By Brittany Maroney / Photos by Claudia Johnstone
When former minor league baseball player Kyle Mauch begins talking about his business as entrepreneur, speaker, consultant and podcast host, he lights up and his passion is infectious.
“When you can’t wait for Monday, you’re living a life in charge,” Mauch says. “That’s what I wanted to have when I built Athletes Brand, a company that makes me wake up every morning excited for what the day has to offer.”
It’s those moments that make the man, and, from those moments, Mauch built his empire.
Mauch grew up in a small town in southern Oregon and was raised with a ball in one hand and a dusty baseball mitt in the other. A son of a former baseball player and a younger sibling to two up-and-coming athletes, Mauch seemed destined for the sport.
“Growing up in a family of baseball players and raised in a town where sports were everything, I never really thought of doing anything else,” Mauch says. “Your life was baseball and you never really got the chance to explore any other passions.”
Mauch quickly excelled through high school and college baseball and was praised as the kid who was “going to make it.” Everyone said that he would go far, maybe even make it to major league baseball. At the time, it was the only goal he ever had, and, yet, when finally tapped from the minor leagues by a scout to try out for the San Diego Padres, Mauch hesitated.
“I was still rehabilitating from a devastating injury from the previous season,” Mauch says. “And all of the sudden, baseball seemed like an endless series of possible injuries and a future of only being a ballplayer. I was on the cusp of attaining the dream I had always chased, yet it didn’t have the same appeal as some of the other successes I was beginning to experience.”
Mauch had just launched his first business, Refined Craft, while playing NCAA Division 1 baseball. Refined Craft was a website where Mauch sold custom-designed T-shirts, a hobby of his at the time.
After a few months of decent sales, a fellow player asked if he could design a T-shirt and sell it for one of his favorite charities. Seemingly overnight, the concept took off and dozens of athletes were approaching him to launch their own shirt designs and raise money for their own charities. It was time for Mauch to decide which path to take: the straight and narrow road of professional baseball or the curved path of entrepreneurship.
Shocking everyone, Mauch turned his back on the professional baseball contract and went on to found a second company called Athletes Brand, a consulting firm that helps athletes craft their legacy beyond their profession while raising money for their own nonprofits – and has gone on to do the same for musicians, actors and entrepreneurs. His network and access to a hard-to-reach group gave him an edge, but his sincere manner and approach made Athletes Brand the talk of the industry.
Just six months after the launch of Athletes Brand, Mauch was making six figures as the sole owner and operator of his companies. Today, Athletes Brand is a seven-figure business working with more than 800 pro athletes from around the world. Mauch had finally created a legacy bigger than the game he had loved.
“Athletes Brand is a system of brand-building techniques that helps its clients understand what their relevant value is and how they can use it to change the world for the better,” Mauch says. “Our company’s goal is to make altruism a foundation of business, career and life instead of just an act of kindness.”
Since launching Athletes Brand, Mauch has been named Arizona’s Top Apparel Designer 2018 by Arizona Foothills Magazine and the 2012 and 2013 “30 Under 30” in the sports industry by Forbes. He has also been featured on Good Morning America, Fox, CNN, ESPN, OWN, MLB Network, and Bleacher Report as well as in National Geographic and The New York Times. Mauch even had the opportunity to pitch his company to Danica Patrick at 120 mph while driving a NASCAR. Most recently, Mauch has found a passion for inspirational speaking and often tours the corporate circuit sharing his story.
“I’ve never regretted turning my back on baseball,” Mauch says. “My life is so much more fulfilling now that I can continue to inspire others, help my clients build their brands, and help bring positive change. I wake up every morning feeling lucky about what I do, and I’m not sure a life as an athlete would have fulfilled me in quite the same way.”