“I’m a big martial arts fan, and I would go to fights and see a lot of Latinos wearing clothing that wasn’t designed specifically for them. That was the inspiration for Ganas Clothing.”
Professor Herb Miller invited Eddie Lucio III to McCombs this week to talk to his Foundations of Marketing class, and students were treated to a slice of Texas politics, the realities of launching a new clothing line, and some straight talk on getting ahead in life. They should have been taking careful notes, as Lucio was on a roll.
Eddie Lucio III is a member of the Texas House of Representatives (38th District) and a business school graduate from the McCombs School (’01). He also received his law degree at UT Austin (’05). Eddie’s father, Eddie Lucio Jr. is a member of the Texas Senate.
Miller opened the session by noting that the topic of the class was promotion, and how to market yourself to be successful. “You learn to get to know people and engage with people to be successful,” he said. “Promoting, marketing and networking for the common good with people who can help you. Building a relationship, networking not to get anything, but to give. And the more you give the more you get.”
Lucio began by recounting his early years growing up with politics.
“I grew up with politics in my family and I hated it,” he said. “Dad was away a lot, and Mom had to raise the kids. It was tough. But while I was at UT law school there was an issue regarding tuition deregulation. I got involved in that, got a taste for advocacy and got it in my system.”
Lucio told the students he often drew on the lessons of marketing as he launched his political career. A major barrier he faced was his relatively young age and the fact his father was in the Senate. “I had to establish myself as my own person,” he said. “I met with advisors and created a marketing campaign that emphasized the positive aspects of my age and my experience in politics. I had never tried a case, owned a business or run for office. But I talked about being an outsider and representing the perspective of my generation. I had to present myself as someone who had the answers. Young, responsible leadership.”
In answer to a question Lucio stressed that he had never sacrificed his personal integrity in order to survive in politics, whether on a bill or on the campaign trail. He explained that 95% of the issues politicians face are not black and white, and he has had to vote against some bills that were basically good but contained provisions that he could not support.
Turning to the business world, Lucio discussed his involvement in an entrepreneurial venture he just launched.
“I’m a big martial arts fan” he explained, “And I would go to fights and see a lot of Latinos wearing clothing that wasn’t designed specifically for them. It stuck in the back of my mind. So I got together with some artists and developed a fashion line for Latinos who enjoy martial arts. That was the inspiration for Ganas Clothing. The word means desire, will, passion and heart. It is about having courage.
“With Ganas I learned not to take things casually. I had to put together a strategic plan that will resonate with buyers. I had to learn about the textile market. There is so much detail to learn, even about something as simple as t-shirts…where it comes from, what region of the world, the size and fit and style. There are opportunities to set yourself apart.”
Lucio said that while the brand was originally targeted exclusively for the mixed martial arts crowd, he soon realized there was a larger market out there. “We’re a young company,” he stated, “but we learned quickly that our competitors all started small, and developed a following before they ever got into stores. A friend of mine in the business told me, ‘Eddie, don’t grow too quickly.'”
It was clear from his presentation that Lucio has a passion for this new venture. “We are using iconic images from Hispanic culture, with young artists,” he said. “It has been fun to get into, and we’ve been successful whenever we go to an event. We went to a biker show on South Padre Island recently, and I thought ‘I’ve gone from debating deep issues of politics to selling t-shirts at a biker show.’
“There is no shame in my game,” he said with a laugh. Turning serious he encouraged students, “If you prepare properly, manage your finances and work hard you can accomplish nearly anything.”
Lucio’s final comments focused on developing personal relationships based on trust and respect.
“I started off in the mail room in a law firm. I was treated horribly and I loved it, because that was real life,” he said. “When I became an attorney I treated the support staff awesomely, and I could get anything done because they would support me. Remember that the person who greets you at the front desk may have more influence over your success than the person in the corner office.”