For the last ten years a road in Northern Michigan has become an internationally recognized road, well beyond the borders of Michigan. M22. “Beyond a road, a way of life” was founded by two kiteboarding brothers and was created “to express a common passion for Northern Michigan shared by our friends and family.” The M22 collection includes t-shirts, sweatshirts, hats, bumper stickers, sweatpants, mugs and much more. They also created the Love Michigan Collection and are the founders of the M22 Challenge, an annual summer “run, bike and paddle” race. MyNorth’s Eliza Foster talked to one of the founding brothers, Matt Myers about M22’s growth, their work with the Leelanau Conservancy, selling on ShopMyNorth and more in this Q&A.
What does M22 mean to you? Can you talk about the brand?
I look at M22 like it is sort of a secret, you either get it or you don’t. And what’s so great about it is that it can mean something different to everyone, but for us it represents that feeling of knowing there is no other place you would rather be… maybe a calm summer evening around the beach bonfire with close friends and family, or diving off the dock in the middle of a starry night, or kiting along a desolate shoreline when the fall winds push down Lake Michigan creating ocean-like waves.
Something that I don’t think many people know about, is your work with the Leelanau Conservancy. Can you talk a little bit about that?
From our first day in business, M22 has donated a percentage of all sales to the Leelanau Conservancy. This means that for every product sold a portion of proceeds is given away – not based on profit but on gross sales. So even if our company made no profit in a year we are still committed to our donation. For my brother and me this was a simple decision, it just seemed like the right thing to do. We believe in what the Leelanau Conservancy is doing and feel grateful for being able to help them in their mission.
It’s been really thrilling to see M22 grow so much in recent years and we are excited to now carry M22 items on Shop MyNorth. Can you tell us about some of your favorite products?
Our buyer, Nate Farran, has really pulled some great things together for this year. We have some nice new glassware releasing this summer, all created right here in Northern Michigan. But probably my favorite product is the new cycling kit. We have partnered with a company called Sugoi and are now making high performance athletic pieces. But still, you can’t beat the classic black M22 shirt!
When you started M22 did you ever envision what it is today? How do you feel about this?
Well the funny thing is we never ever set out to own a business. We never made a business plan and we never sought out investors, it all just happened very naturally. That was over 10 years ago. Now I look at our core team, the amazing employees we have attracted and hear from our customers how much M22 means to them. I am so thankful for that!
What’s the latest in the world of M22? Any cool new products or projects you guys are working on?
Quite a bit has been happening behind the scenes at M22 this year. We have built a new warehouse to help keep stock to fulfill orders and keep our wholesalers happy. We have hired on a new warehouse and shipping manager, brought on a new sales manager and just recently hired a very talented designer. We have created an incredible team. But most importantly we are all good friends and have a good time working and having fun together.