Guess what time it is? That’s right — it's time for this week's rundown of the My Biggest Lessons podcast! Cael Schwartz, Head of Product at birddogs, joined our host, Chris Meade, live in-studio to chat about the ins and outs of scaling a business centered around men's shorts. Check out the full episode below! ⤵
What do you get when you put a bunch of raunchy dudes with a love for athleisure together? If you answered gym bros, you'd be surprisingly wrong.
The correct answer is birddogs. Cael Schwartz, alongside founder Peter Baldwin and a small team of creators, built a successful men's fashion brand off of a very specific need they all had: comfortable shorts with built-in liners. Inspired by companies like Lululemon and Chubbies, the birddogs team loved the style of the shorts available on the market, but not the quality and the branding. There were always 2 major problems: comfort and marketing.
Birddogs set out to solve these two problems, and have been immensely successful in doing so since 2014. With innovative products that are high quality and comfortable, and a marketing strategy based on how real men talk to other men, they've been able to successfully expand the product line while creating a community behind their online brand.
As we all know, entering the fashion market is no easy feat. For birddogs, and Cael himself, there have been many lessons along the way that have propelled them to learn and grow into the successful DTC brand they are today.
Bold branding 💥
If there's 1 sure-fire way to get your business out there and known, whether it be in a positive or negative light, it's pushing the envelope with branding. Cael and birddogs have done exactly that — staying true to their raunchy selves through organic and paid marketing.
The birddogs team approaches their true-to-self marketing strategy with the goal of being remembered, rather than making sales. This is executed through funny, made-up quotes in paid carousel ads, memes posted organically across social platforms, and an all-around, line-pushing voice that either resonates with people or bugs them to no end.
A slice of humble pie 🥧
Like a lot of other eCommerce brands, birddogs has faced some troubling inventory issues, especially through the past few seasons. Forecasting sales for inventory purposes, while helpful, can also be risky. It's hard to know for sure which products will pop off and when, and overinvesting in inventory can quite literally make or break your entire business.
One of the biggest lessons learned for Cael and birddogs was this exact risk. Right before bringing their brand to Shark Tank, they had advice from many people telling them to stock up on as much inventory as they could because, with a product like theirs, they were surely going to blow up immediately. Well, I'm sure you can predict what happened next — sales were not as high as they predicted, and it took a lot of phone calls and pleading to get their suppliers to hold on everything they could and immediately stop production before bringing birddogs to bankruptcy.
After overestimating inventory a few too many times, Cael has taken a newer approach that he would recommend to up-and-coming brands who don't have the capital to overstock inventory. Tell your manufacturer exactly what you can commit to, the timeline you expect the product to be made, and purchase and store the raw materials for your products until the moment you know you need them in production.
From traditional to alternative 📺
While paid and organic social marketing are top priority for most DTC brands these days, birddogs takes an alternative approach with their marketing strategy. Apart from the aforementioned standard methods, television ads and podcast sponsorships have really helped boost the brand voice and sales. With TV advertising, birddogs goes for the 'WTF' factor, with weird yet hilarious commercials that drive people to search for the brand and remember its name.
Podcasts, however, have been a huge driver in sales over brand awareness. Having hosts from popular shows on Barstool, and other big names like Tom Segura, try the products and talk about them instills a feeling of trust in consumers. Knowing that their favorite podcast hosts love the products means that they must be good. For businesses looking to boost sales and brand awareness, alternative advertising is always an avenue worth exploring.
Keeping it all in-house 🏠
The number 1 mantra at birddogs is staying true to who they really are. The best way they've been able to execute this in their creative is by keeping their entire team in-house — absolutely no help from agencies. Their brand voice reflects their team's personalities — raunchy, goofy, sometimes over-the-line dudes who love athleisure wear.
While some agencies are really good at emulating your brand voice, having your own team who live and breathe your brand sparks creative content that feels more authentic to the brand voice. Cael and birddogs want you to remember them, so this authenticity is key to driving their success.
Want to learn more about eCommerce growth through the personal trials and obstacles of industry professionals? Subscribe to the My Biggest Lessons podcast on YouTube, Spotify, and wherever else you listen to podcasts.