If you’ve watched Shark Tank or read any of our articles on Angel Investors, you know that those opportunities come with a cost: equity. I personally am not a fan of giving away equity. A lot of industries will have you believe that in order to take the business to an insanely successful place you need to give away pieces of the company. Simply not true. Let’s talk about a personal favorite of mine, Vineyard Vines. The clothing company has become a household name while the founders have maintained 100% control of the company. Here are some things we can learn from Vineyard Vines to take our business to the next level while retaining full ownership:
1. Know the brand
One of the things Vineyard Vines does well is that they’re preppy without being snobby. The brand is relaxed. You get a beach bar, poolside type of vibe from the brand. Ian Murray, co-owner of Vineyard Vines told Forbes, “we don’t do runways. We couldn’t out-polo Polo…But we could be us – and we like to go to beach bars and have fun.” Vineyard Vines knew not only their own brand but the brand of their competitors. Knowing who you are and who your competition is will be key in setting yourself apart.
2. Know the consumer
Like Ian said, the brand is beach bars and fun. They went after people who like beach bars and fun. There’s a difference between the Ralph Lauren client, the Bergdorf Goodman client and the Vineyard Vines client. They’re all in the high-end preppy clothing space but cater to different types of people. Know your consumer inside and out. The more you know about them, the better you can cater to them.
3. Going against the grain
You’re going to think this is nuts coming from me but one of the reasons Vineyard Vines is so successful is because they do less online. Yes, you can shop on their website but their brick and mortar store is a unique experience. If you haven’t been in a store yet, do stop by. The actual storefronts go back to knowing the brand and the consumer. They are catered to fit the brand and the consumer and they give the consumer exactly what they’re looking for. Go against the grain. If everyone in your space is focused on retail, create a unique online experience or events. If everyone in your industry is e-commerce heavy, try creating a personalized feel in your retail locations. Be the one to stand out. The key to growing on a large scale is to know your consumer, know your brand and then delivering on that knowledge. That’s how you grow without giving away equity. Become excellent at learning everything you can about consumers, your own brand and competitors so you can deliver a unique experience. Unique experiences that feel like they speak directly to the consumer is what helps you skyrocket into success.