The creator of a $150 purse beloved by AOC and Oprah is revolutionizing “it bags” by making them accessible to everyone. Against all odds, it’s working.

Telfar

Tianni Graham, 27, remembers the “before times” – that is, the harrowing months before Telfar introduced its Bag Security Program.

It was early last summer and she, along with thousands of others, was stuck testing their luck each day trying to buy the wildly popular Telfar handbag whose celeb fans include Oprah, Selena Gomez, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Solange. But they often sold out before anyone could click ‘check out.’

It turns out, robots and resellers were buying products in bulk, making it harder for real customers to purchase them. So, last summer, Telfar introduced its Bag Security Program, in hopes of giving customers better access to its bags by allowing patrons 24 hours to pre-order any bag on the site, with no limits on how many can be purchased. The bag is then made to order, and shipped directly to the customer.

Its first drop, which happened last August, brought in about $20 million – about 10x what Telfar made in all of 2019.

Suddenly, Graham, who is also a fashion archivist and consultant, had her green Telfar bag. It arrived right before Christmas and was a “present to myself,’ she told Insider, adding that other brands could benefit from implementing a similar program. “It would make things so much easier and make the customer feel like you care.”

The program’s success shows how a luxury brand can create accessibility without losing the allure of exclusivity. The old-school model for luxury brands states the product should be scarce and elite, but the next generation of high-end consumers and entrepreneurs are taking a different route.

Teflar is rewriting the rules of luxury, and this time, it’s not too hard for other brands to follow suit.

Telfar ‘white glove treatment’ is what next-gen luxury shoppers crave

Young consumers look less at price tags and more at brand values when determining where to spend their money; these next-gen consumers want sustainability, inclusivity, and a sense of community. The new “white glove treatment” when it comes to luxury shopping is a speedy online checkout from a brand that cares.

For Telfar’s latest drop this week, customers had the option to use the payment installment plan Klarna, making it even easier for those looking to obtain a bag. While customers will have to wait a few months before receiving the bag, people often spend years on a Birkin bag “waiting list” and most will probably never get one.

Shortly before Telfar’s program ended this week, a spokesperson for the brand told Insider it was, already, “going very well.”

Telfar started with an aim of inclusive luxury

Telfar was founded in 2005 by its eponymous founder Telfar Clemens and has dedicated the past two decades to building an inclusive business model.

In 2014, it released its now-iconic vegan leather handbag, which takes inspiration from a Bloomingdale’s shopping bag. The bags became widely available around 2018 after Telfar won $400,000 from the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, allowing the company to expand production.

Clemens described his brand to The Cut as being “genderless, democratic, and transformative,” purposely seeking to challenge the notion that high fashion is only for a certain group of people, with the brand motto being “Not For You – For Everyone.”

Telfar

Now, Telfar bags come in three sizes, with prices ranging from $150 to $257. (For comparison, Birkin bags go for at least $12,000 while Black-owned luxury brands such as Brother Veilles go for at least $1,295.)

As reported by FT, handbag sales in the US declined 18% between 2016 and 2019. Yet, Telfar stood out – in 2016, the brand earned $102,000, growing to earn $2 million in 2019. Last year, New York Magazine deemed its bag the “Bushwick Birkin” and the brand was on pace to earn eight figures, even as the fashion industry was expected to take a 90% loss in profits due to the pandemic.

Boston Consulting Group’s Head of Luxury Sarah Willersdorf told Insider that Telfar has checked all the boxes on what it takes to connect with next-gen luxury shoppers. She said the brand has a narrative that “evokes emotion” and properly intertwines timelessness, creative partnerships, and culturally relevant authorities. GQ pointed out Telfar’s customer base was built, not through influencers, but through “customer aspiration alone.”

Telfar
Telfar Clemens.

Raising the bar for next-gen luxury

Brands like Telfar are important in proving accessible business models can be just as lucrative. Willersdorf expects other brands to follow similar strategies in a post-pandemic world, as shopping continues to pivot online.

In the old days – a pre-millennial world, perhaps – having too much of a product is thought to dilute its value. The Bag Security program defies that. But even the most tech-savvy luxury brand is often behind the curve, as Insider has previously reported.

“Luxury brands are always nervous,” Joseph Yakuel, CEO and founder of consulting firm Within, told Insider last year. “There’s so much risk to them tarnishing their brand reputation because luxury brand price points are only supported by their perception, and if their brand perception goes down market, their price point gets eroded very quickly.”

Clemens and his artistic director, Babak Radboy, said they aren’t worried about oversaturation. It’s about community, now. The new “white glove treatment” is making sure everybody gets a pair that fits perfectly.

Read the original article on Business Insider

3 ways to think like a successful entrepreneur

young creative entrepreneur making website selling online
Successful entrepreneurs recognize the uncertainty of the business is worth it once they’re able to provide value.

  • Successful entrepreneurs put value first, says entrepreneurship professor Per Bylund.
  • Successful entrepreneurs prioritize efforts that ensure they achieve their end value.
  • Consumers are interested in entrepreneurs whose products or services can add value to their lives.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Entrepreneurship is about treading new ground. It is about taking a step no one has taken before, at least not in that same way or in the same place. So it should not be surprising that much of the scholarly literature on entrepreneurship, since Richard Cantillon in the early 1700s, has focused on entrepreneurship as uncertainty bearing.

Although “bearing uncertainty” might be what entrepreneurs do in the economy from a theorist’s point of view, it is not – and should not be – the rationale for starting a business. After all, uncertainty means the outcome is unknown, which, in turn, means it could end up ugly. In other words, uncertainty is a cost – it is a burden on the entrepreneur’s shoulders. Entrepreneurs are right to attempt to avoid the uncertainty.

The fact is that theorists have it both right and wrong. Yes, entrepreneurs bear uncertainty because they are the ones getting the reward as profit and also the ones suffering the loss if things do not work out. But that uncertainty bearing characterizes entrepreneurship does not make it the point of being an entrepreneur. Rather, it is a “necessary evil.”

What successful entrepreneurs understand

Successful entrepreneurs, both in the past and present, understand the actual meaning of uncertainty. Those who already experienced success have often learned it the hard way, through experience. Those who are more likely than others to become successful have understood it in the abstract or have the right gut feeling. Regardless of which it is, past or present, they understand that uncertainty is “worth it.”

What this means is that they don’t focus on uncertainty, but accept it. Entrepreneurs choose to bear uncertainty much like someone putting in the hard work – perhaps 10,000 hours’ worth – knows that hard practice is the means to achieve success. How to endure those endless hours of seemingly never ending tedious work? Eyes on the prize.

Successful entrepreneurs recognize the prize and what it takes to get there. They realize that the only way their business can convince customers to buy from them and to beat the competition is to provide value. To the extent they are not simply lucky, successful entrepreneurs rely on a value-dominant logic: They place the end value of their efforts first and direct their efforts to maximize value.

There are three key components to the value-dominant logic that help you apply it in your business:

1. Value is the entrepreneur’s superpower

Entrepreneurs bear uncertainty because it is the only way of doing something different, something new, and bringing about value greater than everybody else has. After all, doing what someone else is already doing is not a way to set yourself apart. It is also not a way of being truly successful. To be successful, you need to develop your superpower – to figure out, focus on and deliver real value.

2. Value is subjective

It sounds strange, but it is true: Value is subjective. This does not mean value can be anything or that it is relative or that there is no such thing as real value. It just means that value is in the eyes of the beholder. The important lesson here is that you, the entrepreneur, do not determine what value is. Your job is to figure out how what you offer can be of value to others. That is what you should be focusing on, not on what you think would make your offering “better.”

3. The consumer is the ultimate valuer

Any entrepreneur, whether in B2C or B2B, should recognize that, ultimately, the consumer is king. Or, as scholars put it, the consumer is sovereign. If you are selling directly to consumers, it is obvious enough. You cannot place a sale unless consumers value your offering. But even in B2B, you cannot stay in business long unless what you contribute to the economy is of value to the final consumer. Even if your customers like what you are doing, you’re not going to sustain profitability unless the consumer of the final good likes it.

Another way of adopting the value-dominant logic is to adopt the “4 Vs” model developed by Hunter Hastings of the “Economics 4 Business” podcast. He summarizes these points for thinking like a successful entrepreneur using four value statements: value potential, understanding and assessing potential consumer subjective value; value facilitation, making it possible for them to consume; value capture, how much the firm realizes of the value facilitated by a value ecosystem that the customer orchestrates; and value agility, how well does the firm respond to changing consumer preferences and competitive propositions and how well does the firm sustain a continuous delivery of innovation to the consumer.

The point is not the terminology or model, but the lesson: that value should come first. And when you place value first and recognize that it is subjective and for the consumer, the burden of uncertainty becomes bearable. It is but a means for attaining the end. It is costly for sure, but it is a necessary cost in order to pioneer production and break new ground.

Importantly, the burden of uncertainty is justifiable because it makes it possible for you to bring about value. This point is key to being successful.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Swarovski crystal heiress Marina Rapahel explains how she achieved record-breaking sales by selling smaller handbags, donating to charity, and using snail mail to reach customers

Marina Raphael
Marina Raphael with her SS21 collection(1)

  • Marina Raphael, 22, launched her brand of luxe handbags in 2019.
  • Despite the pandemic, she said she saw an increase in sales in 2020.
  • To Insider, she reveals how she got her company through the past year.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

When Insider first spoke to Marina Raphael in July 2020, she was in the midst of leading her luxury handbag brand of the same name through the pandemic.

A member of the famed Swarovski crystal family, Raphael launched her eponymous line the year before. It was being sold in high-end retailers such as Moda Operandi; it also captured the attention of Maxima, Queen of the Netherlands.

But now, the pandemic had disrupted in-person shopping, supply chains, and manufacturing. Halfway through the year, it was too soon to have confidence in what the rest of the year would bring.

“As a young entrepreneur, everything was just moving so quickly,” Raphael, 22, told Insider in a recent interview. “But a good entrepreneur has to adapt to any situation and find quick and flexible solutions.”

Now, a few months into 2021, she reflects on her company’s record growth. It turns out, luxury consumers never actually stopped splurging on high-priced goods during the pandemic. Wealthy patrons put their money into handbags, artwork, and fine jewelry – investment categories believed to be less volatile than the stock market.

Raphael, whose bags range from 500 to 1,500 euros ($600 to $1,800), said sales skyrocketed last year, though she declined to share exact revenue figures. The team re-vamped their social media strategy, added charity initiatives to purchases, and even reduced the physical size of its products by 50% to adjust to, what she described as, the new reality of customers’ needs: “carrying less.”

The brand launched collaborations and partnerships, including one with French skincare line Vichy, and expanded its own line to create cosmetic pouches and keychains.

It also released a sustainable collaboration, using upcycled leather and cruelty-free leathers with luxury retailer Luisaviaroma and another line with art director Evangelie Smyrniotaki, which sold out in its first two weeks. Next, the company is about to launch a line with Swarovski Creative Director Giovanna Battaglia. She’s projecting a 420% increase in sales this year.

The luxury brand stayed grounded through hard times by donating 20% of sales

Raphael’s company is headquartered in Greece, but its operations are spread throughout the world. Public relations for the brand is in London, while the sales agent is in New York; quality control is in Australia, and bag production is in Florence.

Marina Raphael with her SS21 collection(3)
Marina Raphael with her SS21 collection(3)

In March 2020, the brand received its spring-summer collection, which gave it stock until August. It combined that with leftovers from the previous collection, but still sold everything by June, she said.

Having a diversified supply chain helped, however. When factories in Italy closed, quality-control in Australia was able to pick up production. The team’s small size of 14 (six of whom joined during the pandemic) made it easy to communicate, despite the time differences. And because retailers were closed, the company didn’t have to worry about shipping out the fall-winter collection.

Another challenge for Raphael was communicating via WhatsApp and Zoom, especially since she had to design handbags without ever touching the fabrics or physically seeing the final product.

At the same time, the brand had to figure out how to sell a luxury product during an ongoing global health and financial crisis. The company couldn’t just stop selling or making the bags, Raphael said. “Then our suppliers would have a problem, our production team would have a problem,” she continued. “They would lose their jobs.”

Marina Raphael with her FW19 collection
Marina Raphael with her FW19 collection

To great success, the company decided to donate 20% of all sales to charities such as Black Jaguar White Tiger Foundation and The Hellenic Pasteur Institute. Luxury retailer Moda Operandi implemented a similar strategy last year to huge success, reporting that if an item was attached to a charitable cause, shoppers were willing to spend full-price on it, even if another promotional sale was happening at the same time.

“I think that’s why we didn’t feel guilty about promoting the product, because with every sale we were helping in some way,” Raphael said.

To promote the collections, Raphael’s company began mailing puzzles and other “interactive fun stuff” to patrons. That was very successful too, she said.

“Getting something delivered to your house makes it feel more personal than at a fashion week where you are running to 15 different showrooms,” she said. “That was too much, too fast.”

In the early months, the team was in a state of panic

Raphael credits the success of this time to her team. In the early months of the pandemic, she recalled, everyone was in a state of panic. So she took it to herself to see how she could motivate her employees during this time, listening to their feedback in order to adopt new business strategies.

Smyrniotaki, the content creator and art director, told Insider that Raphael’s “strong personality” and keen leadership skills are what helped get their collaboration off the ground during this time, even with the disruptions. Her bag with Raphael was made with 5,000 Swarovski crystals to represent brighter days ahead. “It is the perfect allegory for the brighter future we see ahead,” Smyrniotaki continued.

Designing the Marina Raphael X Evangelie Smyrniotaki collaboration
Designing the Marina Raphael X Evangelie Smyrniotaki collaboration

Sometimes, Raphael still thinks about those early months of the pandemic. Customers from the United States, especially, were contacting the company in haste, trying to figure out how soon their products would arrive.

“Customers were saying, ‘we want our orders sooner – can you send us the tracking number?’ We have never experienced that before,” she said. “We were questioning, where are they going with the bags?”

Maybe it was to buy themselves gifts to make themselves feel better, she ponders; maybe they wanted to invest in nice things or were just bored at home. It’s more likely a mixture of all of the above, Insider previously reported.

That, or maybe people just really wanted another tote bag.

Read the original article on Business Insider

WATCH: How small businesses can master their taxes in 2021

Filing taxes might be a bit different for small business owners this year. Many were greatly impacted by months of mandatory closures, lost essential revenue, civil unrest, government loans and grants, and layoffs. 

To find out what all these things mean for your taxes, small business reporter Jennifer Ortakales Dawkins talked with tax expert panelists. They covered how the pandemic, PPP loans, and revenue losses could impact your filings. 

Meet our panelists: 

Robbin Caruso is a partner in the tax department and the co-leader of the National Tax Controversy group of Prager Metis.

Nicole Davis is the founder and principal of Butler-Davis, a tax and accounting firm located outside of Atlanta, GA. 

Rick Lazio is the senior vice president of alliantgroup and a former US representative.

Topics covered: 

At 1:57 we go over basics like who is considered a small business and what the tax filing deadlines are depending on your business license. 

At 14:16 panelists explain what business owners should know about PPP loans and other types of federal aid and how those can affect your taxes. 

At 23:09 we cover how government-mandated closures affect business taxes,  what to do if your business deferred payroll taxes in 2020, and what pandemic-related expenses businesses can claim. 

At 33:00 panelists explain new, existing, and updated tax credits and incentives, including the Employee Retention Credit (ERC) and Research and Development (R&D) credits. 

And at 46:33 we go into a Q&A to respond to viewers’ questions as well as hear a few more tips from our panelists. 

Watch the full webinar above. For more information on filing your taxes as a small business, check out additional coverage below. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

TAXES: Everything small business owners need to know in 2021

Black business owner entrepreneur
  • 2021 will be an important year for small businesses to file their taxes.
  • Tax credits and incentives can be an effective way to offset losses from a difficult year.
  • But very few small businesses take advantage of all the credits available to them.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

2021 will be an important year for small businesses to file their taxes, as many are still reeling from financial losses during the pandemic. But tax credits and deductions can be used to offset some of your costs.

Join us March 2 at 1 PM EST for a webinar on how small businesses can master their taxes. Our panel of tax experts will answer your questions, which you can submit here. Register for the live event here

Getting tax credits and incentives

Business tax credits and incentives can be an effective way to save money or offset losses from a difficult year, but many small businesses don’t take advantage of them because they’re unaware of what’s available to them. The first step to getting them will be finding what your company qualifies for. Then, you’ll need to regularly monitor compliance. 

Some examples of tax credits would be if you provide childcare services for your employees or employ disadvantaged groups, such as the formerly incarcerated, long-term unemployment recipients, veterans, and summer youth.

Read more: This tax season, businesses can get credits for creating jobs, providing employee benefits, and using green energy

6 important tax credits for PPP borrowers

Small businesses can take advantage of both federal aid under the CARES Act and certain tax deductions, including the employee retention tax credit and research and development credits. In addition, the energy-efficient building tax deduction and excise alcohol tax break were made permanent.  

The business meals tax credit, commonly known as the “three-martini lunch,” has been temporarily increased from 50% to a full 100% deduction.

Read more: PPP borrowers can now claim 6 important tax credits – a major change from the original rule 

More about the employee retention credit

The Employee Retention Credit provides up to $14,000 per employee for eligible businesses in 2021. Businesses are eligible to claim this tax credit if they experienced full or partial shutdowns due to government orders during the pandemic or can show a 20% drop in quarterly revenue compared with the same quarter in 2019.

Read more: A business tax credit for keeping employees may be more helpful than a PPP loan – and you could be eligible for both

Read the original article on Business Insider

WATCH: Next-Gen founders talk racial equity in tech, and share insight on navigating the industry

Racial equity in tech has become a major talking point this past year, but has that talk been paired with action? 

In the United States, still only about 1% of Black entrepreneurs receive funding for their businesses. In 2018, TechCrunch reported over 80% of VC firms don’t have one Black investor, and though about 13% of the US population is Black, only about 4% of the VC industry identifies as African American, Bloomberg reported.

After calls for racial justice swept the nation last summer, Insider wanted to know if anything has changed for Black founders looking to find their footing in the tech industry. 

So, we spoke to them. 

On Thursday, February 25, Insider’s reporter Dominic-Madori Davis chatted with  Realtime CEO and cofounder Vernon Coleman, Yac cofounder Jordan Walker, and Cashmere cofounder Urenna Okonkwo about their journeys in tech and the future they wish to see in the industry. Okonkwo, who is based in the United Kingdom, also gave her perspective as to what it’s like raising money as a Black entrepreneur across the pond. 

Together, the trio shared advice for aspiring founders on how to navigate the industry, as well as lessons they wish they knew when they began their entrepreneurial journeys.  

You can watch the full digital event above. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

7 key strategies for scaling from a solo entrepreneur to a successful business leader

colleagues in work meeting
Teams thrive when they have a higher purpose and long-term goal.

  • Entrepreneurs should adjust the mindset of doing everything solo to building a team to grow their business.
  • A culture of learning from failure is key to becoming a successful business leader when scaling a startup.
  • Fine-tuning the business’ purpose is important for entrepreneurs becoming team leaders.
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

As an adviser to many startups today, I still see that most of you entrepreneurs see yourselves as the sole driver of your new solution, and the key driver of your new business.

That’s not all bad in the beginning, but as you scale, every business has to build a team to keep up with the wide range of skills needed, fight new competitors, and respond to changes in the marketplace.

For many, it’s hard to make the switch from that top-down, order-giving culture, and it’s hard to find the time to recruit and coach the new team members you need to scale the business to success.

Many new businesses fail at this stage because they don’t build the required team culture to keep teams engaged and committed, and founders burn out trying to do too much.

Based on my own experience in large companies, as well as small ones, here are seven key strategies I recommend for building the teams and culture that will drive business success:

1. Admit to yourself and others that you need help

Don’t let your ego and passion prevent you from building a team around you, listening to others with complementary skills, and delegating decisions as far down as possible. We all need to be humble and recognize that what we need to know about technology and the market changes daily.

2. Identify a business purpose and goals that motivate any team

Today, modern teams are engaged by a higher purpose, such as improving the environment or helping the underprivileged, more than just money and profit. You need them to make a personal commitment to customer service, improved quality, and change to improve the future.
 
Blake Mycoskie, founder of Toms Shoes, set a goal of donating a pair of shoes to the needy for every pair sold, and maintains team commitment by providing international trips to assist partners in distributing shoes in interesting places, including Nepal and Honduras.

3. Encourage your team to make decisions and take action

Many teams I know are frustrated by never-ending debates and constant requests for more analysis by management. Satisfaction and commitment come from choosing a path to move forward, evaluating results and customer feedback, and learning from all their best efforts.

4. Keep teams small, diverse, and collaborative 

I find that teams with more than eight or nine people often get bogged down in internal politics and have trouble sharing data effectively or reaching consensus. People all need to trust each other and be able to recognize the value of diverse perspectives. Avoid long and never-ending projects.

As an example, CEO Jeff Bezos at Amazon is known for his two-pizza rule: No meeting or team should be so large that two pizzas can’t feed the whole group. He is convinced this assures maximum productivity and that no one’s ideas get drowned out or ignored.

5. Practice active listening and open team communication

As the size and number of your teams grows, the amount of time you spend listening and communicating must also grow. Resist the urge to limit what teams need to know, interrupt negative messages, or jump quickly from listening to a solution. Promote the sharing of ideas and feedback.

6. Foster a culture of constant learning, even from failures

Many new business leaders can’t wait to implement fixed team processes to improve productivity and minimize risk. While productivity is important, the bigger risk is not learning from customers and the market and falling behind. Reward new ideas, experiments, and critical team feedback.

7. Be the model of customer focus for the team

Too many business leaders I know retreat further and further from the customer as their business scales. Make sure you schedule time for regular customer visits, and make sure your team understands that providing value to more customers is your definition of growing the business.
 
As your business grows from a startup to a sustainable business, you too have to grow from an entrepreneur to a business leader. Of course, if your interests and passion don’t lean in this direction, you can always bring in an outside CEO who already has the skills, or you can merge or sell your startup to another enterprise and move on to start a new venture.

Just be aware that a winning team makeup and culture won’t happen by default. It takes recognition of the need and effort on your part. I urge every entrepreneur to take a hard look at their own situation – you may be a key part of the problem, or the driver of the next unicorn business solution.

Read the original article on Business Insider

5 practices to improve your financial health, according to an elite business coach

millennial money habits
Mental strength is key for escaping complacency when it comes to finances.

  • Derek Moneyberg is an entrepreneur and wealth coach who helps people improve their financial health.
  • He says financial goals are more about security than freedom, and many Americans are financially insecure.
  • To achieve security, he suggests cultivating an abundance mindset by practicing mental clarity and stamina. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

As we step into 2021, we are better understanding that our financial goals mean more than just freedom … they mean security. Meeting our goals can give us the peace of mind we are looking for in trying times.

In a revealing survey conducted by OnePoll on behalf of WSFS Bank, 40% of Americans under the age of 40 aren’t optimistic they’ll succeed in their financial goals with 43% adding they frequently have trouble paying everyday living expenses while 19% claimed it happens to them “constantly.”

I recently had the opportunity to speak with business coach Derek Moneyberg, (yes, that’s his name) and the self-made mogul shared a few simple pointers on improving financial health and taking control of our lives …

1​. Mental clarity

“When building your financial future, you have to reevaluate your mindset,” Derek explained, “and your thoughts about money, success, wealth, and hard work.”

Moneyberg innately understands that we are bombarded every day with biases that promote a toxic mindset locking us into a mediocre existence. Eliminating those misconceptions propels us forward with an attitude set on abundance rather than scarcity. 

2​. Mental stamina

Successful people have a tenacity that most of us aren’t born with,” Derek said. “To set and meet financial goals, you have to adapt to processes and thought patterns that will push you, and this is a lot easier said than done.”

Moneyberg maintains that mental strength is a significant catalyst for pushing one out of complacency when it comes to finances. 

3​. Communication and negotiation

“For most people taking a step towards promotions and pay raises is a major part of attaining their financial goals and without the right negotiation techniques, you might as well consider it impossible,” Derek said. “What I mean by that is we have to communicate to win, we have to learn how to be convincing then go after and get what we want.”

4​. Do not hesitate to sell

“​If you want to be wealthy, if you want to reap the benefits of financial success, you have to have the guts to sell,” Derek said. “Build a brand that customers love, market yourself and prove that you are a leader that others can trust. A leader that others want to follow.”

Moneyberg knows that if you offer something of value and put yourself out there, you scale yourself to meet your goals.

5​. Creativity

A common trait among the world’s most elite individuals and Fortune 500 companies is the ability to be constantly creative within an erratic market.

“Not only do you need to be able to stand out,” Derek said, “but you also need to be able to think outside the box.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

The cofounder of clothing brand Faherty says the company had its best year yet thanks to a diversified supply chain and the art of storytelling

Alex Faherty
Alex Faherty

In 2020, clothing brand Faherty had a standout year, according to its twin cofounders Alex and Mike Faherty. 

Alex credits one thing that helped keep his company afloat during this time: having a diversified business model and supply chain. 

When the company first launched in 2013, the founders made it a priority to have a diverse business, which saw the brand sold in retailers throughout the United States. Its supply chain stretches from South American to Asia, and the company has stores in various geographic locations, such as the Soho neighborhood in Manhattan and Martha’s Vineyard. 

The eight-year-old brand’s women’s clothing business is up about 100% year-over-year, and its annual compounded growth for the company these past four years has been 64% according to documents viewed by Insider. The men’s side of the business isn’t doing too bad, either – it counts actors Neil Patrick Harris and Matthew McConaughey, in addition to country star Thomas Rhett Atkins, as fans.

The brand is sold in over 250 stores throughout the world and currently has 16 locations of its own. It’s planning to open another 15 this year, and most recently launched in the new markets including West Palm Beach, Rosemary Beach, San Jose, and on Abbot Kinney in Venice, CA.

In an interview with Insider, Alex talks about how a diversified business model and supply chain worked for his company during the virus.

Alex and Mike
Alex and his twin brother Mike

Alex made it a priority early on to build a business model that didn’t depend on one channel for revenue 

Early on, Alex said, he focused on diversifying the company’s business model, so that it did not depend too much on revenue from one medium. 

The company started off by establishing an online presence, then built a mobile beach house that traveled throughout the country. In 2014, the company expanded into wholesale by launching into retailers such as Nordstrom and Barney’s New York. By 2020, the brand was sold in 250 retailers throughout the world.

Alex said the company made sure to carefully select locations that varied geographically and in population size, to both sell and manufacture Faherty clothes. It was this diversified supply chain that helped the company survive the pandemic, he continued. 

faherty
A model wearing the Sunwaves Sherpa

The company’s supply chain spans Europe, South America, North America, and Asia. When Asia saw the first shockwave of the coronavirus in early 2020, the company was able to lean on its European, South, and North American channels. 

When the Asian markets opened back up, the company was able to shift back to its manufacturing over there, as its supply chain was taking a hit in the European and American markets in mid-March. 

Even domestically, Alex said, the team was keeping a close eye on migration patterns. 

For example, when physical retailers began to close last year, the company shifted to e-commerce. As people fled New York City, their Soho store emptied out but their locations in the Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard saw an increase in sales. 

“It’s been a challenging keeping up with the calendars, keeping up with the factories,” Alex said, giving the same advice another small business told Insider about how it was able to whether the pandemic:  “It’s about being nimble and flexible, and having a diversified supply chain.” 

Faherty has been rapidly expanding into the digital marketplace 

Despite the fact Alex prepared for a diversified physical business model, he said the company is still playing a bit of catch-up when it comes to the digital market pace. “Fortunately, e-commerce really accelerated for us,” he said. “So once the shut down happened, we were able to scale our customer acquisition and introduce ourselves to a lot of new people.” 

Alex’s wife, Kerry, who is in charge of social media, is helping the company expand its presence on the digital marketplace. “I’m always thinking about how we are showing up as a brand in the world, and that means both in the physical space, the tactile space, and the digital space,” she told Insider. “When people think about Faherty, we want them to feel a sense of warmth, trust, and inclusion, and we will keep making strides to do that across all avenues.”

The company currently has over 100,000 followers on Instagram and doesn’t use any Instagram influencers. Instead, the company depends on organic interactions with customers, some of whom become unofficial brand ambassadors. Alex said the team started to increase the amount of content it was producing and went on a hiring spree during the pandemic to bring on content copywriters on the marketing side to further develop the storytelling of the brand. 

Before the pandemic, the company used to host live concerts and events, and it took that virtually, hosting “sun sessions” on Instagram which highlights different artists such as musicians and chefs each week. The company has also partnered with a few podcasts to help expand its reach.

Its expansion into the digital marketplace is only set to continue, even as vaccinations continue. 

“At the same time, you know, we have some retail stores right now that are performing incredibly well,” Alex said, adding that the pandemic’s impact on real estate provides them with an opportunity to open more stores throughout the US. 

“In the right areas, where people are still safe, they’re still shopping in physical retail,” he continued.  “We’re looking at lots of different opportunities in the next couple of years to really grow our retail cards as well. And take advantage of an attractive real estate market.”

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PRESENTING: Inside the career rise of a 29-year-old private jet broker who manages celebrity clients like Diddy and the Kardashians

Kelvin Mensah
Kelvin Mensah.

Kelvin Mensah left his life in New York, where he’d worked retail and service jobs growing up, to move to Los Angeles in 2015. By 2019, Mensah had cofounded his own company, PJKev Approved LLC, and chartered more than 300 jets.

“My first time in LA, I remember going up to the hills and looking at all these mansions,” he told Insider. “That opened up my vision and mentality to how it’s possible to acquire these assets and build wealth for your family. I said, ‘If I could find a niche of close associates with a high-net-worth business, I could make a lot of money from a small percentage.'”

Mensah, 29, is now a luxury lifestyle specialist who arranges private flights for high-profile clients, like the Kardashians and soccer superstar Neymar Jr. By focusing on excellent customer service and fair prices, he’s established a client list of more than 300 people across industries like entertainment and sports.

Subscribe here to read our feature: A 29-year-old private jet broker reveals how he built a career in luxury lifestyle from the ground up and landed celebrity clients like Diddy and the Kardashians

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