The dadcraft Life: How Michael Morgan cultivates his love of golf and enterprise, all while also being a father of four young boys.
You have like a dozen sons, right?
Just under a dozen. We have four boys (8,4,6, and 2). My wife and I love doing stuff with our kids. We take them everywhere — one of the things to help us survive is taking them with us wherever we go.
Have you always wanted to have a big family?
Hayley and I got married when we were really young, but we didn’t plan on having kids for a while. After we were married, I was enjoying a guys’ night playing video games, and I got a call from Hayley and she asked me to come home early. When I got home, she held up the positive pregnancy test.
I said, “Well, that’s not good.” I freaked out. She freaked out. That was the worst husband moment ever. That’s what not to do when you find out you’re going to be a father. Eight months into being married, though, we got pregnant. I wish I could go back to that moment and hold my composure better for her. It was, after all, just as much a shock to Hayley, but in the moment all I thought about was myself.
That first year was really hard. Nowhere even in the back of my mind did I think I was going to become a dad at 23. It was like jumping into a bucket of ice. It was a shock. I was used to playing video games and now I was figuring out how to buy diapers, do midnight feedings, and schedule pediatrician appointments.
A year or two in, we found our rhythm. And I started to realize how fun fathering is.
With four young boys, you quit your successful corporate job to start a business. Why?
I wanted to be a business partner with my wife. I wanted my kids to be able to come with me to all of my appointments. So, we started Wildly Co.
Wildly Co is a children’s apparel company. We have relationships with the families buying the clothes and with the families making the clothes. It’s an underserved industry for those making the clothes. They’re given the least attention and lowest pay. We think the people making the clothes should be the ones given the credit and be highlighted for the work they’re doing to make the clothing. The cotton we use is grown in the United States. The fabric made from this cotton is made in Los Angeles. The clothing is cut and stitched by an employee-owned company in North Carolina.
Wildly Co is about families connecting with other families.
You’ve found some unique ways to involve your kids in the business.
We bring our kids with us wherever we go. We want our boys to see how their clothes are made. I bring them every week to see the screen printer. It’s like they’re watching a Discovery Channel show. They see the conveyer lines with new designs. They seen how the fabric is cut. They watch the employees making the clothing.
This is a better story to tell my kids.
The story used to be: Dad leaves every week on a plane to make a paycheck. Now, they get to experience my work with me. They’re engaged and have a better understanding of industry. They more fully understand how the world works.
We always ask: What do you believe is your finest fathering skill?
I believe the quantity of time I have with my kids is important. I used to have a job with a big company and I traveled a lot. Hayley was often with the kids alone for the entire week. I initially felt like parenting was her job. Being a parent was her deal. I viewed myself as just the provider. That view was bad for me, for Hayley and for our kids.
When we launched Wildly Co, I felt burdened to restructure my life and work so my family can see what I’m involved in and be involved in it with me. Previously my kids and wife just saw my paycheck. They didn’t see anything beyond that. If our job as parents is to show our kids how to be good adults, then I needed to reorient.
The best gift I can give to my sons is my time.
We always ask: How has becoming a dad made you a better person?
Fathering is a sacrifice. But that is a really good thing. It’s a refining thing. Creativity isn’t about thinking outside the box. True creativity is about being given a box and figuring out how to be creative inside of it.
With a wife and four kids, I have to figure out how to be successful with constraints. If I’m able to look back fifty years from now and find out that I loved my family well, I’m going to be thrilled with that.
We always ask: What is your favorite activity to do with your kids?
We golf together. All six of us go to the driving range and ride around the golf carts. My older sons are in a two-man golf league. They are playing and learning the game.
But all of us are out there Sunday afternoons. My wife, my two-year-old. All of us. It’s been really fun to experience it with them. I loved golfing as a single guy. And, rather than just making those activities about me, these activities have become about us. And it’s been a fantastic opportunity to invest in my family.