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Fireside chat with Derek McKee, Founder of Magic Box

Who is Derek McKee? 

Derek McKee is a prodigy magician and a born entrepreneur. As a child, he received a Lance Burton magic set from his grandma, which sparked a passion that no other academic or extracurricular pursuit could fulfill. He picked up and moved to Los Angeles as a teen to pursue his craft full-time, and since then has gone on to perform in over 3,000 shows at some of the most notable venues worldwide. With a knack for business, McKee now stands as the creator of the most valuable modern deck of playing cards in the world, and with his most recent venture, Magic Box™, he hopes to inspire the next generation of magicians just as the magic set did for him many years ago.

What’s the story behind Magic Box? 

I created Magic Box in hopes to share the benefits that magic has brought to my life with young magicians discovering their powers for the very first time. As a child who struggled to connect with others in school or athletics, the pursuit of magic gave me the voice I needed. This curated collection of beginner tricks are easy to learn and fun to perform, serving as the perfect introduction to young magicians just starting out.

What was the most difficult part of your experience in the early beginnings? 

There’s always going to be certain obstacles that show up when creating something, whether that’s business or art. The main solution is finding your own true north, which I’ve found often comes from trusting your inner voice and tuning out the naysayers. For me, I had a difficult time convincing others in my life to seriously believe in what I wanted to pursue. Since magic & entrepreneurship is such an uncommon lifestyle, it’s an uphill battle to demonstrate to others that it’s better than those traditional careers we’re taught in school.

In the end, I was able to convince them by showing that I was extremely driven to make my dreams a reality and had the follow-through to make it work financially. I would practice magic 6 or 7 hours a day, only to then back it up with sound business decisions, because in the long run, the true challenge is turning your art into something commercially viable. After all was said and done, friends & family began to finally understand that this was the only way of life that makes sense for me.

What are you most proud of regarding your business?

While I’m quite proud of what I’ve achieved in my business endeavors, I’m most proud of the humanitarian projects that have come as a result. Whether it’s raising thousands of pounds of food for a food bank in Denver, to building soccer fields in Uganda, I take great pride in knowing that my success can uplift others just the same.

I’m most proud of partnering with United In Harmony, a charity that brings 300 underserved kids from inner-city Los Angeles to a sleepaway camp at absolutely no cost to their families. Something as humble as being a camp counselor has shown me how much privilege I have attained thus far in my life, and consistently reminds me how important it is to give back as much as you can, whenever you can.

What is your vision for the future of Magic Box? 

My ultimate goal with Magic Box is to see children flourish by creating a newfound interest in the art of magic. I hope Magic Box inspires them in the same way that my first magic set inspired me to find my path. I’ve created a curriculum, both physical and online, that allows beginner magicians to learn magic at their own pace, all while developing valuable life skills in the process, including self-confidence, public speaking, problem-solving and discipline.

What’s your advice for the businesses that are trying to adapt to this economic climate? 

Look, there’s never a ‘right time’ to start your business. The economy will always be up & down. But it’s out of your control. Focus on what you know — your product, your vision, and your own needs as you develop your team. The rest is out of your hands. And if you keep waiting for the ‘right time,’ you might end up waiting forever. And if you truly believe in your venture, no amount of adversity can deter you.

Please name a few technologies which have the greatest impact on your business. 

Squarespace is vital because it creates beautiful front-end websites combined with a robust back-end so I can track traffic, sales, etc. Like everybody these days, I’ve transitioned to using Zoom for meetings, which has really made my life more efficient. ZenDesk for customer service. AliBaba for sourcing vendors. Although I rely heavily on designers & illustrators to bring my vision to life, I use Adobe Illustrator every day — because sometimes if you want something done right, ya gotta do it yourself.

What books do you have on your nightstand? 

“The Obstacle Is The Way” by Ryan Holiday has changed my life by proving that no matter what challenge is presented, there’s always a solution. “The Royal Road to Card Magic” which teaches the fundamentals of any good card magician — it’s always good to keep the basics close to you. And I also love reading “Fame” by Andy Warhol, because it highlights the artistic integrity behind the mundane things we take for granted.

Because of the current economic climate our publication has started a series of discussions with professional individuals meant to engage our readers with relevant companies and their representatives in order to discuss their involvement, what challenges they have had in the past and what they are looking forward to in the future. This sequence aims to present a series of experiences, recent developments, changes and downsides in terms of their business areas, as well as their goals, values, career history, the high-impact success outcomes and achievements.

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