We had the good fortune of connecting with Spider Michaels and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Spider, how does your business help the community?
My business helps the community and the world by sharing educational, entertaining content as well as offer great clothing and gear. I started my business with the intention of making people happy by sharing fun, exciting experiences of the world, with the world.
My photo and video views are in the tens of millions and my blog has been read in 184 countries. I’ve covered events and attractions like the largest motorcycle rally in the world, several cities in Europe and a lot in between. And I’ve also published 3 books about my many different experiences with several more planned and in progress.
When I started my media company, I envisioned people of all ages enjoying what my sites have to offer, from little kids to people in assisted living. Everybody is curious about the Eiffel Tower, the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, or Mount Rushmore. I’ve covered them all with photos, videos and blog posts, to name a few. People from all over the world can experience what it’s like to visit some of the places I’ve been and the events that I cover. And learn a lot about them.
I had always planned to pair my media sites with a clothing and gear company. When I was younger, I envisioned what I thought would be a great job, then I created it. I travel, attend fun special events and attractions all over the world, take and share great photos and videos with millions of people, sell great clothing and gear and do photoshoots with beautiful people. What’s not to love about my job running The STORM Factory and Contraband Clothing Company?
I’d say making people happy makes me happy. There is an old saying about if you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life. I’m living proof of that. Oh lucky me, my work is play.
“Answer no master, never the slave.
Carry your dreams down into the grave.”
The Void, Parkway Drive
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
What sets my company apart from others is that it is a free service. We cover several special events throughout the year and take hundreds of photos at each one and sometimes thousands, as well as great videos.
We capture patrons, cast and crew having the best times of their lives and allow them to download any and all of our images from our site for free. We have pleased many people during the existence of my company.
One thing that I’m most proud of is the diversity on my sites. Where else can you learn about NASCAR racing as well as the Mona Lisa? I like to say that we cover from A to Z, Amsterdam to Zoos and everything in between, including comicons and RenFests.
While I enjoy reviewing the media from past events, I am always most excited about the next event or attraction. Every one is a chance to tell a different, exciting story about our adventures.
In addition, I’m also proud of Contraband Clothing Company. As King of the Pirates, I own the Trademark for Contraband and that is very fitting for a Pirate. We have some of the best clothing and gear for people that believe in getting the most fun out of life.
Education has been the key to my success. In my line of work, I’m either editing photos or videos, or designing websites, and clothing and gear. To do all of that takes some mastery of the computer and certain programs like photoshop, etc.
Early on in my career, I had to pay for those services and that can get expensive. I paid attention and learned all of the skills I needed in order to be able to do the work for myself. That has saved me tens of thousands of dollars and given me the freedom to create as I choose.
Learning how to run a Media & Clothing company is not easy. And I learn something new fairly often. The biggest advice that I could give anyone about success is, don’t be afraid to fail. Fear of taking that next step has caused many to fail at that point.
Every failure is a learning experience. Thomas Edison said he learned 1,000 ways of how not to build a light bulb. And in my company, I have learned many valuable lessons in my failures that have led to future successes.
One thing that I’ve learned is that there are no shortcuts. You get out what you put in and hard work will yield success at some point. Another thing is don’t get discouraged. The history books are filled with people that never gave up on their road to success, fame or fortune, while the ones that gave up are written about nowhere.
Something that I’d like the world to know about my company and brand is that it’s for those that enjoy life and have a quest for adventure and fun times. And through this enjoyment, there’s an opportunity for people to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged young children by donating to our STORM Foundation, a 501c3, Nonprofit Corporate Charity.
As a child, I almost drowned. The beautiful lifeguard that saved me ended up teaching me how to be a lifeguard. Later, she recruited me to work at the first waterpark in Houston, WaterWorld. I went on to become a 13-time Lifeguard Champion.
Our competition team was called S.T.O.R.M., which stood for Strong Team of Rescue Men. Hence, The STORM Factory and STORM Foundation. My friends and I have been saving people and helping others most of our lives and continue to do so now through our charity work with the foundation. We believe in getting the most out of our time on this planet and helping others along the way. When you’re feelin’ extreme, check out what’s new with The STORM Factory.
“Think of others… it will make a difference in you.” – Paul ‘Spider’ Michaels
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If I had a friend visiting me for a week in Houston, we’d have a fun time. They would arrive on Friday, and I’d take them to Lola’s that night. Lola’s is the best dive bar in Houston. We’d have drinks and play pool until closing.
For Saturday and Sunday, I’d have tickets to a comicon like COMiCPALOOZA, or to the Texas Renaissance Festival. At either place, we’d have fun seeing all of the people dressed up as different characters. There’s also some really great food at the TexRenFest and some awesome talent in the many shows they offer.
After the weekend of events, we’d go to Empire Café in the Montrose for breakfast on Monday morning, and both have the Italian toast with extra strawberries. After breakfast, we’d head to the Houston Zoo for a day with the animals.
That night, we’d go to the Ragin’ Cajun restaurant for some crawfish, with corn and potatoes. I’d also order us some seafood gumbo with jalapeno cornbread.
On Tuesday morning, we’d go to the Buffalo Grille for a great breakfast and coffee. After breakfast, we’d leave for the Downtown Aquarium. There, we’d enjoy our walk through the aquarium and at the end, get some photos of the white tiger.
We’d have lunch at the Aquarium Restaurant, then head to Agora, which is a bi-level Greek-themed coffeehouse & bar with a quaint vibe, eclectic clientele & plush couches. Their words, not mine, but a very cool coffeehouse. We’d spend the afternoon at Agora, playing Scrabble, Chess or another board game and drinking great coffee.
For dinner, we’d go to the original El Tiempo Cantina on Richmond for the best Tex-Mex in Houston.
After dinner, I’d take my friend to Marfreless in River Oaks. It’s a great lounge, with great ambiance. The door is unmarked, so you have to know where it is to find it. One of Houston’s best secrets.
On Wednesday morning, we’d go to Adair Kitchen for breakfast and sit outside.
After breakfast, we’d leave for the Museum of Natural Science, where we’d spend the day. Being in a museum or art gallery always reminds me of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, and I always enjoy myself.
For dinner that night, we’d dine at the upscale Perry’s Steakhouse and have their Signature 7 Finger pork chops with apple sauce followed by tableside, flambéed Bananas Foster.
Later in the evening, I’d take them to a great comedy club in EaDo (East Downtown) called The Secret Group, where I’d get up on stage for the Open Mic and do my Stand Up act.
On Thursday morning, we’d go to the Tejas Taco House for an authentic Mexican breakfast. We’d enjoy the Eggs Mexicana with hot sauce and traditional Mexican coffee.
After breakfast, I’d take my friend on a tour of Houston. We’d visit the Beer Can House, the Art Car Museum and for a quirky twist, we’d visit the National Museum of Funeral History where we’d see some really interesting things.
For a late lunch, we’d go to legendary Lankford’s Grocery & Market for the best burger in Houston. I’d bring cash because they don’t take cards.
After lunch, we’d rest up for the evening. Once darkness hits, we’d make our way to Numbers in the Montrose for 80’s Night. There, we’d hear some of the best dance songs from that decade and would drink and dance the night away for her last night in town.
It would have been a fun-filled week. And upon her departure on Friday morning, I’d see her off with lots of photos from our week and a bag of Buc-ee’s famous fudge.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
If I had to pick one person that I would like to thank for efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement, that would be my sister, Karen. And no, she’s not that kind of Karen, lol.
My sister has helped me out numerous times over the years of my life. So much so, that I call her my manager. She is always very supportive of my efforts to entertain the masses and offers great advice and counsel.
She has been involved with some of my biggest successes and helped me through some difficult times. I’d choose no other for my ‘Ride or Die’.
Having been a trend-setter and pioneer in her own right, my sister has traveled some of the same roads I often find myself traveling. It always helps to have someone act as a guide or mentor when you’re on the road to any kind of success. My sister has been my best resource and confidant, through thick and thin and I thank her dearly.
“Always be yourself… unless you can be a Pirate, then always be a Pirate.”