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The Hustle

Name: Christopher Hamm (Max’s Mercantile)

Christopher Hamm is the founder of Max's Mercantile, a new small business in St. Pete. Hamm dedicates hours outside his full-time job to creating dog bandanas, customized pet tags and jewelry for pet owners. With the support of his husband and business partner, AJ, Hamm has begun selling his accessories at the Summer Nights market at Station House and other local markets. Hamm's experience in the entertainment costuming business has given him a unique perspective on his designs. Max's aims to help add a smile to every person - and every pet dog that wears Hamm's handcrafted goods. In his free time, Hamm likes to visit his favorite St. Pete spot, Grassroots Kava House, where he'll likely run into customers and their dogs. "My life is busy, but everything I work on put's a smile on someone's face, so it makes all the hard work worth it," he says.

Years in St. Pete

5 Years

Hustle (job)

Maker & Founder of Max's Mercantile

What do you do?  

I design and create all of the items at Max's Mercantile. Our hottest item is, of course, the Doggie Dud Bandana, but we offer more, like custom-stamped dog tags and people jewelry too. We will also be adding Doggie Bowties in the coming months, and a whole new collection is coming in just a couple of weeks.

Why do you do it?

It makes me happy, especially when I walk around town and see local dogs wearing something I made. Sometimes I have never even met the person and they recognize me, or I stop and introduce myself. I have had such positive feedback that I can't wait to grow and add more items and continue with even more designs.

What was your Catalyst? (How did you get started?)

I have been in a career involving sewing and designing most of my life,and decided to combine this with my LOVE of dogs. In St. Pete I see so many dogs and they all wear plain, store-bought bandanas tied around their necks; I wanted to bring something to the local scene to help owners give their dogs a little more style! And I am now making even more items to add.

What’s a common misconception or unknown aspect of what you do?

People usually think that making something seemingly as simple as a bandana for a dog is quick and easy. But A lot of planning and work goes into the creation of each one, like multiple steps of sewing and working with the fabrics to create double-layered and STRONG items that will last a long time.

What’s the most challenging part of your Hustle?

Honestly, keeping up with stock for now. This is a side hustle and I definitely have to put in a lot of extra time outside my 40+ hour a week job to keep up.

What’s the most valuable piece of business advice/insight that’s helped you?

Start slow, don't rush into anything. Be able to keep up with your business and don't get discouraged when you don't make any sales for a week, or if someone doesn't like your product.


What's Next?

Max's Mercantile is still very new, and we are looking for ways to grow. Using feedback and requests from customers and Dog Owners in St Pete, Max's will be adding Bowties for your pup, as well as matching ones for the Doggie Daddies out there. We are also going to design some options for the way our bandanas go on the dog. Currently they are over the collar, but working on ways for dogs that don't wear collars to enjoy our stuff as well.

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