Elevator Pitch is a regular feature on Lifehacker where we profile startups and new companies and pick their brains for entrepreneurial advice. This week, we're talking with co-founder Sanchit Baweja (pictured right) from Buttons 'n Threads.
In 128 words or less, explain your business idea.
Buttons 'n' Threads is an online retailer specialising in custom tailored clothing for men. Most men who have had to buy suits will understand the inconvenience and the time-consuming process that one has to go through to get the best fitting suit made using fine fabrics without giving up on half a month's pay. Buttons 'n' Threads is here to change that!
By combining fine fabrics and experienced hand tailoring we deliver the finest quality custom tailored suits at an affordable price point. Operating through the online channel, we cut out the middlemen and other retail costs to pass on the savings to our customers.
What strategies are you using to grow and finance your idea?
The made-to-measure model when approached through an online channel allows us to be profitable on a per-order basis. Our biggest expense and the best way to maintain standards is stocking inventory of fabric and trims. We as co-founders personally source materials to ensure that the best product is delivered to our customers. Be it the fabric, the lining, the buttons or the interlining, everything is handpicked to the best of the standards.
Marketing our brand has been another major expense that we incur which we cover through the profits that we make. At this stage we are bootstrapping our venture, but, there will be a stage of expansion when we will look for external funding in order to grow and reach a larger demographic.
What's the biggest challenge facing your business?
Our first challenge arises with selling a high-ticket product through the online channel. This requires building trust and confidence amongst our potential customers. With the help of customer reviews, an active social media presence and our live chat feature we've made sure our customers can find us anywhere at any time.
The second challenge that we face is the fact that custom tailored clothing online is a relatively new concept that not many have heard of. It's a model that requires building a community with the consumers to develop a personal relationship so they feel comfortable to take the leap and give it a go. There's an assumption that measurements can only be taken by professional tailors, which is not the case. Given this we've created simple video guides so anyone can take their measurements with the help of a friend. We are in the process of developing new technologies to make the measuring process simpler and effective. We guarantee every customer the best fit. Anything short of that and they can either have it altered, remade or returned; their choice!
How do your differentiate your business from your competitors?
When we decided to introduce our label with our core offering as custom tailoring, we knew that we were entering an existing space. But what we noticed was that there were key changes that were needed to provide the highest price to value ration product in the market. We started Buttons 'n' Threads having altered a few key aspects in the model which allows us to stand by our quality compared to any other online tailor.
We strictly offer 100 per cent Australian merino wool as no other fabric does a custom tailored suit justice. Our fabrics are sourced from top mills in Biella, Italy and Yorkshire, England. These are the same mills that high-end retailers such as Hugo Boss source their fabrics from. With Buttons 'n' Threads you are paying for pure quality not the label on your suit.
Most online retailers outsource production to mass production factories in China. Buttons 'n' Threads prides itself on the quality of each and every suit in production and hence manufacturing takes place in a custom tailoring unit specially designed for Buttons 'n' Threads by master tailors who have been in the business of custom-tailored suiting for over 25 years. This allows us to provide each and every suit the attention to detail it deserves where over 90 per cent of the suit is hand constructed to provide a truly custom tailored suit.
What one phone, tablet or PC application could you not live without?
Evernote is the one application that our team cannot do without. We synchronise all our files and discussions and store it in the cloud so we have access to it at any point in time on any device. Few weeks down the line we're not caught wondering about the idea that we had last week.
What's the best piece of business advice you've ever received?
"Make one thing great. Get one thing right." — Andy Dunn
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