By Dylan Deprey
At this point in Mike Scrill’s Happy Hustlin’ career, he is being tested: spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. He has had to adapt and carve out new revenue streams to keep the lights on and ultimately provide for his daughters.
While some have said, “the bad always comes before the good,” he has been steady facing obstacles. With adversity, he has elevated his hustle. He has pressed on through the tough situations, where in the past, he would have wandered back to old street ways.
The Milwaukee Courier has been following Scrill on his entrepreneurial journey since he opened shop, in what was the Milwaukee mall in 2017. His Happy Hustlin’ clothing brand was a breeding ground for uplifting messages and consistent networking in person and online.
He scored a month-long pop-up bid, through a city program, after the Mall shutdown in late 2018. In between shop locations, he took to his past skills in car theft, and picked up a legal hustle doing discounted car lock-outs. While steady promoting and linking with other local businesses, he decided it was time to settle on a business location.
The Happy Hustlin’ boss is trapping out of his house, and he has picked up another hustle to partner his custom clothing services—high end sneakers.
“I just try to stay busy because an idle mind is the devil’s playground. You can fall back into what you used to do, so I just keep trying new stuff,” he said. “The journey that I’m taking, there are no situations that will deter me from striving.”
He picked up the shoe hustle during his time at the Milwaukee Mall from another entrepreneur. Chris Jones, owner of Chris’s Keys, 3819 W. Villard Ave., slowly indoctrinated Scrill on “Sneaker Head” culture, while their shops were kidde corner in the mall. Whether it was buying new shoes in bulk, or trading gently used classics, Scrill eventually added authentic sneakers to his merchandise.
“In the spirit of hustlin’, people may consider these bootlegs or something, and they’re not. These shoes are authentic, I just don’t charge people an arm-and-a-leg,” he said.
His motto is “Striving for better ways, to provide better days,” and he truly lives it.
Just because he didn’t have a brick-and-mortar business, didn’t mean the business had to stop. The same neon green Happy Hustlin’ sign that illuminated his shop in the Milwaukee Mall, now shines a new light on his living room-turned-store-front over on 28th and Townsend.
While some might consider the move risky, he isn’t bothered by it.
“I’m not going to allow a certain fear that somebody’s going to break into my house because they could do it if I had a store. I’m dealing with people that certain individuals might be afraid of, but I present a certain aura and I get that same feeling back,” he said.
The grand incentive, other than being able to watch his daughters and business at the same time, was being able to educate his kids on everything he has learned through Happy Hustlin’.
“Most people say, ‘let a kid be a kid,’ but we’re looking at the results of that narrative today. Why wasn’t it ‘teach a kid to be an adult,’ because when I was growing up it was let a kid be a kid, and when it came time to be an adult, I was lost,” Scrill said.
Whether it’s building an inventory or reinvesting in the business, any time either of his two daughters catch on to something, he ensures to double down on the knowledge.
“If my 4-year-old daughter can sing a song or pick out a video on YouTube, then that means she can write her name. I just have to put the energy and effort into that. Everything I do is towards striving for better ways,” he said.
Though he’s known around town and online as the Happy Hustler, behind the scenes has been a lot of long nights and tireless days. Happy Hustlin’ was never meant to get-rich-quick, it was created to cultivate a new Milwaukee mentality. Though life might not be as “Happy” behind closed doors, he has continued to be a positive presence for inspiring local entrepreneurs.
As he has added a new location and kicks to his resume, he said there was always more in the works for Happy Hustlin’.
“You can’t come out with one narrative thinking it’s going to change the world because there are different individuals. That’s why I have a multitude of hustles whether it’s wash a car or cut the grass because if this is your thing, you can make money from it. There’s always somebody that doesn’t know what I’m doing, and that’s the person I want to reach,” he said.
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