This is a follow up story for Highway Robery. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 4 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
My name is Evan Streusand, and my wife Jackie and I started a robe company called Highway Robery. We make robes using deadstock fabrics that are one-size and gender-neutral.
Our sales grew 330% in 2020!
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
In 2020 our sales grew 330% from the previous year. The pandemic kept a lot of people at home and those people wanted robes to wear while at home. Like some other businesses - athletic wear, home goods, etc., our business saw a huge spike in sales with so many people working from home. This wasn’t the case for my other business (Fortress Shoes), where we make shoes typically for going out, going to work, on dates, etc. We experienced both sides of the spectrum regarding running a business during a global pandemic.
Our growth in sales also (and not coincidentally) started when we invested more money into our product photography. Before 2020, we were lacking in good product photos (and we knew it), so we decided to bring in a more experienced product photographer. She brought our colorful robes to life. Invest in good product photography! You’ve gotta make whatever you’re selling sing.
As our sales increased we began to put more money into digital advertising, which kicked things into high gear.
We haven’t launched this yet, but later in 2021, we will launch robes with inclusive sizing. One of the main points of feedback we’ve gotten over the last few years is that while our robes do fit a lot of people, they do not fit everyone. We aim to change that this year.
Emails have remained a large part of our marketing efforts. Our emails are playful and funny and silly and tend to utilize gifs, bad puns, and poems. You should sign up.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Keep robes in production! We had a couple of instances where we sold out of robes and had to wait weeks for new inventory. This was totally on us, but to be fair we didn’t expect the level of growth we saw. We’re in a good flow now, but we missed some opportunities for sales.
Mentioned this previously, but with so many people working from home, we were insanely fortunate to be running a business that catered to a need/want of the buying public.
We had a pretty crazy year - bought a house and welcomed our second child (a girl!) into the world.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
We’re working on a new collaboration, but it’s still in the very early stages. Our big plan though is our more inclusive-sized robe. There seems to be pent-up demand, and we are excited for more wonderful people to be able to wear our robes.
Don’t keep chasing the thing if you know deep down it isn’t gonna happen. Don’t be afraid to cut bait and start anew.
Other than that we are excited to keep discovering new photographers to work with.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
A few months back I read The Attention Merchants about the history of advertising and the quest to get our collective attention through various forms of media.
I’m in the middle of Forget the Alamo, which is (you guessed it) about the Alamo. But it’s a book that sets the record straight as to what led to it, who the primary participants were, and how the story of what happened got twisted and mythologized over time. As a lifelong Texan, it’s been eye-opening, to say the least, and it does a great job at showing you how myths are born. I can’t put it down.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
If you believe in what you’re doing, just keep at it! Even if the thing you originally dreamed up isn’t the thing it ends up being, you’ll get somewhere new by following through. That said, don’t keep chasing the thing if you know deep down it isn’t gonna happen. Don’t be afraid to cut bait and start anew.
Where can we go to learn more?
Check out our instagram and sign up for our emails! They’re fun.
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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