Michael Rich is the founder of Psudo Sneakers. Michael has been a sneakerhead since he started his career as a retail associate at 16 and bought his first pair of Air Max 1s. His obsession with sneakers is what led him across the globe for over 30 years working in sales, design, development and manufacturing for brands such as Skechers, Steve Madden and Wolverine, before using his expertise to launch Psudo. He is DISRUPTING the sneaker industry. Created using REPREVE yarn made from recycled water bottles, Psudo’s slip-on sustainable sneakers are designed using 3D sublimation printing to create unique prints and fun patterns. All Psudo sneakers are 100% made and sourced in the U.S.A., slip, water and oil-resistant, sweat-wicking, anti-microbial, machine washable, and above all, comfortable.
What does “entrepreneurship” mean to you?
Michael Rich: “Entrepreneurship” means to me is taking risks and taking that leap on something you truly believe in. Along with bringing your dream job to life.
Tell us about your first experience with entrepreneurship.
MR: I have been working on starting my own business since I was in college. I had a love for sneakers, but I soon learned that was not enough. I spent the next 30 years studying the shoe business and learning the ins and outs of the business. Until I was able to combine my love for sneakers with the experience of working in the shoe business by bringing a product that the market was missing. That’s when PSUDO came to life.
What is your company’s origin story? What is the biggest reason you started your business? What did those early days look like and teach you?
MR: I had a love for sneakers and had my 10,000 hours on planes, going to factories all around the world. I wanted to recreate the factory experience locally and needed a product to bring to market. Psudo is the result of innovating in a category, simplifying manufacturing, and the construction of the sneaker, so it could be produced locally. As you can imagine there are a lot of highs and lows. We had no idea If anyone would like what we created. It takes a lot of work just to get to that first sale. But we got it.
What do you wish you knew when you started? Is there anything you would do differently?
MR: You learn a lot, really fast. I come from a design and manufacturing background. This was my first time marketing a product. So, there are a lot of little mistakes, luckily no “big whammies” as we call them. Avoid the whammies!
What does “success” look like for you? We’d love to hear your biggest, boldest dream? What do you think will help you achieve it?
MR: We have built a great idea into a company. Our goal now is to partner with other artists and creatives to put something special into the world. Our mission is to continue to grow and give back to the community where Psudos are built. A Psudo is a new type of sneaker like nothing that has ever been done before. We would love to have it mentioned with the likes of a Vans, Crocs, an UGG, and a Birk….so very high goals over here.
What is your superpower as an entrepreneur? What is your proudest and darkest moment so far? Share a key high and a key low from your journey if you can.
MR: I can say that I tend to look forward, not backwards. I don’t have a rearview mirror. It’s probably not a skill but a mindset that helps me stay hyper- focused on the goals we have. Opening our own factory is our proudest moment! To have our own facility and control our manufacturing destiny was such a huge goal that we achieved within the first 3 years, and we were very proud of that. The worst moment has been the struggle to get the shoes made in the USA…. it’s been our biggest pain point. We are seeing such a huge lift from controlling our own destiny.
What are your personal driving principles, your top values?
MR: I have been fortunate to have great personal and business life lessons. What I put into the world I hope to get back. Respect for others is probably the top principle, by putting myself into someone else’s shoes. Another, is getting up every day with the sole purpose of doing the best job I can to achieve our goals. It’s never perfect, but I know my heart is in the right place.
How have your personal principles and values shaped your company’s values and principles?
MR: We always wanted to build a company with heart. Everything we do has to be good for our customers, partners, employees, and the environment.
What’s it like to work alone or with your partners?
MR: I love to work with my team and getting input from our employees’ perspective. We have a very collaborative environment. It’s great to have everyone invested in Psudo and its future.
Do you have a mentor? Tell us about what makes them valuable to you and your business?
MR: Definitely, I have learned so much from a few mentors in my life. Hearing their stories of success and challenges has formed who I am today. These key people in my life continue to be a sounding board for me.
What role does mentorship play in your world (as a mentor or mentee)?
MR: Mentorship plays an important role in my world. I feel like I have a lot to share, and I enjoy mentoring others to help them make them chase their dreams.
Many entrepreneurs continue to perfect their daily routines to support their work and greater vision; would you mind sharing your morning routine or a regular ritual that grounds your work each day?
MR: I start every morning with a 1-hour Peloton ride. This one hour in the morning helps me think clearly. After that, a strong cup of coffee, then breakfast with my wife. This helps me gear up every day.
What are you reading or have read?
MR: I tend to read a lot of biographies; I am currently reading Bono’s book.
Where do you go for inspiration?
MR: Being in the footwear industry…competitive shopping brings up the best Ideas. Especially in new cities. I am also inspired by artists. And I love people watching and street wear style.
Do you have a favorite quote, mantra, or words of wisdom to get through the tough days?
MR: Don’t ever give up and don’t follow the crowd. People will always be quick to discourage new and different Ideas. But that’s where the magic is.
What is a problem that keeps you up at night?
MR: Psudo is always striving to improve our sustainability commitment while providing a quality product at a value. This is the challenge that we are looking for new ways to address.
How do you think about helping others through your work?
MR: A core principle of Psudo is to give back and be part of our community. That could mean in Vernon, CA, at our factory, for our employees or the environment.
What advice do you have for fellow (and aspiring) entrepreneurs building and leading teams?
MR: Focus. We all have a lot of ideas……once you commit to an idea or a business you want to pursue, be laser focused on that one idea, and make it flourish.
What kind of an entrepreneur do you want to be known as – as in, what do you want your legacy to be?
MR: I don’t think too much about legacy. I am mainly focused on building a different type of company with an inclusive culture, and where we can all share its success. We will continue to do it our way, because it has really worked for us.
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