Peak Performers: The #1 Tie Alternative, Rob Kessler
What if I told you, you could look sharp but you never had to wear a tie again. Well, our guest today is going to talk about the #1 tie alternative as well as the unique way that he got his business to gain traction and ultimately to take off. Stay tuned you do not want to miss today's episode.
Announcer: Welcome to this edition of Peak Performance Podcast with your host Thor Conklin. Thor will be sharing the necessary tools, strategies and psychology you will need to become a peak performer in any area of your life or business.
Thor: Thor Conklin here we give you the tips, the tricks, the tools, the strategy, the technology and the psychology peak performers use in order to get more done and execute at the highest level. If you know what to do but struggle with getting it all done or simply want to raise your game to the next level this podcast is for you. Sit back and enjoy! Today's guest is Rob Kessler also known as the no tie guy. Rob is the inventor and founder of Million Dollar Collar which he began after his disappointment at how his dress shirt looked in his wedding photos. After a 2 1/2 year patented process, Rob moved to 130,000 dress shirts last year and seeks to move half a billion more in the next five years. So if you need help turning your idea into a successful business or just want to look sharp without that pesky tie than look no further. Rob thanks for joining us today. You know from time to time we have people on the show that are really on a crusade. And you're one of those crusaders, and your crusade is to eliminate tie wearing. Now we never had one of these crusaders on so what brought you to this point in your life and you're like I hate ties? I'm not going to wear a tie, I don't own a tie, I never want to see a tie again in my life.
Rob: I think it was probably my short stint as a car salesman.
Thor: Well those are polyester ties right? That's what most of the car salesmen wear?
Rob: It was the cheapest thing I could find because I was 23 years old and just trying to do what I could to make some money. I remember every morning just tying that stupid thing on and I would be like, "here we go again." It just seemed like that was the attitude for everybody who had to wear a tie, "I guess I'll put this on." In the olden days, I guess it was a sign of authority but nowadays who's really wearing ties? Bakers, lawyers, and politicians.
Thor: And profitability consultants, I wear one.
Rob:And profitability consultants, yes.
Thor:There you go. I'm sorry that I had to come after politicians there, I should have framed that differently. It's interesting, you know what I see for you also, I see a joint venture between you and Hermes. Coming to you at some point and saying the anti-tie guy we have to get this guy on one of our campaigns. The only tie he owns is a Hermes tie. It would be a great brand linkage right there.
Rob: I'm going to make as much noise in the marketplace as I can and hope that that call comes.
Thor: I love it. well, they have plenty of money. The amount of money they charge for their ties. All I want is credit afterward, five years from now just send me a little note. Bought a nice house, a chalet up on a mountain thanks to Hermes and thanks to the suggestion.
Rob: Lake Como and I'll send you the tie.
Thor: All right, it might be part of the contract where you might actually have to keep it. So one of the things I loved when I was going through your bio is, I get what seems like every week, I mentor for people who are not a right fit for me and the profitability consultant, I mentor young entrepreneurs. All the time I hear peoples say, I got this billion dollar idea, I have this million dollar, whatever it is. Ideas are cheap it's the execution on the ideas that matter and very few execute but you figured out how to do it. What I love in part of your bio is that it took you 3 years of research and development and getting this thing patented. Bring us through that process and for everyone that's listening out there that they think that everyone is an overnight success because all they see is a final last couple of minutes. It's the things that we do every single day in the dark that day in day out that just creates the product that you end up seeing and it's so many failures before you get to the success. Bring us through your journey.
Rob: Absolutely, so I was never really a tie guy as we had said, I got married 5 years ago and I was getting married in Jamaica on the beach, pants rolled up, feet in the sand and there was no way I was wearing a tie on my wedding day. I was going to be me on my wedding day. A good friend of mine was a photographer so we had him come down which means we got to see the photos right away, the next day. He took like 1500 photos. As I'm flipping through all of these pictures I just keep seeing my shirt looked terrible. I didn't even get to say "I Do" by the time it was a crumbled mess. It was a brand new, freshly pressed dress shirt. It was the epitome of a white wedding day dress shirt and I'm looking at all these photos and it pissed me off because I really hated the way that my shirt looked on the biggest day of my life.
So we came home from Jamaica, I found a dress shirt, I cut it open, I shoved a piece of cardboard down it and showed it to my new bride. Like a lightbulb went off over her head she goes " Ah I finally, I see what you're saying." I've been picturing this is in my mind for a long time. The shirt just needs something here to reinforce it, and she didn't get it and as much as I tried to describe it, it just wasn't happening. What I ended up doing then, obviously cardboard is not going to last in a dress shirt, so I started looking at every piece of plastic in my house, milk cartons, mini blinds, zip ties and everything I could find. Each time I'd shoved something else down in the shirt I would run it through the washer and dryer and then I would send it to the laundromat to get pressed and then I'd ruin another shirt. That's what kind of took 3 years, I tested everything I had access to and then I went and found a plastics distributor and I ordered all of their plastics and kept testing different patterns and different materials and then running it to the laundromat or the dry cleaner. It was 3 years, I was also running another company at the time so it was ... I was doing it when I could. We bootstrapped the whole launch of this company, that's probably why it took a little longer. It was just the way we had to do it to get to where we wanted to be.
Thor:Did I see it was 125,000 units shipped to 13,000 customers?
Rob: So we launched in January of 16. Just over two years it's at 130,000 sets. Most people order about a 10, it averages out to about 10 or 12 sets per order so about 13,000 customers in 90 countries.
Thor: Dude, that's impressive as hell.
Rob: It's crazy.
Rob: Countries come in and I'm like that's a country?
Thor: Yeah, that's right. This podcast is going out to 110 countries and it's like wow where did we miss?
Rob: Yeah, it's bizarre.
Thor: So I got to ask how did you do it so quickly?
Rob: We knew that the product was very visual and it was a demonstrable product so we went and found YouTube fashion influencers and just sent them the product and begged them to try it and we ended up getting on some really big guys. There following watchers those videos because they care about the way that they look and it just seemed to be the right fit for us. The beauty with YouTube is that video is always out there. Over the weekend they must have done some push because we got discount codes from all of those videos, from all of those guys over the weekend. So people are still finding it 2 years later in those videos.
Thor: Fascinating. Did you have to pay any of these influencers or is it just all please try it?
Rob: They do not work for free, no.
Thor: Okay. I get it no argument here. So tell us for new entrepreneurs starting out they have a product in the fashion industry and they want to get it out to these influencers, how do you go about doing that? What's the process? What's it going to cost them?
Rob: It depends. My advice is, it can get crazy expensive, so we got a guy that had been on Shark Tank a couple of times and he'd been very successful, he had 2 million subscribers. He was on the high end. My suggestion is to find somebody that's like 250,000 subscribers or less because I feel like their base is more loyal. They're following because they actually care about what he says, he's not some mainstream guy, they really follow and listen to what they say.
Thor: Interesting, so when you get up to the Jenners or something like that it's more hey I'm following because it's cool to follow them?
Rob: Yeah, I think it gets lost too if you want to follow the Jenners or the Kardashians. There's just, they're one of a bunch of people that you're probably following. You kind of see their stuff but not necessarily care about it. The guy that we did first he was about $1500 and he only had 220,000 and he was by far and away outsold the other 3 guys that we've used, by a long shot. I think it was because his base was so much more loyal and watching and actually cared about what he had to say.
Thor: Than you'll have actually an individual code for that influencer so you know where it came from?
Rob: Yeah, just so we can track where the sales are coming from.
Thor: Interesting and did they want anything on the back end as well? The actual sales?
Rob: I was shocked that they don't. They apparently get pitched that a lot and I am sure there are good products and there are bad products. They would have made a whole lot more had they done that with us which I would be happy to do because then I don't have to front so much money. It limits how much you can do when you have to front it all.
Thor: Yeah, I'm surprised that they didn't do that. So $1500 for 250,000 subscribers, do they put that out one video or was it part of something else that they did?
Rob:It was a fairly specific video about us. I think it's gotten almost a million views now. I think we're 2 1/2 million views on all the videos combined. I don't know how they recycle or how they get people to go back and watch those older ones. As they get new subscribers I'm sure they go back and watch. He's up to 2 million subscribers now in 2 years he's grown 10 times. He's one of the up and coming guys so.
Thor: That is fascinating. What other channels did you use?
Rob: YouTube was really the biggest. We went and did Instagram and we have all the social media stuff. Instagram we had a challenge with trying to get someone from a post to the page and use the link in the page to get to our site. It seemed like a longer process so we didn't really understand how to convert on Instagram quite as well. Facebook did okay as well but it was really for exposure. The YouTube Influencers is the way to go for sure.
Thor: And podcast. I mean this is free publicity.
Rob: This is newer for me, this is a new avenue and I love it.
Thor: Yeah and it's free. You don't even have to pay $1500.
Rob: Well I'll send you some products though.
Thor: Done. It's so funny that you say this because after you brought this up this is something I've been thinking about. I'm a tie guy, and I'll tell you why I'm a tie guy. I hate the way my shirts look when I don't wear a tie, that's a big part of it. I'll wear a button done because it keeps the collar in. I don't like a non-button down without a tie because it's flapping all over the place. I've got some really expensive casual/dress shirts, Bulgari and some other custom-made shirts. And it's funny because that's one of the things I'm always looking at is if the collar and the placket get all messy it just looks sloppy. I went to your site this is pretty cool I have to order some of these. Then I looked at some of the show notes, wait a second I'm getting a coupon at the end of this thing I'm like I'm holding off.
Rob: That's kind of one of the angles we pitch. We're the number 1 tie alternative. At the end of the day, I think that's what a lot of guys feel. It's the tie that has covered that area and until the last 10 years, 15 years it really wasn't a problem. As trends have gone to more casual look, the tie is no longer the focal point of a well-dressed man's outfit. It is now the placket which is the part of the shirt with the buttons and the holes. If that placket is a sloppy, crumbled mess, that's how you're representing yourself. With a tie, you know everything is fit and tight and where it should be. Million Dollar Collar fixes that problem because it reinforces that part of the shirt, so it can't be a sloppy, crumbled mess.
Thor:You know it was interesting while I was preparing for this show too I was starting to have a little bit of agita as well because I feel like I'm doing a fashion show and I'm kind of like a guys, guy. I'm a dude, guns, dirt bikes, let's get dirty, jeans. And I do, for work, get very dressed up but I was like we're going to be talking about shirts. I'm totally going to destroy my man credit.
Rob: I'm the same way man. I wear dress shirts fairly regularly but I also wear a good v neck and go play volleyball and go 4 wheeling and boating and whatever. It's where I expected or thought my ultimate goal, that's for sure.
Thor: Hang Tight: This will be continued.
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