Retail Retold Replay: Taylor Offer, Founder of Feat Clothing in Santa Monica, CA
Chris Ressa 0:00:
This is retail retold the story of how that store ended up in your neighborhood. I’m your host, Chris ReSSA. And I invite you to join my conversation with some of the retail industry’s biggest influencers. This podcast is brought to you by DLC management.
Welcome to retail retold everyone. Today I am joined by Taylor Offer. Taylor is the founder of Feat. He is a social media mogul. I am excited for him to be here. Welcome to the show, Taylor.
Taylor Offer 0:32:
Hey, thanks for having me excited to be on.
So Taylor, tell us a little bit about you and what you do.
So I do a lot of things, my main thing I do is I run a company called Feat. That done for seven years now started in the college dorm room. And now we’re opening our first retail stores, growing the team a lot. And it’s an exciting time. So with Feat, we make extremely soft and comfortable clothes, the softest clothing you ever feel. But the thesis behind it is it’s closed that you could feel good. And also go wherever you want to go in. So it seemed like there was this mix where you either could be super comfy and look like a slob. Or you can be really put together wearing a button down look great, but not feel comfortable. So the idea is to feel comfortable, and look good wherever you go.
Interesting. So I got a lot of questions about it. I’ll get to that. I’ll get to them. But I’m going to start out with a couple. So one. There’s so many new brands that have come up, and especially in the lifestyle space. Do you do you see competition out there for like who do you consider competition? Do you see competition out there? Or do you feel you’re so unique? Where do you think competition lies? Or is it like are you like Budweiser? Who thinks they’re they’re competing for throat share with everybody?
Yeah, so I think I mean, competition is anyone I look at a more macro competition is wherever anyone’s spending dollars that they have. That’s competition. So there are there’s a lot of competition out there. In terms of clothing. There’s a lot of competition in different parts of our business. You know, if you want to buy a hoodie, there are a lot of places to buy a hoodie. If you want to buy a comfortable pair of joggers, there are a lot of places to buy comfortable joggers. So there’s a lot of competition in the loungewear or on the activewear. Where I think we differentiate is there’s with directly with exactly what we’re doing in terms of our brand, our products, our fabrics, there’s no one who is the same as us. We stand out there. But in terms of clothing in general, and there’s competition everywhere. So that’s why it’s so important to stand out have a brand people love have fabrics, people love products, people love the right fit. So like right silhouettes, right? colorways so that’s how we really stand out.
Understood, you have a fashion background or you know, you know, how did you decide clothing.
Offer 3:09 So I don’t have a fashion background, we actually started the company, myself, my co-founder when we were in college, I got into clothing. Freshman year, I joined a fraternity and they made me buy this $15 t-shirt for the first event. And then next week, there’s another event that maybe buy another $15 t-shirt and I was like this is I’m going to lose I don’t have this much money. I’m gonna run out of money buying these different t-shirts for these different events. So I figured out how to make them for cheaper. As when I was pledging until my fraternity I was like, hey, I want to make the shirts for all the fraternity realized I could make up for like three bucks and select the paternity for 15 make $12 a shirt on 200 units so 200 times 12 You know you’re looking at $2,400 Straight profit in college. So this was my fraternity started doing other fraternities and sororities ended up driving cross country from Los Angeles to Massachusetts my sophomore year, stopping every fraternity and sorority door to door every single Greek row Arizona Arizona State, Texas LSU Auburn Alabama and just signing a different account saying how much you make your shirts for I can make them cheaper because I no middleman. And that’s how I got into fashion. My freshman year making shirts for all the fraternities and sororities across the country.
Wow, that’s really cool story. Okay, I want to stop us there. I want to take this partial we call clear the air. I got three fun questions. Are you ready? Let’s go. Alright, question one. When is the last time you tried something for the first time.
I tried to try things for the first time every single day. So whether it’s an interesting food, new workout activity, I love doing all different types of workout activity. I think the most important thing I could do as entrepreneur is try something new every single day and get as much exposure to as much different things and I look at my computer, my brain like a computer. It’s it’s aI so you’re just trying to put new inputs into it that it could pull on in different ways. So the thing I’m trying for the first time right now is building our first retail store. out, which is really fun. So, but I tried to get exposure to everything, go to different countries, learn different cultures try different things. And the more I can learn and see the more different references I could pull on when I’m creating.
Excellent. Okay, question two, what is one skill you don’t possess but what you did.
It’s one skill I don’t possess, which I wish I did. Most of the things I don’t possess, I tried to gain. So you know, there was a while where I always thought of myself as tone deaf, and I couldn’t be musical at all. But I just started studying it. And what I’ve learned is like, I, I don’t think that people are born with skills that you can’t acquire any skills you want, you can go acquire, like I was never flexible. And the past year, I’ve been going to yoga almost every single day. And I’m like, well, I could become that flexible. So the two things I’m working on are flexibility, and music. I like to try to figure out whatever my weaknesses are, and then turn them into strengths despite hard work and figuring things out.
Great answer! Hasyoga helped you mentally and for business? Do you think?
Yoga has helped my life more than anything that I could ever imagine? There’s something about doing yoga, and yoga is something that when you’re doing it, you don’t see results right away. And it’s extremely painful, every single day. And it’s very hard, so ingrained in your mindset, doing things over and over again, that you don’t see instant results that it compounds over time. And just sitting in difficult situations and being in difficult poses. It’s given me the strength to mentally when I’m in difficult things, just breathe through it, and you’re gonna just say breathe through it, you just gotta breathe. So I’ve taken that to everyday life. And it’s been really powerful.
Cool. I’ve done some hot yoga, not consistently, but I’ve liked the some of the hot yoga I did, but haven’t been a practicing yogi. That’s for sure. Okay, last question. What is one thing you agree with, but most people do not agree with?
I think it’s the idea that anything is possible, like literally anything. And I have some friends who are extremely successful. And they share the same mindset where it’s like, you know, if they want to go be an astronaut, they can go to train to be an astronaut. Like, I still think if I want to play an NBA, I’m 28 years old, but I’m five foot 11. And I can’t jump. But I think if I set my mind to it, I can go play in the NBA. And people think that’s crazy. But like, I just think the power of dedication. If you set your mind to anything, you can go do absolutely anything. You want to gain a million followers on social media, set your mind to it, you’ll make it happen. You want to become a billionaire, set your mind to it. So I really do believe that anything’s possible. The power of mindset.
I love it. Okay, thank you for playing that with me. Let’s get into the story of feet. So I’m really intrigued by this story of feet started out selling T shirts to frats across the country. Now this really big, DTC brand. Tell us a little bit more about fi how it got going, how it grew? And what led you to a physical location.
Yeah, so Feat started in college. This is 2014, which is a lot different time. It’s crazy to think about how much the landscape has changed in the past eight years, seven or eight years. At the time. We were e-commerce wasn’t really a thing. Influencers weren’t really a thing. I remember so well, we’re getting started. We had people from Facebook emailing us, Hey, here’s $30,000 in Facebook ad credits, try advertising on our new platform. And we would just like not even respond to those emails. Why would anyone ever advertise on Facebook? That’s so crazy. So just crazy to see how the it’s shifted so much in so many ways. But yes, scale the company over the years, wrote a lot of the digital wave of the digital marketing resources available like Facebook, Instagram, the the great opportunities to scale a company extremely quickly with digital channels. In the past year, we’ve really got to the scale where we’re at the scale where it makes sense to go to retail, and opened our first retail stores. We have the brand awareness, we have the back end in supply chain, and we have the team that can manage it at scale. And we have the financial resources too. So it’s really exciting. We’re gonna be opening up two stores this year, Los Angeles in San Diego, I’m in Los Angeles, my co founders in San Diego, and hopefully get to 10 stores in the next 12 months, depending on how successful we could show profit on these stores. And how much we could systemize scaling them so definitely interesting time for retail and an omni channel approach.
Yeah, for sure. So I I live my life a lot in there. So when you were, well what’s backup so So, how many employees now you keep mentioning team, how many employees are you guys at now?
We have about 10 people full-time right now. And then a handful of contractors, agencies, and other people we leverage so any given day, you know, we can have 20 to 50 people working on fate.
Wow. And the whole, I’m curious how you went from the fraternity to how you started, like manufacturing and getting your own, and really getting that whole supply chain down.
Yeah, supply chain is really difficult. And the only way to learn is the school of hard knocks. And it’s tough, especially working with manufacturers as you’re scaling. We got burned often. And I remember so well. We started with socks, I was our first product. And we ordered at first we’re just going to TJ Maxx and Marshalls and buying a bunch of Nike socks and Adidas socks, a discount and then printing designs on them. And that’s how we started. Finally got big enough to place an order overseas with China ordered 5000 units. They came perfectly. They came fast. We were excited. We sold through those 5000 units made had about $50,000 in cash. We sold about 10 bollock $10, a pair took that whole $50,000. And when about 20,000 units took all the money we made over the past couple of months set that same factory, the 20,000 units came, we had no cash, we have 20,000 units that hit our way this little warehouse in college. And the 20,000 units, they had no spandex on them. So they stretch. So they’re like almost impossible. Put them on your feet. So that has at the point, like we’re working this business for almost a year. Now we had no money, but we had 20,000 units of socks that you couldn’t put on your feet, oh my God, my friends would literally cut them off to get them off at night. Like in college, they go out, they go drinking, they come home, they couldn’t get their socks off, and they would cut them off. They’re that bad. So it’s hard. It’s bloated. It’s difficult. It’s you got to go inch by inch. You can’t you can’t grow too fast. Because you tried to make that jump too quickly. You know, there’s there’s so much potential liability. So yeah, it’s tough. It’s seven, eight years in the making.
So that was an unbelievable story there. I guess. If you after that point, what did you end up doing? How did you get? When did you get like your supply chain kind of like working like in a rhythm?
Offer 12:28 :
It’s still not working. It’s, it’s still it’s still going on? We’re still getting it working on the rhythm. It’s, yeah. It’s like it seems like as soon as you get it, it’s always liable to be out of rhythm. As soon as you get in the rhythm things happen, right? So like, we got into pretty good rhythm about 18 months ago, two years ago. And then the cost to ship stuff in containers went from 3000 to $20,000. And we couldn’t even get shipments in. So it’s like everything that can go wrong will go wrong, and continue to go wrong. Luckily, I’ve been able to hire people who are more experts than me and who have the bandwidth to be able to be more on top of it. But supply chain, it’s like it’s everything that can go wrong will go wrong. So yeah, it’s never in rhythm, unfortunately.
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So you scale it up? And are all the products feed products? Do you sell other products or is it completely DTC?
Just us right now, just direct to consumer as we open up retail stores, we’ll probably put little like tchotchkes or whatever it is, you know, little candles or you know, different items like that. Maybe some glasses, lip balm, whatever it is, but right now, just only our products.
Ressa 14:46 And have you wholesale out to anyone, whether it be Amazon Macy’s, anybody.
Yeah, we’re starting to get into wholesale. We’re starting to pre-book for spring 23 Over the past years we’ve scaled so well. digitally, we’re getting you know, 10s or hundreds of millions of impressions every month on our brand digitally. We’ve had a lot of inbound demand from wholesalers. It’s never been in the strategy until recently, we decided to go more omni-channel with our approach. So yes, we are opening up select wholesale, we’re in a good spot where we can be choosy with who we want to work with. And we have inbound demand from almost every major wholesale account possible, whether it’s traditional, mom and pops, b2b stuff. So a lot of interesting opportunities on the wholesale side. And luckily, we get to there all at the table, we get to choose which ones make the most sense.
Very cool. And, and so you land in deciding to go retail, and you made a post that had some morality to it that said, you thought you’d never go into retail. Now you’re going into retail. I’m curious what the what the turning point for you to decide to open up a physical location was, and then how you land in Santa Monica.
So I think a physical location is long overdue for our brand, we think about the amount of impressions and touch points our brands had in the digital world. It’s really been lacking in the in the physical world. So it was very unbalanced how so many people knew us in the digital world, but no one knew where we are in the physical world. And the physical world is a great place to really tell your brand story a lot better in a physical space, like humans are free to we need to see and touch and feel you can’t just look at things on a screen on a four and a half inch screen on your iPhone. So retail is definitely long overdue. We finally had the bandwidth and resources to really tackle it. And and to be able to do the things that we needed to do to make it awesome. So that was the the Genesis into retail. us the second part of the question, which I forgot.
Why Santa Monica?
Yeah. So I grew up in Los Angeles. And I have a very strong community here, network of massive influencers, celebrities, musicians, and professional athletes who I know out here. And that just kind of brings the energy of the store for different events and different things we’re doing. So it makes sense to be here with all these people I know here to be in the store to kind of create the energy and vibe here. And then why Santa Monica? Why Main Street particular? We wanted to be on the west side. Our brand is not West Hollywood or downtown. Our brand is beachy, Los Angeles, California, which you have to be on the west side, which you pretty much in your options are Venice or Santa Monica. And then within those two places, your options are really Abbot Kinney, or Main Street. Abbot Kinney, we looked at there wasn’t much availability, and it was about 15 bucks a square foot. So you’re like we’re looking to get 2300 square foot place that was close to like 35 grand a month. Mainstream is about a third of that price. And I thought it was more up and coming juneshine just opened a really cool kombucha hard can Bucha bar here. AB international but a really cool store down the street. That’s called AB and AB donation ride where they have like a whole cycling studio in the back. It’s a cool spot. It’s up and running. And I think it really fits the brand.
Excellent. And you want to open 10 new set in the next 12 months. Can we expect them all to be Beachy?
Not necessarily Beachy.
No, I really don’t think coastal markets. You know, Beach is a strong part of our brand. But I think ski towns are cool. Destination spots are really cool. I love things like Jackson Hole, or some of these cool, really cool towns in Colorado that just have so much soul and heart to them. As well as cities like you know that we have large customer bases like Chicago or Nashville or Atlanta. So, yeah, it’s gonna be all over the US.
So I’m familiar with how a lot of the DTC you know, some of the larger DTC brands today how they started their physical one, one of the things they typically do is they use all their data and they’re like, the, I would say the first stores typically safe which they, they take and they go okay, majority of our customers come from, you know, bias from Denver. So a safe spot for us to really connect with our consumers extend our brand would be Denver. And then as they grow, the next space they go to they open more and more white spaces, they go down the list of the most and then they some of them start to go into like local like cities or local like markets were like, Okay, we don’t have any people in Minneapolis really buying from us. But you know, the demographic inside psychographics is very similar to Chicago. And so that’s where we’re going to open a physical store next and that those are like the two, you know, two of the approaches that I see often from the DTC brands. Well, listen, man, really exciting, really cool. I think one of the things you mentioned all the how you scaled through digital marketing and all the social media channels, I think, you know, I came across you, you know, I’m in the retail space, through and through, and I didn’t know you from that. And I know you had a DTC brand, I followed you, because you’re all over social media, and you put out really interesting content and ways to improve. So you know, your social media game. You have a LinkedIn book that was really entrepreneurial that you went and created that. Tell us about your social media experience, both for the brand and for you personally, because you intermix them off it.
I think it’s important to know that consumers like knowing who’s behind the brand, what their values are, who they are, what they stand for, I think a great example is Elon Musk and Tesla, where a lot of people love Elon Musk. And that makes them love Tesla, and they’re almost one on the same.
On the flip side, you know, if an entrepreneur has a negative brand, it can be very negative associated with them, like Mark Zuckerberg, for example, gets a lot of negativity, with the negative brand with Facebook, that they’re, some of the things are happy. So I think it’s important for every founder to have personal brand support to know who’s behind companies you’re buying from, to make sure your values align with their founders.
So I’ve always prioritized building our social brands, and our company’s brand, but also my own and saying, like, hey, you know, I’m proud of what it is, and I’m proud of who I am. And I want to, I want to align the two pretty well. And I want, you know, people to align with what we align with and what I align with. So that was the idea. Been able to grow the brand. And one of the most followed accounts on LinkedIn, just posting content there, which is an awesome platform. been growing my TikTok recently, I think I got a couple 100,000 on Instagram too. So my personal brand has been great for lead gen for the brand, a lot of my personal brand I talk about just finding comfort in life. So whether it’s, you know, talking about how to monitor what foods you’re eating and how they’re affecting you, understanding breathwork understanding what clothing could do and how that could make you feel differently. A lot of that it’s all about finding comfort in your every day.
And that’s what I like talking about that’s what I like searching for us. How do I live life? My mentality is how can I live life as comfortably as I am when I’m sitting alone at home on my couch with basketball shorts and a hoodie on like that feeling of comfort I want that 24/7 And what I wear and how I feel so I talk a lot about that in the lines pretty well with our brand.
Got it well give everyone your handles on social media.
I’m just at Taylor Offer on pretty much everything:
And how do they find Feat?
We’ll do last part of the show is called Retail Wisdom. I do have one business question before that. How connected? Will the when you open? Will the digital and the physical be connected? Like will I be able to like buy online returning in a store? Will I be able to do buy online? You know, will I be able to do that type of stuff yet? Are you there yet?
Yeah, I think I think we will be we’re gonna be using the Shopify point of sale system, which we also use for our digital. So I think there should be some integrations I haven’t tested through. But yeah, I think the most the more flawless the experience can be for the consumer and integrated the better.
Agreed. Someone who does that well. The best at it. And there’s a lot of good ones. But, if you haven’t, you should just check out Target. As simple as it is like, you can buy it, they’ll ship it to you in two hours. You can go in the store, you can buy it online, and they’ll drop it off in your trunk. You could buy it online, pick it up in the store, and they got it working so fast forward in the household. So he has targets really it’s the resources so yeah, yes, they do. They got the balance sheet. So anyway, I’m gonna take you the last part of the show. I got three fun questions ready for the fun ones? Taylor? All right, what extinct retailer Do you wish would come back from the dead?
So as I’m thinking about this question, I’m trying to think like, I don’t really know of many extinct retailers. To be frank, I was never really a shopper growing up. Just because I didn’t really have money growing up. I didn’t really, I was never really a shopper or consumer of anything. Most of the things I got were hand-me-downs, or secondhand, I never really shopped as much. If I had to say anything, I would probably lean to some, like local restaurants. And I liked that went out of business. But I was it’s funny enough, like, I was never one to like, go into stores and shop in stores. So I’ve had to say anything, I’d say just my local restaurants and, you know, sandwich shops.
Got it. Okay. Question two. What is the last item over $20 You bought in a store?
Probably the matcha I had for breakfast today. It was like a $15 match. With a tip that turned out to be like, it’s crazy, especially in LA and I got a $15 matcha today. And then the thing turns around, it’s like you want to tip 25, 30 or 35%? Or like, wow, like, I’m about to spend $20 on a matcha. So that’s the most expensive thing I’ve had recently.
Understood. Okay. Last question. If you and I were shopping at Target, and I lost you, what department would I find you in?
Probably in the better for you food area. And I’d probably be reading food labels, I’m pretty gotten, I started to really understand the importance and significance of knowing what I’m putting in my body and food. So I’ve become obsessed with reading food labels, it’s something I never did before. I would just look at something it’d be like, oh, this looks healthy. Or it says low sugar on the front, which means it’s healthy, which is that’s not the case. You know, it can be loaded with other things, or just because something looks healthier. So that whole foods or target in the healthy section. You got to read the labels, you got to know what’s in stuff. So I spend a lot of time reading labels of different foods to understand what ingredients are inside of what I’m eating.
Excellent, man. Well, listen, Taylor, this was great. I really appreciate the time. Everyone, check them out on all your social channels and go to featclothing.com Taylor, that’s awesome. Great. Thank you so much. Thank you. Thank you for listening to retail retold. If you want to share a story about a retail real estate deal that you were a part of on our show. Please reach out to us at retail retold at DLCmgmt.com This show highlights the stories behind the deals from all perspectives. So it doesn’t matter if you are a retailer, broker, entrepreneur, architect or an attorney. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to retail retold so you don’t miss out on next Thursday’s episode