Is Marketing a Necessity?

Sometimes word-of-mouth can create a more exclusive business.
  • Transcript


Question: What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? 

Matthew Malin: [NYU's Stern School of Business] had approached us to use our business model as a thesis for one of their semesters and I had worked with them sort of on a weekly basis talking about our business and it was really interesting because we have a very, sort of, non-traditional business model in terms of how we’ve gone after business from a niche perspective. And as an entrepreneur, you know, we didn’t set out in, I think, a manner from which many entrepreneurs do. It wasn’t this "Okay, well, we’re going to start a business and here it is and we know we’re going to do this." It really just was a very simple extension of things we already were doing and we knew and we loved and it felt good because… 

Andrew Goetz: And that we were very passionate about and I think that was definitely … You have to really be willing to roll up your sleeves and you become a jack-of-all-trades, so to speak. And in many ways that is a great education because even as your business grows and you start delineating responsibility to other things, you know how to do every single job in an organization. 

Matthew Malin: But even in talking to MBA students, there is this sort of, well, "When is there a time when you don’t need to get an MBA because you have so much experience in your business that it doesn’t really matter? It’s not going to take you to the next level." I think that the time for starting this business was then, like we didn’t need to have in my opinion for what we were doing. We didn’t necessarily feel we needed to have the MBA to get us to be here. It was just really sort of natural at that point, so experience for me... one of the things that I always talk about is having that level of experience on so many different directions was really what I think helped us be to get to where we are today. 

Andrew Goetz: And you have to be tenacious. There is no question about it. 

Question: How is your business model untraditional? 

Andrew Goetz: Well, first of all we’re partners in life. I mean although I guess that’s not totally untraditional. No, I mean families and couples have done that together. 

Matthew Malin: But I mean more specifically the model itself, like having written a business plan, which we had had some dear friends who had started quite a successful business in Australia... I used their business model, their business plan to write a business plan, which took me probably about six months after I had left Prada and then another year in development from start to finish when we launched. And the business itself is sort of a nontraditional aspect of how to go after business and what we’ve done is we had setup sort of this idea of a freestanding store sort of being everything for us. It was the store. It was the showroom. It was our opportunity to create sales. It was our distribution center, everything to the brand, so we were sort of sitting in the store waiting on customers, packing boxes that were being shipped to London. It was everything, all encompassing, and it sort of grew organically from there. We didn’t take investors. We are self-funded. We have grown only organically. The business has been profitable since its first year and it has been operational since its first day, so while we put in an initial capital investment to the company, we haven’t invested any more of our own money since then. We’ve only allowed it to grow naturally in its own direction. 

Andrew Goetz: Yeah, I think that’s actually the thing that is the most untraditional is that we haven’t had a very slick marketing world, that everything has grown organically and that we don’t actually go after business in a traditional way. As a matter of fact we have never solicited any of our accounts, so everything has sort of come to us and I think that’s unique. 

Matthew Malin: But it’s left us very exclusive and having had these backgrounds where we were taking experience we had... I had many beauty editors who knew who I was and what I was doing and Andrew had design editors and so we already had sort of a built in platform with those. I had had experience doing retail distribution, so there were a certain number of retailers who already knew me and would talk to us about our brand, so in all respects we had sort of set the stage in sort of a nontraditional manner with basically no money. 

Recorded on March 19, 2010