Alumnus got hooked on clothes after sickness and career change

Griffin Keel found himself doing more running around than Forrest Gump in 2010.

A senior partner at a national consulting firm based out of Charlotte, N.C., Keel spent his weeks on the road, away from what truly mattered to him. He’d fly out on  Monday and get back into town Friday nights. “I was essentially a workaholic,” he says. “I was missing out on kids’ games and things like that.”

The worry from missing out on family time weighed on the 39-year-old father of four. But something else started to give him pause, too. Keel was tired and didn’t feel his best. After several tests revealed nothing, he finally learned from a CT scan that he had a brain tumor.

And though it wasn’t cancerous, it knocked him down for about a year. So when he was fully recovered, his wife challenged him to find work that he could enjoy doing and that would keep him close to home.

So Keel, who graduated from NC State in 1994 with a history degree, consulted with his father-in-law, who had a background in textiles, and in 2013 started Southern Lure. The clothing company, based in Belmont, N.C., sells high-end, beach-themed apparel ranging from T-shirts and caps to collared shirts and khaki pants.

“Our footprint now goes all the way out to Texas and as far north as West Virginia,” Keel says.

Alumnus got hooked on clothes after sickness and career change

Griffin Keel

The recovering workaholic says there are still moments when he faces a tremendous load. For instance, he has to deal with manufacturers overseas and sometimes is Skyping with someone in China while his two sons and two daughters, ranging in age from 10 to 16, are getting ready for bed.

But he offsets those moments with making Southern Lure a family affair, with his kids helping him design everything and even tagging T-shirts in the warehouse with him.

“It’s the coolest thing I’ve ever done,” he says. “I don’t miss anything. Because things turned out okay, [getting sick] was a good thing. I would have lived my life and would have missed out.

“I’m just a lot wiser for it.”

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