We had the good fortune of connecting with Mike & Kelly Terwege and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mike & Kelly, is there something that you feel is most responsible for your success?
Two things come to mind regarding the success of our brand …
1) Staying true to the original vision of the brand. House of Jack Co. is rooted in the core values influenced by a small-town upbringing: dedication, integrity and hard work. Everyone knows a Jack … a hard-working, humble, straight-shooting guy, and our company was founded with “Jack” in mind. Whether Jack is a member of your family, or a friend, our vision was to create carry-every-day wallets he would like and want to carry. Our mission stays true to use premium leathers, produce top of the line quality and offer affordable prices.
2). Listening to our customers … Many of our best selling styles were born from customer requests. We stay close to our customer by answering our 1-800 number and answering customer emails. We have real conversations regarding wants, needs, wishes, etc. with those who take the time to call our office. We also keep a customer request list for reference when designing new styles. Reading reviews is part of our routine as well as being hands on with product daily. In short, we are connected at all key points to the business.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
The phrase “if you never try, you’ll never know” rings true with our story. We both had had careers when we began House of Jack Co. … Mike as a hair stylist for 25 years, and Kelly, all things product/sourcing/compliance for a global brand, 25 years as well. We were facing the mid century mark knowing we needed a change, and wanted to do something on our own.
In 2014, we began selling our leather wallets on the Etsy platform, and had 600 orders in our kitchen the first holiday season. From this point, we moved to our own website and Amazon, gift shows and Dallas and Atlanta markets. We never discussed “what if it doesn’t work” … because everything was on the line … it had to work. More importantly, we never gave ourselves an option to exit.
We are most proud of taking the risk to jump into entrepreneurship … to actually leave to the safety and stability of our past life which guaranteed a paycheck and benefits … and to make it out successfully on the other side.
Was it easy … absolutely not! We’ve faced major hurdles along the way, and most would’ve probably thrown in the towel. And, each hurdle proved more difficult than the last. Timing is crucial, and it’s ironic that some things didn’t work out when we wanted them to. You realize later you weren’t ready at that time, and the next time around when it works, you realize “now it’s time.” Entrepreneurship is a lesson of patience, timing, sacrifice and passion.
There have been God moments along the way as well which keep us moving forward knowing this is right where we are supposed to be.
Owning your own business is not for the faint of heart, and it’s the hardest job you’ll ever have (other than parenting). Situations you never expected will derail you; yet, you get up and put one foot in front of the other each day. If you know what you’re doing is your calling, you just keep on, keepin’ on.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Downtown McKinney, Texas with its historic town square is a great afternoon outing … stopping at Landon Winery for a glass of wine, or dinner at Rick’s Chophouse.
No visit to Dallas is complete without a stop at Fernando’s for Mexican food, at Cityline in Richardson.
Shopping trips would include Northpark and Legacy West.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Both of our families owned their own businesses, and because of this, we had fewer reservations about venturing out on our own. So, a huge shoutout to Cone and Betty, Jackie and Shelly and Mike and JoAnna for the exposure to a strong work ethic and to the art of customer appreciation. Not only did our families teach us “it can be done,” they demonstrated the grit and determination we would need to succeed.
Mentors in the retail industry include Mark Quick and Randy Lockard … we use something learned from either daily whether it is financial analysis, management, sales or customer relations. Both of these men were integral in Kelly’s life.
Kaleb Fulton @kalebfulton