Joe Connolly, Mo Vaughn

WCBS 880

Small Business Spotlight: Mo Vaughn Goes From Baseball To Big And Tall Clothing With MVP Collections

March 27, 2018 - 5:47 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Mo Vaughn went from being a slugger and star first baseman for the Boston Red Sox and New York Mets to the founder of a men’s clothing company – and he says others who could execute the business vision made all the difference.

In this week’s Small Business Spotlight, Vaughn talked with Joe Connolly about his transition from being a Major League Baseball player who won the 1995 American League MVP to being the founder of MVP Collections – a clothing like for big and tall men.

Vaughn said he knew while he was still playing baseball that he would have to find a new passion once his pro sports career ended.

“I just knew baseball wasn’t going to be my final destination or definition of life. I think, you know, you’re fortunate to play, you know, until you’re 30 or 40 years old. Most of us didn’t get that chance,” he said. “I was done at 33, and then you’ve got to make a life for yourself. So I think for me knowing that, as I was going through the process, helped me get to the process that I’m at right now.”

Vaughn founded a real estate business 10 years ago that turned into a success, and MVP Collections followed more recently. He noted that any successful business takes time and impatience is not an option.

“The work and the amount of time and the effort put in, you know, everybody just thinks it happens overnight. Nothing happens overnight. Nothing happens in the heat of the night in 24 hours. It takes time. But it’s one of those things where you’re going to make mistakes,” he said. “You’ve got excess capital, and you’re going to go out and you’re going to try the different businesses.”

What makes all the difference is getting involved with others who led him on a new path. He settled on a men’s big and tall fashion company because he found the market lacking for clothes that he himself needed. He joined up with fashion veteran Diane Bennett to found the company.

“There was just nothing out there. So I looked at myself and I said, ‘Let me go get my partner, who has been in the business for 25 years, you know, Diane Bennett, and take my idea to someone that knows.’ And I knew as a customer what’s missing,” Vaughn said. “And that’s how MVP Collections got started, was me missing clothes – looking for styles and different things that were not in the everyday marketplace that we thought they should be, and trying to get that style with the market for the big and tall brand – big and tall size guy.”

Vaughn and Bennett had known each other for a long time, and when they finally got a chance to sit down together, the business plan coalesced.

“We were at a birthday party overseas… this thing was cultivated overseas – in Italy, as a matter of fact. And we had a discussion, and then I think she went back, did some reconnaissance on what I was saying – that this was a totally wide space that nobody was in, and that all the analytics was going to be something that we were going to have to develop ourselves, because there’s really nothing there to show what the big and tall guy has,” Vaughn said. “And we’ve been able to do that.”

He said joining up with Bennett, who had expertise in fashion, was crucial in making everything work.

“We’re athletes…. We have some business intellect, but you need pros to do what you want to do to be successful,” he said. “That’s what I try to do.”

Vaughn said lending his name to the brand makes a difference, but is not enough unto itself to make MVP Collections a success.

“Diane and I, we have leveraged Mo Vaughn to get the meetings that we need to get. And I think the main thing is, you know, what I’ve learned is, through all that, is ultimately, my name only gets you in the door. But you’ve got to execute the process,” he said. “And I think that’s what I’ve learned about most important is… your name can get you there, but you’re going to execute the process every day and get things done. And I think when you do that, then you’ve really got an opportunity to do some things.”

Vaughn said trying to market and advance the brand on his name alone could have backfired, but with someone to execute the plan, the efforts became successful.

“You know, everybody likes Mo Vaughn until the product’s late. And then, you know, what the hell is going on? Or, you know, the cut’s wrong, or you know – things happen that are wrong, nobody cares about who Mo Vaughn is,” he said. “They want you to execute the process.”

Vaughn emphasized that he personally was only a part of the formula that led to success for MVP Collections, and for every other business venture he has been involved with.

“If I could just hide and you could hear my voice and things would get done, I would do that – you know what I mean? I’m actually the MVP model. Do I look like a model to you? You know what I mean? It doesn’t make any sense,” he said. “But you know, it’s one of those things that, you know, I’ll do what I have to do to help the brand grow, but I know I’m just a piece of the puzzle that makes a success of anything I’ve been involved with. And it’s not just who you are. You need good people.”

When it comes to finding customers, Vaughn said the main method is to get the brand publicized – using social media and other avenues and making customers aware of the style options that MVP Collections makes available to them.

“It’s all about getting the MVP brand name out there, letting the customer know that they have the ability to have style, and it’s going to be classy, and we’re made in America, which I think is the other great force for us, Our materials are great. You know, the way our product feels is great. So between all those different things, I think now for us, we’ve been in like, you know, 16, 17 months,” he said. “It’s just getting the brand out there; getting people to understand it and know it, and I think it’ll take off.”