This week we sat down with Steven Mazur, the Co-Founder & CEO of Ash & Erie, to learn more about the modern DNVB landscape, critical customer insights, and the tools he can’t live without.
Ash & Erie is building the first major brand for shorter men. Our goal is to help shorter men look and feel their best, and we’re excited to finally give all men the clothes and confidence they deserve. Prior to Ash & Erie, Steven was a Venture for America Fellow and worked in business development at Detroit-based Waymark, where he met his co-founder Eric.
We’re incredibly excited to be working with Steven and his team this year. If you’re an emerging brand, we’d love to get in touch! You can learn more about our investment process at Assembled Brands here.
What was the driving force behind starting A&E?
My co-founder Eric and I are both shorter men and we could never find clothes that fit off the rack. There wasn’t a single brand making clothes for guys our size, and the industry had forgotten about us. After talking about this problem with our friends and family, we realized that every shorter man had trouble finding clothes that fit well. That’s when we decided to launch Ash & Erie.
What should a future founder be most aware of before launching a brand?
Understanding what problem you’re solving for your customers and keeping them involved throughout the process is so important. It helped that Eric and I experienced the problem ourselves, but we learned so much by speaking with every shorter guy we knew from the beginning. When we first designed our clothes, we had fittings with hundreds of shorter men of all shapes and sizes, and the data and conversations from those fittings was invaluable.
Our biggest pain point when we started was that neither of us came from fashion backgrounds, and we quickly learned how important it would be to surround ourselves with industry experts. We found a great group of advisors who continue to support and work with us today. From the beginning, the most rewarding feeling is seeing our clothes being worn “in the wild” and hearing stories from customers about how wearing Ash & Erie helped them look and feel their best.
What are the three tools/platforms you can’t live without?
- Shopify — The insights, data, and organization it provides, even to someone who isn’t technical like myself, is huge.
- Slack — Our team isn’t always together and Slack allows us to communicate easily even when we’re on the go.
- Trello — As our team has grown, we’ve had to implement more tools and structure to make sure we’re operating most effectively. I wish we would have used Trello or another project management tool even sooner.
In the broader consumer landscape, what macro trend is A&E riding?
Men are becoming more conscious of what they wear, how it fits, and how it makes them feel. With so much choice, men want something that is truly made for them. As a brand, we’re pioneering the “shorter mens” category in fashion. Big & Tall has been around for decades and it’s time to build the industry for the other side of the height spectrum.
What companies in the DNVB ecosystem are you a fan of — and why?
I’m a big fan of any brand that focuses on creating great products and not accepting anything less. Building a business is hard, but the successful companies are the ones that can stay focused on creating sustainable value for their customers. A few specific companies I respect are our friends at Wolf & Shepherd and Felix Gray. I also respect Untuckit for focusing on fit and providing a straightforward brand that millions of men resonate with.