Brett Gillespie and the Mysterious World of Caps and Gowns

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“You know, you can always measure in the financial areas, but really, knowing that we’ll be back doing this next year, I guess, is success to me.”

— Brett Gillespie

Great episode today! This one’s from an industry that many people use at some point in their lives, yet not one that many people think about. Today, I got to sit down and chat with Brett Gillespie, who owns Scholastic Enterprises, LLC., which is a sales firm that does the graduation caps and gowns, tassels, letter jackets, rings, etc. for a lot of schools around Michigan; Michigan State University is just one notable example. What a unique company and industry!

While the company is only a few years old, its roots stem back over 20 years ago when Brett’s father, Andy Gillespie, was an independent rep for a similar company, and eventually the two of them decided to go into business together.

You can tell that things like customer relationships and delivering quality products really mean a lot to these guys. We get into Brett’s passions outside of work as well, like history, genealogy, and movies.

Side note that I forgot to bring up in the interview: Brett and I actually go way back. We went to the same high school, and around our junior or senior year, we both participated in Boys State. Boys/Girls State is this week-long, politically-focused day camp where you run for difference offices and hold mock elections. I sucked at Boys State. I wasn’t really interested in or knowledgeable about politics (I still try to stay away from it as much as possible). Brett, on the other hand, was awesome at it! He’s always had a passion for politics and history, so he was in his element. Despite my lack of performance, I often think back to that time and am grateful Brett and I can share that memory and experience.

Stand up guys, with a stand up business. Without further adieu, enter the world of Brett Gillespie from Scholastic Enterprises, LLC.:

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Or, you can listen to this episode on iTunes!

 

Hidden Gems

Here are some of the hidden gems from the interview with Brett.

Quality and Price

Brett and Andy put a lot of focus on providing quality products, and push for American-made whenever possible. They also try to use products that are made from recycled material. Their suppliers include Oak Hall Cap & Gown and National Recognition Products, both of which also supply entities such as the US Supreme Court and the US Court of Appeals for things like robes and certificates. Check these out!

Pretty sweet, am I right?!

On top of that, Scholastic Enterprises also has the most inexpensive caps and gowns around!

Sales

Brett expresses the way he feels about sales through some advice his dad gave him when he was younger.

Get ready for for this one…

…Ready?

Seriously, this will blow your mind.

Here it is:

 

“Sales is simply the transfer of emotion. If you can make someone else feel the same way you do about a product, they’ll buy.”

— Brett Gillespie, quoting his father, Andy

 

Told you so. 🙂  There’s an important lesson in this, as Brett illustrates during the interview, especially for those who hate sales like me. The lesson is that anyone can sell. Any time you asked to stay up late as a child, or have asked someone out on a date, or have asked for a discount, you’re technically selling. The key is understanding that it’s simply the transfer of emotion — asking the other person to feel the same way you do — and it takes a little practice. Great advice, Andy!

Fundraising

Here’s a cool little tidbit. Scholastic Enterprises will often use fundraising, not only as a customer service, but also to showcase how much of a better value their products are. Say your school is currently being charged $40 per cap and gown with another company, and say Scholastic’s prices are around $21 per cap and gown. Scholastic will charge you the same amount you’re currently spending, and then pay the difference to whatever organization your school decides to fundraise for, like the education foundation or boosters club. They’ve helped multiple schools fundraise this way. How awesome is that?! Ask them about it.

Preschool & Kindergarten Gowns

Wait, what?? Scholastic Enterprises can also do gowns and whatnot for preschool and kindergarten kids (that’s actually a thing???). It’s not too common here in Michigan, but apparently a lot of other places order them. So if you’re interested, give Scholastic a call!

Books, Movies, and Genealogy

Brett is huge fan of history and politics, particularly history regarding Winston Churchill. He’s read just about every book about him. Like Churchill, he also enjoys a nice cigar once in awhile. I typically only smoke cigars when I have something to celebrate, but meeting with Brett is just as good of a celebration as anything! We planned to smoke cigars during the interview, but the weather wasn’t having it. No dice.

Brett’s also a fan of movies, especially It’s a Wonderful Life. We talk about the Guardians of the Galaxy and the new Peanuts Movie, but what I like the most is Brett’s passion for viewing movies in the theater. Much agreed! It’s all about the experience.

Brett and his wife, Emily, are also passionate about genealogy. The same way some may binge watch Netflix, they’ve spent plenty a night binge researching their families’ history through Ancestry.com.

Here’s another passion of theirs…their very cute dog, Winifred Marie Churchill Gillespie (a.k.a. Winnie)! 🙂

Where You Can Reach Scholastic Enterprises, LLC. Online

ScholasticGrads.com

Scholastic Enterprises, LLC. on Facebook

Scholastic Enterprises, LLC. on Twitter

Scholastic Enterprises, LLC. on Instagram

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