How To Build A Menswear Brand – An Interview With Owen & Fred

Buying gifts for guys can sometimes be such a challenge: some are extremely particular, some don’t even know what they want, and others simply don’t need anything. You know who you are.

Don’t worry, as Owen & Fred is here to save the day. They provide manly gift ideas made locally in the United States, and boy, are they good-looking.

What’s even better is the fact that 35% of their revenue comes from repeat purchases!

We managed to grab hold of them during this busy gift season to answer a few questions about their journey, marketing strategies and how they managed to achieve such remarkable repeat-purchase figures. Here’s how it went.

We read from your website that Owen & Fred started from a wallet. What’s the story?

Mike Arnot, founder of Owen & Fred, was searching for a simple, high-quality wallet made in the USA. He eventually found one that he liked, but it was just by accident at a flea market in Brooklyn.

That wallet, and other high-quality yet affordable, American-made men’s accessories were missing from the market.

So he founded Owen & Fred as a shop for men to find great goods, accessories, and gifts. Since then, we spent 2013 taking it a step further and designing all of the products ourselves, and working directly with domestic manufacturers.

What were some of your greatest / interesting challenges that you faced while starting out? Did it change the way Owen & Fred was run?

One of the toughest challenges was space. We were operating out of a dark, 8’x8′ office (with inventory, shipping, and every other department) and Mike is 6’5″! We needed to grow up and out, so we have since moved to a larger space with big windows and a great view in an old pencil factory, on a shared floor with a woodworker’s coop.

Owen & Fred has been featured in A LOT of magazines and articles. Any tips on how to get your brand noticed and featured?

First of all, your products need to speak for themselves. They have to be amazing, and also look amazing. Next, when it comes to making people know about your product, be interesting, eye-catching, and persistent. Definitely gotta be persistent.

You have a pretty unique way of rewarding your customers for getting more involved with your brand. What inspired you to come up with such an idea? What’s the most wonderful / cool thing a customer has done for you?

We really value our customers, and our repeat orders make up 35% of our revenue. That’s basically unheard of. They recommend friends with Referral Candy, and also share about us on social media, which we really appreciate.

We’ve had customers share some special stories with us, especially because many of our products are customizable. Luggage tags for their dad’s big birthday, collar stays for an anniversary, etc.

Our favorite testimonial was from a customer that wrote that he’d “never purchased from a company that actually delivered a product that amazing”. That was nice.

You’ve been running a referral program for some time, and your customers are saying some awesome things about you:

What made you decide to do it? Do you have any tips or tricks for others who want to do the same?

A referral program is a key part of what we do, because our repeat customers have allowed us to thrive. Just think about what would happen if we had only one-time purchasers. ReferralCandy is a part of that — we rarely discount our products so customers get the first crack at a discount, through ReferralCandy.

If you were starting over, and had to focus on either stylish branding or stylish products, which would you choose? Why?

We are exceedingly happy with our results to date and don’t look back. Only to the future. The best way to predict the future is to create it, and we feel that we’re doing exactly that.

One last thing: Who’s Owen & Fred? Owen Wilson? Fred Flintstone? Will you ever reveal who they are?

It’s a secret, but if you check out our kickstarter campaign, their true identities are revealed for the first time!

Manly points to think about:

  1. Coming up with a well-made & good-looking product is the first step. Then make sure it gets noticed. A good product may speak for itself, but you still need effort and persistence to find all ways and means to garner the attention your product deserves.
  2. Making your customers happy is crucial to your business. Owen & Fred is great at doing just that: from giving free cedar balls with every purchase, to rewarding customers for mentioning/featuring them on social media platforms. A happy customer is very often a returning customer!
  3. Final words for ecommerce stores? The best way to predict the future is to create it. Have a goal, work towards it, and don’t look back. Look only to the future.

If you’re interested in checking out gift ideas for yourself, or for the gentlemen around you, head over to their website over here!

Coincidentally, they are currently having a Kickstarter project, featuring in-house designed, beautifully-crafted bags for under USD$100. They are (at the point of publishing) 9 days and USD$2,000 away from reaching their goal, so do support them by clicking here!


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