Webster Style - Redefining the Lifestyle of a Gentleman
Interviewer: We are here with Mr. Rob Kessler from goTIELESS and he has a great variety of male-style products which I have actually purchased and discovered them. One of the things that I really saw and as many of you stylish guys know the collars are a pain sometimes. We go from magnetic collar stays but sometimes you just want your collar just to be nice and tight when you don't have a tie. This is where goTIELESS comes into play. I was really fascinated by the dress shirt or the collared shirt that they have, the Million Dollar Collar, where if you go and find a tie you look just as crisp and as clean as you would.
Rob tell us about that, tell us about where all this came from, please?
Rob Kessler: Absolutely, so the idea came from my wedding if you look over my shoulder here before I could say "I DO"... We got married on the beach in Jamaica, toes in the sand, super chill, and I hate hearing ties. My shirt just collapsed, and it looked terrible. I came home from the wedding and did a bunch of research, there's so much weight in the collar itself, there's so much material up there that it collapses the placket of the shirt. The placket is that part just below where the buttons and the holes and so I took the idea of a collar stay and made it 9 inches long and I shoved it down the front of the shirt.
My product, Million Dollar Collar, I would call a placket stay, it goes down the front and gives some weight and some structure to the front of the shirt so the collar doesn't collapse the placket. You can wear a dress shirt without a tie, all day long and it will look great. You know when you starch your shirt a couple of hours later it's sagging and you're adjusting your collar all day long trying to get that placket to look right, Million Dollar Collar does that all day long.
We started with a product that can be added to any dress shirt you already own. Simply take it to a dry cleaner or tailor that does alterations, it is a very, very simple one-inch hem that they open, slide it in, it lasts the life of the shirt.
Or we have our own shirts now called goTIELESS like you mentioned, with Million Dollar collar built in. We took that same shirt that I wore at my wedding which is the number one shirt in America. We made the fabric better which is this buttery soft bamboo stretch, wrinkle-resistant fabric that's amazing. We have a convertible cuff, you said that you have all these cufflinks at home, these shirts actually have a buttonhole in between the buttons. You can wear cufflinks or not, sizes from XS to 3XL, in white, black, and light blue, slim and standard. If you can't find a shirt that fits you, you have a different body style. We will do our best to get a shirt that fits you but we have great colors and great sizes.
Interviewer: One of the things that I have noticed as well... Men's clothing can be weird sometimes, I think women a lot of times have better options from low end to high end. Men's clothing if you really want to look good you really have to spend. I really admire the reasonable price point for the ultimate dress shirt at $69.99. I thought about what you're getting with the material you just listed it's a really good price point for a very unique item compared to going to an Express or an H&M or someplace like that, and I was really impressed with that.
Rob: Ultimately I want to sell as many dress shirts as possible and I want to get these on as many people as possible. If I could sell them for $30 I would, we have to make a profit at some point. Our first round of shirts were made in Los Angeles and cost us $45 a piece just to make them and the quality wasn't even that great. We're getting the manufacturing figured out, these are as good as any shirt that's out there.
At $70 and if you buy 2 they are $110 so they're just $55 a piece which is even better. You see all these new dress shirt companies come out and they're $100. $125, $150 shirts and that's such a limited number of people who can afford that kind of thing. The great thing is that I know when you get this shirt for $70 or 2 for $110 that they're going to be your go-to favorite shirt and you're going to be back for more. We're just doing everything we can to get people to try it out because we know it is such a game changer, there is nothing else like it on the market.
Interviewer: I am really impressed that it is bamboo and having those sorts of dress shirts, but t-shirts that are bamboo. A lot of those shirts have I have two or three and I have had most of them for at least 20 years these are t-shirts that we're talking about and they hold up so well through multiple wears and washes and obviously you'll be doing better care than just throwing this in the washing machine most of the time. It is such a high-quality material, I can't harp enough on the quality vs the cost and the return per wear that an individual will get with this as well.
Let me ask you, we talked about the accessories, where did the idea for the FLXCUF come from?
Rob: That was a kid that I met. He is in Chicago. He came up with the idea, we actually bought that company a few months ago. I like to roll my cuffs I don't really, they had so many shirts for so many years that had these cool contrasts and even our first rounds of shirts had contrasts. You roll it once and it's still too long, you roll it twice and you miss the contrast.
He came up with this idea that is basically a button and a hole and a piece of elastic and you connect it to the sleeve of your shirt and then it helps keep that sleeve right there with one fold right below your elbow. We just loved it and thought it was a great product. I helped him with manufacturing options, but he really could not get the price point where he needed it. He was at $16/$17 a pair which is crazy for an accessory. We looked at our manufacturing people, got it dialed in and now you can buy them for $9.99 a set. We have a bunch of really cool colors.
We started to do colors that... He was trying to match the shirts so they were kind of subtle. I am thinking of matching it to your belt and your shoes. It's an extra accessory that is a little touch, you see it. People are like how is your shirt staying like that? You see that little elastic band that matched everything else. We have khaki, brown, black, navy, white, light gray, and light blue so a really great selection of colors and we'll do more as more people pick them up. At $9.99 it's a really cool accessory.
Interviewer: Any new products on the horizon for you guys?
Rob: Well the shirt just came out, we only had them for 90 days and we had to reorder because we were running out of sizes, people were just loving them so we've got more inventory of the shirts coming in, we're really focused on that.
We've spent the last 6 years selling Million Dollar Collar direct to consumers and I will be the first to admit that process sucks because I mail you 5 or 10 sets of Million Dollar Collar. You know you have to take that package and go find somebody to sew these into your shirts if you don't know how to sew so that extra step has made it difficult but we still manage to sell a half million units in 130 countries. The people that get it love it. Most of our customers have 13 or 14 sets, that's our average. It is one of those products that once you get it once you see that it's worth it.
We focused on that for a while, and that's running really well, now it's time to move some shirts. My goal is... I always do small goals, 1000 shirts. First, let's sell the first thousand in a month, then in a week, then in a day. A thousand shirts in a day at $70 you do the math. We have a good company at that point.
Interviewer: You know it is interesting I just realized I remember, I think I came across the individual Million Dollar Collar a couple of years ago as I started all of this. I didn't put two and two together until just now. I do remember. I am really impressed and I congratulate you on the success and growth of the past few years. This is really awesome and amazing.
Rob: When you're passionate about what you're doing it's easier to keep going. If you're just chasing the dollar it's easier to say, "Well that's not working and I'm not making any money I'll go find something else." I've known for a long time... I never thought I was going to change the dress shirt industry but now I am dead set on changing the dress shirt industry.
The reason we're making shirts is that we've tried licensing this and these big brands are like, I don't know if it's worth it or my customer cares. I am like, we have a half million units and a proven product. I know that they care they still won't make that switch. I said, okay fine I'll make a dress shirt and I will put it into a manufacturer that's going to have to pay attention to me at some point and so we're building a brand around the technology that I believe and I have committed my whole life to. It's going really well and we are really excited there's nothing but good things to come hopefully.
Interviewer: Awesome, I really enjoy that. We pretty much went through all the products here. I am sorry, let me ask you a question. What were some of the major bumps that you experienced as you grew your company?
Rob: The biggest one is the word no, which I've heard ten thousand times. I always look at products, I've grown four companies from nothing to a million in revenue, and goTIELESS would be my fifth. I always look at it from the customer's perspective, how do I make it easier, a good buying experience? I came out with Million Dollar Collar. It was originally going to be a shirt, we didn't get funded on our KICKSTARTER so we went to this aftermarket idea. Everybody on KICKSTARTER was willing to give us money and we really listened to their feedback. They said, "Why try to compete with all the other brands and why can't I upgrade the shirts I already own?" So we made this aftermarket version.
You get these dumb comments, why does it have to be sewn in? I'm not cutting my shirt open. Both sides of the packet are visible so what are you going to do to put a clear one in? Remember girls in the nineties had those clear bra straps, they weren't clear? You knew exactly what was happening, it's just going to look terrible. It is just the easiest, simplest, least expensive way. If you wear the shirt 30 or 40 times on a $2 product and it costs $10 to install it costs .30 cents every time you wear it if you average it out over the life of the shirt. If it's done right and put in it will last forever. The product has been a challenge. I have never been able to say here's how you sell a product that needs to be bought somewhere and taken it somewhere else to use there's just nothing like it. We have paved our own path but we did the aftermarket.
I buy wholesale shirts and install Million Dollar Collar and sell Tommy Hilfiger and all these brands that you already know. I have all those shirts in stock that you can buy if you already know your size and say I do not want to do that I will buy a shirt that is already done and try it that way. We have a VIP mail-in service so if you want to send me 5 to 15 shirts we'll take your shirts in, upgrade them and then mail them back to you. There's no way for someone to say no, my whole goal is if you won't do it this way, how about this way, if you won't do it this way, how about that way. Try to get a guy to say yes.
Interviewer: I like that, I really like that. Rob, I want to thank you for your time, I am impressed and I'm amazed and I'm definitely going to buy some more in the new future. I like that VIP service. I definitely have some shirts I can utilize that service for. I appreciate it.
Rob: That's a good look if you like wearing a tie this shirt is great for that too, you always get that gap between the first and second button with this extra rigidity in here that gap goes away and if you finish the day off work and you want to go out and have a drink and take the tie off and chill out boom, you have a great looking shirt and it will last all night long.
Interviewer: Right, Rob tell everyone where they can find your products.
Rob: Best place is goTIELESS.com or milliondollarcollar.com but goTIELESS is where the focus is, that's where the shirts are, we have FLXCUF and Cuff Adapters and Million Dollar Collar so you can buy everything at goTIELESS.com
Interviewer: Thank you, Rob, I appreciate your time.
Rob: Absolutely, thank you so much.
Interviewer: Thank you.