Meet Yates Dew: founder, owner, and brain power behind GRILLKILT! Learn more about his journey through entrepreneurship, his sparks of inspiration along the way, and how he landed as the leading man of an innovative and exciting grilling company.
Yates received his undergraduate degree from UNC and earned an MBA from Emory, since dabbling in many professional career endeavors. He made headway as a musician and in software sales but predominantly led in the commercial real estate industry. Upon selling his real estate marketing company, Yates felt called to dive into something new. After brainstorming and narrowing down dozens of business ideas, he felt that GRILLKILT lit a spark inside of him with a promising future. He created a website on his own and jumped in with only a shoestring budget. The GRILLKILT brand and products are continuously evolving and the future of the business is vast and exciting!
With dozens of business ideas swirling in his head, Yates was continuously drawn to something related to his passion and hobby of grilling. When out at the grill or smoker he kept finding himself trekking back and forth to the kitchen and was also in dire need of a good apron. He was hung up on the question, “How can I solve this problem?” Thus the evolution of the GRILLKILT began, pushing ill-fitting, functionless smocks to the side. Despite the name of the brand, Yates did not set out to build a kilt. He wanted a premium quality apron that boasted smart storage and serious functionality. So with the initial prototype including a tool belt, rock climbing gear, and a towel, the GRILLKILT was born. Functionality trumped all and the new era of grilling accessories had begun!
Favorite GRILLKILT memory?
Yates affords his favorite GRILLKILT memories to the initial creation of the GRILLKILT! He looks back fondly on the trial and error of construction where he worked closely with a designer and a couple of seamstresses to get it just right. “It was rewarding to see how the product had taken on a life of its own and is even more exciting to see how far it has come from the early iterations,” Yates said.
Thoughts on being an entrepreneur?
Although at times it is overwhelming and never rests, Yates views entrepreneurship as one of the greatest professional freedoms. “I eat, sleep, and breathe this brand and it is incredibly challenging,” Yates says. “But I guess it is the challenge that I like the most. I know that this product is far superior to others and I want to get it into the hands of the people who have not heard of it and that will most benefit from it!” His drive to solve problems and make people’s lives easier continuously pushes his entrepreneurial efforts forward and he is excited about where this journey will continue to take him.
Favorite GRILLKILT product?
While the product list has grown and evolved, Yates still views the Original GRILLKILT as his favorite product. He believes that the combined aspects of a backpack, a towel, and a toolbelt make it unbeatable. “I like to joke that those three things walked into a bar, had a few drinks, and a GRILLKILT walked out!” he quips. Another anecdote that he loves about the GRILLKILT is that it is essentially the “anti-apron.” He believes that aprons are essentially unattractive smocks, and once someone tries on their first functional and unique GRILLKILT, they will never go back to their old ways.