This is a follow up story for Million Dollar Collar. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published about 1 year ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Rob Kessler, inventor of Million Dollar Collar, the world’s first placket stay. It is similar to collar stay, but it goes into the buttons/holes part of a dress shirt to give much-needed reinforcement to the front of any shirt.
To date, we have shipped 270,000 units of MDC to people in 115 countries. We have added hundreds of new installer locations and are starting to make a real impact on the industry as we redefine Busines Casual.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Million Dollar Collar has stayed steady in numbers as we shift to a more B2B approach. This focus makes it easier for fashion-conscious people to upgrade their shirts. We are now in nearly 600 locations, mostly in the US. Many of those locations offer the first shirt upgrade for FREE, giving a low barrier to trying Million Dollar Collar personally. We are in talks right now with a huge brand and they are talking about order 10X what we have sold in the last 4 years in one order, as a TEST!! This will open the doors to a lot more opportunities.
Do the little things to keep you going. Do whatever it takes. If you are truly passionate about your project you will find the energy.
I’m now also co-founder of goTIELESS, the first shirts designed to be worn without a tie, with Million Dollar Collar built-in. We did a pre-sale with goTIELESS and sold out our 200 shirt test run in under 72 hours. In mid-October, we launched officially and the 3 new colors are rolling out the door. All shirts have a cotton/spandex blend to give you a material that moves with you. One, our Jetsetter, has poly to give a wrinkle-resistance so you can go all day/night wrinkle-free.
Marketing has always been a challenge due to the nature of our product. We have one of the only products on the planet that you order one place, wait for it to arrive in the mail and then have to go somewhere else to have installed just to use. Having said that, we still have 4.6 Star ratings across the board from our customers. And the people that take the time/effort to upgrade are instantly raving fans. There is something about the confidence you get from wearing a shirt with a Million Dollar Collar installed that is hard to explain.
goTIELESS is working on a few partnerships with some great people and you will soon see us everywhere. Finally a shirt with technology that is different and effective. No one can compare to what goTIELESS offers and it will be the difference that makes us grow quickly. We have the biggest advancement in dress shirts since non-iron in the 1950s.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
In 2019 we learned that even experts are not experts. If you hire ANYONE, make sure it is performance-based. Especially in the FB ad space. There are too many people that make claims and they have no way to back them up. Put up or shut-up is our motto. We recently fired the agency tasked with launching our new brand. $30,000 spent and less than $1,000 on sales generated. They dropped the ball on so many categories they said they would take care of, it is sickening. Pay everything you can on a credit card, as it is easier to get some money back if/when they fail you.
Find partnerships that will move the needle in your favor, or learn it yourself. I don’t know much about FB ads, but I have learned a little bit and we are generating sales that currently outweigh our spending. Something the last firm couldn’t figure out. Take the time to learn if you have it. There are endless resources on YouTube.
Learn a little every day, no matter what the topic is and in a year, you’ll know more than most.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
2020 holds an extreme amount of optimism. As I said we are in negotiations to 10X our company in one order. We will take that momentum to move the needle with several other companies. We are looking into some amazing partnerships to really take our brands to the next level.
5-Year plans are hard to imagine. We literally have so many opportunities, it is hard to see. Million Dollar Collar will be in several thousand locations around the world. We’ll be licensed in the biggest brands, and MDC will be a standard feature in any quality shirt. goTIELESS, will be a full head-to-toe clothing line. Combined we’ll be generating 9-Figures.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
I am a big Grant Cardone fan, 10X, Sell or be Sold. I recently read the 3 Minute Rule, twice, by Brant Pinvidic right before our big pitch and it really helped! KISS is my favorite acronym which addresses this, Keep it Simple Stupid.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Number 1, stick with it. Most businesses fail because the owner gave up. Do the little things to keep you going. Do whatever it takes. If you are truly passionate about your project you will find the energy.
Always be looking for opportunities. We have pivoted as a company several times in reaction to the response from paying customers. You may think you have a great idea in one area, but it may be better suited in another, look at Velcro. My new favorite phrase is Open Minds, Open Doors.
Look into partnerships. It’s better to own a smaller percentage of a watermelon than all of a grape.
Build a passionate team. Money isn’t the only motivator. Sometimes the right person is inspired by the bigger picture. That is who needs to be near you.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
If this deal comes through we will look to expand our team. As I said, there are way too many opportunities on our plate for 2 of us to handle alone. We’ll be building out a sales team, customer support, marketing, all in-house.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
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