One thing that I have been doing a lot of since I resolved never to be on a payroll again (unless I own the company paying me) is meeting up with entrepreneurs who are more advanced than I am (and there are a lot). This may sound whacky or even stupid, but Danny and I actually call, email or meet up with people who are doing stuff we like. We’ve chatted wih Michael Fox over at Shoes of Prey, Rick Leith who’s the king dingaling of Live clothing (you may not like their stuff, but the fact is they do what they do well), the chief of Sanuk (the funny ‘shoe’ thingys) and plenty more people. A couple of these people we have spoken to have all but offered to mentor us and give us a half hour when we are short on strategy. Why am I telling you this?
One thing that they have all mentioned is the importance of having brand champions, or getting the right people to wear your products. That’s all good in theory, but have you any idea how tough it is to find the head of the snake when it comes to celebrities or people who are leading their field? It’s not easy. Harder still is getting them to actually wear your stuff and then harder still is getting some evidence they have worn your stuff without relying on the paparazzi to get a snap of them beclothed in your brainchildren.
Danny and I were shooting the breeze about an unrelated product that we are working on (more on that later) and how we could get it to brand champions, then get a pic to use on various social media, etc. I had the idea that we could send them a really sexy package and include a polaroid cam and some film, we agreed that this was worth a crack and did a bit of researching on costs, concluding that the only thing we would need to change is the polaroid, as they’re freaking expensive and heavy. We settled on a disposable camera with a ceiling price of $20.
The Future Music Festival has become a gargantuan Australia wide road show. Numbers in Perth alone reached something like 40,000. This attendance figure gives mainstream visibility to many artists that were previously only playing raves and big club nights in Australia. The more I thought about it, the idea of 40,000 20 somethings (all who could potentially be interested in our product and the social media follow on) seeing an artist wearing Iron Horse Clothing seemed like an idea that had to be executed. Knowing Richie Hawtin (playing under his alter ego production moniker ‘Plastikman’) was going to be closing one of the stages gave me instant motivation.
As a side note, Richie is a massive personal inspiration to me. 10 years my senior, he has been living the life that millions of people dream of. In the 20+ years he’s been DJ’ing and producing, he has basically created his own music genre and worked his ring off to promote himself and his sounds. He was one of, if not the first to create a brand for himself to work under and he has all but totally vertically integrated his ‘business’ (himself). By this, I mean he produces music in his own studio, then releases it on his own label, distributes through a company he is involved in, promotes himself and then books himself and his stable of artists through yet another one of his own businesses. He relies on no one else for his success. Legend. He deserves some of our clothes!
I got on the horn and called Richie’s booking company, ‘Clonk,’ (yep, he owns that) in Germany and found out where he would be staying at. Having the back up of a slick web site and solid online presence made it very easy for me to sell the idea to Katrina, who put me in touch with Richie’s PA, Franzie, who was delighted to help us. Tommy and I put together a wicked little package comprising 3 of our latest designs (we researched sizes from internet photos) a relaxed cover letter, a stamped self addressed envelope, a disposable camera and a bottle of Australia’s finest-Coopers Pale Ale.
The staff at the Duxton weren’t surprised by us rocking up at sparrows on Sunday with a package for one the artists staying at their hotel and the concierge was indifferent to our plea to take it to them while we were there. We were of course hoping to get the package to them prior to the show so Richie could wear one of our shirts on stage that night.
When the camera rocked up at our offices on Tuesday, I can’t explain the feeling of success. You’ll have to try it out for yourself. So it worked, and the concept is certainly proven. What would I do differently? For starters, I would definitely butter up the concierge or whoever is in charge of getting the package to the room. This muppet didn’t get our gift up there until the morning of their departure (fuck!). I would also use a better disposable camera. We opted for some cheap $8 jobbies from K Mart and they suck balls, as you can tell by the snowy pictures. That said, they do have a peculiar quality about them that I like, but that’s probably because one of the people I most respect and admire is posing out the front of his hotel wearing our clothes and he’s there doing so because I jumped out of bed at 1am to write an idea on my whiteboard and then set about executing it. Imagine all the cool things that we could make happen if we all did this with all our whacky ideas?
Do you have a better method of getting to brand champions? Got any ideas you could share with us?