We had the good fortune of connecting with Jeff Kauffman and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Jeff, what role has risk played in your life or career?
You should engineer risks to be asymmetrical. Meaning, the return is 10x whatever the investment is. Most people miss asymmetrical risks because it’s usually something right under their nose. You need to lean into the skills and connections you already have. I like to ask this question when taking risks, “what’s my unfair advantage?”. If you have an unfair advantage, then you’re return is likely 10x the investment. When I founded Deep Ellum Denim, my unfair advantage was that I’d spent 10+ years working in social media and knew that I could get the word out at a very low cost. From there, the products themselves generated enough word-of-mouth to fuel growth.
What should our readers know about your business?
Deep Ellum Denim focuses on raw selvedge denim. It’s the way denim was originally made and is something you’ll enjoy more with wear.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Deep Ellum of course. You can spend the entire weekend in Deep Ellum and not experience everything. Our favorite bars are Shoals, Thunderbird, Twilight Lounge, and Doublewide.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
The most impactful book I’ve ever read was Shoe Dog, by Phil Knight, the founder of Nike. It gave me the confidence to commit to a 15-year entrepreneurial journey, rather than buying into the path that most venture capitalists push. VC’s are operating on much shorter time horizons, along with most people. If you shift your focus to a 15-year journey, you’re playing a game that 99.9% of people aren’t even considering. Success is almost guaranteed if you stick to your gut and grind it out. If you start super small and grow at 50-100% per year, you’ll be amazed at how far you can go in 15 years. I think the mistake most people make is they try to be too big too soon, rather than starting small and growing exponentially.