Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Jason and I am the co-owner of SexyModest.com. My wife and I design and manufacture modest women’s clothing that is available online and in Costco.
What began as a side hustle in our basement is now a 7 figure business, we produce around 250K and sell 150K pieces a year currently.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Brig went to school for fashion design and had no previous experience in sewing or ecom. She did work in retail for a few years as a teenager which taught her the importance of 5-star customer service.
We know there are a million clothing options for women out there, but we are sure none of them will love you as we will. We want you to be stunning, be modest, be comfy, be YOU!
My wife has always been very stylish. She LOVES fashion. In 2003 she moved to Utah and joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints she found herself facing a standard of modesty she hadn’t known previously… as she went shopping she could find clothing that modest, but not cute or cute but certainly not modest. Frustrated, she went to work designing clothing she thought would be both modest and cute and maybe most importantly comfortable. (She is a self-proclaimed fabric snob)
After attending church or just going out she would always get comments like, “You always look so put together, I wish you could dress me.”
Well, weeks later my wife decided she would do just that. Once a week on Friday’s you could come to our home where Brigitte would have clothing for purchase and she would help style you for your body type. We gathered email addresses so we could market the new styles that would drop next week and tell your friends… a few months later, one Friday we had over 100 women show up to our house on Friday, they changed clothes in our bathrooms and bedrooms and even our garage.
We were sure the police or our neighbors were going to shoot us. We said we can’t do it like this anymore. We closed our home and promised our blossoming tribe of faithful followers that if we didn’t have to raise our prices we would open a store where we could accommodate more women.
We went to work and two Fridays later we found a retail space, spent every penny we had, and didn’t have (credit cards) to purchase inventory, put money down on the lease, and SexyModest Clothing was born. The night before we were to open I wrote an email. It was titled...
“PLEASE DON’T MAKE US MOVE INTO YOUR BASEMENT”
8 am the next morning we kicked the doors open and that day until the day we closed that location (3 years later) we did more revenue than any other single day we were open.
The bootstrapping had begun.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
The process of designing clothing is tedious, creative, and soul-draining work, but when it’s complete you feel as though you have run a marathon. As though you have conquered the world.
We hired a pattern maker to create the patterns after my wife had designed the prototype. From there fabric is chosen and delivered to a cutter who cuts the pattern made and printed onto a marker by the pattern maker. He then delivers the cuts to the sewing contractors who physically make the clothing, it is then quality controlled, folded, tagged, and bagged and delivered to our shipping warehouse where once it’s ordered, it is lovingly packed and sent to the client within 24 hours. (Take that Amazon)!
Describe the process of launching the business.
The most important thing we learned starting the business up was the value of the client. 5 stars customer service was paramount and we didn’t just say it… everything we did prove it. We still operate like that today. We employ an online chat team of fashion experts to assist with sizing, fit, style, and more. They are available 6 days a week from 7 am-10 pm.
We have always remembered that good news travels fast, and bad news travels faster. We aim to build relationships with every soul that chooses to shop with us. We know there are a million clothing options for women out there, but we are sure none of them will love you as we will. We want you to be stunning, be modest, be comfy, be YOU!
Location in retail was key for us... we didn't think too much about it at the time but HIGH visibility needs to play a key role in your location selection.⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀
We found a spot right by a movie theatre that allowed for later night traffic.
We were profitable until we let payroll creep up and turn us upside down. Hired too many helpers that didn't produce income. Finding a balance there will also save you some headache.
We didn't launch our online store for almost 3 years after we opened our brick and mortar locations. Less than a year later we closed all retail locations because they no longer made sense logistically as we could bring our products to infinitely more clients and serving them from the comfort of THEIR homes. Serving your clientele online was superior in every way for our business.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Attracting customers has been mainly done through face to face interaction, Facebook and Facebook ads, Instagram, live events, and providing the free value of how we run our family and our business and stay married hahaha... on our podcast The Modestshoppin Movement.
Working with Costco is like putting your mouth on a firehouse, you need to have all your ducks in a row in every aspect, from business to HR to quality control to margins and marketing dialed. They are kings of the retail world for a reason and if you choose to pursue them and can get "lucky" enough to get in the doors hold on tight they are an amazing company and they will test and hold you to the highest of standards for both you and their clients.
We have loved aligning ourselves with them as we are on the same page about treating our clients they are the most important thing in the world... because they are.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
The future is bright as we are starting to be noticed by bigger retailers including Costco. They asked us to meet with them after discovering our main mission to help make women’s lives better! (That’s a story for another time, or can be found on our podcast)
We were given a chance to prove that business as small as ours was ready for their big stage.
After sharing the news with our 450K followers on FB, Insta, and email, we were humbled to see them show up for us at our Costco launch in UT. We quickly became the number 1 clothing roadshow of all-time passing 330K in sales in 10 days.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
Mistakes have been made. We launched our famous non-see-through white tee before we had wash-tested it. The fabric shrunk. We messed up. I asked my wife what we were gonna do because making this right was going to put us in a hole so deep we may not be able to recover… she didn’t blink, she took ownership and told all who had ordered that if they would give her a week to remake them correctly we would pay to re-ship them all a new one for free. And that’s exactly what she did.
From that day to this Brigitte has never waivered when it comes to right and wrong with her clients. They know how much she loves them. At the end of most nights, she collapses in my arms. I am happy to share her with you because making you happy is such a joy for her. It is why she exists.
Brigitte is talented beyond measure. Her designs take months to complete, but when they are done you squeal with delight if you can purchase one before they sell out and have to be restocked. Because when you slip on a dress made by Brigitte you not only wear your standards, you look as beautiful as you feel.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We sell on Shopify and have recently added a live selling app built by a third party that has made our Tuesday and Thursday nights a time to PARTY live with you.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
If you are dreaming of starting up… get good at learning. Learn to sell. Learn People. Learn to negotiate. Learn to love the process and most importantly: Learn to get back up after you fall. You are in for the most difficult time of your life, but also, and I can’t stress this enough, the most rewarding.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are always looking for talented people to join us. We are on a mission to make women’s lives better, provide value to them everywhere we can, inspire them to enjoy their lives, make connections, love more, stress less. We just happen to sell beautiful modest clothing too!
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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