a sit down with rhone founder nate checketts
Who is Nate Checketts?
Nate Checketts has been the Co-Founder & CEO of Rhone since the brand was established in 2014. Prior to Rhone, he worked for and consulted with some of the biggest technology and entertainment properties in the world including Cisco, The National Football League, Legends, FanVision, and Sports Radar. Before the age of 30, Nate Checketts founded and launched 4 companies including Rhone and Mangia Technologies, whose patents were later acquired by the San Francisco 49ers.
Checketts has always shown entrepreneurial qualities since he was a kid and naturally fell in love with solving problems and building on his ideas.
Personal Brand Pitch
Nate Checketts is a family man first and an entrepreneur second. He founded and launched 4 companies before the age of 30 and was recently awarded Sports Business Journal’s Forty Under 40. Nate is the Co-Founder and CEO of Rhone, a men’s premium performance lifestyle apparel brand, while also serving as Chairman of the Board to Beyond Type 1, a non-profit dedicated to the community of those with Type 1 Diabetes.
Nate’s overall passion is to encourage everyone to become the best versions of themselves, which directly relates to Rhone’s tagline, “Forever Forward.”
How did you get into the clothing and retail industry?
NC: Prior to Rhone, I did not come from the clothing industry. I had no fashion background, no e-commerce background, no retail background either. It all started with the belief that there could be a better product and an opportunity in the market. For the first 3 years, I felt like a complete novice with regard to nearly every part of the business. It wasn’t until a younger and more green entrepreneur started asking me about my experience that I realized just how much I had learned along the way.
Inspiration for the business idea, and your vision for Rhone?
NC: The original concept of the business came after looking at the industry and noticing two core pockets of activity:
The first and biggest related to active companies that were highly focused on wholesale as a method of distribution, with a skew towards men’s and a lower price point.
The second biggest pocket involved female-focused brands that used a “direct to consumer” model (primarily through retail) at a higher price point.
The first pocket included all of the major brands that I had grown up with. But, what was more surprising was that the second pocket had over 200 female-focused “premium” active brands. When I looked for the inverse of pocket 2 (men’s focused brands – as defined by 80%+ sales to men at a premium price point), I couldn’t find a single player that wasn’t sport-specific. The opportunity seemed obvious to me—that men would come to expect and demand the same quality and attention to detail, but also a fit and a brand that was as dialed in as these female counterparts. We believed strongly that we could build that kind of brand and were determined to build a product that matched the quality we were looking for.
How do you motivate others?
NC: As I consider who has had the biggest impact on my life it usually starts and ends with the people that care about me.
It is nearly impossible to motivate others if they don’t feel that you genuinely care about them and have their best interest at heart. I care deeply about people. I want people to be successful and I often remind myself that others’ hopes, dreams, and fears are very real to them. Reminding myself of this helps make it real to me as well.
As Abraham Lincoln once said: “If you would win a man to your cause, first convince him that you are his sincere friend.” I would only amend that slightly to say—Be his sincere friend. Care. Then you can have an impact. I believe this to be true with everyone—my team, my children, my spouse, and more. When people believe you care, they open themselves up and want to win for you.
What does Nate Checketts do best?
NC: I believe my biggest strength is the ability to see others’ potential – oftentimes before they see it in themselves. I am if anything a strong believer in people and their ability to succeed. This allows me to better understand the roles and areas where people can excel. Reading people is a skill that has served me well.
What makes you the best version of yourself?
NC: Gratitude. It really starts and ends with where my focus is. When I am focused on what I have and the good things in life, I am able to be far more effective in every aspect of my life. And, I find it far more enjoyable as well.
NC: My mantra is the same as we share at Rhone. Forever Forward—it is the idea of eternal progress.
This means that no matter where we are today—the focus should be on moving forward. If we are coming off a great day, a great week, a bad day or a bad week all we can control is whether we are moving forward or backward. So, I like the idea of keeping my eyes focused on getting better, even incrementally. This mindset stops me from getting caught up with the wild swings and instead allows me to focus on continuing to progress and learn.
A Day in My Life
What are you doing at:
2-3 mornings a week I am a volunteer teaching high- school students from 6 am -7 am on faith and life-based principles.
Ideally in the office. I try to keep my mornings open for work and leave the afternoons open for meetings.
I usually order from Chopt Salad 3 days a week. They have amazing salads, which is saying something for someone who used to call salads “rabbit food.”
Most likely in a meeting of some kind.
On a typical day, I’m helping wrangle my 3 boys to get ready for bed. We spend time together as a family, then teeth brushing, “human elevator” (me trying to carry them all up the stairs), pajamas, story-time, song and goodnight hugs. They are my world and I love spending the end of my day with them.
Definitely asleep or trying to convince myself to sleep. I’m an early riser and I don’t believe in burning the candle at both ends. I’ve done it but it is not healthy or good for you in the long run. Sleep is the cheapest, most accessible and most impactful medicine we can give our bodies.
What Else to Know
Where does Nate Checketts enjoy getting lost?
NC: In my car. I love to drive. I turn off GPS / google maps often to try and challenge my own internal map system.
What drink do you need to get through the day?
NC: Mostly water but if I am indulging then chocolate milk or Owyn.
Most used App/Favorite Instagram Account?
NC: My most used app is probably email but texting could be a close second. For me, the best Instagram account has to be Rhone, but I may be biased.
What should everyone try at least once?
NC: Bungee jumping. It’s a pretty amazing experience.
Nate Checketts' TED Talk:
“If Vince Lombardi had an iPad”: Nate Checketts at TEDxLaJolla
Nate Checketts' "The Founder Hour" Podcast Feature:
Nate Checketts | How Rhone Became a Leader in Men’s Activewear
Originally Published by Our Friends at Natfluence March 6, 2020