Rob Kessler is the Inventor and co-founder of Million Dollar Collar. Where he creates fashion accessories for men which provide a classy polished appearance. Rob launched the business in Jan 2016 and they have now sold over 250,000 units in 111 countries to over 18,000 customers. We last chatted 2 years ago so I’m excited to find out what Rob’s been up to.
2020 eCommerce MasterPlan Growth Series sponsored by Omnisend
This episode is part of our annual growth series – you can find out all about how it can help you grow your business and links to the rest of the episodes here.
About Million Dollar Collar
Million Dollar Collar is the world’s first placket stay. Rob points out that most men today don’t usually wear a tie with their dress shirts and the Million Dollar Collar is the crucial piece needed to keep dress shirts looking sharp without a tie.
The problem hit Rob hard when his shirt collapsed and looked sloppy on his wedding day—a situation he was none too pleased with. That event inspired him to start experimenting on a solution. 100+ ruined dress shirts later, Rob had a functional patented product.
His solution—Million Dollar Collar— provides a solution to sloppy collars that can be easily integrated into any brand of dress shirt by a tailor. The development hinged on the ability to create something flexible enough to easily sew in, but heat resistant enough to withstand dry cleaning.
Finding the Right Market
Rather than trying to sell at stores that might be selling a few dress shirts daily, Rob focused on getting in with dry cleaners because he says that even the smallest vendors do at least 200 men’s dress shirts a day. Getting to the right people hasn’t been easy however, and Rob says that accessing the corporate players has been a slow start.
Regardless of some of those challenges, the industry still has plenty of potential and today, Million Dollar Collar is partnered with 600+ dry cleaners in the US, New Zealand, Australia and Europe.
At the start of his journey, Rob focused on trying to connect with shirt manufacturers to license his product as part of their design. When that wasn’t going in the direction he was hoping, the team pivoted and launched their own dress shirt company called goTieless which is the first men’s dress shirt designed to be worn exclusively without a tie.
Rob says they started with a soft launch to their existing customer-base at Million Dollar Collar and sold out of their 200-quantity stock in the first 72 hours. He used that launch as an opportunity to test the shirt and gather as much data as possible from users which they then integrated into an intensive seven-month design process to make the shirt even better.
During this process, Rob ended up connecting with a large manufacturer interested in integrating Million Dollar Collar into their manufacturing. Having gone through the R&D process for goTieless gave him a huge advantage in his conversations with their potential licensing partner.
Why a New Brand?
The goTieless brand was created intentionally as a stand alone brand. Rob has admired the Untuckit brand and feels like he has a similar product and product potential, but saw how their name didn’t grow as well with their product line.
Tieless, he says, is as much of a mindset as anything else and he feels like the brand speaks to that as much as the functionality of the product.
Rob uses Shopify for both brands and has had a really good experience with that. The team for both brands consists of Rob and his partner Steve with the recent addition of Rob’s newly retired father.
Rob’s dad was an early investor and is part of the day to day team for goTieless. Rob says he loves working with his Dad, who bootstrapped a multi-million dollar jewelry brand on a $700.00 loan from Rob’s Grandfather.
To supplement the team Rob taps freelancers from UpWork or similar platforms. He relies on offering performance-based pay which he says has helped them get what they need without getting burned. goTieless invested in a large, reputable marketing agency that Rob says drained the company’s resources and ultimately only sold 4 shirts.
The team has learned a lot when it comes to influencer marketing and his advice is that bigger isn’t always better. Rob’s first influencer had 225,000 subscribers when they first started working with him.
As he grew his following to 4M Rob says those follows didn’t translate to loyal—or even real—customers. Rob now prefers to focus on small micro influencers who have a better bite and better relationship with their followers.
eCommerce Book Top Tip
- The 10X Rule: The Only Difference Between Success and Failure by Grant Cardone
- The 3-Minute Rule by Brant Pinvidi
eCommerce Traffic Top Tip
- Use Influences with a smaller, but loyal following
- Strengthen your Email Campaign—spend 15 minutes a day working on your email list and stay in touch with your current base.
Tool Top Tip
- Google for emails, slides etc.
Growth Top Tip
- Follow up. Make people feel like you appreciate them. Don’t make your only message about sales and watch your loyalty grow.
- Influencer marketing with Rob Kessler of Million Dollar Collar
- Plotting a 3 month Growth Strategy with Simon Driscoll from UXB Skincare
- Bespoke Tailor Hockerty’s Marketing Manager Salva Jovells talks Customer Journey
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