Former University of Michigan basketball captain David Merritt keeping busy with business venture
Former University of Michigan basketball captain David Merritt has spent the past eight months building and growing an Ann Arbor-based apparel company he trumpets as a community-friendly venture with a unique mission.
Merritt expects to launch his business Sept. 4 at the Michigan League ballroom. He's released some details on Twitter, YouTube and Facebook, but kept most of them a secret.
His followers must wait to find out which audience he intends to target, where his store will be located, even what the apparel looks like.
Merritt insists his secrecy isn't a marketing ploy. But hints of what's coming have generated some buzz, leading to some 3,500 hits on "The Get Ready", Merritt's video diary that chronicles his transition from student-athlete to business owner.
In the Michigan locker room, Merritt was mild-mannered, but motivational, offering his teammates the final word before they took the floor.
But on episodes of "The Get Ready," Merritt puts his personality on display, opening up sides of himself that are familiar mostly to those closest to him.
"It's not acting," Merritt said Monday before shooting a promotional video in downtown Ann Arbor. "There's just different sides to me and I kind of adapt to the situation I'm in. It's it's more formal, I'm more formal.
"But if I'm just hanging out, I may let loose a little more."
Merritt, who earned a undergraduate degree in sport management, said social-networking avenues are the tools being used most by his business' target audience, making it the perfect way to keep those following Merritt's pursuits up to date.
He has more than 1,800 friends on Facebook and nearly 300 followers on Twitter (@davidmerritt15), aiding him in product marketing without spending a dime on advertising.
"I wanted to bring people along with the process to give somebody that may want to start something like this what I have learned," Merritt said.
As he moves closer to an announcement on Aug. 12 that will lead to the official launch part in early September, Merritt remains actively engaged in all facets of the business venture.
Episodes of "The Get Ready" are often shot from Merritt's Ann Arbor apartment on a web cam or hand-held camera before Merritt completes the editing himself. Design discussions are held via video conferences between Ann Arbor and his designers in Germany, keeping Merritt's schedule full.
Merritt recently returned from Los Angeles, where he spent two weeks seeking out a printer for his apparel line. The trip was beneficial for Merritt, who learned the business tools of negotiation and building relationships - practices Merritt knows will help him as his business moves forward.
He constantly asks questions, picking the brains of more experienced business professionals. But at the grassroots level, each day is its own adventure for Merritt, who runs the gamut of emotions as his business prepares to introduce itself to Ann Arbor.
"You get frustrated, some days you get overwhelmed and you don't know if you can do it by yourself," he said. "But I've had a lot of people help me and so it's good to have people keep in my ear that, 'You started this and you've got to fight through it.'
"But if we continue to fight and continue to work hard, eventually, something great is going to come out of this."
Jeff Arnold covers sports for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached at 734-623-2554 or firstname.lastname@example.org