SARNIA, Ont. — Mason Hyde isn’t like the other students in his program.
While a lot of his classmates have their sights set on working in Upper Management roles with professional sport teams, Hyde wants to take a different career path. He’s more into the product side of the industry, and his ultimate end goal is working with a brand.
“I want to get into Marketing or Sport Marketing through a brand,” said Hyde. “I’m not really into the management side of sports, but more of the product side.”
“My dream job would be a Marketing Manager or something similar for brands like Nike or Adidas.”
Hyde is in his second year of the Sports and Recreation Administration Program at Lambton College, and is a second-year player on the Lions Men’s Basketball program. Through his course work, Hyde is learning the ins and outs of the industry from various angles, but his focus remains locked on the marketing side that he’s interested in.
For full-time students, it’s often tough to gain valuable experience in your desired field while trying to balance a full schedule. For Hyde, his full schedule includes course work, practices, games, and part-time work. Even with everything that he has on his plate, Hyde has still found time to build experience in the marketing industry to strengthen his resume.
Back in 2016, when Hyde was in Grade 10, he started his company called Mason Hyde (MH) Shoes. In short, Hyde buys different basketball shoes from various conventions, vendors, and outlets and then sells them to people all over Canada.
“It was just a side Facebook page for the stuff I was selling,” said Hyde. “I started on Kijiji a little bit, but I just found that it wasn’t worth the time that I as putting into Kijiji.”
“With the amount of people who were messaging and not genuinely looking to buy, it wasn’t worth the time.”
Early on, the business caught on at Hyde’s high school in Petrolia, Ontario. As is the case with most high school students, people want to be up-to-date with the latest trends. Hyde ordered 30 sweaters and sold out that same day. He placed a second order and sold 25 of the 30 sweaters as pre-orders before the order even came in.
“It caught on at my high school as a trend,” said Hyde. “People just wanted the hoodies because they saw other people wearing them.”
Little did he know at the time, but that was a sign of things to come of MH Shoes.
Over the last three years, Hyde’s entrepreneurial venture has far exceeded even his own expectations. As of September 27th, Hyde’s Instagram page (@M_H_Shoes) has over 1,600 followers, which is his main sales avenue.
“The age range that I’m targeting is more through Instagram,” continued Hyde when explaining his shift from Kijiji to Instagram. “I go to sneaker conventions and set up vendor tables, too.”
“I can sell 25-30 pairs in one weekend.”
He’s since sold more than 400 pairs of shoes.
From a young age, Hyde has been into the game of basketball and the footwear aspect of the game really peaked his interest. Sneakers are a way for players to express themselves on the court with various art designs and collaborations, and it’s something that stood out to Hyde.
“I’m very much into the culture of watching what’s happening with the trends and the shoes,” said Hyde. “You really have to be on top of that to know what’s going to sell.”
Keeping up with the trends while trying to grow his own business also ties in his education.
“Just to know what trends and what’s going to work for selling really work into the marketing side of the business.”
Nowadays, collaborations are the big thing. From musicians and other professional athletes to television shows and movies, brands are coming out with unique collaborations and colour ways for shoes to drive more sales. Keeping up with the collaborations is the easy part for Hyde, but purchasing the shoes is another challenge in its own right.
“I was at Foot Locker in Toronto the day that the Kyrie Irving x Spongebob shoes were released, and they had one of the five colour ways left when I got in there 20 minutes after they opened,” said Hyde. “All of the sizes were sold out except for one colour way, and they only had it in sizes 11.5, 12, and 13.”
“They were gone quick.”
For Hyde, it’s not all about buying and selling shoes. A shoe collector himself, he has roughly 50-60 pairs in his own personal collection, while over 100 in his collection ready to sell.
In addition to collecting shoes, Hyde also likes to wear them around to showcase his collection. Often seen with a different pair of shoes each day, Hyde doesn’t fall into the stereotypical shoe collector category.
“A lot of people that collect shoes, they just keep them in boxes and don’t wear them,” said Hyde. “I like to wear my shoes.”
He’s seen his share of shoes in the day, but when asked about his favourite shoe, Hyde quickly went back to a classic.
“I’ve always liked Jordan 1s,” said Hyde. “The way the leather is built and because they’re so old, the more you wear them, they still actually look nice as opposed to worn and strange when you crease them.”
Mason Hyde and MH Shoes are a part of the global footwear business that focuses on basketball shoes.
Hyde said he has lined up for several release dates with the hopes of landing the newest shoes shortly after they hit shelves. He’s been unsuccessful when it comes to waiting, like his adventures with the Kyrie Irving x Spongebob collaboration, but he’s also been able to land the newest kicks on launch day in-store.
From going to sneaker conventions all over Southwestern Ontario, to shopping at outlet malls south of the border, Hyde has his ways of landing different brands and models of shoes to keep his business running. With over 400 pairs sold thus far, it’s safe to say that business is booming for Hyde.
“If I thought it was going to get this big, I probably would have come up with more of a marketed name,” said Hyde, when asked about MH Shoes. “Once it got big, I was like ‘I can’t change my name now,” so I just kept going with that.”
“I don’t think I’d be able to run this at the same time as working for Nike, right?, joked Hyde. “That’s probably against their policies or something.”
Many students struggle to find ways to gain valuable experience while going through school, especially in their desired field or role. Most students will take on various volunteer roles to build their resume, whether they pertain to their career path or not, with the hopes of using some of their experiences to help better their chances when looking for a job.
Hyde has taken a different approach. By starting his own business back in 2016, Hyde has given himself a head start in terms of gaining the necessary experience to succeed after school is done.
With the end goal of becoming a Marketing Manager, he is living that role with each passing day with MH Shoes. With his name attached to the business in every way possible, he’s not only working to market his business and the shoes he’s selling, but he’s also marketing himself to potential employers down the road with his ability to operate his company in the manner that he does.
It’s not easy to balance a business while being a full-time student-athlete, but Hyde has found a way to excel at both.
For Mason Hyde and MH Shoes, this is just the beginning of what will hopefully be a long career in the world of Marketing and Branding. What started out as a side Facebook page in Grade 10 has now turned into a business that ships shoes all over Canada to sneaker heads from coast to coast.
Everything started because Hyde had a vision for himself back in high school. He wanted to put himself on a path to success at an early age, giving himself a head start as he began his collegiate career. Now, he’s grown his business farther than he ever could have imagined.
Hyde took a chance on himself, and it’s starting to pay off in a big way.
– T. Bennett