A Conversation with Justin Coleman

In Editorials by Lanky Living

In this weeks conversation we sat down with the other half of the Lanky Living founding team to find out a little bit about him, his background and this website.

Tell us a bit about yourself. What do you do and what interested you in starting Lanky Living?

Hey! I’m Justin, one of the co-founders of Lanky Living. I’m a 27-year old living in Austin, Texas working as a front-end web developer by day and moonlighting as an entrepreneur by night. I wanted to create Lanky Living because I often struggle with knowing what and where to buy various things. I just wanted to make something for tall people everywhere to try and help them with some of the same issues I face every day. Things kind of grew from there and continue to grow which keeps my excited and optimistic for the site.

When was the first time you hit your head walking into a room and did it leave a scar?

I can’t actually recall the first time I hit my head on a door frame. Maybe that’s a bad sign. The thing that I do remember is the first time I stuck my hand into a ceiling fan which was fairly high up. I was watching a football game and jumped up to celebrate and quickly felt a pain that is all too familiar now. Low ceiling fans are not a tall persons friend.

I was told that the name “Lanky Living” was your idea. How’d you come up with that and what does it mean?

I think I did pitch the idea initially but it was a team effort to get it where we are today. I couldn’t have done any of this without Anthony or Ashley. The name actually came out of a brainstorming session with one of my really good friends. I sent her a bunch of things I was considering and she sent back some ideas of her own. I started combining some of the various ideas and stumbled across “Lanky Living”. I loved it immediately. I bought the URL and created the various social media accounts on the spot. To me “Lanky Living” is about going through life as a tall person. About the unique experiences that tall people have and the challenges we face that in many ways shape who we are as people.

This site is obviously pretty personal to you. Beyond that, what are you hoping to do with it?

It definitely is personal. These are problems I’ve been facing since junior high school. My theory is that I am not alone in going through some of these things. We’ve got a few really cool things in the pipeline but the biggest thing “Lanky Living” is trying to do right now is validate the idea that there are tall people out there who share a similar set of issues. We want to build a community and have a team that can create timely, valuable content for them. If we can succeed with that we have plans to open a store and doing multimedia content (video interviews would be amazing!). As for our more ambitious plans for the site you will just have to stay tuned!

Is anyone doing a good job right now? How big of a market opportunity is targeting taller folks?

I actually think the people doing the best job of providing valuable content to tall people is the community on the website Reddit.com. There are a handful of subreddits there that have some really great content. It’s not a beautiful interface and a lot of people don’t use Reddit so a lot of it is going to waste in my opinion. Malcolm Gladwell says in his bookBlink” that 14.5 percent of all men are six feet in the United States and 3.9 percent of adult men are 6’2″ or taller. Those numbers only factor in men and the United States. Once you add in all of the tall women and the rest of the world that is a niche that is plenty large enough to cater to. As far a niches go I think this a pretty great one to be in.

Thanks for your time! Where can we stay in touch with you?

It’s been a blast! I love what we’ve done here and can’t wait to keep making it better for everyone.

You’ll see me writing various articles here and I’m always tweeting at twitter.com/jcoleman. Feel free to reach out to me directly and let me know what you’d like to see on the site.

Rapid Fire
We wanted to ask Justin a few more questions about Lanky Living, the business, so you can read those in the sections below. Enjoy!
If a company like GQ, Fashionista, or Valet came along, would you sell?

Ha! It would have to be in the best interest of the site, the readers and the team. We aren’t doing this for money so a big payday for us that ruins the site wouldn’t be worth it to me. That scenario would mean things have gone well and we’ve built something valuable so I certainly hope I’m presented with that dilemma eventually.

What do you think is the advantage Lanky Living offers to the tall community that other blog sites haven’t in the past?

Lanky Living is a site built by tall people for tall people. I think that is what differentiates us most from the big players. Other blogs and magazines may have an occasional article written for tall people but the tall community is generally an afterthought to them. Tall people are our one and only priority.

As for the few other tall-centric sites out there I think the big difference to me is that we sweat a lot of the details that they don’t seem to do. When you come to Lanky Living I want it to feel like a place where you can trust what you are reading. Design has a lot to do with that and we’ve spent a ton of time pushing pixels to make sure our content lives in a beautiful place.

It appears that you are following an ad-based model for the site. Is that accurate?

Yes. We do have ad slots for sale on the site and we offer a site sponsorship every month for appropriate companies and services. We only want to advertise things that will actually be useful to our readers so even the ads will bring value. We won’t accept an ad from a shoe company that only sells shoes up to size 12, for example, as that wouldn’t be useful to many of our readers.

Being a site for tall people, is there a restriction on the types of people you hire? In other words, does someone have to be a certain height to contribute?

Absolutely not. I think it is incredibly important that the founding team is tall and that we will always be around to guide the ship. But I do think anyone is capable of writing or working for us. Everyone knows tall people and so long as you can relate to and understand the issue I think you can do good here. Our amazing intern Ashley isn’t tall and she’s brought so much value to the table.

What’s the company culture like and how do you plan on maintaining it as you involve more people?

So far our culture is perfect to me. We meet once a week in person and work remotely the rest of the time. Our in person meetings are casual but we always manage to get a great deal done. It’s a collaborative, educational environment which is exactly what I want. We also treat each others as equals. An idea or opinion from Ashley or Anthony is just as valuable as mine.

I think we can maintain things by just making sure we only bring in people with the same values and work ethic as us. I think people are key and so long as we don’t screw that up things should be ok. I’m sure as we grow to much larger sizes certain things will need to be adjusted but I think we are equipped to handle them.

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