This article is sponsored by Tumbleweed TexStyles.
We all like the idea of a small, locally-owned business, operated by people who know your name and whom you might bump into while you’re out and about. People who live here, work here, play here…doing life alongside us.
You want your friendly, neighborhood business to do well, grow and if they make it big, remember where they came from. On the flip side, when your once-small, local business gets bigger, sometimes you may hear grumblings of disappointment from those who feel maybe it’s grown too much.
Too corporate, too large, no longer authentic, no longer connected to the community – these things can happen if that homegrown culture dissipates.
When our favorite mom and pop grows up and its reach grows far beyond your county lines, can we expect them to remain true to their roots?
Growing Small Business Like a Pro
A business born in Frisco, Texas, Tumbleweed TexStyles is a once-small biz that has made it big, and these guys appreciate their local roots.
Humble beginnings, Frisco ISD teachers Jeb Matulich and Brian Wysong started their business with a good idea and just a few hundred dollars to invest. They waited to see if their idea had legs, and when it did, they chose to keep it in the family, and in Frisco.
But, what is it about this business in particular that manages to exude a genuine love of Texas, Frisco pride, and a humility that we feel within our community?
It comes down to three words that Jeb and Brian use to describe their approach to business: relationships, craft, and service.
Before there was Tumbleweed TexStyles, Brian and Jeb were friends and grew together into family men and business partners. They share a value for time with family and relationships with friends, a pillar they’ve built Tumbleweed on that continues to provide a focus for the business.
In the beginning, it was just two friends who used to go to a lot of concerts. They’d go to places like Hank’s, The Rustic, House of Blues, and dive bars to enjoy music and local craft beer (before craft beer was cool in this area).
Enjoying the good life, traveling with friends on an annual trip and having a good time – that was the relationship. Those first Tumbleweed TexStyles shirts reflected that with nods to bbq and teepee designs that remind them of their trips to Marfa, TX.
As it grew, the business required more responsibility and time which meant not as much travel, going out or socializing, and more focus on their relationship as business partners.
The vision was to expand Tumbleweed — and they’ve definitely done that, with more than 150 retailers throughout Texas and selling in other states.
Now, as they’re about to open their first brick and mortar store in Frisco, they’re primed to get back to the local side of things, spending more time on giving back, and having a good time, too. Brian explains,
We’d rather spend out time not on selling shirts, but helping at the food bank and having a good time with our friends and family. Part of that means hiring people to help us so that we can spend the time doing what we love while the business is still a well-oiled machine.
Sure, it’s a buzz word, but Tumbleweed is craft to the core. Their designs often reflect their love for homegrown food – barbecue, burgers, and tacos – and they honor the restauranteurs and chefs who they see as artists in their own way. They’re into local beer and whiskey, and Texas musicians. Brian points out,
When we started our business we had bbq joints across Texas asking our opinions. We were influencers in the bbq scene, then the beer and music scene. Everything was about the lifestyle.
But alas, to keep a business born of t-shirts healthy, strong and blossoming, you’ve got to keep selling the product. Their product line grew, t-shirts sold, and the business focused in on the product and less on the lifestyle.
This is where that delicate balance of growth and remembering where you came from can test you. And, perhaps it’s where many businesses get it wrong and get off track, which dilutes the authenticity of why they’re loved in the first place.
Tumbleweed TexStyles hasn’t lost sight of being craft to the core. They can give themselves a balance check and realize that business is good and at a point where the friends and co-founders can take the approach of enjoying the good times, family, friends, and the lifestyle, but while they are at it, selling some product, too.
Giving back to education has always been a priority for Bryan and Jeb, both of whom have a teaching background. In addition to their ongoing support of the Frisco Education Foundation, the TWT owners also maintain an attitude of service to the community in many areas.
Jeb stays very involved with his church, serving in a number of ways, even down to parking lot duty. You’ll find him supporting a number of extracurricular school activities over and above his responsibilities as a Frisco ISD employee. And like many great dads of Frisco students, Jeb participates in the Watch D.O.G.S. program at his daughter’s elementary school.
Bryan, too, is involved in his church and says his faith is a very important part of his life. He invests a lot of time visiting schools and working with organizations like Business Professionals of America, DECA, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and Frisco ISD’s Independent Study and Mentorship program.
He talks about everything from faith, leadership, motivation, professionalism, marketing, advertising, and business management.
Through Tumbleweed TexStyles, the two also help support youth mission trips, provide donations to Frisco Family Services, donate prizes to school fundraisers, fund scholarships to the Frisco Education Foundation, are involved in the Frisco Association for the Arts, and they’ve been known to rise to the occasion by giving when people are in need due to natural disasters. Wysong says,
When we work with an organization like the National Breast Cancer Foundation we’d rather not just raise money. We’d rather help tell the story, educate others about it and, ultimately, get more people involved. As Tumbleweed TexStyles has grown, it’s been more about giving financially than it has been giving our time and service. But our goal for 2020 is to be more involved physically to help people.
Community is Everything
To be an authentic local entrepreneur, business owners keep up the pace, give back, and manage to make money all while their personal lives take a different shape and size.
Jeb and his wife have had two children, as do Brian and his wife. Brian shared that being in Frisco has been a blessing for his family. His daughter, Hannah, is in Frisco ISD’s Life Skills program for children with special needs. She enjoys playing sports with the Miracle League of Frisco.
The Wysong family enjoys weekend bowling events with hundreds of kids, and Brian helped coach Hannah in the indoor soccer buddy league, where high school players buddy up with the young athletes. Brian says,
My wife and I are in Frisco because of the attention our community and our schools have to youth with special needs.
Tumbleweed TexStyles’ business decisions aren’t all made for that sales arrow to point up. Some are made that allow Brian and Jeb to be available for family. They can travel with their families, go to high school football games, watch their kids play sports – things not always synonymous with being an entrepreneur in the early years of business. Brian says,
Before having children, I thought I was busy. Now I’m making sure I can get work done as fast as possible during the day but also make sure I get to read a story to my daughter and have the last bottle feeding for my son.
He gets to be involved in Hannah’s activities and even gets to help pick her up from school. He admits he travels less than he should to grow Tumbleweed, but it’s all about give and take…and priorities.
At the end of the day, Tumbleweed TexStyles‘ growth and success is a reflection of who Brian and Jeb are – two friends with service in their hearts who are building one of those ‘large but local’ businesses we root for. Faith, family, humility, priorities.