Local entrepreneur, Mitch Copeland, has been in business with his brother, Matt, for the last 10 years. Barefoot Athletics at its inception was primarily a sporting goods business but has since morphed into an apparel company. They now have their hands into other ventures, including ownership of a convenience store and a hand in a thriving café business. Despite a schedule that includes travel throughout the United States and the frenetic pace of opening a new store in Fredericksburg, Mitch took a few minutes to answer three questions for E-T’s readers.
Question: What is the history of Barefoot Athletics?
“When Matt got out of coaching, he went to work for a company in Austin. He was the number one salesman for his company for four years, so he was able to accumulate some money.
“A store opened up in Whitney. When we first started, it was under a different name. I was coaching at the time, but Matt needed help. That was it; the rest is history. We started with four employees, and last fall we had 64.
“We wanted to get back to Stephenville where we are from and be close to our parents. Everything we are about was forged here in Stephenville.”
Question: What is the family business dynamic for Barefoot?
“We always wanted our own business. It is a full family business. It’s not easy all the time, but it’s the best way. My wife, Tara, does all the ordering. (Matt’s wife) Katie does all of our purchasing and accounting. At first my mom ran the retail store, but now she keeps all of our children. Dad was in retirement, so he did some stuff for us at that point. Because he knows so many coaches, he’s been a big part of the company.”
Question: What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?
“Matt and I are not the smartest guys on the face of the earth. But you can’t be afraid to take chances. It takes being willing to do something that you might not be sure will work. If it doesn’t, go back and start over.
“Don’t be afraid to work. We might not be successful in everything we do, but we are going to work. We learned that from our parents and our in-laws. That’s just how we built our company. No one is going to outwork us.”