Recently I had the honour of being interviewed by Kelsey Jorssen, of Jorssen Marketing, for her interview series on unique, independent bands and the people behind them. Check out the interview below.
Thank you Kelsey for the opportunity to share my story.
Haberdasher & Co. : Creating a Gentlemen's Brand
Well...we reached out to another brand whose branding we thought was on point and this time, hoping to interview a man to add variety to our pre-existing interviews. This is the second time this has happened now where in fact it, we discovered that a woman was the mastermind behind the company. This makes Haberdasher & Co. even more compelling because they're demonstrating that their branding is on point in reaching their target customer: men who need to be suited up.
Meet Bobbie Long: founder and operator of Haberdasher & Co. She believes in not only making men look boss, but enhancing the overall shopping experience as soon as you enter the door. Would you like a scotch while you get your measurements? Yes, please!
1. You’ve lived here for 12 years. Where did you come from before and what is your work background?
I moved to Vancouver because I thought I was going to be a rock star (laughs)! Not that I play any instruments or sing! In Calgary I worked in the restaurant industry, as well as for a couple of event and concert promoters, which allowed me to be a VIP Host for many rock stars and celebrities. I wanted to do that here, but when I got to Vancouver the city was going through a major transition in the live music scene and many of the iconic live music venues were being closed or torn down, and the ones that were remaining were largely catering to DJ’s and EDM. I spent about a year working nights and weekend with a local promoter, while maintaining an office job. But finally gave up on the dream when it started to become more of a volunteer job. I stayed in the office job for a few more years, but felt like it was sucking the life out of me, so much to my chagrin, I ended up going back to the restaurant industry. Which was not fulfilling and I wanted out for good. One day I received a program guide in the mail for Langara College and they were offering a new program called, Image Consulting. Something inside me clicked and I knew I had to take the course. So I registered.
2. Why menswear?
The Image Consulting program was largely focused on styling women. Throughout the course, I kept finding myself doing my assignments for men. One day my instructor pulled me aside and said that I could do very well in men’s fashion, but needed more education, as menswear is quite technical, and could get it by working in retail. Shortly after the course was done, I was hired at Dunn’s Tailors and had an amazing opportunity to learn from people who had been in the industry for decades. But I wasn’t being fulfilled with my mediocre retail job that wasn’t utilizing my talents, or forward thinking with its direction. And at that time, men’s fashion was changing rapidly, and as a business, you embrace the change, or you sit on the sidelines and watch it happen. Which was the case with that company. Then through a crazy turn of events, (ask me about the story in person) I ended up working at the dream job that I envisioned in my mind, but didn’t know existed, until I started working at a newly re-branded menswear store in West Vancouver, called Baracos+Brand. Which ended up being a quite the serendipitous opportunity.
3. Being a business woman, how do you find it connecting with men through your brand?
Men don’t have the same body image issues that most women have. And when they don’t know how to do something, they will pay an expert to help them take away the pain, and in this case, make them look good. I can tell men what to wear and they trust me, because I guarantee compliments. I tried working with women, but I think you need a psychology degree to deal with their deeply rooted body image issues. And that is not something that is going to change in the change room. I realized early on that it was just not for me.
4. We loved seeing that you are giving back through the Mission Possible charity and creating a unique event called the “Gentlemen’s Evening”. Tell us a little more about it?
The Gentlemen’s Evening has been on my mind pretty much since I started working in men’s fashion. I’ve done smaller events with Baracos+Brand, but nothing to this scale. I even had it in my business plan. And then six months into my business I got a call from a fellow who is the Brand Ambassador for Absolut Elyx, he wanted to come by and check out the studio. Once we met, he explained how they want to partner with Gentlemen’s brands like mine to host events. This was like a dream come true. I believe in manifesting and this was proof. Partnering with them allowed me to make the event even greater than I originally envisioned.
I’m a big proponent of giving back to the community and when you are fortunate enough to host such an event, it is an important to leverage it and create an opportunity to raise money for your favourite charity. Mine is Mission Possible, an incredible organization in the downtown east side that is helping people gain the skills and experience to find meaningful work.
So I created an interactive way to raise the money at the event. We provided a by donation head shot photo booth, a shoe cobbler shined shoes, and a Barber provided clean up cuts, the guys loved it! We also sold raffle tickets to win a free suit. We raised over $1,100 and one of our amazing vendors donated 100 pairs of socks. It was such a proud moment when I was able to present Mission Possible with the cheque and socks. I can’t wait to do it again and raise even more money!
5. Growth for future events??
I had amazing feedback after the first event. I thought it would be an annual event, but I now think I’m going to host it twice a year. Which is also a great way to showcase the seasonal in-stock collections. We are tentatively planning another one for this Spring. Having said that, I have other events in the queue, such as a customer appreciation Glenlivet Master Class. I’m in a unique situation where I need to come up with creative ways to introduce myself to new potential clients. And what better way to have gentlemen come together with great food, booze, music and networking. We’re seeing more gentlemen-inspired events happen and I think it’s great. They’re different from sporting events, because it's more refined and sophisticated. I believe men in this city are becoming more that way.
6. How does your brand differ from the competition like, Top Shop or Indochino from a community relations perspective?
First of all, I don’t put them in a traditional role of what competition would be. To be diplomatic, I’ll just say that I often end up with their former customers, due to their lack of quality products and service. But what I do give them credit for, is turning the industry on it’s head and pushing it to make custom clothing more approachable and cost effective for the consumer. Five years ago, made to measure clothing was very expensive and out of reach for the average consumer. It was them that catalyzed me to open my business, I wanted to provide not just quality products, but also expertise in styling and tailoring. Which I think is greatly lacking in men’s fashion. Men are being undeserved and I want to change that.
I want H&Co. to be known as a trusted men’s lifestyle brand that provides quality clothing, services and informative content. I’d like to have several different locations throughout the country, with passionate people helping men live, look and feel their best. Keeping it small and authentic. I think there’s a lot of in-authenticity in retail.
7. What’s a typical day for you?
Ahaha there’s not a typical day. Every day is so different. I’m in the process of really trying to streamline my days and be more disciplined with my actions. I’d like to get to a point where I have more ‘regular’ days. Right now, that’s not entirely the case. Some of my actions are to get up earlier (5am), because there’s just not enough time in the day between social media, blogs, newsletters, sales calls, fittings, networking and everything else that I get to do as a Solopreneur. I can’t take my business to the next level if I continue on the same route. It’s gettin’ real!
8. Which is why you’re waking up at 5am?
Trust me, I’m trying (laughing) it’s so outside of my comfort zone! 6am is more comfortable. I wake up at 5am, in my warm cozy bed, and say to myself, “You need to be disciplined and get out of bed”. Then I’m like f**k it, and go back to sleep for an hour. I think I’ll be more successful at getting up at 5am during Spring/Summer. I suck at Fall/Winter. Most of what you do as a business owner, is not easy or glamorous, but you have to push yourself to do it anyway, because that’s when magic happens.
9. Advice for new business owners?
Surround yourself with loving and supportive people that will encourage and lift you every step of the way, because there will be moments when you forget to believe in your yourself. Practicing discipline is also very important, because at the end of the day, you must be your own boss, coach, cheerleader, etc. Make discipline your religion. This is something I work on everyday!
Okay guys, so we know you don't love shopping and are prone to leaving Christmas shopping until the last minute. So to help you save time and still get kick ass gifts for everyone on your list, we've put together a list of our favourite local businesses, because when you shop local, you support your community! And the best part, you can shop online, but get your orders in soon, to ensure that your items get delivered in time for Christmas.
For the Cocktail aficionado, Sips Cocktail Emporium has a everything, but the booze, to help you find great gifts and socking suffers that will compliment any bar-cart. Visit their shop at 339 E Broadway in Vancouver or shop online.
Give a gift that keeps on giving. The gift of mindfulness and presence, with a Moment Meditation pass. Purchase a personalized gift certificate online, or visit their studio located in Gastown at 310- 207 West Hastings Street.
Good skincare is a necessity for everyone, not just Women, that is why our friends at Di Morelli Skincare are on this list, not only are they a local skincare company, but their products have been developed by Dr. R.W. Morell, renowned skincare Physician.
Their Holiday gift packs make for a great stocking stuffer.
For the sock lover, check out our favourite local sock and accessories company, Wolf Clothing Co. Shop online and use promo code: Wolf to receive 15% off your order.
Not only do they have great products, but they also have big hearts. Thank you to Wolf Clothing Co. for donating a 100 pairs of socks on our behalf, to our friends at Mission Possible in the Downtown Eastside.
The SELF Journal helps organize and align your tactical day-to-day tasks with your larger life goals. And I guarantee whom ever you get this planner/journal for, they will love it and love you even more for it!
Last, but certainly not least, donations to local charities in the name of the person you're gifting, is such a beautiful way to give and give back at such a difficult time of year for so many.
A couple of charities that are near and dear to us, are the following:
We wish you and yours all the best for the holidays and for a prosperous 2017!
On 11.16.16 just over a hundred dapper Vancouver men, attended Haberdasher & Co.'s first Gentlemen's Evening, and they all showed up dressed like gentlemen. It was extraordinary! Some were friends and clients and some we hadn't met before, but had the pleasure of meeting.
Our friends Lachlan & Emily Photography and Mitch Platt from the Quick Cobbler provided the gentlemen Headshots and Shoe Shines, by donation with all proceeds going to Mission Possible. We also sold raffle tickets for a free Suit from Haberdasher & Co.
Thanks to the generosity of everyone in attendance, we were able to raise just over $1100 for Mission Possible!
Thanks to our friends at Di Morelli for all the generous skincare samples they provided to our guests at the event. And have also provided for our in-store clients...ask us how you can get yours!
The amazing Gentlemen at Wolf Clothing Co. setup shop and sold their socks and accessories. For every pair of socks sold between Nov 16th and Christmas, they are donating a pair to our friends at Mission Possible! That is amazing fellows, thank you! Please consider supporting them when your purchasing socks for yourself or as a gift this holiday season.
GentStone also setup shop with their beautiful handmade gentlemen's bracelets helped our guests find the perfect one for their style. Thank you for your beautiful gentlemen accessories!
And of course our dear friends at Goorin Bros. were there, helping the gents find the perfect hat and fit, because every fellow needs a nice hat.
And last but certainly not least, the talented and dapper Prevail, entertained the crowd with his spoken word poem of Pandora's Box.
Congratulations to our Raffle & Door Prize Winners
Nano Clow for Winning the Absolut Elyx gift basket, provided by Brand Ambassador Jacob Sweetapple
A big congratulations to the Grand Prize Winner, Aman from Stiffy's & Co. for Winning a suit provided by Haberdasher & Co.! We look forward to suiting you up!
A heartfelt thank you to everyone who helped promote and organize the event and an even bigger thank you to everyone who attended! We can't wait to do it again!
Visit our Facebook page to view the entire album of photos from the event.
Thank you to the following people for their generous contributions to the evening.
Jacob Sweetapple, Absolut Elyx Brand Ambassador - Thank you for making this happen!
Ketih Trusler, The Glenlivet Brand Ambassador - For your generous pours.
Nadine McDowell from Level Concepts - For keeping me organized.
Trevor Kallies from the Donnelly Group - For your magnificently manly space.
Prevail - For your spoken word of Pandora's Box.
Brady Dahmer from Central Branch - For all your help with the graphics and H&Co. branding.
Kris Alexander from Mission Possible - For all your work with MP.
Eyoalha Photography - For capturing the evening so beautifully.
Mitch from the Quick Cobbler - For all the shoes you shined!
Lachlan & Emily Photography - For the amazing head shots you took at the event.
DiMorelli - For all the skin care samples you provided.
Wolf Clothing Co. - For you generous sock contribution to Mission Possible.
GentStone - For your beautiful Gentlemen accessories.
Val & Nano from the Vancouver Style Guys - For helping promote the event.
Christine Baracos & Maureen Elliott - For being amazing friends and representing H&Co.
Reghan Blake & Alexandra Thompson - For all the raffle tickets you sold! You ROCK!