We gained the opportunity to interview Daniel Wylie the owner of Sixteen Tons. It was established in 2010 and is one of the coolest shops in the Hampden neighborhood of Baltimore. During the interview he left us with some golden nuggets about being a successful entrepreneur, how easy it is to setup shop, and also how to correctly finance your first endeavor.
Wylie was born and raised in Baltimore but left to work on the west coast in the late 80’s. While he was on the west coast he managed to work several retail jobs, meet his wife and start a family. Although he never had an inkling that he’d create a store in his future he still managed to gain valuable knowledge and skills through his retail experience. He gained his first spark to start Sixteen Tons when he went to a fashion trade show with his wife Leslie (Owner of Double Dutch) and noticed there was demand for a resurgence of vintage menswear. Shortly after that epiphany he went on to open a brick-and-mortar menswear shop to make these goods more accessible to the community.
When taking on the challenge of opening his first shop he already had his eyes set on the Old Bank Building in Hampden. He knew exactly what he wanted to do with the space before owned it and finally he was able to grasp it. Once he took control he quickly setup shop with timeless menswear threads, granting shoppers a brand new shopping experience for one of a kind personal pieces for their wardrobes. As time went on he needed to get a bigger space and he soon moved across the street from his original location to where Sixteen Tons is now at 1021 W 36th Street in Baltimore, MD. “When trying to make a living in the trenches of retail you have to be agile,” said Wylie. He also made sure to leave the previous location in good hands with the owners of Old Bank Barbers.
“When trying to make a living in the trenches of retail you have to be agile.” —Daniel Wylie
The new space is just as wonderful as the old one considering that it’s like entering a vintage wonderland full of cool Red Wing Boots, beautiful tweed jackets, great broadcloth shirts, heavy woolen overcoats, cool hats, vintage ties and more. Definitely highlighting the heavy notion that he carries specifically 95% of vintage goods. As soon as you walk in you’re greeted with nostalgic sounds from the radio that’ll make you travel back into time. Your eyes will soon gaze across the room and you’ll find things that peak your curiosity to try on or ask questions about. In the midst of all of this nostalgia you’ll find Daniel Wylie chatting with customers or local brand designers building brands that occupy his store walls including This Sporting Life, Creative Kings, Hold Fast, and more.
Tips From Daniel Wylie
Learn A Trade
He quickly realized he did not want to work in record stores and retail the rest of his life so he learned a trade (Carpentry). “I still had all my fingers and my eyes,” Wylie says. This gave him the opportunity to seek a new career path in entrepreneurship.
Find The Demand
It helped Daniel to pay attention to what potential customers wanted when considering starting a new business. “Through my wife owning a store, I saw there was a demand for something more male oriented in the same vain as Double Dutch which was a more curated classic store that really represented the person that owned it. People would tell her there needed to be a male version of this place,” said Wylie.
Set Longterm Goals
Daniel always knew he wanted to use the Old Bank Building as his first business space. In short, if you have any idea of places you’d like to setup shop in go after it and make it real. “I had my eye on that particular building for 5 years when I was thinking to open a record store there,” said Wylie.
When thinking about financially starting your business explore creative ways to fund your business without exhausting your savings or incurring debt. “I probably broke the cardinal rule of entrepreneurialism which is don’t spend your own money and that’s what I did…I started my business with savings and credit cards, which I would not advise,” said Wylie.
Keep It Simple
Daniel quickly broke down the steps needed to open a storefront.”Surprisingly it does not cost that much to start a business. You get a place to rent, you put fixtures in it, you put your product whatever that may be, and you turn the sign over and it happens. Hopefully, that’s a very generalized simplified account,” said Wylie.
As for where you can go to get some of the coolest timeless threads, local brand buys, and cool retro antiques be sure to visit Sixteen Tons in the Hampden neighborhood for an incredible brand experience. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled as well as Daniel mentioned having an interest in pursuing private label clothing in the future and sponsoring cool events in the area. Also, say hello to Daniel and let him know you found out about his awesome brand on Stereo Champions.
Executive Producers: Stereo Champions
Senior Producers: Ashely Mumford, Rodney Curl
Photography: Rodney Curl
Special Guest: Daniel Wylie
Sounds: Sixteen Tons by Tennessee Ernest Ford, Ryoushin by Oasyum, and Mattress by EMRLDS
Partners: Sixteen Tons
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