Re-inventing men’s underwear with no prior experience – Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade

INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 47:11)

PODCAST AUDIO

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Intro

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade shares how he, along with his friends, founded a comfortable and high-quality brand of men’s underwear without having any experience in designing apparel.

People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode

Book: The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy

What You’ll Learn

Interview with Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade

00:00Introduction
01:41About the business
08:41Selling in a competitive market
13:27The business investment
16:26Managing the co-founder relationship
22:17The manufacturing process
30:47Coming out of COVID
33:12The future of the brand
37:18The shipping process
41:29Mistakes made, lessons learned
44:48Rapid fire round

Rapid Fire

In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade

  1. One book recommendation that you would make to entrepreneurs or business professionals (Response: The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy)
  2. An innovative product or idea and the current eCommerce, retail, or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: Mid-Day Squares)
  3. A business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend (Response: Airtable)
  4. A startup or a business that you think is currently doing great things (Response: Mid-Day Squares)
  5. Best business advice you ever received (Response: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.)

Interview Transcript

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Hey there entrepreneurs My name is Lucia and welcome to Trep talks. This is the show where I interview successful ecommerce entrepreneurs, business executives and thought leaders and ask them questions about their business story and also dive deep into some of the strategies and tactics that they have used to start and grow their businesses. And today, I’m really excited to welcome Anthony juggler. General. Sorry, I should have asked you for your name for repeat that. How do you pronounce that?

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

Chat? Z Rella.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Jabra? Okay. Anthony Jagger. Let me do Hey, there entrepreneurs, my name is Sushant and welcome to drop off. This is the show where I interview successful ecommerce entrepreneurs, business executives in particular, and ask them questions about their business story. And also dive deep into some of the strategies and tactics that they have used to start and grow their businesses. And today, I’m really excited to welcome Anthony Joshua Rella. To the show. Anthony is the co founder of manmade manmade is a self care brand based out of Montreal, Canada, designed by four men that puts quality forward entrepreneurial journey. So thank you so

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

much. Thank you for having me. Sushant. I just see I hear a bit of static. In terms of the connection. Do you hear me? Well?

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

I hear you well, yeah. Okay. Thank you. Yeah, I will let him by. So let’s get into you know, interesting product, and very glad to see Canadian brand. I don’t often come across a lot of Canadian brands doing great thing. Can you share a little bit about how you got the idea for your business? And what really motivated you to start manmade?

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

Yes, sure. So when we’re four best friends, we’ve known each other as long as some of us as long as kindergarten, so we’ve been in each other’s lives. Very often, we’re very ambitious. And we’ve always been in the finance space. Alright, so we’re all bankers, accountants, and we had two things in common. As very close friends, we had an entrepreneurial itch that needed scratching, and terrible underwear days. So we all have the same issue. We want to solve the issue of terrible underwear, we hated the bunching the writing up, we hated the chafing between the thighs. And we just wanted to be able to make sure that men don’t have to suffer like that anymore. So what we did is we went up north, we brainstormed for three whole days, did market research, understand the market of underwear, what’s going on? What’s what’s what needs improvement? What are the, you know, the products out there? What are the price ranges. So once we do that, all that research, we started to order a bunch of underwear, the r&d, the trial, and then we came across the fabric called Moldau. Moldau is derived from a beech tree, it’s three times more breathable, and three times more absorbent than cotton. Once you put the medalled fabric on, it’s, it’s really really nice. It’s like it feels like a second skin. It’s a four way stretch. Very, like I said, very readable, very absorbent, and good for you. So we saw that the price ranges were a little bit on the more expensive side, we saw that sometimes it could be north of $36. US we started adding in you know, we wanted to make it functional. First, we wanted to make a comfort, we wanted to make it simple. So what we did was it started with one cut one color. So we surveyed over 4000 different customers and we launched our Black Box or brief in Moldau fabric 10 months after initial inception of the idea, and that was on August 30 2021.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

And the fabric model seems to be the you know, the differentiating factor is it is it a natural fabric to the moral fabric, a little bit about that?

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

So it’s it’s a it’s a synthetic fabric but the core of the actual fabric is is natural through the beech tree, right so it’s it has those source properties where you you you you’re looking for when it comes to an actual fabric like underwear. It’s in the same family as bamboo. Right? It’s in the same family as bamboo viscose is the also another way of speaking about bamboo and more Tao being, in my opinion, a more superior type of quality fabric. And, and that’s why it’s very hard to find it. First off, and Second off, to find a good quality model, because there is no doubt that is made that sometimes, you know, you’ll you’ll see some pilling or a won’t have the same wear and tear that you need. And we’re very happy to say that it took many, many months, almost a year, but we’re actually there where we’re very confident of the fabric that we use, and we love it, and customers do as well.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So it’s a project created by you, or life within the finance world. Did you know what the line profit lie? Did you create the plan before did all the research and said they’re all going to jump? 100%? I mean, it’s it seems a bit of a risk, you know, to work for people, maybe your table job, you know, family? You know, did you like, right away? Can you share a little bit about that?

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

Yeah, for sure a little bit about that. So, like I said, we’re for best friends. So for us, we always had a pulse on each other’s lives, we always knew you know what the next step was, or we would share the next big promotion. And if they were if we were fulfilled or not and what we were doing, I mean, we were happy, but we weren’t fulfilled at 100%. And we all knew that we had that we all all four of us had an entrepreneurial itch. So what we did do is we asked our wives for permission to go up north for three full days to come up with a business plan, a real strategy behind what we wanted to do. And we did exactly that. So three full days later, we stayed in the cabin, we worked really, really hard to make sure that everything from concept to research, you know, from macro to micro was was thought about. And yeah, we just we jumped right into it, right. So we feel that we can go four times faster, or four times slower than that, because we’re four, right, so we want to go four times faster. So we’re super, super efficient, we always make sure to have everything planned out for the year, the month, the week, and even the day, you know, every single day, we have this morning huddles where we go through what each and every one of our tasks will be and what we’re going to tackle that day. So yes, being for it is kind of hard. On the family, we are in our late 20s, early 30s. So we have families, we have responsibilities. But we also needed to know each and every one of our situations financially and personally. And we shared that amongst the four of us to make sure that we all had good credit to make sure we had enough capital to last at least a year or two. Without taking the salary. We wanted to make sure that our wives were on board and our significant others were on board of the vision and what we’re trying to do, because the investment in what we’re trying to do isn’t small, you need to invest in inventory. We don’t do just in time or drop shipping. It’s literally we buy the inventory, we design the garment ourselves. So it’s very, very important that that we’re we’re on the same page, and we all have the same Northstar. So yes, to answer your question, we, we jumped right into it. And we’re all understand the risks, and also the reward. You know, at the end of the, at the at the end of the journey.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Now, you did mention a little bit some sort of thermal, American things like I mean, when you’re investing into this business with your time and money. Can you share a little bit, you know, what was the upfront research that you did? How did you because of course, the shoulders, you know, there’s no shortage of undergarments out there. How did you when you when you were building this vision for the business, how did you know that the market, you know, you’re creating this team or brand, that it will be worth it for for people to you know, to give up their jobs and get into this and there will be ROI?

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

For sure. The other word, the N word like men all wear underwear, right? Hopefully they do, right? So it’s like something that you wear, it’s a garment that you wear every single day. We did not want to go in the fashion direction. And what I mean by that is that obviously, our underwear is very fashionable. It’s a nice underwear. It’s designed really, really well. But we really wanted to focus on the functionality of the underwear. So Yes, it’s very competitive. But we like to, we like to create our own space in that competition. So what we did was we focused on functionality, and we focused on simplicity. And if you look at the way our underwear, it’s constructed, it’s very simple, right? It gives you that design where it separates your package from your thighs, it keeps everything nice and supported. And once you put on the garment, you start to say to yourself, Wow, it’s so simple, yet, it’s very, very, it’s exactly what men are looking for support, no chafing, no writing up, or rolling up the waistband, and 100% comfort. When we started, we, we wrote down basically, all the different types of underwear, we wrote down all different types of colors. And then we were getting a little bit off track. And we told ourselves, we need to stay simple and functional. So we surveyed over 4000 North American men, and we asked them, amongst other questions, but we asked them two primary questions, which what type of underwear everywhere? And it was a boxer boxer brief, brief, boxer shorts, short, trunk? Right? And what color do you wear, and I would say, over 70, percents and boxer brief and over 70% of black. So for us as a startup, we said to ourselves, let’s not invest in different colors and patterns. And in all this different skews, let’s really focus and own and own the functionality of this box of roof, where we just have to worry about one color one SKU, but we got to make sure that it’s the best underwear on the market. And that’s exactly what we did. Right. So if you look at our reviews, and look a little bit about our business, customers love our underwear, because it’s so simple, right? And then eventually, we can come out with a different color. But we know that we’re always going to keep it simple, we’re always going to keep it functional, and customers know what they’re gonna get when they buy it from us. So staying true to those values. And staying true to that vision allowed us to get scale, right. And then we came out with different products like a socks in a low cup and crew sock, we came out with our T shirts, we’re coming out with a soap bar, we’re going to come out with probably a deodorant. So a lot of people they think all their underwear brand, yes, our staple product is the underwear. But for us, it’s really you know, supporting a man’s wellness by strengthening their foundation, if the man has all these good quality essentials, to start their day proper, they just feel better about themselves. And there’s a huge, huge, huge take there where men are trying to take better care of themselves, but they just don’t know where to start, there’s a lot of noise, there’s a lot of choice, there’s a lot of colors, a lot of patterns, there’s a lot of gimmicks, so we want to eliminate all of that noise and just stay super functional. So if you go on our site, you’ll always see it being very clean and very easy to navigate. That’s the first thing. And the second thing, we don’t give a million options. You know, when our T shirt is black and white, or socks are black and white, our boxers are black are soaked, there’s only one. So we just keep it very simple and functional. And I think at that point, I think that’s what really helps us differentiate ourselves. And that’s helped us really scale and really own that niche when it comes to functionality in men’s garments, or men’s essentials.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So you never in terms of intellectual, you never went the crowdfunding route. Did you? Did the investment in your business really just come from all the co founder?

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

Yeah, so what we did is, at the beginning of it, we calculated what we needed. We’re very scrappy, as a, as a as a as a brand. You know, like, we all have different talents that complement each other. So like, for example, our website we did internally, we use a back end called Big commerce, where it’s, it’s very, very customizable. So you know, we got some external help where we needed it. We didn’t just offload all that. Right. And when it came to the marketing, a lot of it is ourselves. It’s an all internal. So the four founders, what we did is we invested $20,000 each, and that 80,000 helped us grow, to be about to hit seven figures in revenue this year. We hit seven figures over about Yeah, so So we hit seven figures in revenue already. It’s been 10 months since our launch, and we were sold out in boxer briefs and some socks for about a month of

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

that. That is your main market. Canada or if Canada and US.

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

Yeah. So for us. That’s the thing, right? When I say like functionality and simplicity. We also have that feared theory for growing our brand. For us. We didn’t want to be scoped out where we’re all international and it’s so much to manage and you know, you’re The US market is much different than your Canadian market. So what we wanted to do is when we launched, we really wanted to own our city, which was Montreal. And we were really happy to say that we were able to sell out our first minimum quantity order. here locally in Montreal, we ended up getting a publication that really helped us sell out sell out, which was with a bunch of plugins that we worked with local influencers, we did a lot of content ourselves got the word out there, and we’re able to sell out close to 10,000, boxers. And then, once we own our city, then we went and we started to market ourselves across Canada, we want to really own the Canadian market first, which we feel by the end of the year, we’ll have a pretty good idea of what our CAC will be, and all our metrics, when it comes to we already know what our CAC is, but we’re really going to have a really like a whole year’s worth of data to understand our Canadian market, and then eventually get into the US next, we did however, because of TiC tock get an influx of international traffic. And we did start shipping a few orders with our fans on tick tock. But we soon realized that the shipping and the charges, and just the management of all that took away from focus. So we stopped it. And we just focused on Canada, and we’re going to continue focusing on Canada to the end of 2022. So one question

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

that is, you know, this idea, right? And everybody has invested similar amount of money? How do you make sure that, and I hope that you have been like longtime friends, so you know, very well. But this is always a dilemma and co founder relationship? And what if, you know, your vision and your co founder vision diverges in the sometimes in the future? Or you know, you’re trying to make a decision and come to agreement? Do you have like, even equal use, your day will be your turn, and everybody has to agree to it? Or how do you manage this co founder relationship so that you’re not? I’m sure all will be the agreement? You know, I think they’re thinking, how do you manage that co founder relationship?

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

And so we complement Simon answer the question to the best of my abilities, because you cut a little bit, but I kind of know what you’re asking for. Just if and if I’m going off track off topic, please stop me. But it’s a very common question that I’ve been asked. We’ve been asked, we have a North Star, which is basically we know exactly where we’re all headed, what we want out of the business, what our goals and aspirations are. But we believe in manifesting a lot of that, and we believe in organization, a lot and planning. So every year, right at the beginning of the year, the same way we came up with the idea of man mean, we go up north, and we rent the same cabin, or try to rent around the same cabin. And we come up with our pillars, sales, marketing, technology, company culture, you know, operations and production. So we come up with our pillars. And within those pillars, we have our overarching goals, what our sales goals are going to be my production forecasting, all of those goals are all set up and put on paper. From there, we divide those goals into roles, right? So you have myself that’s in PR and influencer marketing and customer service. And then you have Robert that’s in product and marketing and the Burdell. That’s in finance and technology. And then you have Phillip that operations and logistics. So we all have both roles plus our employees. We have three employees to form read for employees. You have Rodrigo, the software engineer, you have Daniel, who’s in, prepares our orders. We have Tatiana, who helps them customer service. And then we have Sandra, who we just recently hired also that takes care of video and editing. So what am I what am I trying to get at is that everybody has their roles, and everybody understands what their task is for the month, right. And every month we revisited to make sure that we’re hitting our goals that we forecasted a year ago. Obviously, there’s always some adjustments throughout the year that need to be done because of some uncontrollables. But the overall but the 90% stays the same throughout the whole year. So what I’m getting at is that being four partners, you can go four times quicker or four times slower. So for us, it’s very important that we have an understanding of where we’re headed, and that we revisit these plans on a monthly basis on a weekly basis. and sometimes even at daily basis, what do I mean by that is, you know, twice a week, we have late nights where we work on the business instead of in the business, because during the day, it’s very hard things are going on. At night, we make sure twice a week, we say, and we have a list and we go through all the different things that we need to go through in order for us to attain our goals. You hear the fire alarm?

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

I do. Yeah, a little bit.

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

It’s not a real fire alarm. I think they’re doing the best. I can continue. I apologize for the noise, but it’s something that’s out of my control. But I’ll just It’s okay. If I continue.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Yeah.

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

So, so yeah, so twice a week we do that. And then once a quarter, we try to go back where we locked ourselves for two, three days, go through the business, what we have attained in the quarter, what needs to be changed or amended. And we just constantly keep working on the Northstar, which is our overarching goals. And in no, organically, everyone has their skill sets so organically, I’ll take the reins on PR and strategic partnerships organically technology and finances Berto, who’s a CPA organically, Berta, Phil will take let’s take the home’s operations and logistics and forecasting, and Robert, marketing and product, right. But we all know, for example, Robert has that foresight, where he’s just gifted to be able to understand where we’re headed. So he’s like, acting CEO, right? So we’re all co founders, but we all lean on him for certain things. And then, you know, Berto, we lean on him for finance, and right, and then we lean on Phil, for operations of this thing. And then they lean on me for customer service. And for for influencer marketing, strategic partnerships and PR. So it’s very, very important that we communicate properly. And it’s very important that we stay on the same page. But, but that’s how it’s done. Right? So we always joke around in the office that we can go four times faster, or four times slower, and we choose to go four times faster. So communication is key and clutch for this partnership.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Can you share a little bit about your manufacturing? I know you mentioned minimum order quantity at the beginning. Are you working with a North American manufacturer or that built in China? And yeah, how? I mean, it seems like you’re putting in the warehouse, right? How are you managing

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

your warehouse right now. So this is where we’re a lot of packing gets done. That’s Daniel exterior of a lot of our so all our product is in here, but we have some more product over there. And then we have a warehouse downstairs. Then we have a warehouse downstairs, where we recently just read just bought where rent is significantly less expensive. However, yeah, so. So for us. We try to get the product done in Canada, but a lot of people close their doors on us. But that’s not the only reason at the beginning. We realized that the economic studies don’t make sense for our type of brand. In order for us to survive, we would need to charge a garment between 60 and $80. Canadian, we feel like that’s a whole different market. And it’s a whole different strategy and brand. And we didn’t want to go down that route. So the boxer brief is done in Sri Lanka. In a rap certified manufacturer. It’s a world responsible accredited production facility where employees are treated with responsibility, social responsibility, and it’s a very, it’s very nice environment. We’re very close with our manufacturer, especially in Sri Lanka, being our first product. Our socks are done in Taiwan, also a wrap certified manufacturer, we’ve been working with our manufacturer for over a year. Now. She Who is the person that we speak to is very nice, and we get on calls with them pretty regularly. And then we have our T shirts that are being manufactured in China. We’ve looked all over the world for this type of Pima cotton model, and China had it. We know our Chinese manufacturer had it. They made a very beautiful t shirt. Very high resistance and we love them and then are so far it’s done in Vermont. Not too far from us about an hour and a half away from from us by my car. And it’s made in the US of it. How did you

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

go about finding the manufacturer? Was it really through Alibaba or through contacts?

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

No. You might ask sorry, you might give me just a second. Yeah, sure. This is part of being an entrepreneur. You’re doing a podcast. You got to pick up the phone Daniel I’m doing a podcast. Can you call Robert? I’ll get you on topic soon number isn’t an actual fire alarm? Yeah, I’m you’re out there, you’re gonna see the room, but just drop it off on the on the right. Sorry

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

I was asking you, How did you find your manufacturer?

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

Yeah. So I think beginning obviously like every everybody does they they go on Alibaba, we didn’t want to do the Alibaba route because it’s it’s hard to find the good pet factor on Alibaba to be honest. And we wanted to design our own product, we wanted to have a relationship with our manufacturer. And we tried to learn successful. So we resulted to actually finding someone with a lot of experience in Toronto, who has over three years of experience in manufacturing and working with different manufacturers. And anyone give me one second. Sorry about that. So yeah, we went on Alibaba, and we weren’t very successful. So we found a manufacturer, excuse me, a sorcerer that worked in the manufacturing industry for many, many years. We got on a call with him, we, we spoke to him about what we were trying to do with the type of product we’re trying to make. And we actually paid for him to come from Toronto to Montreal, we paid his train in his hotel stay. And we just wanted to pick his brain for two whole days. And it was very, very, the ROI on that investment was very, very good. He was very helpful. He introduced us to over 30 Different manufacturers around the world that he worked with very closely when he was in manufacturing, and he wasn’t sourcing. Like I said he was retired, right, so he’s a retiree with very good relationship. And so we were good for guys, you know, four nice guys, one had a dream. And he just wanted to help us. And he did exactly that. He made the proper introductions to those manufacturers, we went back and forth with those manufacturers to get the sampling on both product, sorry, on both fabric and construction of the actual garment. And after three or four different iterations, we ended up picking a manufacturer that had the best fabric and the best platform and the best cutting soul of the actual garment. And ever since then, we’ve been working with that manufacturer. And then to find the socks, we did the same thing. And then the t shirt. Once you get into the actual garment industry, you end up just you know, meeting different people and meeting different connections and different relationships. And then you just end up finding the right manufacturer for you. But to start from being finance guys to actually getting into the garment industry, the underwear industry, it was challenging at the beginning. And we we were very blessed to find Brian, his name’s Brian, who helped us out

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

that thought you don’t mind me asking you for income, like two o’clock call that are far from organization that you’d have

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

LinkedIn, Googling a lot of research. And before finding him, I must have called maybe 25 Different people who either told me to fuck off, or to never call them again. And then I spoke to Brian and then I spoke to Brian, and he stayed 15 minutes 20 minutes on the phone with me. He understood, you know, our vision what we wanted to do, and, and the rest is history.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

I mean, that’s interesting. Someone actually called me when usually reach out to someone when people are usually helpful and then they’ll say, you know

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

the garment this the, the the garment is the garment industry is a very, very, very special industry. It’s it’s filled with different characters and different types of people that that are very nice, but some of them are a little bit on the rougher side. And especially at the beginning when you tell them that you know nothing about gardens and your finance guys trying to get into this business. They look at you like you’re a complete alien and we have to feel that you know that we will live in Montreal. So we have the Montreal garment industry, which right now our offices exactly in the in the in the garment industry. But when we first started, we didn’t have this office and we knocked on a lot of doors. And a lot of people like a lot of doors just to get information to see if someone can give us a hand or just to be able to find our way. And a lot of people told us that we’re crazy to get into this industry told us to leave them alone told us that we’ll never be able to succeed. It’s it’s not something that’s doable, especially in this climate. And we don’t forget we started in COVID. Right, so so they told us that we’re nuts. And I guess we proved them wrong.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

So how I mean, given that now we’re kind of coming out of COVID. And I think that has affected a lot of ecommerce businesses COVID There were a lot of demand online. And now the demand is kind of softening for most ecommerce businesses, because people can simply go to malls and stuff, how has it affected your business?

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

I’d like to answer that question by saying we don’t know any better. When we started there was you know, the heart of COVID. So for us, we had to deal with, you know, seven, eight monthly times. We had to deal with delays, production delays and had to factor that into our forecasting. We like to look at the silver lining, the silver lining is that COVID Actually there’s a stat that it expedited online shopping by 40 years, if I’m not mistaken. A lot of years, especially in the older generation, right? Let’s say 45, and up 50, and up. And that helps with an online business like ours, especially knowing that our business is catering to men of all ages. But men are 35 and older are really enjoying our brands. And I would say over 50% of men between the ages of 45 and 65 are our customer. So what happens there is they got accustomed to buying online, they trust, you know, buying online, we have a very easy online presence we’re very hands on when it comes to customer service. So it worked on our benefit, right? I like to think that it worked on our benefit this whole scenario, but on the on, on on transport logistics operations on that front, we don’t know any better. And we only feel like as time goes by and things get easier. It’ll just be much better for us and getting into the into this business at the time that we did. It’s like it’s a How can I how can I give you this scenario, it’s like, it’s like starting something where it’s at the hardest level, right? And now that you can get through that anything else can become much easier is what we like to think

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

of your business and direct to consumer. Your vision to keep or your vision really to get your product in retail. And I guess you know, cracking retail can be pretty challenging also. So how do you think about your business? In the long

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

question. So we’ve been asked to go into retail, up until like a couple months ago, you know, I guess a lot of other marketing and we put out there all the content we put out there we’ve been in reached out to quite a lot. For us, it’s important for us to stay focused on the North Star, you know, the North Stars to grow our online presence, the North Stars to be direct to consumer. Our goal is to stay that way for as long as we can. And to grow the brand that way as long as we can. However, we do realize that you need to be in the retail spot. You need to be retail. It’s you need to be where the customer is right. So you can’t just be a one trick pony. You can. And it’s obviously our cup of tea, because we don’t know what it entails to wholesale and retail. We’re learning. We’re actually working with a pretty large retailer. Holt Renfrew right now who reached out to us and they will be our only retailer this year and going into next year. We don’t have any plans on getting into any other retailers but they will be our only our only our one and only for now. For us we want to grow like I said in Canada online first till the end of the year. What we’re actually going to be on Dragon’s Den, season 17 This fall of 2022, which I believe it’ll, it’ll actually help with the brand awareness and just getting the brand out there. No, the million If people are watching the show, so I that will, that’ll help and, and obviously continuing our marketing and continuing what we’re doing scaling and acquiring new customers day after day, month after month. And then next year, our goal primarily is to get into the US markets. So that’s where a North Star is. Retail is one of those things where right now, there’s no real game plan for it. Because we’re, we’re just gonna stick the whole Renfrew in Canada, and then we’ll in 2023, when we revisit our overarching goals, you know, the big macro goals, we’ll look into maybe probably going into into into retail, but there’s so many unknowns in retail, and there’s so much attention that is needed when you’re getting into retail, that we don’t want to spread ourselves too thin, and lose the focus of what our actual goal is, which is growing online direct to consumer brands. That kind of answer.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Yeah, no, that makes an initial load about your demand generation. I know you’ve thought about customer acquisition costs and things like that. And also tick tock. Is your job demand generation mostly organic? Or are you doing paid advertising?

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

Yeah, no, no, no. So it’s a complement of both. We believe that you kind of need like, more than just paid acquisition, right? To be able to grow a brand where we make content on a regular basis. A lot of what we do is create our own content on all platforms. Tick tock, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter. So we’re on pretty much all the platforms today. But when we first started, you know, Instagram, Facebook, tik, Tok, LinkedIn, those were our organic reaches, because naturally, it makes sense to do that. And we saw the ROI on on on organic reach for that. But, but yeah, it’s a complement of both organic and paid back to the acquisition. So we know that with the both of them side by side, it’ll, it’ll help us lower our CAC, our customer acquisition costs, and and just grow a healthier business.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

I’m really interested in knowing about your shipping. And I know I was just reading today, that apparel category has the highest return on E commerce, which I think is about 20%. Can you share like how I know on your website, you are offering free shipping over? So we are shipping created? Really look at Europe and whoring in the returns.

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

Yeah, so we’ll have to like don’t forget, right, so we’re environments, underwear, and to run the wear and socks, we do have a fitted comfort guarantee. That’s what we started, we just launched our T shirts this week. So that we have a goal of having a pretty low shipping percentage. However, we’re only going to know that data in a couple of weeks. But our fit, our Fit is very, very unique. Right? Our fit is extremely unique, not unique, excuse me, it’s extremely conventional, meaning that we have a fit where it’s a little bit tighter around the shoulders and chest a little looser on the stomach. So like I can fit in a large the same way I can fit an extra large, it’ll look different, that will feel different. But it’s not one of those T shirts that are super tailored and designed for a specific body type. We want to be able to tailor to inclusivity on the t shirt front. But to answer your question, our return rate is very low, we do have a fit and comfort guarantee because we stand behind our product. So when somebody purchases our product, and for whatever reason, it doesn’t fit them right or they don’t like them because of the way they feel or fit. We do have a fit and comfort guarantee on the first open pair. So if you open it, if you buy three, and you open one and you try it on, and for whatever reason, there’s a fee, well, we can exchange you send back the two unopened Paris and we will send you the right size, you know three of them. So we replaced the three you don’t lose out because we feel that the gain of a man having an underwear a high quality and they were like ours and liking them is is far greater than the last week that we have that will that will incur on the product costs and the shipping costs. Right now our return exchanges below 4% or even less, I would say below 3%. Right. So we manage it that way. So for us conversions are better when you hit our site that’s a new customer you see that week stand by our product. And we have a fit and comfort guarantee, it only helps your conversion rates. And then when we actually do the exchanges, we pay for the shipping there and back, right, we pay for the product. And we have to say that it’s been working, the conversion, the conversion rate increasing, outweighs the returns that we need to do on the garments. So for that it’s worked out and don’t forget, we only have one color one class, so it’s a little easier to manage. Also, right? And we see that once somebody does buy one or two, and for whatever reason they need to change, and they end up liking them, we follow through with the customer, how did the next help? How did the new the new fit fit you? Great, perfect, we have a seven pack available if you’d like and the and I will say that the stack there is pretty high, where they actually invest in another seven of them. So you become profitable at the end of that transaction on the lifetime value of the customer. And that’s the difference between building a brand where you stand behind your product or just you know, a brand where we like to call direct response where it’s a little bit more on the aggressive side in terms of marketing, and you have like a product that’s whitelist, that white labeled, and it’s just about volume and over and turning and turning and burning, right. So so for us, it’s we stand behind our product, we want the five star review, we want a happy customer, we want a return customer, and we’re very focused on that and it’s been paying off.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Last question before I move on, move on to the rapid fire round. I know we’re running out of time, so maybe you can keep it a little bit shorter. I know every entrepreneur journey, there’s always mistakes made, and so forth. Sure, like maybe one failure comes out in your own

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

learn. You cut off at the end. But basically you’re asking what’s one mistake that we did that if we could turn back time? We were different.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Yeah, exactly. What did you learn from it?

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

That’s a That’s a loaded question. One mistake, one mistake. One mistake. Let’s see. When we started, we thought that for finance guys. What do we know about being creative? Right? We thought we needed help external help. And we went and we actually got on 3040 different calls with different agencies to try to find the right agency to work with us. We ended up finding a few, but there was one that, you know, they they understood what we wanted to do. They were local, they were cool. And we said let’s give them a shot, we ended up realizing that they still weren’t doing what we wanted to do. Because we were very, very, we knew that being a direct to consumer online business, we needed to be good online, right? We need to be us authentic and really have a company visuals and non visuals and culture really expressed or the messaging needs to be clear. And obviously, with marketing today, things are much different, much different than they were in 2012 or 2010, or playing with in 2006. So we need to be ahead of the curve. So we started working with an agency, and it didn’t work out. So we ended up pulling the business from them, which created a bit of a sour taste in their mouth, because they’re like, Well, you know, we were doing what we’re doing and you’re not happy. And we were a bit of a complicated customer for very little money because we’re a startup, but they saw the potential and the four of us. So they gave us a shot. So it’s a little bit like they gave us a shot. But we didn’t we didn’t like what we were seeing. So we pulled it from them, we ended up doing it internally ourselves, I could turn back time, I would just do it ourselves from the get go, right? Not having to waste that time with that agency, waste their time, waste our time, and get to that point. But I also believe that you need to do these things in order for you to learn and to grow. And we only do what we do today because of what we learned by working with these agencies or this one agency. So in entrepreneurship, there’s going to be mistakes, I don’t care who you are, how smart you are, how good you are, you’re going to make a mistake, and you’re going to be many of them. As long as you learn from them and you grow from them. It’ll propel you to become better and to grow a very good business. And that’s that’s that’s it. That’s the one mistake that I would say that we did, where it cost us time a little bit of money but today we grew much better and we’re happy. We’re doing our own content. Yeah.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

We want to our rapid fire round and then question one book recommendation for Annika neuro

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

compound effect by Darren Hardy

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

an innovative product or idea in the current ecommerce, retail or

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

local business so your style you’re asking me basically a business that I like.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

And product or idea that you like.

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

Yeah, so functional chocolate made the squares from Montreal, the friends of mine

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

business or productivity or a software tool that you use to enhance productivity

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

airtable

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

You’re gonna lose a good one startup or business that you think is doing great things

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

midday squares again

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

appear entrepreneur or business person whom you look up to or who inspired you

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

that’s a good one. There’s a lot of them it’s a good one. I can’t I can’t choose one particularly let’s see. Pass on that question because there’s too many of them. Okay.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Final question, best business advice you ever received or you would give to other entrepreneurs?

Anthony Ciavirella of Manmade Brand  

If you plan to fail, no, if you fail to plan you plan to sell.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks  

Perfect. So thank you so much, Anthony that those were all the questions that I had really appreciate your time today. Thank you for joining me, sharing your story sharing a little bit of audio. I really, really appreciate it. And thank you again for joining us today. Thank you. Have a good day.

Also, get inspired to Create a Profitable Online Business with Takashi Yanagi – Building a light therapy business to help people with skin problems


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