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Who's in the Video

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

Question: What is your advice for aspiring entrepreneurs? 

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

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

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

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

Question: rnHow is your business model untraditional? 

Andrew Goetz: Well,rnrn first of all we’re partners in life. I mean although I guess that’s notrn totally untraditional. No, I mean families and couples have done that rntogether. 

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

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

Matthew Malin: But it’s left us rnvery exclusive and having had these backgrounds where we were taking rnexperience we had... I had many beauty editors who knew who I was and rnwhat I was doing and Andrew had design editors and so we already had rnsort of a built in platform with those. I had had experience doing rnretail distribution, so there were a certain number of retailers who rnalready knew me and would talk to us about our brand, so in all respectsrn we had sort of set the stage in sort of a nontraditional manner with rnbasically no money. 
Recorded on March 19, 2010