Snoloha proves slackers can cash in too

For the typical business located in a fluorescently lit office building, being "slacker friendly" wouldn’t exactly be a welcomed accolade. But for home entrepreneur Rod Call, selected the winner of the Top Ten Most Slacker-Friendly category in the 2007 Home-Based 100, it’s a major bragging right.
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For the typical business located in a fluorescently lit office building, being “slacker friendly” wouldn’t exactly be a welcomed accolade. But for home entrepreneur Rod Call, selected the winner of the Top Ten Most Slacker-Friendly category in the 2007 Home-Based 100, it’s a major bragging right.

Not only is Call’s business, Snoloha, an outgrowth of his own views on living a “balanced” life, but his entire clothing line is slacker-centric, too. His shirts, hoodies, and accessories cater to those who are fond of hanging out on the beach or hitting the ski slopes—hence the marriage of “snow” and “Aloha” in his company’s name.

Though Call’s home business is based in picturesque Traverse City, a northern Michigan Mecca for sailing and skiing, Call cites the rum-soaked, island-based, slacker icon Jimmy Buffet as the guiding light for his business.

Snoloha’s motto is “A lifestyle shared by those who live, play, travel, vacation, relax, or simply enjoy life somewhere between the islands and the arctic.” It would make the “Margaritaville” mogul proud.

“Jimmy Buffet epitomizes the whole escapism mentality and has built a global brand,” Call says. “But behind the scenes he has worked his tail off to define this image.”

Which brings us to the “balance” part of being a successful slacker entrepreneur.

“It’s a difficult juggling act,” Call concedes. “I don’t want to come across as the owner of this business who just hangs out.” But truth be told, Call’s been known to cut out for snowboarding on winter workdays, and proudly shared his summertime slacker’s policy called, “No shirt/No shoes Fridays.” For Call, that usually meant heading for the beach on his cruiser bike “with Buffet on my iPod and a couple of cold ones in tow.”

And how to manage that persona among friends? As excited as Call is about selling his products, he’s cautious about going to parties and other social events to push T-shirts and talk business all of the time. That’s way too aggressive for his social circles.

So far, he’s found a way to successfully play both roles: wound-up entrepreneur and kicked-back lifestyle connoisseur.

Call, 32, founded his enterprise in February 2007, after working 10 years at a ski and golf-resort company and then two more at a marketing firm. After a $10,000 investment on computer equipment and initial product, his clothing and accessories are now in 20 Michigan retail stores. He expects to be selling the products at locations in Montana and Florida’s Atlantic coast by spring.

The idea for the business came to him in the winter of 2003 when he returned from a trip to the Virgin Islands. It was snowing in Detroit when he arrived. Driving four hours north toward Traverse City, a bit depressed by the change in weather, Call saw an interstate-freeway sign he’d seen many times before that reads: “45th Parallel Halfway Between Equator & North Pole.” On the copy of a Rolling Stone magazine, he jotted, “Somewhere between the islands and the arctic.”

“I had this ‘Ah-ha!’ moment,” Call recalls.

Over the next few years, he discussed the idea with friends and colleagues in the graphic design and retail industries, and things got rolling. “Before I knew it, I had retail interest and some really nice designs,” he says.

Call’s goal is to one day build a “global brand” and to give back to the community, someday offering charity resort vacations to economically struggling families that can not afford a getaway.

“My mission is to build a company around a lifestyle and good people,” he says. “You really do feel responsible to give something back. I get just as excited about that as I do selling a T-shirt.”

Slackers take heart.

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