Live from New York, it's the My Biggest Lessons podcast! Kenny Haisfield, founder of Kenny Flowers, joined Chris Meade in-studio this week to discuss the ins and outs of starting a successful clothing line. Check out the full episode below! ⤵
If you've ever thought, "Man, I really wish I had a modern Hawaiian shirt for my next vacation/night out/weekend," Kenny has the perfect solution for you.
Meet Kenny Flowers, AKA Kenny Haisfield. After graduating college in 2012, he spent the next couple of years working a cushy corporate job in New York City. Kenny found himself rocking his dad's old Hawaiian shirts on weekends, and his friends started ragging on him for wearing the same one over and over again. Knowing he was destined for something better, the initial idea for Kenny Flowers came about in the fall of 2014.
With a love for Bali instilled from his grandmother, Kenny set off to the island in 2015 to go all in on Kenny Flowers. After hitting the ground and visiting local manufacturers, Kenny eventually found the perfect match and has worked with the same manufacturer ever since, helping him grow the warehouse from 8 employees to over 50.
Today, Kenny Flowers has transformed from men's Hawaiian shirts to a modern resort-wear clothing line. Kenny started from a place of knowing almost nothing about business and learned valuable lessons along the way. Want to read more about how Kenny drove his business to success? Keep on reading! ⤵
Find your focus 👀
Something most new entrepreneurs can relate to is the excitement in the early days when you're giving your new brand your all. Lost in this excitement, sometimes, is the need to focus on more than one aspect of your brand.
For Kenny, he spent months solely focused on the product, and not at all on the branding, logo, or any form of marketing. By the time his first run of shirts was ready to go, the manufacturer asked him for his logo and branding to put tags on the shirts. Guess what Kenny forgot to add to his to-do list? Branding. Kenny's advice to new entrepreneurs is to stay focused on the important aspects of your business from the beginning and to get the big and expensive screw-ups out of the way early on.
SKUs on SKUs on SKUs 📈
There's one thing that's guaranteed for almost any brand entering the fashion industry: an enormous amount of SKUs. Inventory planning is crucial to driving success, and for Kenny, has looked different almost every year since the business started.
In the first couple of years, Kenny would simply message his manufacturing guy on WhatsApp to put in an order for 100 more shirts in a specific design or drop into the warehouse in person to make inventory requests. Ordering cautiously in small batches for those first few years allowed Kenny Flowers to know what was successful without wasting money on overstock.
Now, they use a forecaster to help predict which specific lines and designs they need to invest in or slow down on to optimize their spending. For any new entrepreneur, doing smaller inventory runs and not over-investing at the start helps identify buying trends with the consumer, so as you grow, you know where and how to invest in inventory in the most profitable way.
You've been influenced 🤳
Let's be real — the iOS 14 changes have been hard on every single brand that relied on paid advertising, especially on Facebook and Instagram. These changes impacted the way many businesses approach their marketing strategy, and had brands like Kenny Flowers scrambling to find new and creative ways to reach their audiences.
Enter: influencer marketing. Kenny's approach to influencer marketing isn't the same as the traditional paid collaboration, as they don't really pay for any of the collabs they do. For example, Barstool legend Dave Portnoy, wore one of their sets in one of his infamous pizza reviews, creating huge virality that not only drove sales to Kenny Flowers but huge engagement to Portnoy's page. Kenny also works with the likes of Yung Gravy, whose persona includes the signature Kenny Flowers colorfully patterned shirts and long sleeves.
For Kenny, influencer marketing has helped put his brand in front of his target customers — something all entrepreneurs should be thinking about in this post-iOS update world.
A helping hand ✋
Kenny has grown Kenny Flowers into a wildly successful business over the past 7 years, from shipping his first orders out of his mom's house to employing over 50 people alone. While he's proud of this success, there's one big lesson he wishes he could share with his younger self: don't do everything on your own.
Take the time to find what you're good at and shift your focus there. For the things you're not good at, Kenny urges new entrepreneurs to find people to help in those areas right away. When you have 1 or 2 people with a different skill set than you that are good at the things you're not, your time is freed up to go all-in on what you know you're good at. This way, you'll be able to scale your business a lot faster with time saved on things you aren't great at.
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