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Finding Product-Market Fit Through Crowdfunding with Colby Kane - Honest Ecommerce Ep. 141

Founded by Colby Kane, a designer and art director who started out in the fast-paced world of NY Fashion as an art director at Macy’s. 

He moved to LA in order to build something different, find a balance between work and family, and give back to his community. 

Aviator is that “something” that Colby was aiming to build, and it grew out of his own life experiences. 

He has a passion for scouring the world to find amazing fashion trends, materials, and ideas that can be locally made in Los Angeles - all while providing great value to his customers. 

Colby and his wife live in LA with their two sons. 

In their free time, they love to travel the world as a family, and believe life is all about the journey while exploring. 

In This Conversation We Discuss: 

  • [00:00] Intro
  • [00:42] The first guest that listens to the podcast
  • [01:01] What is Aviator
  • [02:01] The inception and early days of Aviator
  • [04:59] Transition from crowdfunding to a brand
  • [08:20] Is crowdfunding still viable?
  • [10:32] Standing above the competition
  • [12:11] Mistakes Colby wants you to avoid
  • [13:27] A review that changed Aviator’s direction
  • [14:52] Bloggers, influencers, and affiliate marketing
  • [16:18] Sponsor: Electric Eye electriceye.io
  • [16:35] Sponsor: Mesa apps.shopify.com/mesa
  • [17:20] Sponsor: Rewind rewind.io/honest
  • [17:55] Sponsor: Gorgias gorgias.grsm.io/honest
  • [19:37] Sponsor: Klaviyo klaviyo.com/honest
  • [20:25] Doubling down on what’s already working
  • [21:12] Why Colby still does marketing in-house
  • [23:27] Looking at the whole picture of your KPIs
  • [24:17] The focus on CLV
  • [25:25] From owned marketing to retention marketing
  • [26:21] The “line” with SMS marketing
  • [27:17] How Colby handled “Shippageddon”
  • [28:15] Aviator’s pandemic experience
  • [32:06] TikTok and the tag that went viral
  • [33:34] Explaining Aviator’s price point
  • [34:43] Consider age when advertising on TikTok
  • [35:17] Being open to working remote
  • [36:31] Why Aviator doesn’t use a 3PL
  • [39:18] Where to find Aviator

Resources:

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 Transcript:

Colby Kane  

Everything is saturated. When I talk to people that say, 'Oh I want  to start this,' and then they're like, 'But there's so much competition...' But what doesn't have competition?

Chase Clymer  

Welcome to Honest Ecommerce, a podcast dedicated to cutting through the BS and finding actionable advice for online store owners. I'm your host, Chase Clymer. And I believe running a direct-to-consumer brand does not have to be complicated or a guessing game. 

On this podcast, we interview founders and experts who are putting in the work and creating real results. 

I also share my own insights from running our top Shopify consultancy, Electric Eye. We cut the fluff in favor of facts to help you grow your Ecommerce business.

Let's get on with the show.

Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of Honest Ecommerce. 

Today, welcoming to the show the first guest that's told me that they were a fan of the podcast before we got him on it.

So I'm super excited to talk to someone that has seen it from both sides. 

Colby Kane is joining us from Aviator USA. How are you doing today?

Colby Kane  

I'm doing great, Chase. Thanks for having me.

Chase Clymer  

Oh, I'm super excited to have you. We're already... We're having a lot of fun in the pre-show. 

So let's just dive right in for those that are unaware, can you tell us a bit... 

What is the product? What is Aviator? What do you bring to the market? 

Obviously, people will go towards the sunglass style, but that's not the brand.

Colby Kane  

No. That's not the brand. In fact, we don't make sunglasses. But basically, Aviator is a travel lifestyle brand.

We like to provide style and function for the travel lifestyle. That's our tagline. And what that means is it's just clothes. 

It's clothing to help you wear more and pack less so you can go further. 

We're big into packing one bag, not checking a bag and just bringing clothes that will take you from the plane straight to your destination. 

And we're a small brand. We're based in Los Angeles and we started it in 2012

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. So let's just dive right in there. What was going on back in 2012? Where did the idea come from? 

And with a brand that old, I'm guessing D2C wasn't even on your radar when you started it.

Colby Kane  

No, exactly. Because the brand's Aviator, I actually trademarked it back in 2004 as a more of an American Heritage brand that was a traditional retail clothing brand. So we would do trade shows... 

We started with t-shirts, just trying to make an elevated version of your favorite tee. 

And we did the whole old school fashion route, which was make some products, go to trade shows, sell your wares in Las Vegas and New York... And then go into production, ship [to] those stores all their goods, and then go chase them down to get paid (laughs). To get your money back. 

So I did that for a bunch of years. And that was okay but it was just... I noticed a lot of things that were broken in that business model and things that I didn't love doing. 

A few years into it, I started really not liking what I was doing. But I couldn't also just quit and get out. I was in too deep. 

But it was in 2012, I was at a trade show in Las Vegas selling my American Heritage brand that was named Aviator, so the same name. No function in the clothing whatsoever. And it wasn't designed for travelers. 

Just think Ralph Lauren, but made in America, vintage-inspired type of clothing. 

And I was at that trade show and I met a guy that did a Kickstarter and was showing his brands. He was trying to go the opposite. 

He started a Kickstarter and then was doing DTC but wanted to do wholesale as well. But I was scratching my head. "Why would you want to do wholesale?" Because I was so burned out on wholesale. It just wasn't for me anymore. 

But anyway, when I got to learn about their story, I never even heard of Kickstarter. So I went back to the hotel and I researched Kickstarter and I saw this person's campaign and I saw what they're doing. And I was really impressed. 

And I basically finished out the trade show, accepted my orders but I never shipped them. 

I went back to LA and designed a product that had function for travel, shot the video, put together the project... And this was in, I think, June or July of 2012. 

And we launched that product on Kickstarter and it took off. That product was called The Red Eye Hoodie which is still in our... 

It’s still a product that we sell. We've elevated it since then. But that started the DTC journey for me.

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. So launching on Kickstarter is an awesome path to test product-market fit. I love when I hear stories about how it works for brands. So after Kickstarter though, this is where I think that Kickstarter... 

Transitioning from Kickstarter to an actual brand is difficult for some that have a successful Kickstarter. It's like what do you do after that? 

Obviously, you got to produce and ship it. But how do you transition from having a successful Kickstarter campaign to having a successful Ecommerce brand?

Colby Kane  

Yeah. Great question. So I didn't even really know where I was going. I knew I wanted to do DTC but I didn't know how I was going to get those customers, I didn't know... 

Because all my customers in the past, Chase, were through stores. Third-party stores because we were selling to boutiques and those boutiques had a relationship with the customers.

And when I pivoted into making clothing for the travel lifestyle and going DTC, I was like "Well how am I going to get customers to find us and who's going to go to aviatorusa.com?" 

So to your point, I did start putting together the pieces like when the Kickstarter that I did through Red Eye Hoodie was successful and I had about 1500 people that backed that project. 

So I then started realizing “Oh, this could be my foundation for my DTC brand.” And I did already have a Shopify store aviatorusa.com

I already had that even though I wasn't even selling on it. I just thought I wanted to use it as a lookbook for my wholesale brands prior. 

So I did have a Shopify store that I probably started a year or 2 prior to Kickstarter never accepting any orders on it. No one went there. 

But I did realize it was valuable to have that once the Kickstarter was live because I was able to collect the emails and people were able to go to the Kickstarter page and then go "Oh, who is this company? What do they do?" 

And they'd go to the website where they'd see the Red Eye Hoodie and what our mission was, just getting more information about the brand. But I did... 

What I ended up doing is from 2012 through about 2015 or 2014... I forget the dates actually but we launched  8 or 9 Kickstarters, different products, under the Aviator USA brand. It's really Aviator Brands but aviatorusa.com website was all gonna link back to that. 

But the thing was that I haven't been able to road test all these products on Kickstarter if they were successful there. I would move them over to aviatorusa.com and start selling them there. I'd also start marketing [to] those customers. 

Anyone who backed the Kickstarter project, I would turn into an Aviator USA customer. That was the whole game plan. And through those Kickstarters that we did, we've got thousands of customers. And that was the basis. 

And then we were able to start marketing using that as our base and those products, and then start pushing those products out to media outlets, to influencers,  travel bloggers and what have you. And then that's how we grew the brand.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. So I just want to reiterate for the listeners here. He just told you the playbook of how they used Kickstarter to hack... Finding winning products to grow a brand on Shopify. 

So that's an awesome tactic and I thank you a lot for sharing how that worked for you. That was obviously a couple years back. 

Do you think that someone could do something similar today or if you had to do it again today, how would you spend it now?

Colby Kane  

Another great question. I don't know how well Kickstarter works now because I haven't been on it in a few years. But I do still think it's a great... 

I'm sure it's still a great way to start a brand by launching a product there. I just don't know about the marketing tactics and how you're going to drive traffic.

I know obviously there's a lot more competition on Kickstarter and maybe it's lost a little bit of its luster. I'm not sure. I do still  keep an eye on products that…

I get the emails [and] push notifications where I'll see a product from somebody else, from another project that I backed, when they launch a new product and I go take a look at it. 

And I know there's a lot of big brands on there now so... But I do think it's probably still a good way to go to be scrappy if you don't have capital because it's really hard to start a brand from nothing and have the financing to just go from your website and scale that with nothing to start with. I don't know…

If I was to go about it again, I'd probably still use Kickstarter to validate a product, because I think it's good for that. 

If the product is successful, there is a good chance it will be successful later and have legs. So I would probably still use that. 

It's just how I would push people to that project would probably be different back then. I definitely rely heavily on friends and family to get it going. 

But I don't know what Kickstarter algorithms like, as far as you know, making somebody popular and getting in front of the right people. I'm sure it's evolved a lot. So it might actually be really great.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. I think that it's never been easier to start a direct-to-consumer brand. And it's also never been more competitive to start a direct-to-consumer brand than it is now. 

I think the barrier of entry constantly gets lower. And then what works is constantly changing. 

And the quality of what you need to be putting out to stand above the rest of the junk is just... You got to put out something good to really shine these days.

Colby Kane  

I completely agree. There's so much competition and everything is saturated. I talked to people that say "Oh, I want to start this." 

And then they're like, "But there's so much competition." I'm like "What doesn't have competition?" It's really hard to find that unicorn; "I found something so brilliant that there's nothing competing with it." That's a rarity. 

I just think that you have to create the project/products that you believe in and, I think, just have a great customer relationship like that. 

To me... For us, we rely so much on customer relations with our business to to separate us from some of the competition. There's also... We make things in America. So that's another advantage we have against a lot of our competition. 

We are a small, nimble team, as well. We don't have... I only have a few employees. And we keep it nimble on purpose, especially during these times of 2020-2021. It's been challenging. 

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Now, with... You've made the transition now to Shopify and you're pushing products directly there. 

Still talking a couple years back. Is there anything in that journey up until now that you wish you could go back in time and be like, "Hey Colby, don't do this?"

Colby Kane  

Always. Yeah. I always have ideas for new products. I've launched some products that... And actually, I launched a product on Kickstarter that didn't get funded. So not all of them are successful. 

You have to find that thing. But it's easy to believe in something and be very narrowly focused on what that product is. And then you put it out and then everyone else is like, "No. This is not a homerun." 

But the good news is that people will tell you, at least in my case. So I try not to spend money on those products. 

We wanted to make something right now. I won't say what it is. But we wanted to add a new product. But when I ran it by my team, they were not too warm to the idea. And I ran it by my wife and she shot it down very quickly. But maybe she saved me a lot of money. I don't know. 

But there is... I will say this though Chase: When you do put some products out there... I'm going to give you another reason why we were able to grow. 

When I had about 5 or 6 products on our website, we did sell everything evenly. We first launched primarily making hoodies but I also did jeans. Jeans were definitely secondary. 

And then at one point a couple years in, it flipped and the jeans went off the charts. Selling jeans... And then the hoodies just stayed where they were, doing that same business. But the jeans really took off. 

And they weren't my most successful product launch on Kickstarter. But on the website today, 8 years later they're by far the number 1 on our product list. And that was with us... 

A couple of years in, there was a travel blogger who bought a pair of jeans, loved the pair of jeans, wrote about them, and did a review on them. And we had all this traffic coming in from that source. And I noticed that in Google Analytics

I was like "Why? What's this? What's this spike in the jeans sales and eyeballs on our website." 

And that's what it was. It was this blogger's review and we were fielding phone calls, and chat messages, and emails... 

And from that day on we just started selling a lot more jeans and then we became jean-centric to a certain point.

Chase Clymer  

And now realizing that you know this travel blogger and influencers were driving traffic, did that affect your marketing strategy or where you're spending time and energy?

Colby Kane  

Yeah, for sure. When that happened with the first travel blogger, we didn't even have an affiliate program or we didn't have anything. 

But we quickly built that out right where we signed up with one of the Shopify app affiliate programs. And at that time we used an affiliate link called Affiliatly

It was the name of the app. It's in the Shopify store. We no longer use them. We've since outgrown them. But that's how we got started.

And we were able to email that one travel blogger and say, "Hey, we just launched an affiliate program and you are driving a lot of traffic. Would you like to sign up?" 

She immediately signed up and since then, we now have a handful of good travel bloggers that are affiliates that drive a lot of traffic to our website.

And I think that... That definitely changed our marketing from... Like most brands, probably, that started around when we did, you're just focused on your own channel, which is our email list. 

And then you focus on Google and Facebook and Instagram, which we were. But it definitely changed when we introduced the affiliate program and started spending money there.

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Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. And  what I want to point out here is when something works, you lean into it and double down on it versus trying to find other things that work. 

I think that's something that a lot of startups get wrong is they try to do too much when it comes to marketing, and they spread themselves too thin, and they don't have enough energy time or just data to realize which one's working for them or not. 

So just the other day someone reached out to the agency and was like, "Hey, I want to try Facebook and Instagram advertising." 

And I was like, "Oh, do you do any now?" They're like, "Oh yeah, we get 5x on Google." And I was like, "Why try?.."

Colby Kane  

(laughs)

Chase Clymer  

"That's crushing it for you. Go spend all your money there." So maybe, shiny things. The new stuff is always fun, but you got to really... 

Don't go into something new until you really optimize what's working.

Colby Kane  

Yeah. That's funny, because I... We do all of our marketing for Google and Facebook in-house. 

We've never used an agency, actually. I started it, and then since passed it on. Or I didn't pass it on but I work closely with one of our team members who handles the marketing. But we were always in it. 

Because I do believe that there was going to be a point where I figured we would use an agency. But I actually do enjoy the marketing aspect of the business. And I do enjoy creating ads in Facebook and search ads. 

It's a funny thing, because like, I would like to pass that responsibility on to an agency, but at the same time, I want to know it so that so if I was to work with an agency, I'd be able to say to them, "Well hey, I know how this works. I've been doing this [for] 3 years." 

So I know how to build an ad. I know how to do audiences. I know how to do placements. I know how to create the content. I work with everybody on that. But it is always changing as you know. It's always changing. 

There's always new, shiny objects, even within those platforms that you might get hooked on. I remember a few years ago, everyone was like, "Oh, you doing CBO?'' I was like, "What is CBO? Oh, campaign budget optimization. Oh, we gotta be doing that." 

And then you see your ads start declining. You're like "Why did I switch all my ads to CBO?" (laughs) So there's a lot of things to stay up on. 

But I also believe like when I'm doing the marketing with my team,  we're trying to look at it holistically, because I do believe that you have to spend money on Google and on Facebook and they work together in a way. 

So I'm looking at my ROAS holistically, not just on one platform versus the other. Certainly there's a lot of people that might Google something and then all of a sudden they don't... 

They didn't buy then, but now they're getting retargeting ads because they did shop... They did go to the website. 

And a lot of this is changing with iOS 14 so we'll see what happens. I'm playing it by ear, but I do want to spend more time and energy on the affiliates because I do think that that'll be a better bang for the buck if you can find the right people.

Chase Clymer  

Well, even before the iOS 14 thing it was... If you were measuring purely direct response on your Facebook and Instagram advertising or any channel honestly, that doesn't bring into the equation lifetime value if you've got a super sticky product like something consumable or something like that. 

But also it doesn't bring into the equation of like, how many people sign up your email list from that campaign that are going to end up buying in 3 to 6 months, because you've got an awesome welcome series built out through Klaviyo or whatever. 

So that's the... I don't know. The metrics are always.. You can spend them however you want. 

And it's just something to consider that the ROAS is one that everyone gleams towards instantly. 

And they're like "It needs to be as high as possible." But I think there's... You got to look at the whole picture, like you said.

Colby Kane  

Fully. Yeah, fully, because we're also doing like... Everyone was freaked out with the iOS 14 thing. So since then, we're now doing the post purchase survey, but only for first time customers to find out what we have there. 

I'm constantly trying to look at that data and seeing if this customer came from Google or Facebook and it's... It's all very interesting, but I think the lifetime value is what's most important anyway. 

Listen, we don't make a lot of money on that first purchase on a Google or a Facebook ad.  Our margins aren't huge. That's not us. 

So we're looking at it like we're trying to win you over on that first purchase so that you'll come back for your second [or] third. That's important to us. And that also inspired us to build out our loyalty program to take care of those customers. 

We do a lot. We're trying to do as much as we can to support our own customer base. I like using that word but you know what I mean. (laughs)

Chase Clymer  

Yeah. We've used it a lot at the agency for the types of retainers we offer for managed email and whatnot. 

And I think that what the markets are going towards instead of owned is retention marketing. I think it's the more proper term.

Colby Kane  

(laughs) Totally. And we rely heavily on our Klaviyo Flows. And we also use Postscript for SMS. And I'm still questioning how that works. 

We are getting a good ROI on it like we do. It seems to be worthwhile. But I still don't know how I feel about getting text messages from brands sometimes. 

[For] me personally, I'm like," Ooh, I don't need this." So I tried to be very delicate with our Postscript marketing. But that's still evolving. We'll see how that goes.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, I think that it's getting there. But basically giving your customer the option of choosing the channel that you communicate with them instead of just bucketing them and sending them into SMS... 

I think the line is 30 years old. I think anyone over 30 doesn't want to get texted. I think everyone under 30 does.

Colby Kane  

So it's so true. It's so true. Guys that work for me that are in their 30s or 20s. They totally agree with that. But it's funny. What I do appreciate because I'm over 30. 

But what I do appreciate is when I get a text message notification that a package arrived or like a shipping update. 

That I'm like, "Oh, that's kind of cool". But if I get a salesy text that's where I'm like, "Oh, I'd rather just get an email." 

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, I agree with you there. I'll check a text message and then I'll run to my front door. It's Christmas morning at that point.

Colby Kane  

Yeah. Yeah, right? We actually... Because we do do a lot of those emails and text messaging for shipping updates and stuff for customers that sign up for it, obviously. 

But were having problems too with USPS during that whole "Shippageddon" or whatever they call that where packages…

Our customers are getting email notification saying that their package arrived, when in fact it didn't. 

So they were calling us like, "I got an email that my package is here. It was not here. So what do I do?" I'm like, "Well, we're actually now learning that USPS is letting customers know that their packages there, when it's on its way." 

Because it turns out that... I don't know how that works. But what I can tell you is that it always --99% of the time-- a customer would call us telling us their package was there and it wasn't, it showed up a couple hours later. 

So it was almost like they preempted them to get ready or something.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, absolutely. So, obviously the last year was wild, especially on a brand that is very closely tied to travel. What have you got... 

What changed for you guys during the pandemic? And what are you now doing heading into the future?

Colby Kane  

Yeah. So 2020 was super challenging as it was for everybody. And for us, specifically, it was our sales on March 13th --I believe-- 2020 was the official shutdown and at least in California. 

And our sales just plummeted. It just came to a stop as if our website wasn't working. And then a couple sales would trickle through. 

But it says a couple weeks to really think about what we were going to do, and everybody was crazy back then. It was such an unknown. But what we ended up doing was pivoting to making masks. 

But early on, April 1, I was in LA and I was at my factory, getting them set up as essential businesses and started making masks to donate and then we started selling them. 

And then we were just busy doing that for the next few months. Basically into summer. We were non-stop making masks. 

So we were selling a product of our normal line-up here or there but we started selling the masks. 

And then I started marketing the masks, actually, along with our other products on Facebook and Instagram and Google, even though Facebook kept shutting down the mask ads. 

But the truth is, Chase, we were making these masks and selling them and marketing them and selling them on Facebook... 

It was a benefit for us because and for the customers because customers back then A, they couldn't get masks and B, the factories were working and we couldn't pay them. 

So by making masks, by them making masks and us marketing and selling them, we're able to come up with the capital to pay them to stay. "Keep making these masks. We'll pay you." 

And it wasn't the margins on them. It wasn't like a huge win or anything like that. 

Because people ask me, "Oh, you must have been killing it making masks." I was like "No. Not really." We made a lot of masks but there's no margins. We were just making them do our part. Just get as many masks out there as you can. 

Now the bigger thing was well, now we have all these people that only bought masks from us during the pandemic. So how do we turn them into Aviator customers and buying jeans, and hoodies, t-shirts when the world opens? So that was our focus. 

So we're hopeful that as the world opens, we might be able to get a lot of these people to then buy our other products. So it didn't grow our audience. But to this day, and mid-2021 in July, we don't sell a lot of products to those people. It was almost like a one off. 

So we had to just be very careful that we didn't damage our audience base with our marketing efforts through Klaviyo and stuff like that. 

We have to just be careful and be aware that we're not pushing all our products to people that only bought masks. They don't want to. And they don't want our other products. 

So that's been the big challenge for 2021 along with the world slowly opening but not really. We were hopeful that people would start traveling in masses again, in this summer of 2021. But it's still... Not everything's open. It's still complicated.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. Now with that... How has the marketing stack changed with all that considered? Are you still heavily invested in Facebook and Instagram? 

I know that you were using Google as well. Are there any other channels that you're testing out?

Colby Kane  

We did test out TikTok for a hot minute (laughs) about as long as one of those videos. But I just don't know if my customer is there. Because we had a TikToker who... Again, this is what happens. It happened with a travel blogger back in 2013. 

But one of our customers sent us a TikTok video. They tagged us, aviatorusa, in this video [of] this girl reviewing women's jeans and how they suck because they don't have pockets, and guys' jeans do, and she was so upset. 

So this one of our customers tagged us in the video and said, "Hey, check out this review. Maybe you should send her some jeans. "So I reached out to that TikToker and we sent her some jeans. 

And she did an impromptu viral video wearing our jeans. It's actually pretty funny. I'll send you the link after the interview. It's pretty funny. But it did... And that went viral. And I don't know... 

Hundreds of 1000s of people viewed it, and saw it, and went to the website to check it out. But most of those people got turned off by the price point. 

They didn't understand our price point. So I think it was probably a young audience and we're looking more into... They're probably people that are buying, spending less on their clothes or buying recycled clothes or... I mean that sincerely. But a lot of...

Chase Clymer  

Yeah.

Colby Kane  

I know a lot of people in their 20s. They like to go thrift shopping or they... So they buy vintage Levi's, for instance. But we always battle with people like that. 

People will say on our Facebook ads, people comment, "Well, why do your jeans cost $135? That's ridiculous." 

And then they can get Wranglers for $20? I was like "Well, where do you think they're making those Wranglers for $20?" 

And what kind of... Are they mass producing them? How do you get to a $20 price point on a pair of jeans? 

We're making our jeans right down the street in LA and we're paying fair wages. So we're supporting our community." There's a huge difference. 

And we're putting features in our jeans that aren't in Wranglers, frankly.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. I actually read something this afternoon on Twitter, just some guy talking about advertising on TikTok and he was... One of the first things he said... 

He was like "Make sure that you turn on 18+ only for all of your ads." It's because... He's like, "Half of those views are people that don't have a credit card, so it's not even worth putting an ad in front of them."

Colby Kane  

Totally, totally. I have kids and they're on TikTok so they educate me a little bit.

Chase Clymer  

Yeah, my nephews, they're all about it. 

Is there anything that I didn't ask you today that you think would be worthwhile to share with our audience? 

Colby Kane  

A couple of things. One is that... I guess this pandemic has taught us about the whole "work from home" and work remote. My operations guy, he's young. He has since moved to Raleigh, North Carolina. We're based in Los Angeles. 

And he gave me 2 months notice because he... We have a great relationship and he's awesome. And I was like, "Oh wow, you're moving in North Carolina? Wow, what am I gonna do?" I was thinking first. But then I slept and I came back to work the next day. 

And I said, "Well what do you think of just working from there?" And he was really surprised and was like, "Yeah, I would actually love to." It just made sense. So that was something. 

This whole... If you're an Ecom business, I don't think you have to work where you're based, necessarily. Maybe to a certain degree. 

We certainly need some people on the ground here in LA, because we do all of our shipping out of here, too. We don't use a 3PL

We do all of our shipping in house. And we do that for several reasons that I can get into if you want to hear.

Chase Clymer  

Sure. Yeah, I think that all the insights...

Colby Kane  

Yeah. Yeah. We do.... So for instance, we're doing. It's clothing. So with Ecommerce and if you're a clothing brand, you're always dealing with returns. And if you're using a 3PL, you're paying for that. 

And I've had some mentors in the fashion space just teaching me like where I want to be. what's the sweet spot of being an online clothing... Or denim brand, for instance. Where do you... To be profitable, your return rate should be below 30%. 

And I was like... "This is what a mentor told me." I was like, "Wow. 30% of returns. That's a lot. And we have free shipping and free returns. This is gonna get expensive, even with those margins." 

But back to the lifetime value, that's what's most important anyway. We just gave that person the best experience on their first purchase. "Even if they have to swap out their jeans once or twice, let's get them in the right pair." 

And sometimes that means shipping 2 pairs of jeans out, even though they ordered one. We'll talk to them. If a customer's concerned about what their size is, we'll just take that pressure off for them. 

Because we're just trying to ship as many products as we can and take out all the friction possible. So what's the hang up on buying jeans online? So obviously "Are these going to fit?" 

So if a customer calls, or chats with us, or emails us, we'll tell them "Just order the one pair and the one size you think is best. We'll include another complimentary. You can send back what you don't want to keep. We'll include the return label," 

So it's just things like that, which is one reason. We also only make our jeans and one inseam length because another mentor told me what kills fashion brands is inventory and personnel. 

So how many people do you have? How big is your staff? And how much inventory do you have? Because fashion inventory loses value. That was what I was taught and what I've learned in my career. 

So that's why I'm making clothing with function instead of just fashion. It's the function that will hold the value for us. And holding less inventory means not not investing as much in our inventory. 

Which if I had to make... If I made jeans, for instance, for men in 30 inseam, a 32 inseam, and a 34 inseam, now I pretty much have tripled my inventory. 

But if I could just make them in a 34 inseam and then offer free custom hemming upon ordering, then I can cut down my inventory to a third. And I can offer a customer experience that they'll remember. 

"Oh, I can get my jeans custom hemmed. Great." Now if you're a first-time customer, you might not want to... You might want to see how they fit first. 

But for all of our repeat customers, they all want that free custom hemming because they all believe in the product, they know what they're getting, and they know their size.

Chase Clymer  

Absolutely. That's a bunch of awesome advice, especially for anyone that's thinking about getting into fashion. So I thank you a lot for sharing that with us. 

So quickly give a shout out to the brand if people are interested in finding some high-quality jeans, where should they go?

Colby Kane  

They should go to aviatorusa.com

Chase Clymer  

Awesome. Thank you so much, Colby. 

Colby Kane  

Yeah. Thank you, Chase. I really appreciate it. It's fun. 

Chase Clymer  

Alright. I can't thank our guests enough for coming on the show and sharing their knowledge and journey with us. 

We've got a lot to think about and potentially add into our own business. You can find all the links in the show notes. 

Make sure you head over to honestecommerce.co to check out all the other amazing content that we have. Make sure you subscribe, leave a review. 

And obviously if you're thinking about growing your business, check out our agency at electriceye.io. Until next time.