For Your Eyes Only — with Eric Varady of Topology Eyewear

For Your Eyes Only — with Eric Varady of Topology Eyewear

Eric Varady wants to make glasses for everyone. It doesn’t sound like such a grand idea, until you realize—as Varady did—that eyewear stores have spent years making glasses for people who aren’t real. “It’s kind of crazy that a store that might have 50 pairs of eyewear is somehow going to cater to anyone who walks in the door,” he said. “It’s kind of like stock eyewear is designed for some mythical person that doesn’t exist and never fits anyone correctly.”  

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The Evolution of Influence — with Melissa Duren Conner of JBC

The Evolution of Influence  — with Melissa Duren Conner of JBC

Melissa Duren Conner is well versed in the language of PR, but one word she mentions more than almost any other is “learning.” “When we work with a brand it’s a partnership,” she said. “There’s a trust level in our expertise and what we know, but then the things we don’t know and are learning from our clients everyday.” Duren Conner talked about navigating the world of startups and e-commerce and identifying brands with stories to tell on the 37th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast.

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Feet First — with Alexa Buckley of Margaux

Feet First — with Alexa Buckley of Margaux

Alexa Buckley won’t be joining the ranks of Mark Zuckerberg or Matt Damon. After all, she neglected the path of these Harvard dropouts and actually graduated from the school. However, Buckley turned down a corporate position just a few days after commencement and began to work on the shoe company Margaux with co-founder Sarah Pierson, which Buckley discussed on the 36th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast.

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Back to Basics — with Brian Berger of Mack Weldon

Back to Basics — with Brian Berger of Mack Weldon

In the confusing world of men’s underwear and socks, Brian Berger would like to be your guide. “It all came to a head when my wife threw out all of my tattered underwear and socks, and I had to go to a department store,” Berger said on the 35th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast. “When the sales guy said to me ‘Are you confused yet?’  I realized now was really the time when I needed to do this.”

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Modernizing the Hidden World of Ecommerce Imaging — with James Ingram of Splashlight

Modernizing the Hidden World of Ecommerce Imaging — with James Ingram of Splashlight

James Ingram is not in the restaurant business. But as the CEO of Splashlight, an innovative photography and video provider, Ingram talked about the importance of “setting the table” on 34th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast. “When you think of what a creative really has to go through, the less they have to focus on all the logistics or basically setting the table…you allow the creative to relax and to focus,” Ingram said. “It’s an obscure thought to be a hospitality-driven business but it’s served us well.

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Pivoting the Pro Shop — with Nik Bando of Bogeybox

Pivoting the Pro Shop — with Nik Bando of Bogeybox

There are a few different places you could kick off the Bogeybox story. Sure, it makes sense to start on the golf course, where founder Nik Bando fell in love with a sport closely associated with fashion, even though it doesn’t require a specific uniform. But a more appropriate place might be under Bando’s desk at the marketing and advertising firm where he worked in 2015. It was here, Bando explained on the 33rd episode of the Loose Threads podcast, that his subscription box service for golfers began.

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Reinventing Plus Size from the Ground Up — with Nadia Boujarwah of Dia&Co 

Reinventing Plus Size from the Ground Up — with Nadia Boujarwah of Dia&Co 

Nadia Boujarwah co-founded the styling service Dia&Co in 2014, but the idea for the company began with an experience Boujarwah had while growing up. "I have distinct and formative memories of what it felt like to shop in larger sizes. I think the plus-size industry overall has been anchored in a more mature customer for a long time. So shopping in that category as a young adult was particularly difficult,” she said. “What I realized was that I had has these experiences that felt so personal to me, but in reality, they were identical experiences [to] women around the world.”

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Could localized manufacturing be the solution to endless markdowns?

Could localized manufacturing be the solution to endless markdowns?

Today, two seemingly different questions are top of mind for many physical goods brands: 1) How do we end the catastrophic parade of endless sales and markdowns?; and 2) Is there a way to bring back domestic manufacturing in some capacity? But are these two questions linked? 

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Leather, Data and Grit — with Evan Fript of Paul Evans

Leather, Data and Grit — with Evan Fript of Paul Evans

For Evan Fript, creating Paul Evans was a carefully planned escape from the world of finance. Always doing capital markets-focused work and equity capital markets… I hated working in banking and finance,” Fript said on the 31st episode of the Loose Threads Podcast. "I saw the success of Bonobos, Warby Parker and the direct-to-consumer business model and started doing some research about the footwear industry.”

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Word of mouth without a network effect is not a competitive advantage

Word of mouth without a network effect is not a competitive advantage

In Building Bulletproof Brands, a Loose Threads series about how the internet destroyed traditional moats for physical goods brands but also created new ones, I wrote about how the power of word of mouth is not what many think. As new physical goods startups launch and raise money every week, many are keen to mention a company’s “unparalleled growth via word of mouth” or "IRL virality" as evidence that the company has some special sauce. Many also see word of mouth as a substitution for paid customer acquisition, at least early on.  

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Renting Out Your Underutilized Clothing — with Lona Alia of Style Lend

Renting Out Your Underutilized Clothing — with Lona Alia of Style Lend

After traveling to a base camp on the slopes of Mount Everest, Lona Alia had an epiphany about how the fundamentals of the fashion industry.  “I traveled with only one piece of luggage, which was very small, for four months,” Alia said. “I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if I was able to rent something in these places I went to because I was going from one climate to the next and one continent to the next.” A former model, Alia has spent a career immersed in the industry she’s now changing. She is now the founder of Style Lend, a peer-to-peer online marketplace for women to rent high-end clothing, which she discussed on the 30th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast.

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Making Dumb Clothing Smart — with Janett Martinez of Loomia

Making Dumb Clothing Smart  — with Janett Martinez of Loomia

If you take the apparel industry and strip away all of the noise, you’ll find a company called Loomia trying reinvent the very foundation of how industry interacts with technology. And you’ll find Loomia CEO Janett Martinez detailing her vision for the future of clothing, which she discussed on the 29th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast.

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An Umbrella Obsession — with Dave Kahng of Davek

An Umbrella Obsession — with Dave Kahng of Davek

“One simple motion, eight arms extend themselves synchronously, it’s a surprisingly complex mechanism.” David Kahng talks about umbrellas the way a scientist might talk about the advanced robotics of the Hubble space telescope. But this attention to detail and focus on engineering is exactly why Kahng co-founded Davek, a brand rethinking umbrellas from the ground up, which he discussed on the 28th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast.

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Challenging Unrealistic Standards of Beauty — with Carrie Hammer

Challenging Unrealistic Standards of Beauty — with Carrie Hammer

When you listen to Carrie Hammer talk about everything that came before Role Models Not Runway Models, it’s easy to see why she known for so much more than just designing clothes. On the 27th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast, Hammer talked about building her eponymous clothing line and how it led her to create a movement with larger and more socially conscious aims. It’s not a story that begins with her Forbes 30 Under 30 selection or a profile in Entrepreneur Magazine, but back when Hammer was a young woman disheartened with a career in advertising. 

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Building Bulletproof Brands — Part III: How networks and tokens could reshape the economics of physical goods brands

Building Bulletproof Brands — Part III: How networks and tokens could reshape the economics of physical goods brands

Part I of this series looked at the changing landscape of brand longevity and how the traditional formulas that used to make brands defensible are now obsolete. Part II proposed a new formula that harnesses networks as the only defensible moat for physical goods brands. Now, Part III looks at how brands can 1) use branded tokens and network-based incentives to grow; 2) how these mechanisms reshape customer acquisition and unit economics, and 3) what these changes mean for companies and investors.

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Rethinking the Purpose of a Store — with Alana Branston of Bulletin

Rethinking the Purpose of a Store — with Alana Branston of Bulletin

Alana Branston is the kind of person who believes retail isn’t dead. After all, she used to work in a toy store. But on Episode 26 of the Loose Threads Podcast, Branston talked about co-founding Bulletin, a start-up that is rethinking retail by providing emerging brands with turnkey storefronts and brick-and-mortar locations where they can reach audiences offline. 

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Building Bulletproof Brands — Part II: Networks are the strongest moats for consumer goods brands

Building Bulletproof Brands — Part II: Networks are the strongest moats for consumer goods brands

Part I explored how the internet fundamentally changed the playbook for building durable physical goods brands. Before the internet, mastering product, brand, distribution—signified as (product + brand + distribution)—was enough to make a brand defensible, specifically in the apparel, fashion, footwear, beauty, cosmetics, accessories and furniture space. Additionally, a small set of brands, usually in the luxury space, built their companies on (product + brand + distribution) x community. Companies that built communities are more defensible than ones that didn't, but keeping these communities intact and enviable is unscalable.

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Performance & Perspective — with Yehua Yang of Pivotte

Performance & Perspective — with Yehua Yang of Pivotte

The women behind Pivotte started their clothing company with a simple realization: Performance apparel that flies in the workplace doesn’t need to be exclusively for men. Pivotte is here to do more than just bring gender equality to fashion. But co-founder Yehua Yang, who spoke on the 25th episode of The Loose Threads Podcast, said that she and co-founder Evelyn Frison struggled to find outfits that complemented their active lifestyle. 

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Building Bulletproof Brands — Part I: Why don't brands last like they used to?

Building Bulletproof Brands — Part I: Why don't brands last like they used to?

How does one build a brand that lasts for centuries? Today, in the consumer goods space—specifically in apparel, fashion, footwear, beauty, cosmetics, accessories, and furniture—it's an especially challenging quandary given the ferocious speed at which Amazon and fast fashion giants like Zara and H&M are growing, while other legacy physical goods brands are struggling. The internet reorientated the playing field for brand durability and is now forcing both upstarts and incumbents to think about brand in an entirely new way.  
 

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When the Social Mission Comes First — with Olivia Wright of Rallier

When the Social Mission Comes First — with Olivia Wright of Rallier

Olivia Wright wants to bring social responsibility to contemporary fashion.It’s easier said than done, with companies like Toms allowing consumers to make philanthropic purchases at an inexpensive price point. But Wright’s mission has always been two-fold, and she spoke about the brand's journey on the 24th episode of the Loose Threads Podcast. It all began while watching a movie. 

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