This is part of the reason why Edgevale has never gone to a big discounter where you can lose money. Tony didn’t want to give away a bunch of equity; instead, he thought about how to get money upfront through the website and incorporated pre-orders, adding 10-15% more stock on top of the orders. This helped him to improve the cash flow and allowed for more accurate projections, up to a year in advance of Christmas sales.
When they received a huge mistaken order from the factory, it gave them another chance to get creative. Rather than sitting on the inventory, Tony decided to do a flash online warehouse sale. “We get creative with all sorts of interesting ways to move product all the time, so that there’s nothing ever in the proverbial refrigerator,” he says.
Knowing Your Brand
Even though Tony started out with a desire for a data-driven approach, there was no previous data for him to rely on right out of the gate. “You have no historical data to go off of for what you’re selling, what colors work, whether you’ll be needing lots of XXL, S, 28s or 30s,” he says. “The biggest challenge is you don’t know what you have until you start making mistakes.”
As a result, Edgevale sold everything in its experimental stage in that first year. Today, the brand is a lot clearer about what it stands for, and what its core styles are.
“We want to be the pizza place that sells the three best pizzas in the world. Three flavors, the best, and get as many people eating those pizzas as possible,” he explains. “These days, consumers curate. They take the best from every brand and fill up their closets that way. So we double down on our best styles.”
The same goes with branding. Rather than trying to appeal to everyone, Edgevale is very upfront about its offerings; yet, it leaves enough room for people to project onto the brand. The trick is to be true to what you stand for, without forcing an idea down customers’ throats.
“These days, consumers curate. They take the best from every brand and fill up their closets that way. So we double down on our best styles.”
“If it resonates with me and I wouldn’t be embarrassed to show it to my best friend, then it’s right,” says Tony. “It means you’re not trying to hop on whatever the trend of the day is or moving with the breeze. Our branding is classic, it’s unique to us, and definitely speaks to our California roots.”
This is also why Edgevale has a more selective approach when it comes to retail. Initially, the clothing brand was in 20 spaces, but Tony has taken them out of all but one. Although the changes in consumer shopping behavior accounts for part of the decision, branding takes up a bigger chunk of the pie.
“It has to make sense as a marketing play, more than a revenue generator. If we can get in a really cool store where we can do collaboration, then it makes sense. Trying to open 200 doors is well within our grasp, but will it mean we’ll be making money? I don’t think so.”
So what is that one store that makes the cut? Not surprisingly, it’s a local store in Mill Valley, called Proof Lab.
“They have a really innovative approach to retail. It almost feels like a community center more than a store. And if there were Proof Labs all over the country we’d be in them, but there’s only one that I know of,” says Tony.
This year, Edgevale continues to be clear about their mission, which is to become a leader in outdoor pants. “I know it seems like a weird thing to say,” explains Tony, “but I think that’s a market we can really be a player in, and we can continue to manufacture stuff in the U.S. in that scale.”
With a new designer onboard, and plans to tweak the website and logo, Tony wants to continue with direct online sales and creative approaches that will appeal to a younger generation of shoppers that are careful to select only the best from a brand.
“Q1 for retail has been absolute bloodbath, so there’s just a lot of changes going on,” he says. But rather than being alarmed, Tony sees this as an opportunity for Edgevale. “Younger people are totally fine buying stuff online. We’re at a cool inflection point.”