Find out how a collegiate golfer, active outdoorsman, mathematics major becomes a CEO of a successful fashion brand QED, when Danielle Thompson from Morton Golf interviews him on his recent visit to Sacramento.
Michael McRae recently visited Haggin Oaks Golf Super in Sacramento where his brand, QED is flying off the shelves. Originally he is from Salt Lake City, Utah, but is no stranger to the Sacramento area. Playing competitive golf Michael has been to Haggin Oaks a few times to compete in the State Fair Junior Championship. He attended St. Mary’s college on golf scholarship with a major in mathematics. Michael played competitive golf from a young age and to play professionally was a dream.
Danielle: What does QED Stand for?
Michael: QED is not just another name, it is very important to me and I put a lot of thought into. It is a Latin phrase meaning quod erat demonstrandum. A mathematical term used to describe perfect or finished perfect piece of work. In college, a math problem wasn’t complete until it had been typed on nice paper with either QED or a black square filled in to represent that it was a finished piece of work. A black square is the symbolic alternative to QED. Everything in the line you will see the black squares throughout. We use it as a signature that the product is stamped for approval.
D: How many employees at QED?
M: Only 7. Very small both my dad and mom work there.
D: When did you start playing golf?
M: I started around the age of 10. My younger brother and I picked up the game from my dad. Once I started winning a couple tournaments and then I really started having fun. I was very passionate about the game and enjoyed being able to play beautiful courses in both Utah and Colorado. I was fortunate to play on golf scholarship at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA. Playing golf year round was something I had never heard of till I came out to California. I fell in love with the area around the campus and enjoyed the golf coach so I knew it would be a perfect fit.
What was your home course at St. Mary’s?
M: Moraga Country Club. I love that place. It’s not like a golf course more of an amusement park with all the hills and pristine conditions. We were very lucky.
D: What are your career highlights?
M: 2005 Utah State Amateur Champ, 2008 NCAA Division 1 All-American. I turned professional right out of college in 2008, just a kid from Utah. Professional for 3 years, played on both Asia and Canadian tours.
D: What is your favorite golf hole ever played?
M: Every hole at Pasa Tiempo Golf Club, Santa Cruz, CA.
D: How did you start designing golf clothes?
M: It is completely random. Playing competitive golf most of my life I always disliked that once you finish a round and decided to go out to dinner, people could always tell you just played golf. I wanted to create golf apparel pieces that would perform on the course but could also be worn off the course. It stemmed from my parents being so creative and artistic. In 2011, I didn’t make it through qualifying school, compared to previous 3 years. I was so bummed I didn’t make it, but instead I assisted my dad on some of his photo shoots. My dad said, “don’t worry about it, put the clubs away don’t worry about it and come work for me during the winter. You’ll tee it up next Spring.” During lunch at one of the photo shoots with the co-founder Johnathan Freedman of a women’s apparel company called, Down East Outfitters. We were talking clothes, golf clothes and I made a snide remark something along the lines of that we could do so much better. Later he told me he was going to China to meet with the factories and that I should come with him. At first I thought he was nuts and blew it off. A few days later my dad encouraged me to go and learn something new. One of the agreements of me tagging along with him was that I had to schedule my own appointments at factories and make it a grad study class. He gave me some pointers and advice because I was so over my head. In the back of my mind I was going to go play golf in the Spring. The hardest part was trying to convey my vision to the other party by not speaking the same language. I brought old cowboy shirts I had from my childhood with the sleeves cut off. I wanted to make a performance golf shirt with similar style to them. We agreed on two color samples and decided to produce 200 pieces of each to begin.
D: What was the first piece you designed?
M: The Eureka Polo in black and blue. We only made 400 units and had no idea if it would be successful. It was a polyester shirt with the two pearl button snaps and a pocket.
D: How did you get QED out into the market place?
M: I had a good following in Utah and was able to use the network I had built playing golf. Many of the players I played with growing up now worked at golf courses so I went straight to them. We sold out our first production order of the Eureka Polo. We ran into some quality issues with our next order. I wanted to make sure we didn’t produce something that wasn’t a good quality piece of apparel, so we went back to the drawing board. I met with my mentor Johnathan Freedman and got his advice. We attended the Utah Outdoor Retail Show to find a new company to work with. Comparable to the PGA Show in Orlando, Florida, but with outdoor sports equipment. We found a new company to do the production and the rest is history.
What will we see in QED for the Fall?
M: I’ve always been fascinated with the clash of denim and golf. I completely understand it, but the most expensive pair of pants I own is a pair of jeans. I think its interesting that denim is looked at being cheap or sloppy, but denim has some nice pieces. My ideas are a little different, but I have seen the same thing over and over again in golf fashion that I want to create something different. So in fall you will see some denim polos and instead of different colors you will see different washes. I’m in love with them! The inspiration came from an old vintage jean jacket I have.
D: What is your inspiration behind your latest line?
M: I have a bunch of golf rain jackets in my closet that I never wear. QED has no outerwear pieces so we were looking for fill that hole. We are launching a new outerwear jacket that is a great lifestyle piece. What makes it unique is that its reversible. One side nylon and the interior is lined with flannel and wood buttons. Cool dynamic with a great lifestyle fashion piece, but also super performance for golf. A rain jacket you can wear any where.
Come try on QED in the Haggin Oaks Super Shop today, not just because Michael is an amazing guy, but because his pieces are incredible. Your wardrobe will thank you later for introducing fashion to your golf game.
Haggin Oaks Golf Super Shop is located at 3645 Fulton Ave in Sacramento, CA.