It was Warren Zevon who famously asked, “What’s a Canadian farm boy to do?” Since the farm boy was a hockey player, the answer in that case was, “Hit Somebody!” A more unusual question, one with a less obvious answer, is, “What’s a professional soccer goalkeeper with a major in marketing to do?” Well if you follow the example of Harrisburg’s Brandon Miller, who happens to fit both criteria, you’d keep playing as a goalkeeper while owning and operating your own company.
Back in July, Miller launched Prime Focus Goalkeeping, a company specializing in goalkeeper gloves and apparel. A short time after that, he picked up two clean sheets against NYRB II and the Richmond Kickers. Clearly he was maintaining focus both on and off the pitch. It was right around that time that I knew I wanted to talk to him about what drove him to be a goalkeeper/businessman.
Chris Bratton: 2017 was your first season with Harrisburg, but how long have you been working on Prime Focus? Your website says 2016, but did your desire to run your own business go back further than that?
Brandon Miller: I would say my desire to run my own business started back in college when I really started to delve into my marketing major classes; starting something from the bottom and growing it organically seemed like something I would definitely be interested in. The idea for Prime Focus Goalkeeping came about in August of 2016 when I was playing in California. I wanted to find a way to impact younger goalkeepers in a way other than just training them on the soccer field. When I was younger, I remember always having to choose between the more expensive pair of gloves or the best deal that could get me multiple pairs of gloves for the same price. At the time, those great deals meant sacrificing quality and often times that meant I wasn't very confident in the gloves I was wearing, which in turn caused my confidence on the field to drop. My thought process behind Prime Focus Goalkeeping is to offer goalkeepers high quality gloves that will give them the confidence to perform at a high level whether they are just starting out in the position or a seasoned professional.
CB: When I first saw that you had designed your own gloves, it made me think of Ernie Ball. He owned a music store and he suggested to companies like Fender and Gibson that they make different gauges of guitar strings that'd be easier for people to play. When they weren't interested, he got them manufactured himself and now Ernie Ball strings are their own huge company.
So is that kind of how it was for you? Was there something missing from other goalkeeping gloves that just made you say, "I need to get my own made"?
Miller: I wouldn't say there was something missing from other goalkeeping gloves; I would more so say I saw an opportunity to get more involved in the goalkeeping industry and so I took it. Prime Focus Goalkeeping gives me the opportunity to use my marketing degree to the best of my abilities to help my own business grow, it allows me to connect with even more people than I possibly could by simply playing soccer professionally, and it forces me to go outside of my comfort zone to experience the various aspects of building a successful business.
CB: What has it been like balancing being an active goalkeeper and also running a business?
Miller: It has definitely been interesting balancing all of the projects I have going on off the field with my practice/playing schedule on the field. Playing soccer professionally has always been my dream and something I take seriously. I felt like last year, while playing in California, I let my focus drift away from my job and that caused my play to suffer. Coming to Harrisburg this year, I was determined to make sure that playing soccer was my priority. I came into Harrisburg knowing that I would have this business to run but as long as I am playing soccer professionally, that will always be my main focus. This biggest thing I have learned is about time management; something I wasn't great at in college but I am definitely improving. I've learned to plan things out at least a week in advance so that I have daily objectives to take care of. This helps me to stay organized both on and off the pitch!
CB: I couldn't help but notice that you had a few of your fellow Harrisburg City Islanders doing some modeling on the website. Was it easy to get them to model for you, or did it take some convincing?
Miller: My teammates have been great about helping me out with whatever I needed. Whether it was a quick photo or video shoot before or after training or just a quick shout out on social media, they have been really helpful. As a small business, you have to learn to prioritize your time and money so it has definitely been helpful to get those guys to volunteer their time. And if Prime Focus Goalkeeping is able to help launch a modeling career or two, that wouldn't be bad either! I also would be remiss if I didn't thank Skerpon Photography for all of their help as well!
CB: Did you design the logo? Also, did you carve the logo pumpkin on the Prime Focus instagram?
#HappyHalloween Not only is it the last day of October but it's the last day to help us support @bcrfcure ! Head to our website and use code "bcrf50" for a discount on glove/t-shirt combos or use "bcrf15" to get 15% off all t-shirts! A portion of the proceeds go to benefit breast cancer research! _________________________________ #PrimeFocusGK #StayFocused #Goalkeeping #Goalkeeping247 #Goalkeeping365 #GoalieGloves #GoalkeeperGloves #Goalkeeper #GoalkeeperApparel #Halloween #HalloweenPumpkin
Miller: Interesting story about the logo, I didn't design the logo myself but I had a lot of input. I was working with a graphic designer in California for a while and we went back and forth for months before I realized I just wasn't getting what I wanted. I used a few more options and was still going back and forth about whether I liked the designs presented to me. I was about an hour away from making the final decision on my logo when the design that you see now was presented to me. Right when I saw it, I knew that it was the one for me. It's funny how things work out like that sometimes! In terms of the pumpkin, I can proudly say I carved that with my own two hands. Just wait, I'm confident I will have something even better next year!
CB: What are some of your long term goals with Prime Focus? More products? More brand recognition? More goalkeepers using the gloves?
Miller: As far as long term goals, I want all of that! In the short term, we have a glove launch planned for the end of 2017 and we are testing a variety of glove cuts and styles now to develop a new glove for 2018. We also have an exciting announcement that may or may not be out by the time this article runs.
Looking more towards the future, a big goal of mine is to continue the philanthropy side of the business. In October we ran a couple discounts that would help us donate a portion of our proceeds to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation and we want to continue doing that on a consistent basis with various charities. For me, Prime Focus Goalkeeping is successful if I can impact as many people as possible both on and off the soccer field. Of course I want more people to buy our gloves, love and recognize the brand, and promote it to the world but its not just the dollars and cents. I want Prime Focus Goalkeeping to impact communities.
In the long term, I want to develop partnerships with local youth clubs so that we can reach goalkeepers at the youngest levels. I want them to be able to have goalkeeper gloves at age 8 that they are confident in so they can enjoy success in the position and ultimately stick with it. At some point, we hope to develop an academy to run clinics for youth goalkeepers of all ages. We have a lot of plans for the future of the business, but right now the main focus is getting our name out there and helping people understand exactly who we are!
CB: Thanks for all the insight!