Actor, dancer, and singer-songwriter Matthew Morrison has won over audiences by stepping into the shoes of a bevy of characters on Broadway and on TV, most notably as Will Schuester on Glee. But he's about to take on what may very well be his most exciting role yet: as a dad to his first child with wife Renee Morrison. But before the couple welcomes their baby in the fall, Morrison and photographer Zach Duffie have designed and debuted a new line of dad gear and accessories called Sherpapa Supply Co. In honor of the line's launch, Morrison and Duffie—fast friends who met through their wives—curated favorite and exclusive clothes, bags, hats, and other items for a special partnership with Gilt.com.
Parents.com recently caught up with Morrison and Duffie at their launch party to chat about their inspiration for Sherpapa, the challenges of being a modern dad, and Morrison's hopes and fears around fatherhood.
Sherpapa was originally inspired by the birth of Duffie's daughter, who's now 2. As "an outdoors kinda guy" and a stay-at-home (or, as he likes to put it, a "stay outside dad"), he says he realized there really weren't baby bags or accessories made for him and fathers like him. "I started to talking to Matthew, and he was the one who pushed me into saying, ‘Hey, we really need to make this a reality, there’s people that need this,’" the photographer explains.
"He was saying, 'There's nothing out there for cool dads,'" Morrison shares with Parents.com exclusively. "I said, 'Let's roll with this.' Nine months ago, we really put the pedal to the medal. It's just been such a labor of love. It's such a family business."
Duffie and Morrison also very much see the line as more than "just products." They're also hoping that the brand will send a powerful, important message to other dads and dads-to-be.
"Being a dad, one of the most universal things, really, the stereotypes around it are kind of the dorky dad that kinda bumbles through," Duffie acknowledges. "But now, both parents share the responsibilities of the day-to-day a lot more. We're in a generation where both the husband and wife both work and they both share the responsibilities of raising the kids, and there are a lot of dads who just own it, who are on top of it, and there's no lifestyle brand that really supports that. And we're in a time where we really need strong family leaders, and there needs to be something for those guys."
Morrison agrees that feeling prepared with the right diaper bag or other everyday items can positively affect modern dads' morale. "We're trying to really motivate dads to be present and proactive fathers, and give them the tools and the gear to feel like they're ready for anything, because it is such a challenging job to be a parent, and we want to make it as easy as possible," he notes.
And speaking of feeling prepared, this is, no doubt, a big year for Morrison—but he's taking all of the major milestones in stride. "Obviously, I'm about to have a child, and it couldn't have been more perfect timing," he shares. "I'm about to go on the biggest adventure of my life, and I feel like this the first birth of the year—getting this company launched, and then we'll have the next one!"
In the meantime, Morrison has certainly been thinking about what the big day of his child's birth will look like. And like all expectant fathers, he admits he's nervous.
"The thing I'm most terrified about is probably the actual birth," he told Parents.com. "Because it's so unpredictable, you know. But my dad is a midwife; he's going to be there for the birth of our child. And I've grown up in that baby-birthing world, so I'm actually really ready for that. I feel like you get certain points of your life where you get to reset, and things just sort of start over, and I feel like this is one of those moments where I'm going to hit the reset button, and anything is possible. It's a whole new world."
Cheers to that—and to dads feeling even more prepared to take on that world.