Last week on the season finale of Maker’s Row Live we had a superstar in the design world. Jeff Staple, the founder of Staple Design and Pigeon, started his brand 20 years ago when streetwear wasn’t even really an industry.
During the interview, one thing was apparent, Jeff is passionate about his craft. Though he has found much success in the industry, he spoke about his brand in the same way we imagine he would have when he first started. During the interview, Jeff discussed a range of topics including producing jeans that he couldn’t bring into the country, how he came up with the concept for Staple and Pigeon, and how to get started in a saturated market.
Jeff had some really great advice, so we highly suggest watching the full broadcast below. Here are some of our favorite pieces of advice!
How to Get Traction For Your Brand
“Street culture is the byproduct of other things I was into,” he explained. “If you listened to hip hop music and you were a big fan of hip hop. The way you could associate that from a fashion standpoint was really urban brands. But I didn’t like the way that fashion looked. But I loved the music and I loved the culture. So I was like ‘how do I express through fashion that I am inspired and love this culture, but not with a big FB on my chest.’ And that was how Staple was really born. In fact, the word ‘Staple’ and how I came up with that name was almost like an antithesis to that popping bottles, steel rims, and fur coats.”
How to Pitch to Blogs and Publications
One of our viewers, Jonathan Gogel, asked a question many of our viewers had: “What advice would you give labels trying to pitch their line to blogs and publications knowing that their inboxes have become saturated? The industry has become more of a hype machine.” For Jeff, the answer went back to the way he runs his business, “Have your voice, do your thing on your own. So, you have your social media, your [e-commerce], you have all of that setup. Then, send casual and friendly releases to these editors. Don’t spam them. Don’t bombard them.”
Check out the 36-minute mark in the video for the right and wrong way to go about promoting your brand (spoiler: Jeff does some incredible impersonations)! He finished off with, “Have your game set and then respectfully approach the people you want to get your exposure from. And it might take more than once… just trust that when they finally get to your thing, they’re gonna be wowed.”
Wholesale vs. E-commerce
Speaking about this generation, Jeff said the first question you have to ask yourself is if you want to actually go the wholesale route or not. “When I started the brand there was no direct to e-comm. There’s a lot of double-edged swords that come with wholesale.” He first talked about your profits being cut in half. He also warned that “once you open pandora’s box of wholesale, it’s hard to close that box. There’s a whole machine that’s required to run a wholesale business and that machine lives on a 12-18 month life cycle.” He describes how his business is 90% wholesale, which requires excess planning. “Right now, we’re planning our Spring 2018. And, I’m gonna call myself out on this, how can I as a designer predict what’s gonna be hot in Spring 2018 when there’s a kid in his mom’s basement screenprinting the hot s*** for next month. And he’s gonna create the hottest, newest trend.”
On Creating Luck
We asked, “How much does luck have to do with where you are right now?” While Jeff admitted that luck has a lot to do with his success (he even said he has this discussion with his friends often), he said that “hard work creates more luck.” He went on, “if you don’t work, luck isn’t just gonna come and tap you on the shoulder like it’s your turn. There’s a line that Common has said in his raps before, ‘opportunity knocks, but he didn’t call before he came.'”