Shaun Neff is no slacker. He launched his wildly successful eponymous headwear company while he was still in college. In the short time since, he has collaborated with the likes of Snoop Dogg (Lion) and deadmau5, while sponsoring high profile skaters, snowboarders, and surfers. So, how do you get a gig working for a guy this successful? Read on to find out.
What jumps out at you on a resume?
Having previous experience in the action sports/fashion industry is always a good way to catch my eye. This industry is so unique and it’s good to know that the candidate already understands the culture and would easily adapt into the Neff mindset. Beyond that, I like seeing how long that person has worked at their previous jobs. If they are jumping ship every 6 months, that’s always a big red flag.
What is the best thing someone can do to impress you in an interview?
Show up on time, be prepared, and ask questions. Obviously if you’re interviewing with me, you’ve made it through the channels and I’ve already looked at your resume and I like what I see. At this point the vibe of the person is really important. We try to cultivate a distinct culture so it’s important the candidate will fit into the Neff family. I also really appreciate seeing people who are super excited and passionate about what they do, and about the potential of being part of our team.
What is the worst thing someone has ever done in an interview with you?
I interviewed a candidate once that kept her sunglasses on and was loudly chewing gum for the entire interview. She also spent about 15 minutes talking after introducing herself without taking a breath to allow me to speak or even ask her a question. Needless to say she didn’t get the job.
Showing up to an interview with Shaun Neff whilst wearing Neff Headwear—good idea or bad?
I like it as long as you aren’t wearing Neff head to toe. But if it’s just a watch or beanie, that’s awesome. It shows the candidate is familiar with Neff, and actually likes the brand, and knows how to tie it in with his/her own personal style. Especially if it doesn’t look brand new…worn means authentic.
What do you look for in how people dress for the interview?
I always feel bad for people who come in here in a suit and tie because they stick out like a sore thumb. I do appreciate the effort, but it also shows a misunderstanding of the brand. I like to see people dress casually, but I love when I see someone with standout personal style. We’re a fashion/lifestyle brand, so it’s important for me to surround myself with creative, forward-thinking people that are trendsetters in one way or another.
How important is a clear face to getting the job?
While experience and charisma are very important, it's crucial to show up for an interview looking your best.
You've collaborated on lines with Snoop Dogg and deadmau5. What other musical artists would you love to work with?
Recently we’ve been working with Mac Miller on a capsule collection coming out towards the end of summer, which I’m really excited about. As for other musical artists, I’d love to with with Kanye or Jay-Z.
If you had to pick one celebrity to team up with—musician, athlete, actor, what have you—who would it be?
Probably Jay-Z. He is the boss of all bosses. Putting a Neff spin on his clean, timeless style would be rad.
What is the most important quality you look for in a candidate you're considering hiring?
Now that the business is maturing, the thing that really excites me is experience. When you start a company, you bring on people you know and all develop together, but there's a huge learning curve. So at this point, I love bringing on good, smart, experienced people who I too can learn from and collaborate with.
You launched Neff Headwear while you were still at BYU. Besides its size and success, how has the company changed since then for you?
The amazing thing is that I’m still very connected to all aspects of the business. I still decide on brand direction, help assemble major marketing initiatives, and hustle with major accounts to drive sales. But what has really changed is the amount of work there is to do. There aren’t enough hours in the day anymore for me to accomplish everything I need to do, so I have to be much more careful with my time.
What advice would you give someone who looks up to you and is trying to break into the headwear biz?
Find a niche and go with it. There are so many copycat companies these days that are just trying to ride a trend. It’s all about starting something new and fresh and creating a demand, not just supplying it. No one needs another Neff, another Nike, or Burton. Make sure that if you’re starting a brand, you can deliver something that doesn’t already exist.
What are you most proud of out of all your accomplishments?
This has been the ultimate dream come true and I feel so humbled and blessed that this idea I had as a 21 year old kid has actually come true. I still get excited every time I see someone wearing Neff—that definitely makes me more proud than anything else.