kind of got the sign off on it. And away we went, but It was that feeling of, like, you can’t not do it. I was gonna say it’s just too late, like it got to be too late.
Marc Gutman 45:11
And so I love imagining like, you know, Scott just giving you the tough love. And
Tim Parr 45:15
Oh, he gave me that the talk, dropping,
Marc Gutman 45:18
Dropping truth bombs. And so like, what was the first thing you did after that? Like, how did you get started?
Tim Parr 45:24
So I knew I didn’t want it well. So I had I brought it up to a certain point. And I don’t even know what that point was at this juncture. But then I knew I didn’t want to do it alone. And I knew if I was going to do it, I wanted to do it with the best people that I’ve ever worked with. And so I made a couple of email calls, I think the first one was to Dustin Robertson, who was at bat country calm forever, who I’d known through my suavo days and ran by him. And he just sent me like this email back that says, Okay, let’s go. And that was that. And so him and then it kind of trickled to my partner at suavo, which was, you know, 20 years prior, if not longer, getting him on board. A friend, Enoch Harris, those were the three cores. And then those people, new people, and then it grew out to think five people total by tally watch it, but I wasn’t going to go it alone. I’ve done that before. And there’s no reason to do it. You need really good, experienced people to get something like this going.
Marc Gutman 46:46
Yeah. And that, that leads me I was gonna ask, like, as you’re assembling this team, this kind of a tribute band, so to speak of, of players like we actually what are you looking for? Like, what do you what are you thinking? You know, because obviously experience but you know, that’s, that’s pretty easy. What else are you looking for in these in these people that you’re bringing on board to help you achieve this goal?
Tim Parr 47:07
Personality types. So I know that these things are rollercoasters. So, you know, people that the shits gonna hit the fan, and, you know, it’s all gonna be okay. I mean, most of these people who I started with, I’ve known for over 25 years. So, you know, we’re gonna succeed together or fail together. And both were okay.
Marc Gutman 47:36
So now that you’ve built up catalysts, and it’s it’s got momentum, it’s turning into this brand that stands for more than than just readers. But like, what’s hard about it? Like, what don’t we know? Like, what’s hard about the reader business?
Tim Parr 47:50
Oh, you know, it’s not the reader business as hard as businesses that are hard. So, I mean, I wouldn’t really say that the reader business is hard, because they’re all hard, you know, it doesn’t matter. I don’t care what you’re doing. This is something like I’ve given talks at, at colleges or whatever, and you get a lot of questions, and there’s no easy path. It doesn’t matter what it is, or what gifts you have, like, they’re all hard, especially in I shouldn’t say especially, that’s biased, I’m biased to think that when you make stuff, like the amount of crap that can go wrong, on any given moment, you know, from shipments being bad to boot, you know, fabrics that bleed into, you know, and, and all kinds of, there’s just a myriad of things that can happen.
So, I mean, into right now, today, you know, the company is growing really fast. And we’re just, you know, we’re adding people at a fast rate. And, you know, the hardest thing is seeing it, it’s always been the same thing. And we are a remote business. So that’s part of the beauty. And the challenge is that we’ve always been a remote business. So So communication will always be a challenge. You know, how we move ideas around and get projects done. But I mean, in a nutshell, answer your question. I think they’re all just hard. And
Marc Gutman 49:23
So one of the things that I think is really cool and distinguishable about your brand is on the top of I don’t even know what you call the top of the frame here. I’m sure you have.
Tim Parr 49:31
I don’t know either.
Marc Gutman 49:33
Okay, there’s not like a fancy name. I was like, he’s gonna tell me it’s like,
Tim Parr 49:37
I’m not saying that there’s not a fancy name. I’m telling you. I don’t know what it is.
Marc Gutman 49:42
But you have things like regular and Goofy over the eyes, imprinted on the frame, I think Yeah, a port and starboard one. Where does that come from? Like, where the whose idea was that and why why do you that?
Tim Parr 49:55
Kind of why not? returns on these. So these are the Another Mr. cartoons. So there’s what he says is Canada and that he, which is left and right in Spanish. There’s port starboard Goofy, regular. It seemed like a good surface. Somehow.
Marc Gutman 50:16
Yeah, under utilized. No one else is doing it. It’s really, yeah, it’s really, really cool. I mean, it’s
Tim Parr 50:24
Maximize your assets.
Marc Gutman 50:28
And so you know, you just showed us the the Mr. cartoon, what’s your favorite frame? Is it the Mr. Cartoon? Or is there
Tim Parr 50:35
I don’t have one. And I always compare this. I listen to Terry Gross, interviewed Keith Richards. And she asked him what his favorite song was. And she just, he just ripped her head off, saying how, ah, Jerry, it’s like trying to pick a favorite child. You don’t do that then other than that, so I kind of feel the same way.
Marc Gutman 50:58
Yeah, well, I agree, kids. And I’ll tell you right now I have a favorite. It’s not always the same one. It changes from time to time, but at any given time, I do have a favorite one that says they don’t lie.
Tim Parr 51:11
Okay, you’re probably true. me close Miklos? I would say. And this is my favorite
Marc Gutman 51:18
Story about Keith Richards makes me think you know, I know that you work with a lot of like really cool influencers and ambassadors that are like aging athletes and surfers and musicians. But who have you seen where your product that you didn’t have a relationship with that just really like blew your mind? You’re like, I can’t believe the day that they’re wearing my stuff.
Tim Parr 51:42
Man. Lately, there’s been a few you know, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Julia Louis, Julianne Moore. Did girl. And I heard that Shepard Fairey has Pete Souza, the White House photographer. So they’re just I mean, it’s like Katie Couric? Yes, posting about them and doing okay. So like, I don’t run in those circles, obviously. So it’s, it’s cool when you see that and people have, there’s a lot of pride around the discovery.
And the people that take selfies, you know, and are posting and saying that, like, I support this, you know, and without any prompting from us, I think it’s fantastic. It means that the, the communication is leaving, and it’s coming back, that it’s been received. And to me that’s like, I don’t care if I die tomorrow, like when people do that with our brand. It’s, it’s the Holy Grail.
Marc Gutman 52:54
And so as you’re building this brand, as you’re spreading this message, what’s next for CADDIS? Where do you want this thing to go?
Tim Parr 53:00
What we’re gonna do is, is further develop this idea of owning age. So beyond reading glasses, and one of the first things we’re doing is we’re starting a newsletter that’s going to grow into something bigger, but that’s called humongous living. And then, from humongous living, we’ve just started a new nonprofit called music farming.org, which I’m super excited about, because the company from the get go, took 1% of gross revenue. And we and we gave it to music education programs across the United States.
That’s a soft spot for me personally, what was happening, we’re growing so fast that that bucket of cash grew to a size that I couldn’t manage. So the idea is, okay, let’s pull it out of CADDIS create a separate entity to which other brands can contribute it into and we actually grow this thing where we can start helping people doing the hard work on the, you know, in the trenches, getting instruments, paying teachers, whatever they need, so that we can make make music education, something important again in this country.
Marc Gutman 54:26
And that is Tim Parr, founder of CADDIS. As I reflect on our conversation, Tim said something to me that I can’t get out of my head. He said, that’s where the fun lies in changing people’s minds. And I couldn’t agree more. I thought Tim’s journey was full of gold nuggets about building a brand and building a business. But if you were to take one thing away from this conversation, it’s sell the message more than the product is a big thank you. In part and the cat is team. I love this mission you’re on to help people own their age. I could probably use a little of that secret sauce myself.
We will link to all things Tim Parr, CADDIS, and music farming, the nonprofit Tim discussed in the episode in the show notes. And if you know of a guest who should appear on our show, please drop me a line at email@example.com our best guests like Tim, come from referrals from past guests and our listeners. Well, that’s the show. Until next time, make sure to visit our website www.wildstory.com where you can subscribe to the show in iTunes, Stitcher or via RSS so you’ll never miss an episode I like big stories and I cannot lie. You other storytellers can’t deny.