A new veteran-owned company is kicking off its launch with a fundraiser of an item signed by former Defense Secretary and retired Marine Corps Gen. Jim Mattis.
Semper Silkies co-founder and CEO Shawn Wylde is a former Marine officer and the mind behind the popular military and patriotic-themed clothing company AAF Nation, which helped spur Semper Silkies’ creation. The company launched last week after four years in the making, a conception of six Marines and a Navy SEAL.
Semper Silkies’ first fundraising campaign is for a pair of OD green silkie shorts signed by Marine Corps legend “Mad Dog” Mattis himself – all to raise money for The Marine Raider Foundation.
“Semper Silkies was founded with a mission to entertain the military and veteran community through humor, awesome Silkies and charity,” Wylde recently told American Military News.
A portion of each Semper Silkies sales is donated to military charities. Wylde said his previous fundraising campaigns totaled $20,000 raised for charities from just one product.
“We found it would be more efficient to assist established charities rather than start one ourselves,” Wylde noted.
AAF Nation’s American flag-themed silkies were in such demand that they repeatedly sold out. Wylde knew he could harness that interest and weave it into a positive force for the community.
The Marine Raider Foundation is a nonprofit created in 2012 to support active duty and retired Marine Corps Forces Special Operations Command (MARSOC) Raiders and their families, as well as the surviving families of fallen MARSOC Raiders. Since its inception, the foundation has granted $2.1 million in support.
Wylde chose to support The Marine Raider Foundation through his friendship with the foundation’s president, retired Marine Capt. Derek Herrera. Another friend of Wylde’s, also a Marine veteran, was able to make the Mattis connection for the signature.
“A large portion of [all] profits will go back to charities we partner with,” Wylde said, but noted he didn’t have an exact amount yet this early on in the company.
The signed silkies are listed in jest with a price of $1,775,000 – a nod to the Marine Corps’ founding in 1775. Wylde is currently fielding inquiries for the silkies.
Wylde also secured Mattis’ signature for a viral image he created in which Mattis is depicted as a saint, feeding the hardened general’s “Saint Mattis’ moniker from admiring Marines.
“The good General was cautious because he didn’t want to come across as believing he’s a Saint, but he found the humor in it and went along with it,” Wylde said. “He also doesn’t like the nickname ‘Mad Dog’ which we didn’t realize until it was too late.”
The unsigned image is now printed on t-shirts and silkies along with other fantastical depictions of Gen. Mattis, and various designs inspired by patriotism and the brotherhood of the Marine Corps.