This is a follow up story for Million Dollar Collar. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published almost 5 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
We are Million Dollar Collar, the world’s only placket stay. This gives much-needed structure to the placket (part with the buttons/holes) so that your collar doesn’t collapse the front of your shirt into a sloppy, disheveled mess. Think collar says, except 9” long, and it goes down the front of your shirt.
We’ve also launched our sister company, goTIELESS, which is the first shirt to be designed to be worn without a tie. The vast majority of dress shirts are worn casually, without a tie, yet no one has addressed the weak placket problem, so we did it ourselves.
We took the best-selling shirt in America, improved the fabric to a buttery-soft Bamboo Stretch with wrinkle resistance, added a convertible cuff, and of course Million Dollar Collar.
They are available in Light Blue, Black, and White or start from XS-XXXL in Slim or Classic Cuts. This will quickly become your favorite, go-to dress shirt, guaranteed.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to. Has the business been growing?
1% movement forward every day will get you a long way, and that has kept us going over all of these years.
Million Dollar Collar continues to work with brands to license the technology so they can upgrade the shirts you already know and love. Over the last year, we’ve partnered with a few international factories and some smaller brands. And some exciting developments are in the works.
Million Dollar Collar is about to reach 2 major milestones, 500,000 units sold and $1M in revenue. It has been a long, hard-fought battle, but we are here, and we’re getting noticed more and more every day. 1% movement forward every day will get you a long way, and that has kept us going over all of these years.
goTIELESS has been on the move as well. After 3 earlier versions of the shirts, we’ve finally nailed down the right mix of fabric, fit, and style. The shirts are selling so well, we’ve had to re-order inventory within the first 90 days as we’ve sold out of a few sizes.
Due to the exceptional reception of the shirts, we’ve hired an outside sales team to get us placed into major national retailers. That has been very exciting. We are currently negotiating with a few stores. We just want to make it as easy as possible to try our products.
What have been your biggest challenges in the last year?
Challenges have been pretty minimal. Making our shirts is a major challenge, and I think we were in our way a bit. We found a great guy to represent our brand at his factory, and it helped the process. It was hard to send shirt after shirt to get it right, and the $100 shipments can add up quickly, but it’s all worth it in the end.
Of course, we have boot-strapped this endeavor so sometimes it is hard to decide on what is most important and what needs the most attention.
Sometimes the long-term play is the best, but we also need to generate cash to stay alive. That balancing act can get tricky at times.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Just go for it. It only seems daunting because you haven’t started. On a personal note, I built a 12’ x 24’ building this year for my wife. I mean, I have never done that before, but it started with the foundation, then some floor joists, then the sub-floor, then walls, then a roof. It’s just one thing after another, keep going, sometimes, you have to re-do and start over, but you will do that because you learned how to do it right or make it better.
Most people are so scared they never even take the first step. When all is said and done, I will have shifted a $20B dress shirt industry to recognize the shortcomings of the product and sell to what the market needs. That started with some bad wedding photos, a dress shirt, and a piece of cardboard.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
Our main focus has certainly shifted to goTIELESS. Now that we have a shirt you can buy and wear, it changes everything. The messaging is cleaner, the focus is narrowed. We call goTIELESS, “The Home of Business Casual.” We want to be a one-stop shop for you to go to get the business casual clothing you need to live your life. From our game-changing shirts to pants, shoes, and accessories.
No one has ever really defined business casual, we’re going to do it, and give you a place to go to know that you’ll be the best dress guy in the room. Effortless Class is what you will find with all goTIELESS products going forward.
We recently acquired FLXCUF, a brilliant product that holds your cuff at your elbow with a single fold. If you have a shirt with a cool contrast cuff, or you just like your sleeves rolled and tidy, this product is for you. It consists of a button, a hole, and a piece of elastic. It connects to your cuff and they come in 8 amazing colors. I never wear a dress shirt without them on. And for only $9.99, they are a great accessory.
What’s the best thing you read in the last year?
I went back to an oldie but a goodie, Blue Ocean Strategy. We’re out here creating a new category and trying to disrupt a massive industry, one shirt at a time. This book helps keep things in perspective.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Stick with it. If you are in it for the right reasons, this won’t be hard. If you are chasing the almighty dollar, it will get boring and be easy to give up. But if you are passionate about what you are building as a company, and put the customer first, you’ll find the energy to keep moving forward.
Just 1% per day is all you need to make a big difference.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We’ve kept our team pretty tight, but hopefully, some of the retail opportunities come through this year and we’ll need to expand. We’ll need a warehouse with distribution, marketing, accounting, and more.
Stay tuned, it could be a great year for growth.
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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