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Always in style whatever the season, dressed up for a night out on the town or dressed down when you need to get your hands dirty – you can wear them multiple times, for pretty much any reason, without ever looking like you’re wearing the same outfit. With so much versatility to them, jeans are easily one of the most essential pieces of clothing in any wardrobe.
But finding a pair that combines style, comfort, and lasting quality at an affordable price can be a pain.
Enter Revtown – the direct-to-consumer men’s denim brand that takes the complication out of shopping for jeans. Made from the brand’s signature material, Decade Denim (a premium Italian yarn infused with four-way dynamic stretch constructed with the strongest fibers in apparel design), Revtown jeans bring to the market performance denim that holds as much style as it does function. And at a price similar to other reasonable jeans (only $79 a pair), they almost seem too good to be true.
I had to dig deeper into the science behind these ground-breaking jeans, so I chatted with co-founder and CEO, Henry Stafford, about how his 20-year background in the athletic wear and denim space (holding leadership roles at both Under Armor and American Eagle) served as a catalyst for Revtown.
Here’s my interview.
Shama Hyder: What made you decide to leave the corporate world for the entrepreneurial one?
Henry Stafford: I think there is something that is honest and true to me – and that is, that I love to build. Whether that’s building a brand, a product, business models or building a team and partnerships. What happens often times as companies get really big, you start having to spend 95% of your time managing things and processes, rather than focusing on building. The times where I’ve been having the most fun in my career is when I’m being entrepreneurial. Sometimes as an entrepreneur, you lack the resources to delegate or outsource certain things and you need to be creative and strategic – it’s energizing!
Hyder: What lessons did you learn from Under Armor that helped you with Decade Denim?
Stafford: One of the key lessons I learned is that it always starts with the material and fabric. Everything! Whether you’re talking about a performance shirt, a jean, or a suit – everything about great products starts with amazing materials. I was extremely impressed by the athletic industry, particularly the innovative materials they were embracing. Yet, I couldn’t figure out why a category such as denim never embraced that sort of innovation – it seemed like a huge opportunity. There was just a lack of versatility, durability, and comfort – yet people wear jeans every day, and much more frequently than athletic apparel. That’s where the spark of the idea for Decade Denim came in – we scoured the world for a material that could differentiate our jeans, and infuse them with the type of performance that athletic apparel offers. What we found was Decade Denim, our signature and trademarked fabric, which is made from premium Italian yarn and infused with four-way, dynamic stretch, and constructed with the strongest fibers in apparel design today. For the average person, that means Revtown jeans will fit better than any other pants in your wardrobe, for a long, long time. There’s no need to break them in. They won’t dig into your waist, crush your crotch, or cut off your circulation. You can sit, stand and squat without the usual discomfort of a typical pair of designer jeans.
Hyder: The denim and apparel market is a very competitive one. How did you find a way to stand out?
Stafford: Well, there are a few things – first and foremost, it’s about making a really high-quality product. It bothers me that I took my daughter into a store of a competitor (I won’t name names!) and bought her a pair of expensive jeans that in turn fell apart after one wash. It’s not right! Why is it acceptable to make a subpar product? For us, it’s really important that we make something that can last – we don’t believe in disposable clothing. It’s not right on so many levels – for the environment, for the employees in the factory, for the customer. It’s just bad business. We believe in making products that are high-quality, that last, that are utilitarian, and that make people look and feel great.
We also believe in putting the customer first – which of course starts with a great product at an amazing price. But, it also means LISTENING to the customer and incorporating their feedback. For us that means a live person to talk to – that’s why we have customer service reps that you can actually text and get a response back from in minutes, not hours or days. Putting the customer first also means apologizing and owning any screw ups or late responses.
To stand out we also believed that we needed a smarter business model. To achieve that we started by having conversations with manufacturers that had the experience and could teach us how to do it better, smarter, and faster. Everything they told us informed our overall approach, which leads to a very efficient and fast business model.
To sum it all up, what really makes us stand out is the following:
- We make a high-quality, innovative product that lasts and someone will have for years.
- We put our manufacturers at the table to help drive the business, as opposed to pinching them for lower costs – which in turn allows us to use their experience to drive a smarter business model.
- We listen to our customers and adapt to their needs – for example, we’ve heard the demand for a women’s lineup and are launching that later this year.
- We consistently strive to make a better product, while simultaneously keeping prices as low as possible.
- Finally, our overall passion and drive are what really makes us different and helps us stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Hyder: What advice do you have for those in competitive markets – especially as attention is now harder than ever to get?
Stafford: It really is stunning and amazing at how big some of these markets have become – we’re talking tens and hundreds of billions in market size. I think we’re at a point in time where the market share leaders are either already being challenged, or will be in the next decade, through a combination of innovation, better design, and better products. This is great news for the customer, as it leads to a better product, better experience, and a better deal. You can see this happening in a number of categories including autos, makeup, razors, glasses, gyms, and of course, jeans! It’s really happening everywhere. The legacy businesses are being challenged, and my advice is that you WANT to disrupt those legacy brands and really go after them.
For us, as a challenger brand, at the end of the day our marketing budget is a fraction of the larger companies, our systems are small, we don’t have as many people, etc. – but what we do have is an absolute passion to disrupt the market with a better product, better experience, and a better deal for the customer. To cut through you need to PUT THE CUSTOMER FIRST! For example, you don’t see us making you give us your email to get into our site, or wait until the item is placed in the cart for the price, or make the customer pay for a return. Going back to the example that I gave earlier of buying a pair of expensive jeans for my daughter that fell apart, when we went to return them they gave us so much hassle! It was the exact opposite of putting the customer first, and that sticks in your memory about a brand.
Hyder: What advice do you have for others in the corporate world who are looking to take the entrepreneurial leap?
Stafford: To be successful as an entrepreneur you really have to want to roll up your sleeves and get hands-on – you know, change the oil yourself, paint the walls, cook your own dinner, figuratively speaking. That has to really energize you!
My other advice would be that you really need to be excited about building your team, as the people you bring with you are some of your most important assets. You know, those folks you worked with that you said to yourself, ‘if I ever start anything, I want them to come with me!’
I would also say that while ideas are great, decisions are the best. You need to keep pushing forward and coming to decisions, otherwise, nothing will ever get done.
July 11, 2019 at 12:46PM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs