Welcome to another episode of The Hard To Kill Podcast! In today’s episode, we’re diving headfirst into the wild story of Nick Stroesser, the unstoppable force behind Corporal 4 Life Apparel. From joining the reserves to opening a second store during a global pandemic, Nick’s journey has been one rollercoaster ride. Buckle up, folks, because we’re about to take you on an irreverent adventure through the highs and lows of entrepreneurship, military life, and booze. Get ready for some unfiltered truth bombs!
Listen on The Hard To Kill Podcast
Basic Training Blues
Nick’s journey began in 2001 when he bravely joined the E and K Scotts in Windsor. After surviving basic training in Meaford during the summer of that year, fate decided to throw a curveball his way – September 11, 2001. Yeah, remember that?
Gate Guard Glory
Fast forward to 2006, and Nick found himself serving in Afghanistan as part of the defense and security platoon. His role as a gate guard might not have been the stuff of Hollywood movies, but damn, it was important. Nick takes pride in the fact that they kept the camp safe. You’ll hear the story straight from the horse’s mouth, folks.
From T-Shirts to Booze
After his military adventures, Nick ventured into the world of entrepreneurship with Corporal 4 Life. Starting with selling t-shirts online, he eventually went big, setting up shop in armories and even securing a kiosk at a local mall. But wait, there’s more! Nick didn’t stop there. When life gave him COVID, he said, “Hold my beer!” (And speaking of beer, you’ll love this part).
Nick’s Boozy Collaboration
In a stroke of genius, Nick pivoted his business and decided to partner up with Black Alley Distilling in New Brunswick. Rum, vodka, and gin with the Corporal 4 Life logo? Hell yeah! Nick saw potential, leaving no stone unturned when it comes to building his brand and reaching a broader market. We raise our glasses to this entrepreneurial concoction.
And that, my friends, is the wild and unfiltered journey of Nick Stroesser. From basic training to resilient entrepreneurship, this guy has seen it all. So, next time life throws you a curveball, just remember Nick’s story. Whether it’s guarding gates or popping bottles, it’s all about having the guts to push forward and make your dreams happen.
Cheers to you, Nick, and here’s to the next adventure! Don’t forget to tune in to The Hard To Kill Podcast for more remarkable stories of resilience and success. Stay hard, stay focused, and keep pushing forward in your own pursuits!
Nick Stroesser [00:00:00]:
What you just said is is bang on accurate for, I’m sure, every entrepreneur. And if you again, if you just stay at the table, it’s unreal what can happen if you don’t if you don’t shut her down. So one of the big things being a veteran entrepreneur was I started to tap into my army experiences if this and and POQ, just anything, man. It could be an exercise from when I was 18 years old. You you can just remember. Don’t give up, man. In just 1 more fucking step, 1 more step, like, that every
Dave Morrow [00:00:28]:
single day. Pitter patter.
Nick Stroesser [00:00:29]:
Exactly. T shirts that get floppy
Dave Morrow [00:00:31]:
in the arms after 10 washes. So that’s why I create a bunch of t shirts with high quality cotton just for you so that you can go to the gym and look fresh, sport some philosophy, and smash those PRs looking Good. So you need to head to davemorrell.net/merch. Grab yourself a hat. Grab yourself a t shirt. Grab yourself a sweater and support the
Nick Stroesser [00:00:58]:
if today. If
Dave Morrow [00:01:06]:
Hey, folks. Sitting down with Nick from Corporal For Life, and I was just chatting before we, we got recording here, how he’s been an inspiration for a lot of us in the venture space here in Canada. So timeline, I started seeing his shirts. I thought it was around 2012. He’s like, no. It’s not possible. It had to be around 2015. And that makes a lot of sense because I just saw, like, you lost stuff online, lost saw some memes.
Dave Morrow [00:01:30]:
Like, that’s a novel approach. This is well before I got into the business space too, and then I started seeing the shirts. So, like, I got my, if Just the tip shirt on. Nick’s rocking his too. Well, nothing just the tip shirt, but, which one is that? That is
Nick Stroesser [00:01:44]:
Junior ranks mess.
Dave Morrow [00:01:46]:
If Junior ranks mess. And the thing I love about the I’m I was just gonna say the thing I love about the brand is that it’s Corporal for life. It’s grimy. I was still an NCO when I saw all this stuff. And I was like, hells, yeah. I’m like, not this r m c RMC if High end, like like like, thinking the air type business. No. This is grimy.
Dave Morrow [00:02:07]:
He’s got the double chevrons going if This is exactly what I wanna see, and it’s cool to have you on the podcast. And I I wanna know so much more about how you got started and and where you intend to take the business. So, Nick, welcome to the podcast, and, let’s start for those that haven’t heard. Because don’t forget, man, I I got a lot of Americans that are listening. Almost, Yeah. Almost 60% of the audience is Americans. So, you know, this might be a great way to to connect with, a lot of, American veterans as well, American armed forces members. So, Nick, what’s your what’s your backstory, man? How’d you get involved, well, a, I guess, in the military, and then how did it lead to getting into entrepreneurship?
Nick Stroesser [00:02:42]:
First, thank you for having me on. I’m I’m actually honored to be on here, man. I’ve this is my 3rd podcast interview. The first cup I mean, they’re always nerve racking, so I don’t like talking on camera, but it’s cool to be on the podcast. And to all our American friends, hello. K. So a bit about me, I’ll I’ll give you a quick, I’ll give you a quick intro. I joined the the E and K Scotts here in Windsor, if in 2001.
Nick Stroesser [00:03:08]:
So it was actually really weird how it all happened. My mom came home one day, said there’s, the reserves are hiring, the army reserves are hiring. I didn’t know anybody that had done that before. I’d heard of the reserves because my old man was was a naval reservist back in, like, the seventies when he was a teenager, and he kinda talked to me about my grandfathers in the navy in the fifties. So, yeah, this was early or, yeah, early 2001, I would did my basic training in Meaford, the summer of 2001. September 11, 2001 was our 1st break night, so I went from a peacetime soldier immediately 1st day at work into a if less than peace time, I guess. We really know what’s going on that very day. Obviously, it was a it was a crazy A crazy experience to say the least.
Nick Stroesser [00:03:57]:
Mhmm. You know, we just come back from basic. We’re brand new trained privates, and the last thing we thought was, if, a war was gonna happen in the 1st month or whatever. And, you know, in the 1st year, we had joined. So Mhmm. It was a pretty wild time. I’m glad I joined when I did. I got a lot of great experience out of it.
Nick Stroesser [00:04:17]:
I got to experience kind of the older I don’t wanna say the older army because I’m not that old, but, if, pre social media, all of drab, different web like, just so many different I don’t know when, yeah, I don’t know when Yeah. I joined.
Dave Morrow [00:04:31]:
But Dude, I I joined exactly at the same time as you. My Okay. My one of my 1st parade nights back at my unit well, actually, I was playing football, and it was during practice. And I didn’t really know what was going on. People there’s an energy, and my my my buddies on the team were like, dude, aren’t you in the army? Uh-huh. You’re going to war. And I was just started, like, I started freaking out. I didn’t have a good practice at all.
Dave Morrow [00:04:53]:
I couldn’t concentrate. I’m like, what?
Nick Stroesser [00:04:54]:
Dave Morrow [00:04:55]:
you mean? And then I showed up at the unit. I think it’s just chaos. I’m like, what the hell is going on? I’m like, oh, no.
Nick Stroesser [00:05:00]:
Dave Morrow [00:05:00]:
I did the wrong time.
Nick Stroesser [00:05:03]:
Yeah. That’s wild, man. Like So we’re probably around the same age. I I joined at 17.
Dave Morrow [00:05:08]:
Oh, yeah. I joined at 17.
Nick Stroesser [00:05:11]:
Okay. So, anyway, yeah, I did, I did a tour in 2006. I went and did, at first, it was defense and security platoon in in Afghanistan, which I’m sure you I’ve probably heard of there’s a DNS platoon. We were just gate guards. Yep. And not not to knock that because it was an important job. Over the years, I’ve learned that Maybe I didn’t go out and and fight, and I wasn’t fighting Taliban, but, the job we had was important, and I’m glad we did it, and we did it good. We all came back alive.
Nick Stroesser [00:05:42]:
We kept the camp safe for the time we were there. And, again, being there at that time, he was like, oh, man, you see the boys rolling out in in convoys and you know they’re going to do some cool shit. But that was the luck of the draw as a reservist. I ended up being with the security platoon, and I I have no regrets, and and no beefs with with having done that. So that was 06. 07 I came back. I did my POQ kind of against my will. Obviously, they can’t force you into anything, but you know how the army works, and they can they can kinda squeeze you into wanting to do something.
Nick Stroesser [00:06:14]:
So I ended up if Yeah. Yeah. Summer summer of 07, I did my POQ, got promoted for a brief period, taught a couple courses, o eight, transferred over to the air force, Baggettville, Quebec, firefighter for 3 years. Yes. From o eight to 11, I was in Baggettville. Move back to Windsor where I’m currently at right now in my hometown. Got on with my fire department in 2014, and then that’s kinda where C4L it started taking its roots. It was I think it was, like, August 2015.
Nick Stroesser [00:06:48]:
A a really good friend of mine if who had been on my tour, who did POQ with me. He was down in Windsor for a visit. We went and saw a ball game in Detroit. And, obviously, what do you do when you’re with a veteran you haven’t seen in a long time? You you tend to have a couple too many, and we got in some funny shit that night anyway in this, actually this very garage, we were sitting here thonged out of our minds, and, it came up about the it was a it is a comic book strip, Terminal Lance. If you ever heard of it, I’m sure our American friends have heard of Terminal Lance.
Dave Morrow [00:07:24]:
Yeah. For sure.
Nick Stroesser [00:07:24]:
I don’t know how I got into it. I it obviously was online. I found it, and I got, I thought it was awesome because it was so if parallel to the Canadian military, whether you’re reserve, whether you’re infantry, whether you’re doesn’t matter. Terminal. You can laugh if you’re in the military. So that was Kind of my first inspiration, but I’m not an artist, and I don’t I don’t tend to write comics. So I just thought that was super cool what he was doing. I thought that was missing something.
Nick Stroesser [00:07:52]:
And as much as I don’t remember from that night in my garage, I do remember me and my buddy talking about, like, the pride in service, man. Like, we you know, we’ve done this and that in the military. And not like you wanna run around screaming that you did that, but there is a point of pride inside you. Like, fuck, man. I wish people knew what I did kind of. And that’s kinda where the c four l I didn’t have a brand name or nothing at the time. It was just I remember the next morning thinking, holy shit. I can make t shirts.
Nick Stroesser [00:08:21]:
But it was such a small idea, and, I just again, I was just a brand new firefighter, and I wasn’t gonna start a business not knowing what I was doing. And over the next you know, over the coming days weeks after that thought, it it turned into corporate for life. I still have the original piece of paper I drew my logos on. I got, like, 4 or 5 variations. Very cool. Looking back, it is a cool story now. It’s it’s almost 9 years ago Mhmm. That I started this, and I’m still going.
Nick Stroesser [00:08:54]:
It looks like we’re doing really well. We’re doing okay. But the fact is we’re still alive, and that’s the that’s the goal right now is just keep the brand going in the right direction if for as long as I can.
Dave Morrow [00:09:04]:
That’s, that’s really cool to hear, man. And, you know, I listen to a, A business influencer. You might know him Alex or Mosey. Yes.
Nick Stroesser [00:09:15]:
Dave Morrow [00:09:16]:
so he’s really getting a lot of traction because he’s just very down to earth, and he just, you know, it’s no bullshit. He’s very so for a military audience, he’s he’s great. And his last episode was just just stay in the game. If if you don’t if you don’t have the longevity. It’s like you will be successful so long as you think. I just need to if I’m at the if I’m at the table, if I’m, they’re, like, seeing it as a game and I’m at the casino. As long as I keep on playing, eventually, I’m gonna win. And when you win, you win big in business.
Dave Morrow [00:09:47]:
And so I love that mentality where it’s like, hey. Yeah. It looks like we’re doing really well. I mean but if I know that appearances outward outwardly appearances entrepreneur. And Mhmm. The analogy I got when I was on POQ years ago was, just like a duck. You know, ducks calm on the water, but underneath the water, the laser going like crazy all the time. Right? You’re trying to frantic kind of energy is what’s going on on the back end.
Dave Morrow [00:10:13]:
But the front end, it’s like, hey. That that’s doing pretty well. Hey. And I get the same comments too. Hey, man. It looks like business is doing really well. Hey. You’re crushing it.
Dave Morrow [00:10:21]:
And I go, yeah. Oh, yeah. Yeah. Mhmm. Oh, yeah. I’m really crushing it. Yep. Mhmm.
Dave Morrow [00:10:26]:
It’s just like That’s
Nick Stroesser [00:10:27]:
the classic one. You’re crushing it.
Dave Morrow [00:10:29]:
If Yeah. Yeah. Because they see a few Facebook posts, and they’re like, wow. Dude, man, things are going well. Yeah. I mean, things are going a lot better than when I you started. Like and that’s the perspective you kinda have to take. So, for you, you know, you got started.
Dave Morrow [00:10:45]:
What was it like to make that 1st sale. I’m always curious to know how that sale went and what and if you remember what the emotion was like. Because For me, it was just something that was so I’d never done anything like this before. And I created something out of nothing, and then all of a sudden, something somebody bought it. It was a weird feeling. It it wasn’t like, oh my god. I can’t believe I did this. It was like, I can’t believe somebody did this.
Dave Morrow [00:11:08]:
I don’t know if I can’t believe somebody actually made it, but it’s just like the impostor syndrome. I don’t know if this is safe for you or not.
Nick Stroesser [00:11:15]:
I I a 100% agree, man. So my first actual t shirt was There’s a website called Teespring or Tchip, which I’m sure you’ve heard of. It’s like a kind of a print on demand thing. So I figured that would be the best and easiest way to get my stuff out there because I I didn’t know supply chains. I didn’t know where to buy blank shirts. I didn’t know where where to get things printed. I didn’t know who to design these. You know what I mean? I had all so many what how to’s and what do I do.
Nick Stroesser [00:11:42]:
So I went I just googled. And, these tea chip, if TeeSpring sites popped up. And I was like, you know what? Let’s give this a shot. So I I launched it off of my Facebook. I believe it was my personal Facebook page at first. And, obviously, it was the friends and family kinda thing that went first. But I do remember I got you know, my email said, you know, you got you have an order for this, the the one of the 1st t shirts I ever designed, is called when in doubt rack out. I still have the original.
Nick Stroesser [00:12:09]:
It’s just a sleeping bag. Someone bought it. And I’m like, holy shit. Somebody bought my stuff, and and it was the same thing. I’m like, did someone just give money to my If idea that I came up with a couple weeks ago, okay,
Dave Morrow [00:12:22]:
Nick Stroesser [00:12:23]:
And then it it did. It started one of the first things I did was I contacted the armories because I was I had been out at that point for about a year, but I still had contacts at the armies. I’m like, why not if use everything I have in my power to get this out here. And I went and I had, I think, probably had 4 designs at the time. I went to my little print shop who happens to be he prints my stuff right now. We’ve been through a lot. It was awesome. Yeah.
Nick Stroesser [00:12:50]:
So I had 4 different designs. I went into the armies one night. I spoke to the PMC they said, yeah. You can come in, do a little spiel, set up a table table if you’d like. And I just literally had 4 designs laid out on the table with, like, sign up cheese kinda thing. You know, so and so paid, so and so owes. You know, I have this many at largest to buy, and I did that for a few parade nights, and I remember I forget what I made. I made, like I think I was selling these seats for, like, $20 a pop or $25 a pop if cash.
Nick Stroesser [00:13:21]:
And I I did, like, couple 1,000 in the 1st few visits, and I was like, oh my god. I remember thinking, wow. The the the thought of like, oh my god. If I can do this in 3, you know, 3 weeks at an armory’s, I could be a millionaire in you know, within a couple years, and I I had that Literally, in my head, I was like, this is gonna be so easily scalable. But then again, I was a month into business, and I’ve I’ve since learned. I’m still learning that that’s not how business works. And, you know, you may have a hot day or a hot product, but that does not always equal, if, sales or attraction. So it’s a very cool start.
Nick Stroesser [00:14:01]:
I got back like I said, I got back into the armories, and I got you see buddies and meet new people and get the brand out there. And I still to this day, I still have people from 2015, either showing up in my house to buy my stuff or buying it online or coming to events that I’m at. So it’s I can say I have a very, very amazing, I don’t wanna call my customer base, but the people who really got me started. If, friends and family, army guys locally. And and then now it’s just it’s grown into something I never ever imagined it would be. And that’s why I’m very grateful for where I’m at even though I’m not where I want to be at this moment. I’m way farther ahead than I was in 2015 or even, you know, 2 years ago.
Dave Morrow [00:14:44]:
Yeah. And So It’s cool that you mentioned that too because if anybody’s listening that is in the entrepreneur space as a veteran if Or is thinking about getting into, entrepreneur space. The the initial the initial flurry, if The initial uptake of your product or service is usually quite good because although there’s a lot of There’s there’s a lot of naysayers, and there’s a lot of folks that are are going to just hold back and not wanna support just because they’re like, well, they’re they’re not early adopters. But the ones that are early adopters, like you said, it’s friends, families, and the the the new term I got is fools. Friends, family, schools that I wanna invest in here. Right? The the initial, like, ground swell feel really good. And like you said, it’s a few $1,000. And then your mind starts to race.
Nick Stroesser [00:15:37]:
Oh my god. Yeah. If That’s it. I hit it.
Dave Morrow [00:15:40]:
Oh my god. Wow. I can’t believe it was that easy. And that elation then quickly fades because you realize, wait. If I wanna scale this, I don’t even have a production facility. How am I gonna get this done? Like, how am I gonna fulfill? How am I gonna do so then the education starts. If And I had a similar experience too, which, you know, although I’m in the online space, it’s just, you know, how many people can I coach at once? But I also gotta do the marketing. Oh, yeah.
Dave Morrow [00:16:03]:
It’s true. How about I keep that up? Oh, and, like, how do I make sure that I’m I I make sure that, like, the program actually gets better? So how do I do all the back end stuff? And so every last iteration of getting more people in. It’s easy at first because you have a handful and it it it runs on basically your baseline knowledge that you know. But then as soon as you grow to that next tier, it gets significantly harder, and that seems to be where a lot of folks tap out. Right? Once you start getting to that point where it’s, like, hard, you’re not making any sales. Nobody cares anymore. That’s like that that depressing feeling that I’ll like, the roller coaster that I’m sure you’ve been on where why am I doing this? Like, this is Yep. I’m done.
Dave Morrow [00:16:41]:
You know? I’m done. My mood is shit. I’m not getting any sleep. I’m not making any sales. I clearly screwed up my life, And I’m getting out. And then you gotta kinda get back on the road because I’m like, no. No. No.
Dave Morrow [00:16:53]:
You know, something will happen. You know? Like, my wife knows it all the time. She’s like, man, as soon as you make a sale, it’s like the whole day is better. I know. I know. It’s amazing. It’s the best feeling in the world, but then you don’t get a sale for a few weeks sometimes. It’s like, oh my god.
Dave Morrow [00:17:06]:
Okay. I really screwed this up. So how do you deal with the highs and lows that are inevitable? And then we can probably get into, like, the COVID era, if Which likely had a a a really big impact on you as as it did for me as well. So if we start with just there, like, how do you how do you manage your emotions, and how do you just get if Through kinda business as a veteran, knowing that, you know, you have some times where it’s just like like, stark. Nobody’s buying. Nobody’s interacting, but you still gotta keep on going forward.
Nick Stroesser [00:17:36]:
Mhmm. Yeah. What you just what you just said is is bang on accurate for, I’m sure, every entrepreneur. And If if you if you just stay at the table, it’s unreal what can happen if you don’t if you don’t shut her down. So one of the big things being a veteran entrepreneur was I started to tap into my army experiences. And and POQ, just anything, man. It could be an exercise from when I was 18 years old. You you can just remember, don’t give up, man.
Nick Stroesser [00:18:01]:
Just 1 more fucking step, 1 more step. Like, that every potter
Dave Morrow [00:18:06]:
through pitter potter.
Nick Stroesser [00:18:07]:
Exactly. And fortunately for for us and for me, having that army experience is huge because it’s got me through a lot in life, not just business. But once you realize how quick and how fast business can kick you in the in the you know what. You have to learn to adapt to that. And It started happening within a year of me opening my my little T shirt, company. Like, If I had, so let’s say it was 2016, I remember a time I’m like, okay. I’ve tackled the armories. I’m not coming out with any you know, my design ideas are starting to go to shit.
Nick Stroesser [00:18:44]:
Like, I can only come up with so many ideas for T shirts and hats and blah blah blah. People are gonna get sick of it. I can’t go to the armies every single week and expect guys to spend money. And I remember sitting at another buddy’s house who was a veteran. He actually, he builds homes now. He builds multimillion dollar homes. So he’s an entrepreneur. He knows his shit.
Nick Stroesser [00:19:04]:
And I remember him looking at me and saying, Nick, do you believe in what you got? Like, Of course, I knew, man, I wouldn’t be doing it right now if I didn’t.
Dave Morrow [00:19:09]:
Nick Stroesser [00:19:10]:
And he goes he’s like, I believe in it, and you know people like it. He’s like, don’t shut her down. And that was like the To this day, that was 8, whatever, 7 years ago, and I still when I see Cody, I say, bro, thank you for that that little kick in the balls, like, that kick in the ass that I needed. And that kept me going a little bit further, and then things started happening. Like, I end up getting in a a kiosk at local mall here. You know? I just kept putting myself out there, and I’m learning this. And if for people listening, just fucking put yourself out there, man. I’m a very, If, naturally introverted person, I don’t like asking for things I don’t like.
Nick Stroesser [00:19:46]:
I always I kept telling people, I’m not a salesman. Well, I’m a fucking salesman.
Dave Morrow [00:19:50]:
Yeah. You have no choice.
Nick Stroesser [00:19:51]:
Everybody at some point is a salesman in life. If you want something, you gotta sell yourself. You gotta sell something. Right? If Yeah. The the 1st few years, yeah, I had those days where I’m like, what am I doing? Like, I have a great job. I don’t need to do this. All my other buddies that are are firefighters are doing whatever the fuck they want. They’re all golfing.
Nick Stroesser [00:20:09]:
They’re having fun. They’re partying.
Dave Morrow [00:20:10]:
Nick Stroesser [00:20:11]:
I’m sitting at a mall. You know what I mean? I’m sitting at a mall for 6 days I sell my shitty T shirts that nobody wants to buy. But, again, every every time things went to shit, just like that roller coaster, man, all of a sudden, it started only okay okay. I just took a big downward shot, but now Because I’m still in the game and my head may not be where it should be, I’m keeping my spirits open, and now things are starting to come. And that whole law of attraction thing is real. Whether if you wanna believe it or not. If you have the right mindset and you put yourself out there, enough times, things are gonna happen. And the times I put myself out there, and I can talk about them for hours, great things have happened every single time.
Nick Stroesser [00:20:51]:
That’s why I’m still sitting here, in my garage. You know, I move from stores to a garage, which was a we can talk about that, but, I’m sitting here. I know that tomorrow’s gonna be better than today. And if the next day is shittier, I know that it can’t get shittier. You know what I mean? I’m just gonna keep taking steps forward. I’m not dumb either. Like, if I start seeing, okay. I’m now I’m draining my personal checking account.
Nick Stroesser [00:21:16]:
Now all my personal credit cards are going down to keep this alive. I’m not dumb. Like Mhmm. I will know when it’s time to pack it in, but I know when it’s time to pack it in. So Right. I just if I hope that answered. Like
Dave Morrow [00:21:31]:
Yeah. Well, I mean, I’m curious now. What would you say is the the the most difficult moment that you came so far in the last 9 years on the business side of things.
Nick Stroesser [00:21:42]:
Probably the closing of the stores, when I when it was Like, I open the stores kinda in a fast and frenzied way, due to COVID. If, COVID kinda helped my business and kinda fucked my business at the same time. Does that make sense? But I think it’s kind of like
Dave Morrow [00:22:00]:
a perfect analogy for if Whole era. It’s like, hey. It was good and fucking a terrible
Nick Stroesser [00:22:06]:
Yeah. In the grand scheme of this business, it it things went
Dave Morrow [00:22:09]:
are better are better
Nick Stroesser [00:22:10]:
off now because of COVID. Because I opened stores, which I would probably wouldn’t have never opened stores had COVID not happened. I may have, But I didn’t know what was the plan. Right? I still had I’m still 8 years in think figuring, okay. What am I gonna do next year? Like, what’s my what’s my long term goal with this business? Like, yes, keeping it alive is fun, but I’m not looking to be self employed for the rest of my life. I wanna be you know, this is my baby. I want to see this baby grow into something Enormous that can help veterans, first responders, and and provide me a life. Right? Mhmm.
Dave Morrow [00:22:43]:
Nick Stroesser [00:22:43]:
yeah, the hardest thing was closing the stores and trying to figure out if where to go because I had so much invested in those stores. And and coming back into the home, it was a tough decision, but it made sense. And it looking back now, thank thank god I did that. I’m very thankful I’m sitting in my garage now. If
Dave Morrow [00:23:04]:
So the stores were opened during, like, the, like, world meeting, we’re closing during during the middle of, like, COVID where it’s like, this will be over in 2 weeks. It’s like, oh, it’s not over in 2 weeks. So, how many store did you open?
Nick Stroesser [00:23:19]:
I had so the 1st store opened in Windsor. We have 2 malls here in Windsor. We have a big mall, Devonshire. It comes to the small mall. So I met a couple of, I don’t wanna call them headhunters. That’s their own term, but they work at the mall, and they they search all businesses to fill stores. So Right. They found me at a business event.
Nick Stroesser [00:23:38]:
They liked what I was doing. We exchange information. Then it was a couple of years before we started talking, but that’s what got me into kiosks during normal times. So I knew that I had something that could sell in a mall. And then, again, during COVID, I got a phone call saying, hey. We have empty storefronts. Would you like to try one out? And I’m like, the my first automatic response was no. I don’t have the money for it.
Nick Stroesser [00:24:03]:
I don’t I can fill a kiosk. No problem. I can put 10 15 shirts around the kiosk and and make it look pretty. But you’re telling me you have a full store. Like, the 1st store I occupied was massive, man. There’s I remember walking in and be like, okay. Maybe I don’t wanna do this. Like,
Dave Morrow [00:24:20]:
I had to talk to a myself into? Yeah.
Nick Stroesser [00:24:23]:
I had to talk to a lot of people and get a lot of advice. And I have to get enough advice on the do it side.
Dave Morrow [00:24:30]:
Nick Stroesser [00:24:30]:
it obviously, it worked out, but I had to put myself out there huge for that because I didn’t have the capital to fill the store with products.
Dave Morrow [00:24:37]:
Right. You know
Nick Stroesser [00:24:38]:
what I mean? I was I was I had enough products to to ship a few shirts a day for for a month or two. Now I had to fill a store, if, that was massive and make it look good, make people wanna come in, make people wanna buy shit. And it couldn’t just be T shirts. I had a, you know, I had a few hats, but now I had to make more hats. Now I had to make more hoodies, more I started doing jackets, If candles, you like, I have a 100 different products, most of which I can’t sell online because they’re too hard to sell.
Dave Morrow [00:25:08]:
Were they sent to?
Nick Stroesser [00:25:09]:
But the store really, yeah, the store was like, I learned so much in that 2 years or a year and a half. And, again, I’m very thankful what happened, but the hardest thing was if opening and closing stores. Oh, man. By far Yeah.
Dave Morrow [00:25:22]:
I mean the biggest That gets me that gets me nervous just hearing you talk about it because the it’s I have 0, invested in product, right, because I’m serviced. So I don’t have any inventory. The only the only inventory I have are my books that are literally here in a box, and I
Nick Stroesser [00:25:39]:
mail them out Yeah. Yeah.
Dave Morrow [00:25:40]:
As on a, you know, as needed basis. But to have an entire store, holy. Like, I mean, like you said, the the learning curve must have been insane, but you had more than 1?
Nick Stroesser [00:25:52]:
I so, if yeah. Winds are opened. I I don’t wanna I should know what month. It was fairly early in COVID because I one of the contacts I had, Devonshire, is very nice. They offered me a sweet deal I can say no to. Mhmm. And then I had you know, I went to my print shop, and I pretty much put myself out there and said, hey, guys. You know, we’ve been cool for the last few years.
Nick Stroesser [00:26:13]:
I need probably 30 to $40,000 in stuff, and I don’t have the money for it. And they’re like, Nick, we know you’re good for it. We trust you. So I put in massive orders.
Dave Morrow [00:26:24]:
Wow. And I
Nick Stroesser [00:26:24]:
just started if stocking stocking, and that’s why I have such a great relationship with them today. They know I’m good for it. I know they’re gonna provide me with great quality merchant. If if their merch is messed up. They’re always good for it. So I have a very good, relationship with who does my printing at the moment. And then, yeah, a a good buddy of mine said, hey. Have you ever thought of setting up at, you know, any other stores? Because COVID rent is still a low, you know, low rates.
Nick Stroesser [00:26:54]:
And I was like, man, I remember thinking like, that’d be amazing, but I’m stressed as it is running 1 store because it was me when I wasn’t working my regular job, and then I recruited if 4 or 5 friends and family that I trusted really well to to man that store, and I paid them cash money. Sorry, CRA. But I paid them. Yeah. I had to I
Dave Morrow [00:27:16]:
don’t think any accountants or CRA members listen to the podcast or get
Nick Stroesser [00:27:19]:
So, yeah, I had to I I was paying these guys cash, and I was, I I had to give them a quick crash course on how to run my store and and how to talk to people and how to run my POS systems. And so I got that all set up, and then It wasn’t 6 months later, I had an opportunity to open at White Oaks in London. And, again, I remember I drove to London with my buddy and in my head, k, in my brain, the whole time, I’m like, this is just, this is just for show. I’m just doing this to to, you know, if just for fun. I’m not really gonna open a store. There’s no way. I even told my buddy. I’m like, bro, I’m sorry.
Nick Stroesser [00:27:55]:
I’m not trying to waste your time, but because I trust him with he’s been with my business if since day 1. He’s helped me so many times. So we’re driving up. I’m like, dude, I don’t know if I can do this. Like, I’m stressed as it is running Windsor. How am I gonna staff this place, stock it, pay for it? Like, there’s so many things I I had no idea what else you know? Again, I just drove up there. I’m like, you know, this is a a cool idea for the future, but right now, this Nick can’t do this. There’s no fucking way.
Nick Stroesser [00:28:24]:
And even when, you know, I walked into 3 or 4 different locations they had available, and I said, they’re all huge, huge locations. And I’m like, Again, how am I gonna fill this place? How am I gonna decorate it? How am I like, it’s just a big giant white store. Everything’s white.
Dave Morrow [00:28:39]:
Nick Stroesser [00:28:40]:
It had everything I needed, shelving, books, all that stuff. But I’m like, how do I do this, man? I’m in Windsor. Like, this is a 3 hour drive or whatever, 2 and a half hour drive, 2 hour drive, whatever it is. How many times I gotta do this drive? Again, how am I gonna hire people to trust? Do I hire a manager to run the show? Do I need 2 employees at a time because the place is so big?
Dave Morrow [00:29:03]:
Nick Stroesser [00:29:04]:
How many POSs do I need? Do I get the same POS I have in Windsor? There are so many things that I just started, like Again, I went back to my army and spinning. Dude, I was spinning heavy for years
Dave Morrow [00:29:15]:
Nick Stroesser [00:29:15]:
couple years. But, again, I went back to my print shop. I said, okay, guys. I know I just did this, but I’m opening a 2nd store in London potentially. Would you front me another 15 to $20 worth of stuff? Nick, no problem. We we got you. So, again, I just I pretty much replicated what I had in Windsor, which is you know, by the time I opened London, I had a pretty decent operation going in Windsor. Everything looked nice.
Nick Stroesser [00:29:39]:
It was merchandised well. It was making money. People were people were spending money.
Dave Morrow [00:29:45]:
Nick Stroesser [00:29:45]:
So I was like, I can do this again. And what I did was I I think I had about a month between saying, yes. I want this place to opening day. It was about a month or a month and a half. So Wow. Same time, my wife’s my wife’s family was down from Quebec, so we’re Spending time with them as much as we could, and then I would dip out. I’d go to London for a couple hours to to to bring up a box of shirts to set things up. So, Luckily, I had a a lot of help and, like, my friends and family really, really, really helped me out on that.
Dave Morrow [00:30:16]:
Nick Stroesser [00:30:17]:
But, again, man, it was just now I’m I got 1 store running. I got a 2nd opening in 3 weeks. I gotta stock the place. Like, I don’t know how many times me and my dad ran up there with boxes of shit and hangers and just started hanging stuff. I’m making it look good. Like, it was a it was a piece like, it it worked out in the end, but what I did was I hired I think I had 5 employees that I hired through Zoom pretty much. Mhmm. Literally, the first, like, 8 people that applied, I interviewed them.
Nick Stroesser [00:30:45]:
I hired 5 right off the bat, and I made a sked I’ve never scheduled anybody before. I’ve never had a I’ve trained people on different jobs before, but not to the extent of you need, you know, from a to zed, you need to know how to do everything. Because, like, once I leave here, you guys are running this shit. Running it.
Dave Morrow [00:31:02]:
If Yeah. So yeah. Yeah. Yeah.
Nick Stroesser [00:31:04]:
I went up to London for I went up to London for a Friday, Saturday, Sunday. I I put together a training program on my computer, print it all up. Had my wife helped me out because she’s she’s a boss at her work, so she kinda she gave me a lot of good tips on, like, you know, how to how to write a training manual. And I had to figure it out too, like, how how would I learn this? But again, I went back to the army. You did that field too. Straight imitate 100%. So, yeah, I showed up to London on Friday. I had my whole staff show up on Friday, I gave them a, like, a 3 hour crash course on how everything works.
Nick Stroesser [00:31:42]:
They each got a employee package. And then the Saturday was when things started. We opened on Saturday morning, and I right off the bat, I said, okay, guys. You’re in. And I just kinda stood back. And if I needed to step in and fix or something out, I did. But I had to turn 5 reservists, from London into if 5 c four employees, which wasn’t that hard. But at the same time, I remember, like, reiterating a 1000 times.
Nick Stroesser [00:32:09]:
Like, when I leave here on Sunday, this store is yours. Mhmm. And I have to be able to trust you to make sure that the money goes where the money is supposed to go. Nothing’s missing. Like, I I don’t wanna put up cameras. But if I have to, I will. Mhmm. And yeah.
Nick Stroesser [00:32:23]:
So London went smooth ish. Obviously, there’s hiccups. I had employee issues. I had people not showing up. I had phone you know, people calling me from London while I’m on vacation in Niagara Falls. Hey. Your employee’s being a jerk, and and I’m like, listen, lady. I’ll deal with it when I can, but it was just such a shit show running 2 stores, and I literally, I’d get off work at 8 in the morning, fly over to Devonshire Mall, make sure everything’s good to go.
Nick Stroesser [00:32:48]:
My employee’s there. He’s good for the day, place is clean, okay. See you later. Have a good day. I’ll be back. Boom. Shoot out to London. Same thing.
Nick Stroesser [00:32:55]:
Bring a box of close-up. Say, okay. Inventory this. Get this on hooks. You start selling it, pick up the cash, bring it to the bank. Like That’s a lie. Is old. Right now, I’m I’m in a such a better place, but I didn’t realize in 20 from 2020 to 2020, Half of 2021, man, my head was so fucked up that Mhmm.
Nick Stroesser [00:33:18]:
There was many times I I felt like shutting her down, like, everything. I’m fucking quitting this whole thing. I don’t give a fuck. Yeah. But I
Dave Morrow [00:33:25]:
Nick Stroesser [00:33:26]:
The store is closed.
Dave Morrow [00:33:27]:
Yeah. So I was gonna say, like, you’ve you you Like, the resiliency, the the steadfastness to stick to it. Right? But that also creates a lot of distress. Right? Like, you you have this unwavering discipline, motivation to keep your it’s it’s you created something. It’s like a baby. It’s, you know, businesses or or this this creation that came out of nothing, like having a child. So, you know, not wanting to see it if through or, like, saying, hey. Screw it.
Dave Morrow [00:33:58]:
Like, you might say it, but it’s just like with your with any of my kids. It’s not I’m never gonna say, like, you know what? You’re on your own you’re on your own. I don’t want anything to do with you. It’s it’s it’s it’s this weird feeling you have with when you created something that you don’t wanna see it, fail. So, like, the The amount of of of stress you’re under, would you say that you were just, like you just overleveraged yourself because the The feeling you initially had with, oh my god. This is gonna be where I can, you know, rest, you know, in 15 years and just be like, hey. I have my empire, And this is the this is the way we’re gonna go about it. Was that kind of, like, the the motivating factor? And then when you realize, hey.
Dave Morrow [00:34:36]:
It’s a bit too much, was it hard to, I’m I’m assuming, you kinda dissolve your ego and just say, hey. I need to pull back. And, like, what was that decision like to to say, hey. You know what? If I did. You know? I did more than expected, but now I gotta kinda, like, do, like, a tactical withdrawal so that I can keep on going. What what what was that all like?
Nick Stroesser [00:34:58]:
So the the first thing was I I originally signed a 6 month contract in London, again, with a very good rent package. London started off hot. Like, it was it was the opening weekend was amazing. We did a ton of we’ve done ton of sales. We did a promo where I I think there’s 10% of every sale went directly to, Veterans Elite K Nines. So that’s how we got involved with them, and it was it was awesome to see you know, we gave a bunch of money to them. We made a bunch of money. We started, you know, had a super hot weekend again.
Nick Stroesser [00:35:29]:
I’m like, holy shit. Here it is. Here’s my empire. We’re starting, like, in maybe 5, 10 years, I can just drive to London, you know, and and calmly check on my store and make sure everything’s still good. If not how it worked out, obviously.
Dave Morrow [00:35:41]:
Nick Stroesser [00:35:41]:
So I did my 6 month run. I think I extended it for 2 or 3 months to make to get to Christmas. And then I realized, okay. Like, if, the numbers weren’t making sense. I was paying my peep you know, I was only paying minimum wage, which I could only pay, obviously, and and they knew that. They’re okay with that. But once the expenses started going up and and the sales started kind of staying stale, I decided, okay. And it wasn’t an easy decision.
Nick Stroesser [00:36:10]:
It was tough because I literally wanted to make this my I was saying, okay. Windsor and London, who’s next? Toronto? Then what? Do I do I make this a cross country thing, which I thought was gonna happen? So, so, yeah, I made a decision to shut down London. It was tough. I chatted with my wife. I had talks with a lot of people, and I knew it was the right thing to do. And then I was like, you know what, man? Again, check your ego, bro. You you did something pretty crazy that I don’t know anybody that opens stores personally in
Dave Morrow [00:36:39]:
Nick Stroesser [00:36:39]:
Dave Morrow [00:36:40]:
was just gonna say I was just gonna say, I I don’t know any veteran based business here, especially in the apparel world that did what you did. I I you know, correct me if I’m wrong, but I I really don’t think there’s anybody that had a store, let alone 2 stores selling apparel. So
Nick Stroesser [00:36:57]:
if I don’t think so. And, again, it was I’m super grateful what happened. It was an amazing education. It got the brand out there a lot quicker than I I guess it would have had I not done the stores. There’s still people in London that call me. They’re like, hey. Where’s your store? We closed it a year and a
Dave Morrow [00:37:13]:
half ago. Yeah.
Nick Stroesser [00:37:14]:
But so we did the same thing. We we once I came to realization that closing that was the best way to go and focusing those resources in Windsor so, again, I had this crazy revelation. Alright. Shut down London. It sucks. I broke into my staff. We had a a cool closing weekend where, again, a portion of every sale I went to again. I think it was veterans lead again we did.
Nick Stroesser [00:37:36]:
And we made a bunch of money for them. We did a great closing weekend. And that day, I had 1 or 2 employees stay behind. My old man came up, and we packed that store in 1 in 1 shot. Store closed at 5 the end, we’re packed and ready to go at 7, packed my truck, we’re gone. That was the end of that. And it it stung a little tiny bit, but at the same time, like, hey. Here’s a new chance for c four l to, you know, pull back, get our get our shit together, reorg, and then really hammer it hard in Windsor.
Nick Stroesser [00:38:05]:
Mhmm. That’s was my plan. And then it wasn’t long after that where I said, holy shit. I gotta close Windsor. Otherwise, things aren’t gonna be good. Like, if Right. COVID COVID rent went away, full rent started, new ownership took over at that mall. The person I dealt with who I don’t wanna say she hooked me up, but she gave me amazing deals and amazing opportunities.
Nick Stroesser [00:38:31]:
Those all kinda went away when she left. And I remember thinking, okay. Now what? Like Mhmm. This this store thing was my, if in my brain was the next only progression for c four o, and I had nothing else in plan. So, me and the wife sat, and we talked a lot about it. And we we came to a conclusion. Okay, man. Find a new spot, a cheaper, a cheaper lease somewhere.
Nick Stroesser [00:38:55]:
It doesn’t have to be a mall. And and I did that for about a month. I went around. I met with different real estate agents trying to find a place to rent. Yeah. And rent was crazy, which is probably way worse now than it was when I was looking. Yeah. And 1 night, my wife just said because I had thought about moving back into the house.
Nick Stroesser [00:39:14]:
I was running out of a a small bedroom upstairs, but I I’ll just kinda show you, but, like, this garages
Dave Morrow [00:39:21]:
Nick Stroesser [00:39:23]:
Absolutely chock full of stuff, which you can imagine. So I’m like, where am I gonna put 2 stores worth of if clothing. Like, I I I have nowhere. And then we had this garage, and she’s like, you know what, babe? If if it’s not the best scenario, but if you need to, move into the garage. So while I was still running Windsor, I came I was every day in the garage just as painting. I painted the floor. I cleaned it out. I made it into a livable space, if you will.
Nick Stroesser [00:39:52]:
Mhmm. And then slowly started moving c four l stuff into here. And and I’ve been here since, and it’s been If greater my mental health, my my physical health has gotten better, my
Dave Morrow [00:40:03]:
Nick Stroesser [00:40:03]:
My stress levels have shot way down, and and I just didn’t know how bad things were while I was in it. Right? Like Mhmm.
Dave Morrow [00:40:11]:
And that’s just so much. Yeah. So much shit going on. Like the the, You know, the the beauty of having your own business is you you write your own rules. Nobody’s telling you what to do, But the scary thing is nobody’s telling you what to do, and you write your own rules. Right? So Yeah. The The struggle gets real once you realize you have commitments. Because when you start out, you’re just starting out, man.
Dave Morrow [00:40:38]:
There’s you know, you don’t have It’s 40, $50,000 worth of inventory. So the strat you know, you know, employees, whatever. It’s kinda easy in, easy out. Low barrier to entry.
Nick Stroesser [00:40:48]:
Dave Morrow [00:40:49]:
But then you get to that point where you’re like, no, I’m just I’m I’m the real deal. I got people that are relying on me for a paycheck payroll. Oh, it’s hard. And Yeah. You have to make that you have to make that that that that call. Right? Like, when it comes to the mental health aspect, you know, A lot of us, especially from my experience, right, it’s the the get her done attitude. And, like, we don’t fail, so we gotta keep on pushing forward. But if That can be very detrimental because you can Yep.
Dave Morrow [00:41:21]:
Keep on pushing. And then what happens? Well, you could burn yourself out. You burn yourself out. Well, what happens to the business? You don’t you didn’t have, like, a 2 I c, I don’t think. Right? You had your buddies, but they’re more like advisers. They weren’t the vice president of the company. They weren’t the ones that could, like, if who I see take over. Like, hey.
Dave Morrow [00:41:36]:
I’m I’m I’m tied out for the next few few weeks. And it’s until you get to that level where it’s like, okay. I’ve got, like, an executive, you know, layer that can hold the line. That’s all on you. So it’s cool that you’re able to recognize that. It’s cool that you’re able to, you know, see a massive success, but if Not be so not be so committed to the actual stores in the sense that this is the only thing that I need to do, and I will do it until, like, the day I die. You recognize that. You gotta play the long game.
Dave Morrow [00:42:05]:
Right? So just like any good commander realizes, alright, the battle space has changed. I can’t keep on doing this if type of assault. I need to figure out a way to regroup and, you know, do it like a flanking, bring in some other, bring some other assets that actually achieve my my end state. So moving forward, I’ve seen other things that you’ve been up to. You clearly, pivoted somewhat. If You have booze. Am I am I correct? Is that is that still something that’s in the C4L booze? Is that still
Nick Stroesser [00:42:34]:
is that still is that still being sold?
Dave Morrow [00:42:36]:
If Yep. That’s really cool. So how do you
Nick Stroesser [00:42:38]:
Dave Morrow [00:42:38]:
you come up how do you come up with okay. I’m gonna pivot. Is it just, hey. Yeah. Army guys love booze. I like booze. Let’s do booze. Like, was this as simple as that? Where how’d you come up with that idea?
Nick Stroesser [00:42:49]:
No. That again, everything that’s good that’s come to c four l, if just because I’ve been because I put myself in situations that I normally wouldn’t, and I meet people that I normally wouldn’t. Like, I’m a again, I used to be a very shy human being. Even in the army, I had my little click of people. The army opened me up more obviously to the world and and taught being talkative, but I started going to events that I would never really would, so I did a helping hero helping heroes heal event. A couple years ago, I just showed up. I gave away golf balls. I wasn’t selling anything.
Nick Stroesser [00:43:22]:
I just I went there to meet people because I know, you know, who you know really helps in business and in life. So that was kind of a spark. Okay. I met a bunch of cool people there. Can It Connect is one of the peep one of the organizations that I I do things with. So we have a T shirt together that’s raising funds. So that was the 1st time I traveled out out east, and I posted a bunch about that. And if this is now well, the booze has been around over a year.
Nick Stroesser [00:43:51]:
So I had been thinking for a long time about doing a if a local like, here in Windsor because Windsor is probably the booze capital of Canada if nobody knows that. Oh, really? We yeah. Rum running started in Windsor. Like, we used to have
Dave Morrow [00:44:06]:
That makes sense.
Nick Stroesser [00:44:07]:
I think both
Dave Morrow [00:44:08]:
Nick Stroesser [00:44:09]:
Yeah. I think Windsor used to have the most distilleries, breweries in Canada at
Dave Morrow [00:44:14]:
one point in time. Twice.
Nick Stroesser [00:44:16]:
So I was like, you know what? Maybe I’ll hook up with a local brewer, and I’ll do a cool beer. I reached out to a few of them, and and nothing really came of it. But I really wanna do a booze, like a, if some sort of rum, whiskey, what whatever, but I didn’t know how to go about it. I had no idea if there was veteran distillers. If And literally one day in an email, it was Lloyd from Black Alley Distilling. Like, I hadn’t heard of him, unfortunately, because they weren’t posting a lot, and I didn’t. I was still learning about different, veteran business out there. But I got an email saying, hey.
Nick Stroesser [00:44:50]:
You know, I’m so and so from Black Allied Distilling here in Hanwhom, New Brunswick. I think we could do something pretty cool with your your brand and our brand. And I so I you know, I’m like, what do you wanna do? And I started checking them out, and they were legit. I like to look at their social media. I’m like, k. That doesn’t mean they have good boos, but at least they have a good, cool page, and they look like they make cool shit.
Dave Morrow [00:45:11]:
Nick Stroesser [00:45:11]:
So it was a like, a 6 months we went back and forth on what how are we gonna do it, what kind of boost it’s gonna be, how are we gonna launch it, how are we gonna who’s gonna make what off of it, blah blah blah. And we finally said, okay. I said, I’m coming out in so it would have been November of last year. I went out there for Just a 1 night quick launch we did. It was kinda last minute, but originally, it was supposed to be a rum, and then they ended up doing a rum of vodka and a gin. So my c four o’s logo’s on the front, along with Black Alley’s logo and then a little kinda, if, blurb about the company and what they do and where they make their boos, and it’s going well. I know we’ve sold out or they’ve sold out of a couple if of a couple products a couple of times. So to to me, it’s just cool that, I can spread my low, you know, C4 o can go further than just Windsor in a physical area because they have a they got their distillery.
Nick Stroesser [00:46:08]:
They have a shop. So you see C4 o boost front and center. I remember the night I saw it. I’m like I took a selfie. I’m like, this is absolutely the coolest thing I’ve ever done. Like, T shirts. Yeah. Great.
Nick Stroesser [00:46:20]:
If but this Yeah. You know, having my name on booze because, you know, I used to be a big boozer, and I still like I drink from now you know, from time to time. But Yeah. I just thought the fact that C4L is now a part of me, you know, a rum booze company, this is Extremely cool. So, yeah, as of right now, we’re still going. I hope to get out there again at some point. I don’t know when to do some sort of, party or or promo, but I just like I like collaborating with, with, obviously, veteran businesses that are doing cool things, if and it’s gotta make sense for both parties. Like
Dave Morrow [00:46:55]:
Nick Stroesser [00:46:56]:
We made sure that it made sense for c four l, and it made sense for them. Mhmm. I mean, I’m pretty much just slapping my logo on a bottle. If but I think it’s cool as hell that people are buying it, and they’re selling out of it.
Dave Morrow [00:47:07]:
Yeah. And because you’ve got the the brand recognition. Right? And like you said, like, you’ve got when you build that when you build up those disciples, especially early on. Right? You have them for life, and you can tap into that well because, you know you know, I’ve been only been in 4 years. But I know I’ve got, you know, just under, like, 10 hardcores that when I reach out to them, it’s a get like, anything I wanna ask. So, you know, you gotta you gotta use it judiciously. But when you have that resource, man, it it makes things so much easier. And then, you know, yourself, you got a much bigger following.
Dave Morrow [00:47:37]:
So you’re gonna have those people that, hey. You know what, Nick? If You’re doing booze now? Awesome. How many bottles can I get? And it just it it it builds on that brand, and then somebody will drink and be like, oh, what this. Is this a big Canadian military guy that’s got yeah. It is. And then you slowly, get even more market penetration, and that’s that’s the cool thing. And I wanted to touch on just how business and especially in the veteran world really changed in my mind when I went down to the states last you’re to the, military influencer conference. Because the conversations I was having are not the same as the conversations I was having here in Canada.
Dave Morrow [00:48:11]:
The if Philosophy down there was, hey. Look. We’re we’re creating businesses because this is what we know how to do. We’re American. It’s capitalism. It’s building businesses. It’s taking a risk. It’s helping our community through really good businesses by building our building our own, like like, if empires, but also employing other veterans and helping the community through really good products and services.
Dave Morrow [00:48:37]:
If I was like, yeah. And and their their their their motto essentially was like, we’re gonna heal our community through business. And I said, man, that’s such a Amazing concept. I gotta bring that back home. It is. Because I recognize how important business has been for me as part of, You know, the journey as a, you know, guy of the force. I have a reservist too, you know, and I kinda was lost in the sauce. I was banged up.
Dave Morrow [00:49:01]:
I didn’t know really what to do, and I never considered myself you’re there, but then it just kinda happened because it was almost out of necessity. I just yeah. I had a hard time just working a regular job. I was like, I I was fed up with just, you know, not Seeing the results I wanted, and I always had these ideas that I wanted to just get out into the universe, and so I I acted on it. So I guess the question I want to ask you is for somebody that is listening to this that’s a veteran, they might be in that kinda if Cycle of getting a job. It’s not really the right fit. They’ve always had these ideas, but they never really kinda took action on it. What would you say to that veteran who has the idea that is curious about, getting into the entrepreneur space and and, like, what what would you recommend they they do right now.
Nick Stroesser [00:49:48]:
If you think you have something, like obviously, everybody thinks they have an idea that’s that it’s gonna work. But if you think you have a legit something that 2 other people might like, go for it. Put it out there. Whether it’s through social media, whether it’s asking your friends, hey, man. You wanna try this out or check this out or Listen to this or whatever. Like, just go for it. There’s no and again, I’m super I love my wife to death. She she she advised against starting my business when I did, we had just bought a house.
Nick Stroesser [00:50:18]:
We’re we’re house poor. We had no money. And I remember when I brought the idea, she goes, can you just wait a few months till we start paying back? And I was like, you know, sure, sweetie. And the first thing I did, the next day, I Shit.
Dave Morrow [00:50:31]:
I already started.
Nick Stroesser [00:50:33]:
I did exact that’s exactly what I did. I started. And I I I don’t like being sneaky like that, but I knew that I if I didn’t start that day, I may have waited a week, then maybe, you know what? Do I really wanna start doing T shirts? I’m very thankful I started when I did, and I just kept my foot’s never left the gas. I’ve I’ve, you know, I’ve tapped the pedal a couple of times to slow down, but I will never take my foot off that gas pedal because I know I have an idea of where I’m going. It may take me a little while to get there, but the fact that I’m sitting on a podcast again, which is cool to me. That means I’ve done something right over the past 8 years. And if, again, if there’s veterans out there or anybody who wants to start a business, just fucking do like Mhmm. There’s I’m very fortunate that I have a great job kinda behind me.
Nick Stroesser [00:51:18]:
If things go to shit, I’m not gonna fall down and die. I have a great job, but I’m acting like this is the only thing I have. And if this fails, I fail. So that’s my mindset right now. Like, if seasonal goes to shit, I’m done. So I’m surviving right now. I’m I’m keeping this alive, and I will keep this alive and continue to thrive it. And for those of you listening, you keep an eye out because this this company’s got going nowhere but up, and then we’re gonna do some pretty cool things in the future.
Nick Stroesser [00:51:48]:
And and we’re starting to do cool things, but this is gonna be a very big, big company at some point.
Dave Morrow [00:51:54]:
Well, I don’t know.
Nick Stroesser [00:51:55]:
Dave Morrow [00:51:55]:
Yeah. Exactly. And that that that’s the thing. It’s it’s Business comes down a lot to faith. It comes actually 100% down to faith. So you have to have faith that your company is going to Get to the next level. It’s going to be the thing that you’ve always envisioned it to be, but it that’s the hardest part is you can, you know, read books, you can watch podcasts, you can listen, you can do tons of research. But so many people get stuck in that initial phase because of the fear of hitting the line of departure just makes you wanna just if curl up into a fetal position and not do anything because then it’s it’s all on the line.
Dave Morrow [00:52:35]:
You’ve got money on the line. You’ve got respect on the line. You’ve got ego. You’ve got relationships. You got everything because a job is is great. And, you know, I’m I’m in the same boat in the sense that I have if a, you know, the income replacement plan that’s helping me out. It’s not for life, but I know it’s there. I also have my education I can fall back on too.
Dave Morrow [00:52:56]:
So, you know, I can be a teacher tomorrow if I wanted to be. Mhmm. So I’m okay there. So I’m able to go full pedal to the metal with what I’m doing because it’s kinda like you. It’s it’s basically like a no fail mission. I I don’t want to be if in a teaching job. I didn’t like it. I don’t wanna run a school.
Dave Morrow [00:53:14]:
I don’t I didn’t particularly like it. What I thoroughly enjoy is this, and I’m passionate about. It’s the first time in my life. Other than being deployed, I was super passionate there, and I realized, oh, if I could replicate this in some way, shape, or form Mhmm. I’d be happy, with what I was doing. And this is kinda if The the, I guess, the the way I I envisioned it here without, you know, being in a war setting, which is creating a business because I’m I run my own show. I get I do what I wanna do in a certain context. And so, I love that message, man.
Dave Morrow [00:53:43]:
It’s just, you know, get started. And the landscape is changing here for sure in Canada. It’s, you know, guys like yourself that you’re you’re a pioneer, man. You’re, like, the bush fashion through, like, the the veteran The school. Entrepreneur land landscape because You were noticed. You know? I noticed that Corey noticed. A bunch of guys noticed that you’re out there doing stuff. And, like, you’re in the arena, you know, getting getting hit, you know, taking the blows, as the pioneer in front.
Dave Morrow [00:54:13]:
And so, you know, learning from that and seeing your development and seeing where you’re you’re going, it’s just really cool to kind of bring this the veteran community, especially here in Canada, a little bit closer together. And that’s why we’re doing podcasts and stuff like that, because we’re small, but we’re definitely very good at what we do. It’s just our audience is is still relatively small, so it’s it’s it’s good to have a medium in order to grow out a little bit. So, what would you, Like, before we, before we sign off here, Nick, obviously, where do folks get some awesome T shirts like the 1 I’m wearing right now, which by the way, one of my pet peeves are the sleeves that get loose after a few, if washes. This one, like, I I, like, I’ve used and abused this shirt. I wear it at the gym. I wear it almost every 2nd 3rd day. Still, like, I’m not I don’t have the biggest biceps in the world, but loving it, man.
Dave Morrow [00:55:08]:
So the good quality, top notch. Where
Nick Stroesser [00:55:11]:
do folks to hear.
Dave Morrow [00:55:11]:
Yeah. Where do folks get, T shirts and and, find out more about your company? And then, if you have some last words of wisdom, please feel free to share.
Nick Stroesser [00:55:20]:
If yeah. So this is a I like this part. So if you do wanna check out Canada’s patriotic brand, it’s, www.c4l.caorcorporalforlife.com. We are very active on Instagram at c4l apparel, and then again on Facebook, Corp Life Apparel. I still run everything. I’m I’m the guy doing the memes. I’m the guy making the posts. I’m answering the emails.
Nick Stroesser [00:55:42]:
I’m answering the the messages and all that stuff Nice. Which I don’t, I mean, obviously, I enjoy doing it because I can right now. Hopefully, one day it’s I can hand those duties off, but For now, it’s me. So, yeah, if you wanna check out what we got, c4l.ca. We got some cool stuff. And thank you, Dave, for wearing it.
Dave Morrow [00:56:02]:
Nick Stroesser [00:56:03]:
Something I should have said when that last last thing we we talked about, if you are going to become an entrepreneur, if try to sort your shit out ahead of time. And I mean, like, if you’re going through, like and you probably agree with this, man. Like
Dave Morrow [00:56:17]:
Nick Stroesser [00:56:18]:
Entrepreneurship is not only It’s taught me not only how to be a business owner, but it’s taught me growth. Like, I’ve grown as a human being significantly in the past. I mean, from when I started to now, a 100%. But even just like the last year, getting into your podcast is one of them. I listen to 3 or 4 different podcasts that have completely changed the trajectory of of my life, my business, my relationships and that’s just me. Like, I think I just need to hear things to make okay. That makes sense. I’m gonna start doing that.
Nick Stroesser [00:56:52]:
But the the personal growth side of of running a business is unfucking believable. So even if your business isn’t blowing up, like, mine is again, it’s where I want it to be. But just the personal growth out of it, it’s amazing. Like, I’m in better shape. I feel better. I treat people better. I’m I’m more willing to go on things like this and talk to people whereas before I was kind of still an introvert trying to sell a product. So if you’re if you’re starting a business, if you’re in a business, things are going to shit, that’s fine.
Nick Stroesser [00:57:22]:
Let things you know? Embrace that shit. Embrace that suck, And just know that you can you can do better tomorrow. Like, discipline, all that stuff that you probably talk about on other on other episodes, man, that’s all that shit equals good business. Like, waking up and working out, getting the right stuff in your body, getting the right stuff in your mind, you’re reading the right things. Like, all that shit has has made me a better person, and it’s starting to show itself in corporate life.
Dave Morrow [00:57:49]:
Nick Stroesser [00:57:50]:
are going where I want them to go on. I’m actually in such a good place right now. It’s it’s unbelievable.
Dave Morrow [00:57:55]:
Yeah. You know, I’m I’m glad you brought that up, if The personal growth side of things, and that is, an entire episode in and of itself because the Business can only grow if you grow. And then once I learned that, once I embrace that, then things started to change if Because since you’re you’re the sole operator, since you’re the CEO, president, VP marketing, VP if Fulfillment, v v p everything.
Nick Stroesser [00:58:24]:
Dave Morrow [00:58:24]:
If there’s some deficiencies on your end, it’s they’re gonna they’re gonna show up, man. They’re gonna they’re they’re gonna be exposed. You always fall back down to your lowest level of training. So if you level yourself up, then everything gets a little bit better. And, yeah, since Almost day 1. I mean, being in being in the education space, basically, my whole life, I always valued education. And so, you know, the bulk of Any bit of money I get, I still invested in education. So it’s mostly in, you know, learning business stuff, learning technical skills.
Dave Morrow [00:58:54]:
I just constantly devour as much as I can so that I can be the best position entrepreneur moving forward. And so that I I can also share one that time comes. Yeah. I know how to do this. Yeah. I know how to do marketing. Yeah. I know how to do all the all the little things that come with it.
Dave Morrow [00:59:09]:
So, yeah, that was a great point. I’m glad you brought that up. So, that’s, that’s all gonna be posted in the show notes, all the links. And, definitely, folks, if you’re if you’re looking for a great t shirt, There’s plenty more than than than this one. This is the one I like more into. I’m gonna pick up my son just to maybe get some looks like, oh, that’s interesting. You know? You rock the boat a
Nick Stroesser [00:59:30]:
little bit. I got
Dave Morrow [00:59:30]:
Just the tip.
Nick Stroesser [00:59:33]:
That’s a popular one, man.
Dave Morrow [00:59:34]:
Yeah. It’s huge. And, definitely go support Nick And his, his endeavors at, Corporal For Life. So, Nick, thanks so much for sitting down and chatting. And, yeah, man. Keep up the good work, man, and, we’ll definitely, keep on staying in touch with the growing community that we have here. It’s, it’s good to see you’re still in the fight. And, folks, don’t forget to train hard, fight easy.
Dave Morrow [00:59:59]:
I’ll see you on the next one.
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Dave is a retired infantry officer and Afghanistan war veteran. He’s the creator of the HRD2KILL training programs that were built on the principles that got him from not being able to get out of bed to competing in the Crossfit Open, Spartan Races and the Ironman. You can find more mobility based exercises in his new book, “The Nimble Warrior”, now available on Amazon or tune into his new HRD2KILL Podcast