Celebrate Father’s Day With Halsey
Bill and Will Halsey Johnson are the gentlemen behind Halsey 44, an exceptional brand offering classic menswear constructed from custom materials. They are also, as you may have guessed, family. So, how in the world do you navigate a father-son relationship to build a successful business? We chatted with Bill and Will about their experiences in the industry, getting Halsey up and running, and working closely with your father or son.
Bombfell: Hey guys, thanks so much for taking the time to talk. I actually must say that I’m wearing some Halsey shorts right now, and I love them. They feel really rugged, like I want to go on a hike with them or something.
Will: Those are our Theodore and it’s a fabric called the Honeycomb Stretch. That’s actually the purpose of that fabric. We do a couple other fabrics that are lighter and more geared toward style. We wanted to diversify our offerings for shorts with something more rugged…
Bombfell: Well, you succeeded. They are awesome. And it makes sense, since I know that you guys spend a lot of time thinking about the textiles you are using for your clothing. Maybe you could talk a bit about your experience in textiles and how that informs what you do?
Will: So, my father Bill has actually spent his life in the industry, so I’m going to let him start.
Bill: So, when I left college, I ended up in a weaving mill in Lewiston, Maine. My life since then has been in primarily in fabrics: weaving, knitting, printing, dyeing and finishing. It’s always been something that I’ve loved and have spent a lot of time in. So, when Will and I ended up getting into business together. This was obviously something that came in handy.
Will: On my end, I was able to work with my father and his associates in the textile mills during summers between the ages of maybe 12 to 15. This was something I loved and gave me a way to understand the trade a bit more, learning timings, fabrics, colors, etc. Later, I got a degree in entrepreneurial business…
Will: And we pulled all of this experience together to start Halsey, starting as a source for pants, shorts and trousers in novelty textiles.
Bombfell: One final thing, Bill, having dedicated so much of your life to the textile industry, I was curious about what compels you about textiles or what you love about the industry?
Bill: Good question. There used to be three industries that were considered high risk… and this was one of them. And what I mean by that is that you are consistently recreating yourself. You can never be comfortable with what you just did. You’re always moving forward. It’s not a sedentary life because fashion changes.
Bombfell: So, something else I’m really interested to hear you talk about is how you’ve dealt with your father-son relationship through starting this business. Will, I know your father has a bevy of experience, and it’s not always easy for a son to be instructed by his dad. Have there been any moments of friction or frustration at all?
Will: I think something that has benefited our relationship is that we started at that very young age. We’re able to understand each other in a way that most bosses and employees don’t. And the structure of understanding that ‘I’m still learning’ was monumental in the growth of our brand. And as we’ve grown, it’s transitioned from simply a teaching relationship into a mutual relationship and partnership.
That being said, there have certainly been times we’ve butted heads. But we’ve never wavered in terms of our goals. I mean you expect to know your father better than anyone else. We look at each other’s strengths and weaknesses and work from that. Having that knowledge made it much easier to play to our strengths.
Bombfell: That makes a lot of sense. Also, if you do have little frictions, it’s not like you’re getting rid of one another anyway. You’re family. Maybe that makes it easier to accept certain disagreements and move forward.
Bill: And as a father, let me just say, my hat’s off to Will because I think he’s done a much better job of dealing with my personality than I have with his.
Also, I think there’s something that is fairly common in a father-son relationship, particularly in business, and that is a father wants to release his son, but doesn’t know how. A son wants to break free but doesn’t know how because things are so intertwined. It really is a process, an ebb and flow of friction and love. We’re grateful the Lord has watched over us.
Thanks to Will and Bill Halsey Johnson for taking the time to chat. They’ve created an enduring brand and certainly a Bombfell favorite. If you’d like to experience Halsey for yourself and see the fruits of this father-son labor, contact your Bombfell stylist today.