In early 2020, resortwear model Kenny Flowers was thriving: having simply launched a brand new line of bikinis & matching outfits with spring break across the nook, gross sales had been increased than ever and founder & CEO Kenny Haisfield was driving excessive with a Maui marriage ceremony only a few months away and 5 years’ value of entrepreneurial hustling actually beginning to repay.
However when the pandemic hit, customers canceled their holidays (resulting in extra returns than Kenny Flowers had ever handled), Kenny needed to postpone his marriage ceremony indefinitely, and the fast-growing model was confronted with its greatest problem but: advertising and marketing a resortwear model to a world the place holidays had been out of the query.
In line with a current survey performed by Prosper Insights & Analytics, as of April 2021 40.2% of customers are nonetheless canceling trip journey because of Covid-19. So how did a model constructed on touring & holidays handle to hit report gross sales throughout a 12 months when nobody was vacationing? I had the prospect to talk with Kenny to seek out out.
Gary Drenik: Let’s return to the start. How did Kenny Flowers get its begin?
Kenny Haisfield: Kenny Flowers obtained its begin effectively earlier than its official launch date. It began out with an obsession I had for a Hawaiian shirt that I used to all the time put on; this outsized, hand-me-down from my dad earlier than I went to varsity. I used to be carrying that light pink magnificence on a sundown cruise with some pals once I realized I used to be the man to exit on the planet and make a greater Hawaiian shirt. One thing that was slightly bit extra trendy and enjoyable, not as dishevelled or uninteresting, however with distinctive patterns that you just couldn’t discover at any of the massive field retailers.
So, in January 2015 I give up my job and moved midway around the globe – from New York to Bali – with no background in trend design, e-commerce, worldwide enterprise or manufacturing. There was no marketing strategy both, only a purpose to make a number of hundred shirts for my pals.
In Bali I went to tons of of material retailers, scouring by way of all kinds of outdated textiles, discovered factories on the bottom, and began my Shopify retailer. I bootstrapped the beginning of Kenny Flowers with $12,000 I had saved up, which was simply sufficient to cowl my prices in Bali and the primary spherical of stock. Fortunately, these bought out straight away – to my pals, household, and the buddies of pals that began listening to about us by way of word-of-mouth. And earlier than I knew it, I used to be onto the second batch.
Since then, Kenny Flowers has develop into a flourishing enterprise. My fiancée Christina Vidal (aka luxurious journey blogger @jetsetchristina) has helped construct out the ladies’s aspect of the enterprise; not solely do we provide Hawaiian shirts and swim trunks for males, however we now even have girls’s swimwear and seaside coverups. Right now, Kenny Flowers is actually a contemporary resort put on model the place anybody can get excited for his or her subsequent trip.
Gary Drenik: What did you do when the pandemic hit, and also you realized journey was shutting down worldwide? How did you pivot your model’s choices?
Haisfield: As a model that champions journey and particular events, it was not straightforward for us. Not solely did demand drop drastically when the pandemic hit, however that realization sparked an unprecedented wave of returns from our prospects – not as a result of they didn’t like what they ordered, however as a result of their massive journeys, honeymoons, music festivals, you identify it, was all getting canceled. That additionally meant folks weren’t all for shopping for.
Whereas different corporations had been cancelling orders and placing manufacturing unit staff and their households in actually unhealthy spots, we thought creatively on what we may do. We have now actually robust relationships with our boutique factories in Bali and Colombia and we didn’t need to do something to wreck that or impression the lives of these engaged on Kenny Flowers.
That artistic considering, mixed with options from our prospects telling us issues like, “Hey, it’s best to make masks!” led us to the #KFMaskMission. We began making way of life face masks and had been in a position to donate greater than 25k masks to these in want and donate over $10k to the frontlines within the U.S.
I’m actually pleased with how we responded to ensure we did every little thing we may to be there for our prospects and their communities, and our provide chains too. They had been turning to us for a glimpse of hope, and a few sunshine on a cloudy day. In a world the place every little thing gave the impression to be going fallacious, Kenny Flowers as a model grew to become a frontrunner to others.
Drenik: How have you ever seen buyer habits change because of the pandemic?
Haisfield: Completely. General, everyone seems to be now far more snug with on-line procuring than earlier than – from youngsters to grandparents. The comfort of ordering on-line is tough to beat, and this realization you could get what you need delivered to the doorstep rapidly, is now an expectation and new norm.
With out spending as a lot on massive journeys or consuming out over the previous 12 months, our prospects even have had extra discretionary earnings to deal with themselves to say, a tropical shirt for his or her at-home Friday completely happy hour. And now that we appear to be turning the nook on the pandemic, persons are able to spend on a brand new high-quality swimsuit or matching outfits from Kenny Flowers for his or her upcoming holidays!
Drenik: Why do you suppose direct-to-consumer manufacturers have thrived lately? Do you suppose the pattern will proceed?
Haisfield: Direct-to-consumer manufacturers have thrived lately as a result of they put the shopper first and might regulate to what they need. The most effective DTC manufacturers aren’t simply promoting to their audiences, they’re offering leisure and group as effectively, at any time when the shopper wants it. The general expertise is extra handy, in your schedule, and your items are delivered on to you. I feel the pattern will 100% proceed as a result of D2C companies are constructed to be extra versatile, transfer quicker and regulate to the shoppers desires and desires faster than a brick-and-mortar retail retailer.
With Kenny Flowers, our robust on-line presence helped us survive in 2020 and set us as much as thrive in 2021 as a result of many consumers are weary of going into shops after they’re accustomed to the comfort of what they want exhibiting up at their doorstep.
Drenik: How necessary are on-line gross sales to a model like Kenny Flowers? What are the benefits to promoting on-line vs. promoting in brick-and-mortar retail?
Haisfield: On-line gross sales are extremely necessary to a model like Kenny Flowers. Promoting on-line allows us to speculate extra in creating high-quality merchandise, entertaining content material, and an incredible group. A key benefit is that we are able to attain extra prospects outdoors of our bodily proximity in the identical second, any time of the day, across the US and even the world.
All of this implies we are able to scale faster. Plus, it permits myself and others on the group to work remotely – one thing that’s much more necessary for a model like Kenny Flowers with factories in Bali and Colombia and group members everywhere in the U.S.
Drenik: Thanks in your time, Kenny. A current Prosper Insights & Analytics survey additionally discovered that trip journey is the #1 exercise customers are most trying ahead to doing as soon as the pandemic is over – beating out going to eating places and bars, going to the films, and even attending household gatherings! It’s actually promising for the way forward for Kenny Flowers, and we are able to’t wait to see what the model does subsequent.