With a degree in Electrical Engineering, a knack for marketing, and an MBA from MIT Sloan, Seph Skerritt is not your typical tailor. But it’s his unique background that makes Proper Cloth different from the competition.
Company: Proper Cloth
Founder/Age: Seph Skerritt, 30
Location: New York, NY
Start-up Year: 2008
Start-up Costs: Bootstrapped initially followed by $40k from friends and family. We’ve since raised additional capital.
How I Got Started:
Just did it. Designed a website, had it built, found a clothing factory and started selling shirts.
During an internship in Shanghai in the summer 2007, Seph was first exposed to custom clothing. After returning to MIT Sloan, Seph brainstormed with friends and classmates about how the internet could best be leveraged for a next generation clothing business: ultimately creating the business plan for Proper Cloth. Upon graduation, Skerritt moved to New York and founded the company.
With just a small amount of savings and credit every dollar had to count, so Skerritt chose an ultralight startup approach. An amateur (but determined) graphic artist, Skerritt designed the website himself and worked closely with talented software developers and graphic artists overseas to bring the site to life. “To produce the dress shirts, I negotiated a flexible partnership with the best domestic custom shirt supplier I could find.” Proper Cloth sold its first custom dress shirt in September and sales continue to grow quickly.
Customer Success Story:
Last summer we tried to arrange a photoshoot, but experienced obstacles arranging the photographer and venue. We were wary that this could potentially be really expensive to pull off without looking amateur.
Around that time we also noticed that several customers (ten actually) were ordering the exact same design. We have literally trillions of possible combinations, so this seemed a bit strange. Later we found out that it was for someone’s wedding. A band member had gotten shirts for his entire groomsmen party to all look the same. I was writing a blog post about weddings and thought to email to ask him if I could use a photo. When he sent me the pictures, I was blown away with how perfect they were. He had had a great photographer and everyone looked like they were having a great time partying. We ended up putting this guys wedding on our home page and it worked out great for everyone.
Noteworthy: Propercloth.com provides an online shirt design tool that is both intuitive and appealing. Users go through a process of selecting the shirts primary fabric, the collar and cuff styles and even accent fabrics. Through the process, a hyperrealistic picture of the shirt is displayed. Minimizing the guesswork and maximizing the style.
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