How Shaun Turned $1 Beanies into a $100 Million Business

Growing up and wondering why people wore certain brands, Shaun Neff started his own clothing company just before going to college. He became successful because he knew how to place his product in the right place at the right time. During his presentation at ASC Action Sports + Culture Conference powered by Group Y, he gives us the story how he started Neff and some sound advice on how to run a business. Here are a few things he points out:


Authenticity is Key

From the beginning of building his company, he has stayed true to the same message. Remaining authentic to the brand and audience is key for success. He has only worked with athletes and musicians that fit with the brand and didn’t drive the business to places that he didn’t believe in. He was able to work with these icons of the industry because he built relationships with them. Essentially, these athletes and musicians had become one of the “homies”.

Find Your Niche

Being surrounded by Pro Snowboarders during college, Shaun knew he had the opportunity to get his products worn by these people. The trouble he faced was all the athletes had contracts with existing clothing brands and couldn’t endorse others. Shaun did his homework, read contracts and found out he could insert his brand on the athletes by being a ‘headwear’ company instead of a clothing company. This is how he found his niche.

Watch Trends

In mid 2000’s, Shaun knew how big electronic music was in Europe and he knew it was going to make its way to the US.  He knew who the stars were and signed contracts between Neff and these artists. When electronic music boomed in the US, Neff was already part of the electronic culture, authentically.



Launched in 2002 by Shaun Neff in Southern California, Neff was the first authentic core snow and skate headwear company in the world. Neff is an active youth accessory brand supported by some of the biggest actions sports athletes in the world as well as key personalities across the globe. Neff World Headquarters is located in Camarillo, California and is internationally sold in 45+ countries to select action sports retailers. Neff is all about having fun and bringing new vibes to the world. “We are like a gumball machine; spitting out endless flavors for the world to consume,” stated Shaun Neff when asked to describe Neff Headwear. We are not confined to one specific category; we are defined by reaching across multiple platforms like sports, fashion and entertainment.

Today, Neff is reaching further into the world of active fashion with the introduction of its Neff Vision and Neff Time lines, which are unique collections of stylish higher end sunglasses and watches. Collaborations with household names such as Snoop Dogg, Deadmau5, and Scarlett Johansson and their yearly charity initiative, “Neff Hope,” ensure that Neff maintains its pattern of constant growth and innovation.

Filmed at ASC Action Sports + Culture conference in Long Beach, CA on July 2013