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Profiles of creative and engaged fathers

Interviews with creative and engaged Fathers by

Sam Larson is a Shop Owner

Lach Ryan

I came across Sam and his business, Lone Flag, on social media and was won over by his community mindedness, love of coffee and an eye for good design. Through this process I also got the occasional glimpse into Sam’s life as a dad to Rylee and Cru.

Despite only ever sharing some emails back and forth across the Pacific, I knew Sam would be an ideal fit for Blackframes. Thankfully he was willing to be profiled as the responses below are packed full of wisdom and insight.

It is rare but encouraging for me to find people that share a similar outlook on matters of life, family, faith and style.

Meet Sam.
— Lach

" I want them to see me as a man who had integrity, loved others, served God, lived without fear and took chances." Sam Larson

Your first reaction when you found out you were going to be a Father?

Shocked….we weren’t planning on it so it came out of nowhere. I just thought my wife had been sick for a minute, I didn’t even consider it may be pregnancy.  I wish my first response was excitement but honestly I was just driving my car when she called, trying to figure out how much my life would change. 

What Fatherhood has taught you?

Selflessness. When I was watching out for myself I was inherently selfish. I couldn’t help it. I’d think about what I was  going to do that day and my time. Once I became a dad, it really helped me curb that a bit. Life became about serving a child and a wife instead of just me surfing and working on projects or spending all my time with friends and at work.  It’s been tough, I think I’m a selfish dude, but it’s also super healthy. I want to be someone who is a servant and focused on the needs of others and being a Dad helps to foster that in a great way. Loving something that small and vulnerable changes a lot of the vices in you and forms you into something better.

Tell us about a time when you felt you had no idea what you were doing as a Father?

When I left the parking lot of the hospital after the birth of our first child, Rylee, I remember driving home at 15mph the whole way and thinking we were going to have to keep this thing alive. I was terrified because we had no idea what I was doing. Everything prior to that had been theoretical, then it all of a sudden became real and this crying/screaming mini-thing was in the back seat. Every parenting book I read prior to that went out the window. 

What is the most challenging part of being a Father?

Prioritising time so that your family becomes the first focus is one of the toughest things for me. My faith and my family are the number one things in my life, but my wife and I also own our own businesses that feel like they are relentlessly pulling at us. We’re constantly busy, constantly underwater with projects, always scrambling. Sometimes in the midst of all that I lose focus on the fact that work is fleeting and that my family, and having a legacy as a dad that loves his wife and is constantly present in his children’s lives, is far more important than any business. 

What is the most rewarding part of being a Father?

Everything. Your heart is capable of a lot more love than you thought possible before. Seeing a little person and how they want to be with you, how much they rely on you, and how much they love you is an empowering thing. 

What is your Fatherhood philosophy?

Serve God, love your wife and be present in their lives. If I do those three things, my family prospers. 

What does having kids make you think differently about?

Finances and time. Kids make you realise that you spend a lot of time and money on things that don’t matter, and that priorities and simple things have value. 

What do you miss about the time before you were a Father?

Freedom and time. I felt like I could go and do anything, at any moment without the responsibilities. Oh…and time with my wife. It’s increasingly harder to have a date or spend time together with kids. You have to really make that happen intentionally or you lose the spark. 

Tell us about the story of Lone Flag?

I’ve spent the past 10 years working for lifestyle brands and over time felt like I wanted to do my own thing. The experience was amazing, but there were always creative direction elements that I couldn’t control and I wanted to create something from the ground up that was really my thing. I’ve always been entrepreneurial, it’s just that the older you get, the harder it is. Risks are hard when you have a family.

I’d dreamed of starting the brand and opening the concept space, but it wasn’t until two years ago that I got crazy enough to try. I stopped caring about failing or what would happen if it didn’t work and just went for it. My wife said yes (she’s amazing) so I dove in, spent every last dollar we had in savings, worked 15 hour days and nights, and here we are today. 

What are three easy and classic style tips for guys out there?

Well-fitting denim, basic shirts that are tailored well, and boots/classic sneakers will never, ever go out of style.  I would also encourage guys to take pride in the way they look, not in a self-centred hubristic way, but just in a way in which you focus on excellence. If you do your job well, take care of your family well, eat well, etc…why dress like a slob? The way you dress is a part of how you look at yourself. A few basic pieces that fit well will make you feel more put together and confident and your wife will thank you too. 

You place a premium on community- why do you feel it so important and what would you like your children to take from that?

I’ve always wanted our physical space at Lone Flag to be more than a retail store, I want people to come and feel welcome. I want relationships to prosper here and people to feel as if it’s a place they can talk to someone and be known on some level. We are at our best when we are in relationship with one another and encouraging one another. Businesses can (and should) incorporate that philosophy as well. At some level I just thought that If I’m going to have my own business, and take all the risks, and feel the pain of trying to make it happen; I might as well enforce the values I care about as well so that it has a legacy greater than just a place of business. Hopefully my kids see that some of what I do is because I want to put others in a place where they are first, valued, and important. 

How do you balance your roles with your business and your family?

It’s tough, this is the hardest part of what I do. My wife has two businesses and I do contract work with brands alongside of running Lone Flag. It’s a lot on our plate but that’s what it takes to make your dream a reality. I have to really focus on making time for my wife (for the two of us) as well as making sure we are staffed with great people here who can take some of the load off me so that I can spend more time with the kids. Hiring good people makes a huge difference, but it’s still tough. 

What role does faith, beliefs or political ideals play in your life and the way you bring up your kids?

Faith is huge for us. I’m a Christian, but I’ve been a wanderer of everything in my past. There isn’t any element of love, meaning, purpose, or grace that inspires in the same way the hope we have in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for us. I want to live that story in my life and my legacy and have my kids see and know that I serve God first with my actions. Outside of that, I’m not sure that God cares about my politics, only that they are shaped by my outlook of putting others first. We won’t force any beliefs on our kids, but we will live ours and bring them up in a way which honours God. 

Your wife is quite creative in her own right. How important is the concept of creativity in your marriage and family?

She is way more creative than me. Kelli has had a design business and been an artist and designer long before my time. Creativity is important to us because we want to be creators of new things for others and inspirational to our community. The different avenues we happen to be in for our careers both enforce our abilities to act out creatively and do things differently. 

Where do you find inspiration?

I have to get out and get into other businesses. Sometimes I’ll get away and surf and then just drop in at local retailers, coffee shops, and lifestyle stores I respect in our city or LA. Almost always I walk out with an awesome experience, new friends, and a whole new outlook on what I’m doing at Lone Flag.  We’re not interested in competing with other stores here, that’s too much effort. I’d rather just be friends with them all and support one another and get inspiration from each other. A lot of the businesses in San Diego that are run by friends of mine are the biggest inspirations for me. 

What are your strongest memories of your Father from when you were a kid?

He was there for everything, he had a moustache, he shook your hand and looked you in the eye, and he loved my mom. Those things defined him as a man I wanted to be like. 

Do you think he did a good job?

I think there are things he could’ve done better, much like me as a dad now. All that matters though, is that he never made me doubt that he loved me, never made me earn his approval, and only ever supported every crazy idea I’ve had to date and been the first one to be a fan. He still purchases things from Lone Flag. I’ve learned a lot from him. 

As a Father, what do you see your biggest challenge ahead?

I just want to avoid the pitfalls of falling out of touch with my kids or sort of checking out for times as the business goes up and down. Staying focused on the main priorities and the things that matter will always be the toughest struggle. 

How do you want your kids to remember you?

I want them to see me as a man who had integrity, loved others, served God, lived without fear and took chances. 

What do you think is the role of Fatherhood in the USA today?

Be there for your kids. Love your wives. We have too much absence here in the United States. 1 out of every 2 kids won’t have a dad in their life. That’s something as a culture we need to address. 

What do you think is the most important thing every Father should be doing?

Serve your family. Servant leadership is something I believe in. Actions always speak louder than words. 

Make sure to shop -   2690 Via De La Valle  Suite D140, Del Mar, CA 92014
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@loneflag  | Facebook | Twitter @lone_flag

* All photo credits to Sam/Lone Flag