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Business of HYPE: Dre Hayes

Business of HYPE is a weekly series brought to you by HYPEBEAST Radio and hosted by jeffstaple. It’s a show about creatives, brand-builders, entrepreneurs and the realities behind the dreams they’ve built. This week, Jeff sits down with Co-Founder of The Foundation, Dre Hayes.

Founded in 2007 by Hayes, Antwain Freeman, Ari Langsdorf and Daniel Yadgard, The Foundation is a full service agency that owns, licenses and distributes various fashion, home goods, lifestyle and tech accessory brands. Repping brands such as Billionaire Boys Club, Kappa, Marshall Headphones, Polaroid and more, The Foundation is also heavily involved in merchandising — which Dre deems is the “unsung hero in a brand.”

The Virginia Beach native got his start buying for a sneaker and sporting goods store called Legends, where he met his first business partner, Antwain. Rather than attending law school, Dre began working in sales at RP55 Group, at a time when the department lacked younger employees. Although he was a “kid of the culture” and could represent the brands, Dre attributes much of his success to the predecessors who taught him the craftsmanship of sales. 

“Those guys were my mentors. The level of professionalism was unreal. Even though a lot of these guys were older and wearing suits, but selling FUBU, they were very professional. I learned professional sales, and it was a great learning experience because it became a base for everything else.”

After leading the Midwest sales team at RP55, Dre started his own company, The Museum Group, with former Legends co-worker Antwain. He then relocated to New York and opened a showroom in efforts to globalize his company and soon had Creative Recreation and Crooks & Castles as their first clients. In 2007, the two founders crossed paths with another branding agency, The Vanguard Group, owned by Ari and Daniel, and all four decided to merge their business as The Foundation.

Today, the company also has a location in Los Angeles as Dre believes that the momentum and success of streetwear is moving towards the west. With over two decades of experience, Dre advises that the “key to everything is evolution” and not being “the coolest guy in the room.” The Foundation has revamped their business model in order to keep up with the commercialization of streetwear.

“The real cool guy would be bitter at the world as the game started to commercialize. I used to look at that like, ‘You know what? I don’t wanna be the coolest dude, cause that motherf***er is broke!’”

This episode features references to the following:

1:47 – Co-Founder of The Foundation
2:30 – Co-Founders: Antwain Freeman, Ari Langsdorf, Daniel Yadgard
2:38 – Importance of merchandising
7:57 – Why hire The Foundation?
13:41 – Early life
14:17 – RP55 Group
14:23 – Azzure Denim
16:01 – Transitioning to sales
17:29 – College degree
18:46 – Importance of luck
20:40 – First job
22:36 – EccoFUBU
28:29 – Garmento salesman
33:07 – The Museum Group
33:29 – Moving to NY
34:14 – Billionaire Boys Club
34:25 – Pusha T
34:39 – Pharell & Nigo
41:09 – Creative Recreation
43:22 – Crooks & Castles
45:46 – Starting The Foundation
49:00 – Billing Clients
53:42 – Business model
54:45 - Marshall Headphones
55:#5 – G-Shock
56:52 – Kappa
58:26 – Moving to LA
63:22 – LA vs NY
71:47 – Keys to success
78:00 – Advice