Every fall Tilly’s hosts a manager’s meeting in Southern California. During the day brand representatives get up on stage and present their new lines for the season, as well as marketing strategies and anything else that might possibly let the managers feel more connected to the companies.
This year we were honored to be asked to speak at the conference and saw it as a perfect chance to educate the managers on our new Beanies4Life campaign that Tilly’s is participating in.
Josh Sherman, our president and co-founder, started off the speeches in a packed room of nearly 300 hundred people. Josh gave a great 10 minute speech on his past and how the company became to be what it is today. He had the room laughing often as he told stories about the hardships he went through to get to where he is today. Josh then went on to explain that getting the best team and advocates together, along with knocking out sales goals month after month just wasn’t enough. Josh said “As a brand we weren’t satisfied with just trying to be the next big thing. We wanted to give back, and thats why we started Beanies4Life”.
Josh told the room about the campaign that they are all now a part of: “Its simple, for every beanie you sell in a store, we match that and donate one of our special made, fleece lined beanies to a homeless shelter”. The crowd erupted, and once the cheers settled down Josh introduced one of our advocates and spokes person for the program, Mike Smith.
Mike took the stage and immediately captivated the audience. He told a story about when he was in College and playing on the basketball team and he told his coach how he just wanted to help people. His coach said “Ok Mike, you want to help people, then get in my car”. His coach then drove him to a bridge where they parked and got out of the car. Mike’s coach told him to look down. When Mike looked down he saw countless amounts of homeless people living under the bridge trying to survive the winter months. Mike’s coach said, “Mike if you want to help people, help them”. Mike then walked down and introduced himself and asked if there was anything they needed. They said “socks, we need socks”. Mike then went back to his locker room, took all 10 pairs of socks out of his locker, walked back down there and gave them all out!
From that day on Mike has never looked back, and since then he has been on a mission to help those in need. Mike now runs two non profits: “Skate For Change” and “The Bay”, and he is constantly touring the country speaking to schools. Mike said he gets hit up every week by brands to rep their gear and wear it to the schools when he speaks, but Mike politely turns them down. Its not because he doesn’t like the brands; he’s just not interested in selling t-shirts. Instead he’s interested in making a difference. That is why he partnered with Yea.Nice and is helping lead the charge on this Beanies4Life campaign.
Mike went on to tell the crowd about how his journey has grown and continues on at a rapid pace since that day. He then slowed it down and really told some heartfelt stories about where he wants to see this program go and how we can all make a difference in someone’s day, every day, no matter what you do, or where you work. He reminded us that every single person matters and every conversation is precious, so no matter how big or small just remember that everyone can contribute on some level at every moment.
By the end of it we were all welling up with tears in our eyes and goosebumps on our skin from Mike’s heartfelt stories. The emotions from everyone were very present, and the whole room was hanging onto every word he spoke. Just as we were waiting to see what was next, Mike broke down himself, sending the room into a heavy silence. The stillness of the room was eerily powerful, and after what felt like an eternity of quietness, a manager from the back yelled out “hell yeah”, and the room erupted. All three hundred people took to their feet and applauded Mike for his speech.
Josh then went on stage to help Mike finish, but the applause didn’t stop. the audience clapped for what seemed like five minutes. Mike gathered himself enough to say “thanks and see you all at the party”.
After we all settled down from the amazing speech we went straight over to Tilly’s HQ where they held a huge party. We set up the booth and had countless amounts of employees who were coming over to meet Mike and Josh, and thank them for the moving speeches. I thanked Mike myself and congratulated Josh.
All in all it was a night we will never forget. It was the first time that we got to see Mike Smith speak but hopefully not the last. We urge you all to check out Mike’s website www.mikesmithlive.com to see when he is coming to your town. We will be with Mike at El Segundo where he will be speaking Oct. 30th.