We at GL want to start providing you guys with some inspiration, from the source. We’ll be interviewing creators from all walks of life and filling you in on what they create, what they’ve learned in the process and how you can use that info to skip a step or build on your own personal experiences.
Our chat with Will Schwing and Jared Glatter of Tawny Goods:
Tawny Goods is a Los Angeles based brand that currently specializes in leather shoes. All of their products are made in the “Mecca of shoe production” Leon, Mexico. The company was started in 2015 by Will and Jared, two college buddies with a passion for entrepreneurship who saw a gap in the men’s shoe market for high quality, authentic shoes that weren’t going to cost as much as some of their long-established competitors and weren’t going to fall apart like a lot of other brands they were experiencing.
“High quality, authentic shoes.”
What makes Will and Jared different is their understanding of keeping things simple, while also redefining their niche in the market. One of the biggest takeaways from speaking with them is their story surrounding Kickstarter. The crowd-funding platform has become an extremely popular way to raise money in the last few years with some company’s experiencing a major boost in popularity and capital while others fall short of their goals…since this is being written, it ought to be obvious that they reached their goal.
What these guys understood is that investment in a startup fashion brand was unlikely without an already established successful rap or socialite career. By creating a captivating brand video and having their entire business model previously prepared, they were able to use Kickstarter as a form of raising capital as well as a treasure trove of customer data.
When the two launched their campaign, they offered different buckets for investment, a common tactic on Kickstarter where different levels of investment allow for different incentives. Once the goal had been reached, Jared and Will sent out individualized thank you’s and asked each person to select which style and color they wanted to receive as their incentive. Although this process may seem standard and obvious, what they realized is that less than 1% of people chose a certain style of loafer as well as a certain color for their shoes, therefore providing a market test of sorts that showed them that continuing to carry the loafer or offer that certain shade of light brown wasn’t in their best interests. They dropped both from production.
Another interesting move was a questionnaire they included with each thank you that allowed them to build metrics on the demographics of who was investing in their brand. This made it easier to create a successful marketing plan that would be geared towards similar demographics rather than taking a stab in the dark and hoping that their efforts would land.
The brand has recently celebrated their one year anniversary with the launch of new program called The Workbench, a crowdfunded, collaborative effort between the brand and their consumers that will allow them to create small runs of fashion forward and unique styles. It basically goes like this, a new design is created and launched on the website. Customers and fans can view the design and pledge the allotted price for a pair of the shoes if they so desire. Once 15 backers have pledged, the shoe is created and everyone gets their pair. If 15 people don’t back the product within a month, the guys know that it wasn’t a strong enough style to actually create. If the style sells like crazy, they’re able to keep it on as a permanent piece. It’s a genius plan to allow for inventory management, constantly evolving product lines and a major variety of quality pieces. Not to mention the buzz it will create thanks to the limited numbers and time constraints for donation. (if you couldn’t tell, we LOVE this idea)
“Things that seemed insurmountable in the moment are now things you do every day.”Will and Jared are models of the entrepreneurial lifestyle. They don’t use being self-employed as an impressive Instagram bio (like so many), they’re innovating and evolving. They’ve rolled with the punches and understand that the world of being an entrepreneur is cutthroat and difficult, yet by learning to always get back up, you’ll soon enough find you’ve grown by leaps and bounds.