MagnetMonster's Adam Kitchen caught up with Indy Brand's CEO Mike Sperry to talk about their rapidly expanding clothing brand. A brand dedicated to the wild at heart. A brand devoted to the journey...
Indy Brand's style combines retro vinyl culture with the rugged landscapes that call to our imagination. At our core lives the spirit of independence — much like the indie movies and music that point to the road less traveled.
Q: Where did the idea for Indy Brand Clothing come from?
Mike: Indy Brand started as a side project with no real intent to make it into a real company. My co-founder Ben Campbell was working for me at another company that I owned, and he continued to ask for help and advice on doing a shirt company. He had created a wordpress blog with no ecommerce capabilities and kept wanting me to help and eventually for me to partner with him. I initially blew him off but then after a few months showed the designs to my wife. Her reply was, "why not"! So we got Courtney, Ben's wife, involved and together with my wife, all partnered together. From there we picked a name and a niche of a nature inspired brand and then the idea just grew from there with a lot of trial and error, hard work, and patience until it become a full time gig.
Q: There is a strong "lifestyle" feel to the brand in marketing and aesthetics. Was this the intention from the get-go?
Mike: I wouldn't say from the get go but certainly early on we realized that the visual aspect is what really drove our business. That coupled with a strong social media presence really pushed us to create a strong brand aesthetic. And it helps that Ben is really gifted in that area as well and he worked really hard at becoming one of the best at visually branding our company.
Q: Do you think it's important for a D2C brand to be community-driven to be successful in an industry as competitive as apparel? If so, what advice would you give to other e-commerce entrepreneurs to leverage this?
Mike: I think that for a lifestyle brand it is crucial to have a strong community in the current world that we live in. Community building is about speaking the same language first and foremost. By that I mean that you need to like the same things, talk in a similar way, and support the same causes. This of course will alienate others but that is the point. If others don't like it so be it. But I believe it is the only way to cut through the noise long term. Community building is done in many different ways. Indy Brand is driven by imagery more than anything but great customer service by connecting with people on every level of the company even when your shipping department screwed up an order is crucial. If customers do not have an absolutely wow experience when ordering from us they won't order again.
Q: Which marketing strategies have been most successful for helping the company grow & which have been the least effective?
Mike: As far as marketing strategies go you really need to focus on what you are best at. For us that is aesthetic so leveraging that through all social platforms is key. We use a lot of different ways to drive eyeballs, from influencers, brand ambassadors, social media, to email and text messaging. Put the tip of the spear has always been paid traffic through Facebook and primarily Instagram. Our least effective marketing strategy is what we don't do. We don't do a blog because it isn't a core strength for us and we don't do SEO or content marketing because again it isn't a strength.
Q: Finally Mike, what is the biggest mistake you've made along the way in growing a successful business & what would you do differently if you did it again from the beginning?
Mike: The biggest mistake we have made is not being aware of our marketing numbers and our benchmark profitability targets. As we grew we were extremely cognizant of the unit economics and margins that we needed to hit but lost track of our overall marketing ROAS target which is defined by our true costs after COGS, shipping, and fixed costs. Once we got that figured out it has spurred our growth in new ways and allowed us to pull back in certain areas and be more aggressive in others.
You can check out Indy Brand Clothing at their website and social media channels: