What is it about quality craftsmanship that draws us in? It is the art of tactile, things that are real, things that have a story, which makes us begin to truly connect with the experience and the life of the craft, rather than simply the craft itself. Travis Weaver, founder of Manready Mercantile, is a unique breed in the retail industry. In Manready, he has built a boutique retail empire, directed primarily towards men, focused on creating and curating goods that are traditionally marketed towards women.
It's hard to remember a day when man-candles weren't a thing, or when it was impossible to find apothecary items that had the rich aroma of leather or bourbon, but about 6 years ago the apothecary & home goods market was primarily targeted towards women. Travis had grown up in backwoods Texas, where recreation time was dedicated to hunting, fishing, camping, and spending time in the greater outdoors. After graduating college with a degree in marketing & advertising, Travis spent the most of his professional life working on international ad campaigns, and figuring out how to create experiences that people would fall in love with. Due to his very contrasting past, he built Manready to be a place that would both support the rugged elements that he loved about his early childhood, and also leverage his experience in branding, marketing, and advertising to create a space that would invite both men and women in a uniquely warm manner. Over the past 6 years, the brand of Manready has developed a cult-like following in the south, introducing an addictive experience that both men and women, rural and urban, young and old could come to fall in love with.
Introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about Manready Mercantile.
Travis: My name is Travis Weaver and I am the founder of Manready Mercantile, which is a premium general goods store, with products generally geared towards guys. I started in late 2012 making candles & whiskey glasses in my apartment, selling them door-to-door to neighbors and businesses, showing them that the American dream still exists, and that entrepreneurs can actually crank up something from nothing without asking for handouts. Now, we have about 200 brands represented in our shop, most of whom are smaller, local brands, not necessarily meaning that they’re working out of their garage, but they’re certainly not big, international conglomerates. Our focus is on selling products that are built-to-last, things that are timeless, and things that are going to be passed down for generations to come.
What is your personal background?
Travis: I was raised in a small town, called Zephyr, TX, population of about 500 people. I graduated with 22 in my class. I studied marketing & advertising at Texas State University. After college, I worked on big international ad campaigns, and did various types of sales jobs, being very attentive to customer interaction, marketing, and figuring out what makes people tick.
Tell us about why you started Manready.
Travis: Really, one of my main motivators is that I wanted to show people the American dream still exists, that you can grow up a poor farm boy, and with the right skills and work ethic, that you can make something out of nothing. I started with $100 and made about 10 candles. I sold those, made 20 more, so on and so forth. In the beginning, I had to trade & barter with friends and family. I made candles, soap, bath salts, cutting boards, and other products that typically weren’t sold to men. I didn’t really know why they weren’t marketed to men, but I knew I wanted to change that. So, I started creating and curating quality-made goods that most guys probably didn’t have, and created a one-stop shop for them to come and enjoy themselves.
With a background in marketing, I wanted to create a brand and a space that focused on creating an incredible, unique experience for everyone who walked in our doors. For instance, we have a bar in the shop and we make a handcrafted Old-Fashioned on the house. We can’t sell them, but we give them away. Whenever folks come in, we give them a warm handshake and a cold Old-Fashioned. We just like to treat folks a little bit differently than what they would expect out of the big box stores, or really anywhere else they’ve ever been to in their life.
who is your biggest source of inspiration?
Travis: Most of the decisions I make, I take my granddad into consideration. I always think, “What would he do? Who would he work with? How would he make things? How would he run his business?” He was the kind of guy that started before the sun came up and stopped after the sun went down. He only worked with people he knew, trusted, and respected, and he’d give them the shirt off his back. He never raised his voice. He had a strong work ethic. In everything I do, I always bring it back to thinking about what granddad would do.
How does this balance of being both a creator and curator work?
There are certain types of products I believe I can make & market better. If I can, then I’ll make and sell that product on my own. If not, then I’ll bring in a brand who is the best at what they do. It really all depends on where my heart and mind is for a particular product. I do a lot of marketing for the brands I carry in my shop, and I hope other stores will pick them up, too. I like knowing that the brands and people I work with are successful and flourishing at what they do.
What does a few days off work look like for you?
I’ve been lucky to turn my hobbies into a business. I’ve always enjoyed tinkering and making things, so ironically my hobby has turned into my job. Other than that, I love doing anything outdoors, like hunting, fishing, camping, hiking, getting my dogs outdoors, really anything that gets me outside.
Are you a bourbon or rye guy?