Chase McAnulty has collected vintage T-shirts since high school, noting his 1988 KU Jayhawks and Rolling Stones concert shirts among his favorites.
“I love the stories they tell, the graphics, the tag, the maker, down to the soft fit and feel,” Chase said. “T-shirts of the ‘70s and ‘80s were simple, and I wanted to bring that back.”
He started by collecting and selling vintage shirts on eBay, then launched a vintage T-shirt blog. When he discovered the “interesting subculture” around this type of shirt, he saw a business opportunity. Chase’s mother, a designer for national brands in the ‘90s, encouraged him to gain the necessary design skills to turn his idea into a reality, which led the entrepreneur to take classes at the Kansas City Art Institute.
From there, all it took was a Danny and the Miracles T-shirt (Chase says, if you know, you know) to get started. He officially opened Charlie Hustle in 2011 and launched his website in October 2012 with 16 T-shirts, all of which were various sports team-inspired designs. The magical 16th shirt was his now-famous KC heart, a nod to a Kansas City Monarchs patch on their 1942 jersey.
It wasn’t until Salvador Perez hit a line drive down the third baseline against the Oakland Athletics to send the Royals to the 2014 World Series that Charlie Hustle exploded, thanks largely to actor Paul Rudd sporting the KC Heart T-shirt on national TV.
“Little did we know that would be the thing that would take off,” Chase said. “It’s part of that luck of the business, and it gave us a jumping-off point to really get our name out there.”
And while Chase’s goal was simply to build a clothing business focused on vintage T-shirts, the company has grown to include fleece hoodies and crewnecks, joggers, sweatpants, socks, accessories, and (coming soon) varsity jackets.
Paul Rudd Was Only Part of the Success
As a young entrepreneur, Chase pieced together certain aspects of running a business. He had little financial knowledge when he started, and while Chase was the early creative director, he knew he also needed to learn what it would take to be a CEO.
He started by working with an attorney to secure licensing and trademarking. When Chase expressed concern in 2016 regarding their accountant, the attorney referred him to Goering & Granatino.
“We know we’re good at what we do with T-shirts, and when you have all these other distractions, it makes doing your part well difficult,” Chase said, adding that the Goering & Granatino team immediately got to work reorganizing the company’s books, streamlining accounting processes and making it easy for the Charlie Hustle team to do a lot of the day-to-day work with Goering & Granatino’s guidance.
While Goering & Granatino helps with quarterly and monthly tax and accounting issues, Chase appreciates the guidance the team offers so Charlie Hustle can avoid owing too much at the end of the year. That includes strategically working toward an accrual-based accounting structure so Chase can move assets around within Charlie Hustle to support further growth.
“Goering & Granatino has been a great extension to our controller at a high level by helping us understand our expenses, revenue, and valuation,” Chase said. “I like to constantly understand our value – and how to use that to create more value. Keeping us up to date on tax legislation and showing us how we can leverage tax savings opportunities has helped us craft and support our long-term vision.”
Goering & Granatino’s recommendations also have been crucial for Charlie Hustle and Chase throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It was a mess,” Chase said. “Nobody knew how to navigate the pandemic and the relief options, but they studied up on all the information and programs available to us. They were proactive, not reactive, because they knew the firm’s role in the pandemic, and they were ready for it.”
Expanding the Client-Accountant Relationship
Goering & Grantino isn’t just an outsourced accountant providing strategic services for Chase and Charlie Hustle’s financial team. Partner and Co-owner Frank Granatino also sits on the company’s advisory board and helps with decisions relating to the overall strategy.
Frank now serves on Charlie Hustle’s advisory board and, in addition to working as the company’s outsourced accountant, serves as a mentor to the company’s in-house controller advising on tax planning and financial awareness to help the team take their high-level goals to market by providing an advanced financial perspective.
He’s also become a professional friend to Chase.
“Frank and his team have not only been a vital resource to Charlie Hustle, but to me personally, helping me understand estate planning, homeownership, and building ownership,” Chase said. “We’ve played a lot of golf together, which has allowed Frank to understand me on a personal level and recognize my needs at home to help support the business.
Business owners, especially startup entrepreneurs, need to surround themselves with good resources and people to protect their creative side, and it’s a benefit Chase doesn’t take for granted by working with Goering & Granatino.
“The Goering & Granatino team have been a great extension to what we’ve built internally,” Chase said. “They allow us to focus on what we do really well. The client-partner business relationship is not always just about what they can offer us as an organization but what they can offer us as people. We use our core values not only to determine who we hire and fire, but who we work with – and Goering & Granatino align with those values very well.”