We’re selling an experience.
I read celebrity fashion blogs. SO SUE ME. We all have our thing, okay? Anyway, for the most part, celebrities wear Givenchy dresses and carry Marc Jacobs handbags and the bloggers, I imagine, get kind of bored covering Givenchy and Marc Jacobs. So imagine their delight when Katy Perry stepped out in public one day wearing a pizza onesie.
Now imagine the delight of Jeremiah Robison, founder of Beloved Shirts, when Katy Perry’s assistant emailed and explained that Katy Perry loved the pizza onesie she saw on the Beloved Shirts website and was wondering if she could get an order expedited. Robison overnighted the onesie for free and it was a few days later that the blogosphere exploded with images of KP as a pepperoni pizza, a big moment for Robison and his company.
Robison had another big moment on March 11 of this year when he appeared on Shark Tank. “I was very relieved with how they portrayed the company,” Robison says, explaining that while the Q&A lasted an hour, the segment was edited down to just a few minutes. “I feel like I survived the tank for sure,” Robison says. His strategy was to be extra nice to the sharks so they would be nice in return. “Don’t try to be too cocky about the business or the brand,” Robison advises.
Ultimately, Robison walked out of the tank without a deal, but not because a deal wasn’t offered. Robison told the sharks he was seeking $175,00 in exchange for a 5% stake in the company. Daymond offered $175,000 for a 25% stake in the company, and while Robison was willing to go as high as 15% equity, Daymond wouldn’t budge. “I’m glad I didn’t take the deal. I didn’t think it was fair,” Robison says. And he didn’t come away from the experience empty handed. Shark Lori advised him to hone in on top-selling items that could be shipped immediately, something Robison has since done.
Robison and his team have also made progress with their manufacturer and significantly reduced their turn around time. The company’s goal is to boost their conversion rate as currently, as Robison explained to the sharks, only 1% of traffic turns into a buyer. “If we change that to 2% it doubles our sales,” he says. So the focus now is optimizing the website with an emphasis on mobile.
The journey to Katy Perry’s closet and the tank full of sharks started two-and-a-half years ago when Robison ordered custom soccer jerseys that he hoped would intimidate opposing teams. He was blown away when the ordered product arrived and he decided to order more samples. He then posted the samples on his Instagram account and watched the response explode. “I knew I should start a business,” Robison says. So he spent $300 and started taking orders.
In the beginning Robison did the designs himself, then he hired a few royalty-based artists, and now he has a full-time in-house designer in California. His brand continues to work with Katy Perry, who collaborated on a custom collection, as well as Miley Cyrus and the Kardashians, who bring a lot of attention from bloggers and consumers alike to Beloved Shirts apparel. “We’re selling an experience,” Robison says, and it’s an experience people are buying.
Robison recently bought a building in downtown Provo and plans to build a store. “We’re so in love with downtown Provo and the startup scene,” he says. As for me, my love lies with this North Korea Hoodie.
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