What does it take to rebrand a clothing business in just 18 months, and how can an ice bath routine improve your mindset and muscle soreness? Find out as we chat with Jason, the owner of Kalibre Clothing, an e-retailer specialising in minimalistic, contemporary, going out clothing. We cover everything from his journey joining the military at 18 to working in security, and eventually finding his passion in the clothing industry.
Learn about Jason's resilience and determination as he shares the story behind rebranding Caliber Clothing, shifting from a streetwear brand to a more minimalistic and contemporary look. We dive into the challenges he faced during the process and how questioning his passion for the venture led to a more authentic representation of the brand. Plus, we explore various aspects of building and scaling a successful clothing brand, including organic influencer marketing and Facebook ads.
Discover how Jason managed to create a self-sustaining cycle with his investment into Kalibre Clothing, and the importance of having a mentor to help navigate uncharted waters in business. We also discuss the benefits of building a strong community around your brand and maintaining its values from the foundation up. Don't miss out on this inspiring and informative conversation with the man behind Kalibre Clothing!
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Speaker 2: I think I hope you're okay, mate. Thank you for having me on Appreciate it. So I own Caliber Clothing, which is an e-retailer, so just an online platform, no brick and mortar as such, and we specialize in minimalistic, contemporary, going out clothing. So the easiest thing to say to people when they go well, what kind of style is it We go like? similar to Reese Men's Wear. So no bold logos, events, meals that's the kind of thing you'd wear our garments to. a bit like what's kind of trending now is old money style.
Speaker 2: A bit of background is I joined the military when I was 18. I had a rare condition called Compartner Syndrome, which is when the muscles in the shin like flare up, basically, and get really hot and push against the finger. You can kind of get around it if you stretch long enough in the morning and it's not so bad. but you don't really get that choice in the military. So can I just, sergeant, can I have an hour to stretch before we go and do this 20 mile run? So that ended up sending me down another path.
Speaker 2: I came out and for quite a period of time I did security. It was kind of the natural thing to go from. military was a lot of my friends who had left already would gone into like close protection and stuff like that. So I did close protection nightclubs, festivals, concerts, boxing, and then I was also working in a gym. So I've done quite a few things. They do kind of lead on to the others. It wasn't just like a complete turn. So, yeah, that's a bit of background answer until you're right on what I've done so far.
Speaker 1: And for those of you that can see Jason right now, you'll see that he is in a car. There's a number of reasons for that, one of which he pointed out, which was because he has a daughter and it's a good place to record from. But also, i happen to know he doesn't skip the gym, it doesn't skip the ice bath. So he's made. Did you make it this morning or were you too rushed?
Speaker 2: So I've been the gym this morning, but today is my off day with an ice bath. So I was doing them every day And then, from just doing more research into it, i realized that it's like it's better to do like three, four times a week. So I tend to go Monday, wednesday, friday, and then I'll try and get one on the weekend. If you know but I definitely don't, you know do it three times a week Monday, wednesday, friday, so tomorrow. Yesterday I did one and it will be tomorrow, but I've only been doing it a few weeks. So it's something very new to me. I'm still learning about it And I know people do recommend doing a cold shower at first, but I just I've done that previously And I just thought let me just go straight into it and just just get in there, just jump in.
Speaker 1: So something about an ice bath. It's a bit of a bit of a tangent. It's something about an ice bath. It's more pleasant than a cold shower.
Speaker 1: I am a recent, within the last two weeks, started doing the routine sauna ice bath for an hour circuit. So the idea behind the sauna is that you open up all your blood vessels and get the get the pumping and you can feel it pulsing in your head if you stand there long enough, and then you jump straight in the ice bath and then the opposite happens all the blood goes into the sense of your body And you basically get high off it. The first time I did that circuit, i mean I was just laughing to myself because I just felt so good, the endorphins were going and it was just like incredible. And then since then I've chased that feeling every single day And I'm like you now. I'm like, oh man, you know, i've been going every day for almost two weeks. I think I need to put the brakes on. We've got a bit of a addictive personality, i think. But for sure it's something that I think everyone should try, especially if you're a stress man.
Speaker 2: It feels amazing, i think a lot of people have seen. I've put it on social media. A lot of people have asked me what the benefits are. And obviously there's loads, you know, blood circulation setting off the endorphins and muscle soreness, recovery. There's loads and loads. The main thing for me was and I have seen the scientific benefit, if you like, that I've definitely seen the difference from is the soreness of muscle, because I train a lot and I've had a few injuries. That has made a difference to that.
Speaker 2: But for me it was more a case of mindset.
Speaker 2: So can I get in a tub of freezing cold water full of ice at 536 o'clock in the morning, 7am in the morning, jeremy, when I know that everyone else would kind of go, and it's a lot harder than just turning the shower to cold water because you're physically getting up, going outside, it's still cold, it's dark and you're getting in a tub of ice water in the middle of the garden where everyone else is fast asleep And it's that like it's just been able to just flip that switch and go.
Speaker 2: I'm going to do this, i'm going to commit, and then when you get in that ice tub for the first time and then you have that initial 5 seconds of sitting down. That's where it is. Once you've sat down in the water cup, it's like, right, okay, that's the hardest part done, and then it's just a case of breathing and that. But just starting your day with the hardest thing you can think of it just makes everything else just kind of it's easier to tackle, you know, and your mindset just really switches you on as well. So that was the main reason for me doing. It was like but can you know just that mindset of starting your day on the hardest thing you can think of physically?
Speaker 1: So it sounds like I mean, i agree with that And that's exactly one of the things that goes through my head when I'm doing it, and I also like the whole thing around suffering, putting yourself through suffering. There's probably some deep rooted psychology in that that probably needs to cancel them on anything else. But yeah, i get the feeling So sorry it's interrupts you.
Speaker 2: I think the first thing, what you're saying there is 100% true And I think it's the, it's the. you feel a bit worthy then, don't you? because you know that you've done something that most people won't that day And it's like right, okay, then it kind of gets rid of a little bit of imposter syndrome because you know that you were doing things that other people weren't into achieve, other people won't achieve. you've got to be willing to do what they won't do And you've already, straight away, started your day to consume a big off that you know that most people out there wouldn't be able to do or wouldn't want to do so straight away. you kind of, when anything good happens throughout the day, you don't feel like it's lucky for like no, it's because I'm doing things other people won't do.
Speaker 1: So that kind of mentality and business Some would say is an assesity, especially as a founder. So talk me through how having that resilience built into you and obviously an ability to deal with an amount of stress, has helped you with the last half decade longer building caliber clothing. Can you give us a kind of backstory as to the brand And maybe, yeah, just when you've had to engage that resilience along the path to where you got to today?
Speaker 2: Yeah, it's to be honest, it's two skills I feel I have. There's like a personal one, which is resilience, and my favorite song is Frank Sinatra. That's Life, and if you listen to the lyrics of that, it's very light. It feels like he's speaking to me. You know, down in April, april, may, but I'll be back on top in June, all of those things. You know, i get put down but I keep on going, and that's really important mindset, because you need to be resilient but you don't want to also have a victims mindset, which it can be like I will always me, always me, because I guarantee you, everyone out there is getting stuff thrown at them, is in struggle and stuff like that, and it's just a case of like, just cracking on, getting on with it. Getting back up. It's never always going to work for you And the more and more you chase ambition, challenges and stuff like that, there's more obstacles, so there's going to be more trip hazards And you're just going to have to get back up every time you fall over. And having a resilience is really, really important. And having that mindset of like okay, bring it on, rather than I will always me, i think that's really important.
Speaker 2: So being resilient in business is a must because you are going to have to go through, you know inflation, you know finding new staff, manufacturers being late on your order. There are so many things that are out of your hands. They're in your hands in a way where you can go okay, well, i can move to a new factory, but that's going to take time. In the meantime, i've got to work with what I've got potentially, and they're not the best at the moment. They was at the start, but you know. But it's so. You need plenty of resilience And you'll be challenged every day in business. So you've got to. You've got to just try and overcome it the best you can.
Speaker 1: Yeah, for sure, and just give the backstory of Calibur for the listener as well.
Speaker 2: So we originally started in June 2017 and it was a streetwear brand And it didn't really have any vision to it long term. It was a case of just get started and just do stuff that I knew would sell at the time. And then what happened was I kind of I got approached by a very big high street chain and they wanted to stop the brand, And it kind of realized that the vision that I got hadn't that I wanted long term, wasn't in line with what I was creating by the people I was being approached by. So I realized that I needed to make a change to the brand. So COVID kind of came and we decided to just kind of delete all the images, work with new factories and just completely change the look of the brand. So, although we started in 2017, financially there's only been 18 months of actually selling because of the time we stopped and restarted and worked with new factories to get the better materials and to get the minimalistic look that we wanted to, And it was almost like a rebirth and start and again, which then went in August 2021. So we kind of ran it up to 2019 from 2017 as a streetwear brand and then worked for a year and a half of just completely changing the look of the brand and restarting again in August 2021.
Speaker 2: We yeah, we used to do like hoodies, t-shirts, big logos. We used to work with a lot of Love Island, Exxon, The Beach, Taui, reality TV stars. The thing that then in was just kind of like product placements. There wasn't a big emphasis on Facebook ads or Google ads or obviously TikTok wasn't around. Your main kind of port of getting that brand out was an influencer and you kind of wanted to catch people's attention of what that influencer was promoting by the big logo on the front, Just kind of this is the brand.
Speaker 2: It wasn't how I dressed, It wasn't how I. I could already see before it happened that that wasn't going to last forever and that there was going to be a drop off And I was like right, let me just get ahead of that now and be true to myself. And even if it doesn't, even if that would have been the more successful road, I need to be true to myself and do how I dress and chase the customer that I want, the demographic that I want. So I just completely rebranded and re-changed And if you, if you to go to our profile now, you'll see that it looks nothing like a streetwear brand and it's completely, completely changed.
Speaker 1: So Was that? was that hard? Was it hard to put the brakes on? And did you have to question whether your heart was in it still? I mean, from my own experience, i've had a venture for a little while now and it got to the point where a similar feeling didn't, didn't feel like it was serving me as it, as it was, had become something else, but I didn't have the drive to then go right. I'm going to reinvent it. I just reinvented myself and did something else. Was it difficult to make that pivot away from what was working and what you knew, what the brand was at the time, into to what you want it to be?
Speaker 2: I think it is hard because it wasn't hard, as in so much like, oh, this is too much graft. But if you've gone too far with a brand, you can't always change it. If you've got, if I'd have gone into those stores that were approaching me the foot asylums, the JDs I wouldn't have been after just you know, you can't be on, bro, and then decide also, you're going to be Louis Vuitton. You know what I mean. So exaggerate a point to prove a point. you are what you are.
Speaker 2: But because we were still quite small, under the radar, we could just kind of revamp and and and and go again. But it was hard for me because I had to maintain a job throughout it, because the brand wasn't bringing an income, because I shut it off. So I was working full time, loads of hours And also trying to build this brand and a lot of people thought we'd shut down and gave up, because even family, friends, competitors were like, well, we weren't posting no more. And they were like, well, he's gone. And people were saying, oh, have you given up with caliber? And I was like, no, no, we're rebranding, we're re-styling. And there was like, oh, what are you doing? But like it's in my head but I can't show them until you've done a photo shoot, effectively. And I was just so I was referencing, you know, like recent stuff, like that, and we even had a guy that was investing, interested in investing, and he was telling us it was the wrong thing to do and that we should stay streetwear. We'd had all these big shops approach us and we should go down that And I was like that's not my vision, it's not true to what I want to do. And he basically said that you will lead, only invest. And he, to be fair, he'd approached us, he'd only invest any and a lot of money if we stayed as we stayed as we was, and I am. I said no, i said that's, that's long term, that's just going to drop off a cliff, it's not going to be sustainable And it's not true to my vision. And he kind of was over the mindset well, no one cares about vision, just get a product out there and sell it. You know, get it in for X and sell it for Y. You're thinking too much into it. And I just pushed back on that. I said no, i believe in what I'm doing.
Speaker 2: This is how I dress. I know the demographic, the target, the audience. I'm going off after affluent males. You know people that take pride in their, their appearance. A lot of my items are getting worn in the gym and no one's even seeing it. I want to be worn on a night out And the photos are all over social media and I want people to feel a certain way in out clothing, and so I stuck to it.
Speaker 2: But it was hard because people were kind of like well, i've changed what's already working to a point, but I just knew what I knew. It's hard to say, you know, when you just have that feeling that and the thing is like you're going back to what you're saying. We change as founders. I started the brand when I was 25, 20,. We launched when I was 26. So I'm growing and changing. You know me as an adult, so my tastes are changing.
Speaker 2: Maybe it could be, you know, fashion, music, film choice or even just being more confident being yourself. Do you know what I mean? You know, and that starts to shine through and then it's like okay, i previously done a business to appease the masses. Now it's like what do I really believe in?
Speaker 2: So that was the challenge that I had, and it wasn't easy finding factories that could do the stuff that I wanted to, because the model we had before was very simple It was just get a decent cotton hoodie and stick a logo on it. And now it's all about materials, fits, textures, you know, branded finishing. That's a lot more expensive, you know, because it's a lot easier to just order a plain zip rather than put your logo on that zip. So that was the main challenge. But I knew 100% that it was worth it. And knowing that and I was really excited where the brand could be and what it would be in 10, 15 years time by doing this, so that just kept me going through it all And it didn't.
Speaker 2: It didn't feel hard. Then it was like I had a mission and I knew that I kind of stick to this plan and we'll get there And in the end it'll be worth it, because I hadn't got any excitement in what the brand was currently And I didn't. I was getting to point where people would go. Are you on a clone run? Yeah, yeah, okay, let's see it. I didn't want to show the Instagram because I knew that we could do better. So I knew then I had to change.
Speaker 1: So that's fair enough. I think that's incredible discipline and control over your headspace to be able to make that pivot. So congratulations for doing that. What was the shape of the brand when you decided to change it around? Because it sounded like you were saying that you had a pretty straightforward playbook of influencer seeding and not much Facebook ads, and I think the way you described it, with the Love Island and people like that, has become obviously saturated compared to five years ago. So did you? you know, in terms of the what? I guess the question is why didn't you wrap up Calibre, sell it and start this under a new name? Was it, was there anything to sell at that point? And then, how did you power down the brand? How did you get rid of your inventory? How did you bring that brand to kind of a controlled landing rather than a crash into the airfield, or was it more of a crash?
Speaker 2: Yeah. So I think in other cases and I've got other friends that have completely started a fresh new brand friend, nathan Malcolm. He owned a company called Fresh Couture And he basically exited that company. He's now started off another brand called Club 1984, which is more his style now, and then he's grown and evolved and it's more what he wears day to day.
Speaker 2: Fresh Couture was of a certain size and it got. You know they were in a lot of stores So you couldn't. It was a bigger wheel to turn. Calibre was just underneath that, where we hadn't gone into those stores. I'd always wanted to keep control of that. Sell it DTC direct to consume, you know, snap coffee, but just mainly have the control of. Didn't want to have other stores slashing sales or putting us next to brands that we didn't feel that we belong next to or didn't fit our demographic and that. So I'd always avoided going into stores and wholesaling And that allowed me to be able to stay with the same brand and change it without you know some brands can't do because they're too far down the road with it.
Speaker 2: I loved the name. The name has a meaning. I didn't just call that name off Google or just think of it one day. The meaning of the brand it's caliber, which is, like you'd say, like a high caliber football or a high caliber business person merit, distinction, quality And obviously we spelled it with a K, so it's our own word and we could trademark it. So the name had a lot of meaning to me. And I didn't. I didn't just want to go and set up something else and forget about it, and I knew, and I just knew, that I could do what I've done with it and it wouldn't, you know, it wouldn't be an issue. So that's why I stayed with it.
Speaker 2: In terms of how we changed, we'd already started to kind of we were very slow and we were very small in the moq, so we never had mass amounts of. we were always like bringing something in, pairing it with an influencer, and then it would sell out pretty quickly. So we never had, you know, tons and tons of inventory, so we just kind of let ourselves sell out. And then it was a case of Our biggest issue, where it took a little bit longer, was finding factories that could do, because when I spoke to my original factories, a lot of them were in. We use factories in Turkey, pakistan We hadn't gone into China at the time, portugal was too expensive. My current factories when I showed them the designs I wanted to do and I'd send samples, they went, yeah, we can't find these materials, we can't do this, this is like really premium, it's gonna be really expensive if we do do it. So I had to just start searching for other factories. So That took time, because you've got a one fine factories and you've got a sample with them. Same time, build relationships with them and try and get you know lower MQs maybe to start with, because you, it's all a new Product to my customer, so I need to see how it sells and what sells best. So that, and then we were probably ready a little bit before 2021.
Speaker 2: But then COVID happened in like 2020, it's just, and it was like now, hindsight's amazing, it was actually a really a really good spike for income. So wouldn't necessarily been the worst time to launch bit. At the time I didn't know and I thought, well, i'm selling minimalistic, going out where and all the nightclubs and restaurants are shut, so let's just wait for it to kind of, you know, let's get through the other end of it and then launch. But at the same time, i think that was a blessing in disguise, because a lot of brands who did launch in COVID and see a massive spike and employed all the staff around that and the infrastructure, there was a massive drop-off and now they're suffering for it. So It was a probably a bit It wasn't like I was necessarily thinking about a bit of look. Really, my main thinking was okay, the clubs are closed and the events are closed, probably not the best time to drop and you know clothing that's specialized around buying for those those things, see ya.
Speaker 1: Let's dig into that a little bit more, if you won't mind. So you brought, you brought caliber down as it was and, like you said, wipe the slate clean, really, just kind of, you know, to the point of People thought it was shut down. And then in that time, well, one thing, you got a full-time job as well to To then kind of see you through that period. And you also mentioned that you've recently had a. So that presumably means that you know if your wife won, as she will, you saw your governor wife, she, she would have been pregnant or getting you know, not, not, not quite pregnant, but you must have been thinking about Some other life choices.
Speaker 1: So it must have been quite a stressful time, i imagine, going through all of that. And then you're trying to gear up this new brand. So when you were looking for these factories, was it like starting again because it was such a different product? Was it really like relearning everything, or was there things that you could bring into it? Did you feel that you were much more comfortable in having those conversations? Did you have a strategy to get these products to market, or was it? was it all brand new again?
Speaker 2: Yeah, a lot of it was. It was kind of starting again. In terms of Materials, fits, i knew that I didn't want to use the models I previously used. I wanted to go down a completely different asphatic and look, we previously shot in like streety locations. I wanted to go studio based. I wanted to Use a model that wasn't loud and full of tattoos and a celebrity in its own rights. I wanted it, wanted it to be more product focused. So a lot of our shots are from like the neck down. That's not because our models not good looking.
Speaker 2: Max is you know we use them in a lot of photos. He's a very good looking guy, but it was more a play. Let's focus on the quality of max. Max is a max black is our model. So he's the guy that I use for all of our campaigns. He's a local lad who I do I do, i knew anyway, but I just knew it fitted the brand. So it wasn't a case of old issues. A celebrity Oh, it's like a previously done. It was next used. The right person for the clothing that fits the style of a demographic previously And the way we used to shoot would be based around.
Speaker 2: We're using this influencer with caliber, you know me, whereas now it was a completely different mindset of It's about the products. Now It's about the quality of the materials, the branded zips, you know, i mean that the metal logo's, the, the finish on the neck labels it's silk and rather than just, you know, a standard neck label, you know. So let's get closer with the camera, let's get that detail, let's show what we're selling. You know, i mean, we're not, we're not scared of the products. We know it's good, let's get. You know. So we completely changed the way we shot and we Campaigns and photo shoots. The whole thing was like starting again. It was, it was almost like you're in the same sector, but it's like going from Driving a rally car to a Formula 1 car. It's the same thing but it's different. So you know, that was exciting and it was challenging and it was good. It was, it was, it was different, but it was the same thing.
Speaker 2: But I knew that that's what was needed to go to that next level and Going back to Working full-time and restarting again, and then, obviously, a baby coming along. I knew that I needed to finish, to leave work. I knew that I need to focus on this brand Full-time. Okay, but it's not okay. So just walk out tomorrow and start on the brand full-time. How do I get there? so, okay, for the first time ever thought I need an investor. I need someone who's you know, can Inject a level of experience, know how And capital into the brand where I can leave work and really focus on the brand full-time. So then that was it. That's when Paul Richardson came along. So that was.
Speaker 2: It was already in my mindset that I knew that. You know, with a family coming along, that I might have a little bit less time. But if I could leave work, i gain that time back. Because I was. I was already only really giving caliber. I Was giving it a lot because I had, you know, i did have a set of it work where I was in charge and I could go on my phone, but you can't really focus properly and and then you're getting home later at night chasing your tail packing orders and stuff like that, and then you can't have a next day delivery. So I wasn't offering the best service I possibly could. So I knew that Once I stepped away from work, it was just a whole different ball game of what I could give caliber. And then when the baby comes along, although it's more time-consumed. I've given away, i've gained 10 hours back. Do you know what I mean? So I can give a couple of hours to the baby and I've got eight hours extra still. So That was my thinking.
Speaker 1: I Yeah, yeah, yeah, makes sense. So I do want to talk a little bit about Paul's involvement and getting involved, but can you give us some more specifics of what you're comfortable with, but just some ballpark figures of what you had to put into the new brand financially and what you got for that? And what I mean is stock structure, foundations, things like that. Where did that money go? and sort of ballpark of how much you put in and what you got back from from the start, or from from when Paul came on board?
Speaker 1: Well, from, i guess it both, if it was a different amount. I think what I'm most interested to understand is, like when you powered down old caliber I don't know how you reference it now, but let's call it old caliber And then you made that transition Yeah, phase one And then you decided to do phase two. You obviously needed capital to do all of those things, even sampling And I don't run a clothing brand, but I know enough to know that you've got to get sizes, colors and multiple garments.
Speaker 1: Yeah, yeah. And then you materials and different factories and shipping and web design. There's a lot of things that go into it. So I'm just wondering what, what, what money you had to funnel into that roughly? Was it five figures, six figures, seven figures, how many? And then you, what got back from that so far, like, where did you invest that money?
Speaker 2: So when I, when I initially started caliber, it was all my own money. So I 10,000, i say that 15,000 pounds 10,000 went into stock websites, photography, and I had 5,000 set aside for influencers And we always ran off that that cash. I injected it. Maybe, you know, if I decided I want to use a particular influencer, i might take it out my way, just stuff like that. But the brand was pretty self-sufficient from the get go And all we did was just just snowball. So we'd bring products out, we'd sell. You know, let's just say for layman's terms, we ordered 1,000 pounds of stuff, we'd sell it for 2,000 pounds. We then go and order 2,000 pounds of stuff And we just snowballed it from there And it was always self-sufficient, it paid for itself.
Speaker 2: I didn't take any money out of the brand, any profit that it made. It was just re-injected back in where you know influencers, facebook ads, using a high quality studio, just went back into the brand to just keep building and building it and growing it. So that's one of my main driving force around keeping the job. It wasn't so much so that Caliber couldn't pay me. It's like well, how quickly can I grow Caliber if, rather than take money out of it. I just keep putting it back in and I let my wage take care of my bills from work. And at the time, because I was single, when I started Caliber and I was living my own apartment on my own, I was literally spending 19, 18 hours a day just around work and Caliber And it was like, okay, let's see what this brand can do if I don't take any money off it and I don't need to right now And other people might not be in a position where they can do that. So when it got to the stage of completely rebranding, it was all funded through the money I had set aside, from the money that Caliber had built up.
Speaker 2: We rebranded and then Paul actually bought some stuff off us And that's how the kind of conversation initiated from is. He was a customer, he bought some stuff And we connected through social media and got speaking, then met up a few times and built a relationship from there. It wasn't a case of I can you invest. It was a year process of building, talking, speaking back and forth. He showed a genuine interest in me and the brand And then his main injection of capital, which was six figures. I can't say the exact sum, but it was six figures allowed me to buy more stock and leave work.
Speaker 2: So a chunk of it was for me to go right because he wanted me to. He's main thing was if we're going to do this, you need to leave work. If you're doing this already, with the time you've got, imagine what you could do with, you know, not having to worry about something else for 10 hours a day, 12 hours a day. So that was so. It was kind of splitting to. It was like right, there's your money for the half the company you know and that's what I'm buying, half that company off you And you can now leave work. And then the other half is for we're going to go into a fulfillment center because I don't want you packing orders all day. I want you to be focused on designing collections, marketing, brand strategy And and then the other.
Speaker 2: The other chunk of the money was market spend and products. That was mainly you know. Okay, we're now not restricted to 100 pounds a day on Facebook ads. If we want, we can spend on Google, we can spend on TikTok, we can do Clavio, we can. We can maybe get an influencer on board. He was a bit out of reach. And when we go into the factory, we can now order higher MOQs, which then brings a product price down, which opens up the margin. So just these little things you know, was was was where Paul came in and where that investment was key and what it done for the brand.
Speaker 1: On the surface. That's. That's really exciting And it seems like that's everything everyone would ever want. Right, get freedom back. You open doors, but you, you're scrappy, i can tell you, scrappy, you built this brand, scrappy. Yeah got successful scrappy. How does it feel now not to have to be so scrappy? Is it a little bit alien? Do you know what to do with the money?
Speaker 2: Yeah, i complete that's. That's where Paul Paul's is is key for me Having his advice and mentorship and someone who's been there and done it. There are certain things I've there. You only know what you know And if you haven't done something before or gone to a certain level before, then naturally you're going to feel not imposter syndrome, but it's a bit like uncharted water kind of thing. It's like okay. So when that's where I can pick up the phone to Paul and go well, what do you think about this And what's what do you know? what's your opinion on this? And nine times out of 10, you might already have the answer, but it's just reassurance or someone reaffirming actually I think you're on the right track there, or maybe do it this way, do it that way.
Speaker 2: So where I've kind of been strapping, it was like I hadn't got a massive business background. I'd got a big background and building social media up and I knew, i knew, understood social media and built it up for other brands previously And I've got that behind me. But in terms of like it being more corporate focused and understanding the ins and outs, that's where it was important for me more so the money only really was for freedom wasn't necessarily something I needed for the brand. Obviously, the more money, the better in terms of buying stock and all those things are marketing. Of course it's massive. But for me, about Paul, it was more about his experience and having someone there or why can call upon and go.
Speaker 2: What about this? Do you know what I mean? Or we're having a trademark issue in this country. What do we do about this? Or we want to get you know a username obtained. Do you have any contacts for this? And that was an anew, that just those things there. I already could design the collection, i already knew how to market it, but it was more so the background of foundations of the company And having Paul there, the things that I don't know. He knows 10 fold And if he doesn't know, he knows someone who does. You know what I mean? It's a long. It's a long chain of like contacts that he has where it doesn't take too long to find the answer to something.
Speaker 1: So, yeah, For those who are listening, paul is, or was, the ex-chairman of Gymshark for a number of years I forget how many and now owns Hera and a number of other brands, and he's pretty much just a passive investor, i think, at this point, whilst also racing around his land on quads and saving trees which is great, and yeah, man, i mean you couldn't think of anyone better to have on your team.
Speaker 1: So can you just give us kind of update as to where you are now like with the brand and what your strategy is, maybe just for this year? Give us kind of an overview? yeah, what's going down at Calibur?
Speaker 2: So, yeah, paul came on on on for one in July officially last year. So we're coming up to a year. We launched the new collection in February. We had a bit of logistics issue. We wanted it a little bit early before Christmas and got going to a new film and centre and everything got to be quality checked and we wanted to. We didn't want to rush it and then it probably could have been ready in January, but it's not the best time to launch new products when everyone's running sales. So we held off, went for February.
Speaker 2: We did our best ever month by nearly double our best ever month. So it was, it was clear, which is I expected it. But at the same time you don't, with inflation and people not having you know the best of times financially and uncertainty in the world, you never know quite what to expect. But because of our demographic, being affluent males and going after people who you know my target audience isn't necessarily people who have to save to buy something. The money's already there. Do you know what I mean? So it kind of it kind of it affirmed that by it's still getting bought in the times where it was difficult for some people. Well, for everyone it was difficult, but not to the point where you still can't afford to live and enjoy yourself and buy things if you need things. So we did our best ever month, followed by basically matching that again in March at a lower ad spend, and then again we're on course to match that again. So we could beat it. But we'd have to up the market the ad spend. But we haven't got the inventory to justify doing that. We've already started selling out sizes And I suppose you sat there thinking, well, why, why haven't you reloaded?
Speaker 2: but we've moved factory again. So it's really annoying. We've had to move to another factory And the materials that we we order for our products, they're not just. You can't just go and get them again. It's not quite as simple as a fabric. It's my, it's the same. You know it might be similar but a slightly different gradient. So when you're dealing with twin sets, you need to reload the shorts. Well, last thing I want to do is reload shorts and then someone orders a polo in the shorts and the polo is from a different batch and it's not exactly the same. So we're having to just let a lot of stuff just sell through before we can kind of go right. Now It's start again, which is annoying, it's another setback.
Speaker 2: But my main focus now is Q4.
Speaker 2: So we'll just we'll coast through kind of summer sell through our stock which is selling really well, and then you know, rather than chase revenue and go, well, let's just try and match up the materials and let's just try and do it and rush it just to chase the summer figures, because we know that we've got a lot of obviously summer items And we're just kind of coming into that now.
Speaker 2: We're just going to think long term and focus on Q4, focus on September and also winter, and that will also allow us to put it on ships as well, which is a lot cheaper than putting it on air freight, because planning ahead allows you to be able to give you give you more options. So our kind of the our year focus now is autumn, winter, sell through our summer stock and being a position where we order that early enough that, because the ship takes about 45, 50 days and with customs it can take a little bit longer And by the time it's into your fulfilment centre and quality checks and on the shelves it'll be a bit, or should be, september by that time. So that's the next phase for us.
Speaker 1: Great. A couple of questions on that for you. Two questions. One question is what's your main acquisition now? So you were acquisition by influencer in in calibre V1, calibre.
Speaker 2: V2.
Speaker 1: How are you now acquiring customers? And then the second question is retail is tough. You just gave a fantastic example of why retail is tough with materials, especially apparel. Sure, i should clarify that, and there are a lot of people that are of the opinion that you cannot use 3PL with apparel. Very, very difficult to do And I know Paul's a big fan of that And obviously I know Jim Shark and I represent all with black. Well, i can't remember what they called, but in the States it's almost unheard of. Apparel in 3PL is like no chance unless you're massive like Lulu lemon size, then you're doing it yourself. Anyway, so you own the 3PL. So just wanted to get your take first on how you acquire customers and how is that difference in the influencer game. And then second, yeah, what's the experience been like as a smaller, comparatively to someone like a Jim Shark brand using 3PL in apparel?
Speaker 2: Okay, yeah. So first answer to the first question We don't use influencers, no more, we're not. We want it to be organic. We don't want to have to pay someone to wear a product. Don't get me wrong. If they, if they align with your brand's values and it can work fine. We have got a product that is, we believe, of such quality and demand that a lot of influencers are coming to us and saying can we have the stuff for free and we'll just do your post, so we're not really having to pay for it. But we're still kind of holding off that. We'd rather, we'd rather like get to a point where those influencers will buy eventually.
Speaker 2: Anyway, you know, represent, don't send to half the influencers that wear the stuff. They buy the stuff off their own, off their own back, and that's took 10 years to build that. I've saying no to people, no to people, no to people. And the moment you start giving your stuff away all the time, that person will never convert to a customer because I'll never truly value your brand And also they'll think they're going backwards themselves by. Okay, well, this stuff used to be given to me. Now you're asking me to buy it. They actually take offense to it. So it's a really. It's really hard to reverse that. So I feel like start as you mean to go on is really important to me. Some people might go, oh, you're too expensive or you're too this or you too that, but you don't start at 10 pound t-shirts and then, five years down the line, go right, okay, now it's okay to be 60 pounds. You start as you mean to go on and you start your values and your foundations and you build upon that. So for us, we're saying no to influencers were saying no to giving away free stuff. However, we get a lot of footballers buy this stuff And sometimes we'll go away. If we stick an extra polering, would you give us a shout out? they would never have shouted us out because they were just buying as a customer And we won't just, you know, email someone. If they follow the brand or the interact will just send them a DM saying, no, we should bought some stuff. No, it's your fan of the brand, you know, and we'll do it like that. So we get a lot of you know, we get a lot of footballers promote the brand And we get.
Speaker 2: Obviously, our main source of sales is Facebook ads. It is honestly, king Tiktok. we haven't really explored much because I don't feel like our target audience sat on there. It's not just a case of some people go oh yeah, this 30 year old male sat on there, but I don't know any affluent males that are doctors, lawyers, business owners go get his career, career chasers that are sat on Tiktok in the middle of the day. They might enjoy it, but they just don't have the time to do it. Do you know what I mean? I certainly don't So, and I like to think I am my target audience and I have time for Instagram because it's been there for so long.
Speaker 2: Then you kind of it just becomes a part of your. You grow up with it. You know what I mean, but you know so Instagram, facebook's, where we mainly market the brand, and obviously we do get like if we like someone's message and what they stand for. Like J Alderton's, just have some stuff off us And we sent him some free bits because we love what he stands for his mental health, training, working out mindset, the ice baths, his values are in line with mine and the brand. So I don't mind pairing that up with the brand, but we wouldn't just go and send us someone because I've got two million followers. We've completely come away from that and change the way we think and the way we market the brand. So that's how. That's the answer to question one Facebook ads if the influence is right, we will use it, but we don't necessarily want to pay for it, not because of we're being tight, but because we feel like it's a bit force, it's not organic.
Speaker 1: I just want to, as well as we get into question, i just wanted to ask you a bit on the Facebook side, which is what one were you able to? so I'm doing so many questions within questions, annoying myself at this point, sorry, but with the Facebook side, were you able to load in I'm using so many gun analogies as well because of the word caliber but you're able to reuse any of your existing audience that you built up through email or through your CRM and then dump that into Facebook And because obviously it's a completely different demographic. So did you just lose all of the value of your previous data or did you still use that? And then, if you did, are you seeing good results from that data? Like, if you're creating audience look alike stuff of it, is that working for you? or did you start again from scratch, even in your advertising?
Speaker 2: Yeah, so good question. So we theoretically had to start again. Our return custom rate is now down to 14% Because we're so different to what we look like. We have got customers who've been buying from the get go who have also grown involved and changed the way they dress, so they've come along for the journey as well. But because we shut the brand down completely, our pixel have been turned off, which covers your data, and after about six, seven weeks of being no, no data, community pixel, it resets. So you have to come basically restart again And theoretically, all your Facebook ads go into a learning phase, a cold audience, and you have to build the data again and Facebook has to learn who your audience is now and who to show your product to, because it is a different audience, a different age, were targeting a different demographic.
Speaker 2: So we did fear it if you start again. We carried over our email list And there was obviously there was, like I said, there was still people that bought, that bought from the beginning, and there's still people that, although they might have had a big logo hoodie before, they still want a nice you know, a nice minimalistic texture polo that they can wear for an event, because maybe previously they'd they looked at the brand as a I'm going to buy this to go down the gym or I'm going to buy this to go down shopping center Oh great, now they have stuff for it. You know how I dress on an evening. So there was a bit of a crossover, but we pretty much just it was like a clean slate started again. New pixel. We previously used marketing companies in the past, but I'd set up a couple of in the in that downtime, and this is really kind of like I won't do two into it because it'd be another 40 minutes But one of the things I did when the brand was shot is I helped other people set up clothing brands.
Speaker 2: I had a couple of people approach me and I put a story out on Instagram saying got a bit of spare time, anyone who's interested in a clothing brand And I kind of scaled it down from like 15 inquiries to like two people And they've now got successful clothing brands. And one of the guys in particular took a real liking to Instagram, to Facebook ads, whereas I was really good with social media and Instagram. My advice to him was his budget wasn't massive, so rather than use a marketing company which he tried before and it wasn't great, learning himself. So he just got on YouTube and completely dived into it, which he did videos and stuff like that And he got so good that he was outperforming the marketing companies that we were using And he set up ads for us and he was just got a much better return on, you know, and CPAs were better, so he was outperforming them.
Speaker 2: So we took over our ad spend and started running our ads for us. So, you know, we we we'd always use Facebook ads, but we've got a completely different audience. We've come away from marketing business together And someone who's freelance for it.
Speaker 1: And are you? are you now? are you first purchase profitable on your custom acquisition on your Facebook? Yes, you know.
Speaker 2: Yeah, straight away. So yeah, straight away, straight away. So our CPAs are over about £19, £20. Our margins are 70, 80% depending on product. So straight away, it's profitable.
Speaker 1: It's fantastic. And are you seeing that? Is that scalable? What kind of spend? Again, don't have to be particularly specific, but we're talking five figures, six figures.
Speaker 2: Extremely scalable. So we are. So I don't want to say it, because other people will be able to gauge what where we're at by the numbers. I give away that I'll watch this, but and I've got to think of Paul as well, because obviously it's, it's, but we are literally doing nothing because we are just starting again and understanding and learning our audience, our ad spend, compared to our competitors. You know, i know, i know competitors out there that are spending £2,000 to £3,000 a day and we're we're spending £100, £200 a day. So you know, we're not even close and we could just turn that up, but you're only really meant to go up in 20% increments because you can't really Facebook will just push your ads out there to gain the clicks, to get the to earn its money. So we it's all about long term strategy, not rushing the process. But also we haven't got the imagery that the other brands have got right now. So it's a case of we'll just sell out in a month and then we've got enough of the two to three months. I'd rather just you know, and you'll get a better return on your ad spend if you, just if you spread it across three months rather than you know.
Speaker 2: For instance, jim Sharp made 500 million last year. They might have spent I don't know, let's just ballpark figure 10 million on Facebook ads. Well, some people might go, well, why don't they just spend 10 million 24 hours and make 600 million a day? It doesn't work like that. You have to spread it out over, you know, and so we're building up slowly and then this time next year we'll be spending, you know, maybe £1,000 a day, and that's where, you know, the extra numbers will come in and stuff like that. But we're really really at the start of something here.
Speaker 1: So yeah, that's absolutely right. I think a lot of people gauge a business based on its Facebook ad spend, which is just such and not it's just not one chase revenue as well.
Speaker 2: Yeah, some people just chase revenue.
Speaker 1: Revenue is just an awful metric. Who could shit about revenue? I don't get it. No one cares about you know, it's all profit at the end of the day, contribution, margin and the only things that you should really be focusing on. But also, growth is, you know, too fast growth kills a brand as quickly as no growth. So you're just smart, right, And you know that stuff. Now you've been running a brand for a while, So okay. So just on that last point of the first question, if anyone is still keeping up with my mental questioning, then well done on you. But it was around 3PLs and using a 3PL as not only a peril company but as a, you know, an early apparel company, V2. How's that going for you, Because I've heard it's tough.
Speaker 2: Yeah. So going back to the point where you say you don't think it's as big in America as it is, i think the main reason why it's so big in England and Europe is Brexit. So we now get charged to send to Ireland, to send all round Europe, which we never used to. Obviously, you can apply for a thing called iOSS and take those costs yourself, because we don't have to pay it. But a lot of reasons why brands will go 3PL is because they have stations in other countries. So you can, you could bring your you know represent, i believe, have a warehouse set up in Germany. Now you imagine if you was to build your own warehouse. It's how cost that would be to go. Okay, we're going to build one in Amsterdam, you know, we're going to build one in Germany, we're going to build one in Ireland and then we're going to have one in England And the years it would take to build that. And then you've got to get the staff in place and the experts within that country And there's a language barrier. So a fulfillment center allows you to expand a lot quicker because they've already got those, those buildings in place and the staff in place, and you can just go right manufacture. Can you deliver to here? can you deliver to here, can you deliver to here, and straight away. You can offer next day delivery to those customers within that country. They haven't got the costs that they would have if it was being sent from England to Germany. So that that's one of the main things. And obviously America doesn't really it doesn't have that. It hasn't got water in between them. Do you know what I mean? Whereas you know. They're not just from countries. Obviously they can expand and go worldwide, but they've got 350 million people, you know, on their turf, straight away, whereas you know. So that's one of the main reasons why I think it's bigger in Europe. You get for me the fulfillment sense that we've gone in. They offer next day delivery up until 10pm. Now, very few companies can offer that and that's because they've got an agreement, agreement in place with Korea, because of the amount of parcels they send out, which I wouldn't be able to do without Korea, because I'm obviously not sending out, you know, 50 brands worth of parcels, of orders.
Speaker 2: So you get better, you get better, you can offer better services. You can offer to your customer next day delivery to 10pm. I can offer DPD, dhl, every Royal Mail, fedex, something I just wouldn't. I wouldn't have been able to have done on my own. But also it was a case of it was getting to the point where it was too. It was too much to handle for myself. But at the same time do we go and do we go and get into a 10 year lease agreement And then we outgrow that and then we're having to move again And then I've got a higher staff which I had no experience in and you know.
Speaker 2: You know, using agencies it can get really expensive. So when we, when we looked at like the, the operational side of things, the improvements between next day delivery, the, the access to other format centres around Europe where you can negate the costs of customs, and the, haven't the avoid in the two fake of growth because they've got more warehouses and you can expand within them And I haven't gotten going, you know, moving to a new warehouse every every couple of months or whatever, and hiring staff. So that was the main thing for us. And the costs, when you add it up, are not that much difference. You're paying like 7, 8 pound per parcel with picking, packing and delivery. Storage costs inbound. They get it in, they make the quality, check it, barcode it. If you add a parcel cost you four or five pounds anyway, then you've got staff. Then you've got the business rates or the, the lease, the rent of the place. You know if you've got to worry about staff being sick and all that stuff and hiring maybe more than you need to cover the ones that are off. So the pricing isn't much difference And it's a it's a much. It's a much quicker way to get to.
Speaker 2: Okay, we've now got 110,000 square foot. You know warehouse where we've got you know for cliffs and we can order more stock and you know it's lorries that are turning about side the warehouse, are turning about side of small office with me waving going right. This might take me a while to the main. So that that was. That was the benefits for it. For me There has been a few issues in terms of communication or things going missing here and there. But you know from what I'm speaking to other brand owners and what they deal with the 3PL companies. It's kind of it's an industry. It's an industry thing that where they're struggling there and getting the staffing so you can in house, you've got more control and people can kind of be in line with your values and the quality check on returns might be a little bit better because it's you doing it yourself and your training people, but it's still. It's still a really high standard from what I can see.
Speaker 1: Yeah, that was going to be one of my questions. is quality like the cost side? I completely understand. I really like that point about Europe and thought about that at all, and I think that you made a really good point there. But in terms of quality, you're obviously going and positioning yourselves in a upstream in terms of your premium demographic. Yeah, are you able to maintain that kind of quality through your packaging, through your deliveries or everything else through 3PL, or is it something that you've had to fight for?
Speaker 2: Yeah, it's a good question. It was something I kind of raised to the manager or the owner of the film at Centelast Month. Where we've returned, you know, are we making sure that the garments are folded correctly and the swing tags neatly, you know, still attached to the neck labels, and maybe even a process of steaming the garments, which they currently don't re-steam them, but they are very like. They are good with checking the product over, re-folding it. I've recently dropped off a whole new batch of you know ziplock bags so they could freshen them up and that was something that they brought to my attention that someone that returns the bags need refreshing up. So they, you know they were good with that.
Speaker 2: They know that he actually said to me that Zara he went and visited one of the Zara warehouses and they have a massive, like God knows how much it costs, but it's like a machine and the garments are put on like, like coat hangers and it just goes to just fly through this machine and it steams them all instantly And then that's what the hell. They do their returns. But he was like to do that. It would cost crazy amounts, crazy amounts.
Speaker 2: But they are looking at putting stations in place and returns where they have steamers and they steam every garment repackages so that when that returns obviously reprocess and send back out to a customer. It comes through as it should like. It's their first experience of that product. It should be brand new and it should look brand new. And obviously we've got a strict returns policy where if the items have got swing tags that aren't attached or there's any marks or finger, then we won't accept it because the price that we're charging for the products is not crazy amounts but it's of a level And, to be fair, it doesn't really matter what you pay. If you're ordering from a product from a company, it should come as advertised and perfect condition. So that is really important to us and we wouldn't work with the fulfillment center if those values weren't in line and they understand it and they work the hardest to make sure that they can do the best they can and make sure that the items repackaged and fresh as it can be.
Speaker 1: Three shorter but final questions for you, just to wrap this up. Yeah, retention is obviously a big thing in apparel and that's where you make all your money. A lot of people in apparel use mobile apps. Did you use, have you used a mobile app? Would you use a mobile app? What are your thoughts around that?
Speaker 2: Yeah, one of our competitors has recently launched an app about a year ago and I noticed it and there wasn't. There's not the big brands, obviously, like Yuzara's and Reese's and stuff like that, but for me it's more of a novelty at this stage. It's okay, we can have it and it'd be great, but ultimately you've got a website, you've got social media, which is an app within itself that people are kind of working within. If you were going to offer like another service site, whereas represent Dibba247 with a bit of training programs through that, and it's building a community that can up 100% see why that would be beneficial. But they launched that app a year ago and they're 10 years old, so it took them nine years and they've always kind of they've evolved in much better quality and price point now, but they've always been a streetwear hoodie brand.
Speaker 2: The way I look at the brand is, as we phase two, we are a year old, so maybe we're eight years away from that. So it's always in your mind people saying why don't you do tennis, why don't you do shoes, why don't you do this? It's not that we don't want to, it's not that we don't want to do all these things, but it's you know, we're still a baby, you know. So we've got to get to those stages where one we can afford to do it and do it properly and get the right people in place. And then, yeah, as we build this community, i'd love to have an app where you know, for loyalty members or people that spent a certain amount, or you know a community and build that. But I've also got to focus on the other things before we get to that app, so that we've got the community, so that when the app comes it's not just an old look at me, we've got an app thing, it actually serves a purpose.
Speaker 1: Tapcart is the sponsor of, or one of the sponsors of, this podcast, and Tapcart will build any listeners of the show and any guests of the show a free mobile app with no conditions. It's been an absolute pleasure. I really appreciate you taking the time to do this and I hope that people have learned and taken strength from your mentality. man, you've taught me a thing or two about assessing my own situations and, you know, just fully committing to the thing that you know is right, even when maybe it's the harder path to follow. So really appreciate you jumping on the show and, yeah, thanks for sharing.
Speaker 2: Cheers Vince Aker.