< Return to podcast

Business of HYPE: Jason Markk

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 entrepreneur Jason Markk.

Following a career in advertising and DJing, Jason Markk and his namesake cleaning solution changed the sneaker industry by becoming the go-to product for sneakerheads everywhere. After reading Rich Dad Poor Dad, the California native was inspired to view his life through a lens of opportunity and has since applied this perspective throughout his business.

One day after cleaning his sneakers with dishwashing soap, Jason realized the industry lack this niche product. This aha moment sparked him to begin his research, putting together decks, gathering market research and fundraising money. With about $20K USD, he contracted a chemist to create an original solution, and in 2007 he launched Jason Markk. He handled sales, marketing, production and distribution; he even sent out care packages to streetwear influencers to help build the brand.

“We’ve been fortunate to have a very organic gradual growth. As long as we deliver a solid product that delivers this experience and I focus on the brand, everything else will come. The money will come, whatever. Opportunities will come. That’s all I knew. The brand, so that’s all I did.”

Soon after his launch, Jason was introduced to Rick Salazar, who helped bring in a larger network of buyers by attending various parties and tradeshows, which led to run-ins with figures like Jupiter Desphy and Stash, both of whom collaborated with the brand. While the 2008 recession took a hit on Jason’s finances, he stayed afloat through part-time gigs. The business eventually stabilized and he then continued networking, setting up international distributors, and hiring a larger team. 

Reflecting on his career, Jason admits that while there were many growing pains, especially with the onset of competing brands, he remains grateful. He never once doubted that his company would fail and advises us that “the energy you put out there allows opportunities to present itself, and then it’s up to you to sort of decipher ‘is this a good opportunity?’”

This episode features references to the following:

4:40 – Jason Markk‘s two locations
6:49 – Early beginnings
8:30 – DJing
12:21 – Rich Dad Poor Dad
13:19 – Inspiration for the brand
14:48 – Proper
14:40 – Blends
24:00 – Creating the solution
35:15 – Marketing the brand
37:57 – Rick Salazar
39:00 – Jupiter Desphy
42:04 – Stash
43:38 – 2008 Recession
48:06 – Trader Joe’s
51:56 – Agenda
53:40 – First distributor
56:23 – Slam JamGimme5
57:19 – Law of Attraction
1:02:13 – Building his team
1:05:11 – Collaborators
1:05:11 – Foot Locker
1:07:40 – Growing pains
1:11:29 – Advice