This week we sat down with Tim Morse to learn about the importance of timing in launching a brand, software tools he can’t live without, and how to cultivate emotional connections with customers.
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What was the driving force behind starting Richer Poorer?
My business partner Iva Pawling and I launched Richer Poorer in 2010 on the heels of the last economic downturn. Our goal was to build a men’s sock brand focused on well designed, quality products at an attainable price point.
We’ve since evolved into a Mens and Womens apparel brand that is experiencing solid growth even in these challenging times. Previous to starting Richer Poorer I’d been working in the Bay Area and was paying close attention to the evolution of office work attire. Always being a bit of a fashion hound I felt socks might just become the next fashion accessory to replace the tie.
During this time Iva had been working for her sister and brother-in-law’s jewelry brand, Gorjana. Iva had a strong entrepreneurial spirit and was also incredibly deft as an operator which is what I needed.
How did great timing impact Richer Poorer’s initial success?
I’ve never had a shortage of ideas but recognized I could use someone to help execute. We took a look at the competitive landscape and quickly realized there was only one sock specific brand in the market out of Europe at the time (although that quickly changed).
I’ve identified the fact the margin structure was similar to jewelry and shortly thereafter we were off to the races. From ideation to in-market took us about 5 months. So much of the success of any brand and of life, in general, is truly around timing.
Coming out of the crash of 2007 we saw the pendulum swing from consumers overspending on high priced products such as $300 jeans and Hummer SUVs to $40 Levi’s and Toyota Prius’. We came into the market with a reasonably priced fashion accessory in a category that happened to catch fire.
What should a founder be aware of before launching a brand?
Make sure to go through the process of understanding what your brand stands for and why you do what you do.
If your brand or idea is really hard to explain, you’re at a huge disadvantage from the start. As I look back to our original brand ethos from 2010 it was to deliver well designed, high-quality products at an attainable price point.
Although our product line has evolved quite a bit from the days of simply selling socks, we’ve always maintained an unwavering approach to the original ethos.
Once that’s nailed, treat your new endeavor like a higher calling or a cause. And while you have me, buckle up and get ready for many sleepless nights.
What are the software tools you can’t live without?
1) Slack. Like many companies, this is our central internal comms system.
2) Shopify. They’ve built an amazing application stack and ecosystem of partners that has allowed us to scale quickly.
3) NuOrder. They’ve been our wholesale B2B platform for several years now and have done a great job building out a world-class platform for brands like ours. As the industry shifts away from trade shows, this is mission-critical.
What macro trend is Richer Poorer riding?
Due to COVID, almost overnight loungewear became the new workwear. We’ve spent the last 2 years redefining the brand to focus on the apparel basics category with a mission of delivering Confidence In Comfort.
From day one, our Creative/Designer Director Jenny Alaimo and her team have designed with maniacal attention to detail.
We want you to feel comfortable wearing our black fleece sweatshirt along with a collared shirt for a Zoom meeting and be perfectly presentable. When we reflect back in a year I believe this time be our defining moment.
Our customers have been living in our product, during a once in lifetime pandemic, in their post personal environment.
This is the emotional connection we’re now entrusted with and like any relationship, it’s our job to continue to nourish. I’m thankful we’re selling soft cozy products and not $1000 leather jackets right now.
What unique niche has your brand pioneered?
Our customers continuously come back to us for intentionally designed, well priced, quality basics that add value to their life. The team is incessantly looking to apply this philosophy to new categories and silhouettes.
If COVID and the current quarantine period has taught us anything, it’s that people are shopping more thoughtfully and consciously, which I believe will remain post-pandemic as well.
Questions? Drop us a line.
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