Founders · Marketing

How to find a business partner for a Premium Men's Leather Goods Brand

Riz Khan Business Owner, Business Coach, Startup Advisor and Investor

Last updated on October 5th, 2019

I own a men's leather goods brand

It's all online and doing ok, but not great.


Our product is loved by its customer, we have 500+ legit five-star reviews.


Where I lack is marketing, photography, videography etc..


So i'd like to find a business partner, for some equity split, and they can do all the operations, while i step back, and it would be great if they also knew some marketing.

Anuj B. Gopal Serial Entrepreneur, Growth Leader, Venture Builder, Ex-IBMer

October 5th, 2019

Hi Riz,

Congratulations for building a customer loved product. It’s one of the toughest task for many startups and corporate that’s why they spents a lot to achieve this stage. It’s proof that you’re a smart worker.

From your comments, it's look like you're losing on product presentation and positioning part. You can overcome this situation by hiring a PR firm or building an in-house PR team if your team has someone with this essential expertise. Unfortunately this is not a task for one person but a team.


In case you've budget constraints, you can try following work around:

  • hire an online business leader and design your customer acquisition strategy
  • hire some freelance content creators. You will find them easily at upwork, fiverr, behance etc.
  • get design the required marketing content and pitch it to end users as per proposed customer acquisition strategy
  • you may hire an external marketing team to speed up your online marketing activities
  • you also need to build a new or empower existing customer relationship team to monitor and improve your customer behaviour
  • you also need to define process and metrics to track all these activities in timely manner.

This is just a short summary of core activities that a PR firm will do for your venture. So it’s completely your choice whether you would like to do it yourself or hire some expert.

Also remember, at startup nothing can’t be achieved without the close collaboration of founding team.


Regards,

Anuj || www.anuj.live

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business coach

October 5th, 2019

Hello Riz,

On the positive side, you have a product that people like.

But, it always scares me when an owner says they want to step back but still own the business. In those cases I often strongly recommend selling the business entirely. If you're not interested in working day to day on the business anymore (operations) and you also lack in other skill areas, what are you still contributing to the business? Are you just going through the motions? Why would a partner take less than full ownership if you want them to run the business?

It sounds like you might need some marketing talent to grow your business from a hobby to a real enterprise. BUT, and here's the big but, it's leather goods. Inherently leather is a purchase that appeals to the senses, touch, smell, look. And leather is rather expensive when you consider that fit is also a big issue. Being an online only business is going to be very tough for a product that engages so many senses in the buying process. Online the buyer is completely disconnected from most of the sensory aspects that persuade them to buy. This therein, is the primary reason I would guess your leather goods business is not selling more volume.


Additionally, it's a question of to whom are you advertising? Are you advertising to women to buy for their men (women do most of the shopping for men)? Or are you advertising to gay men? Or are you advertising to men directly? What is the approach? If you don't have a distinct path as to why people with want to buy your leathers instead of something else (like other menswear/accessories) or some other brand (like Wilson's), you are not different enough to stand out.


I'll ask you to think about men's underwear. There are like a zillion brands. And in the past 15 years men's undewear has gone from boxers vs. briefs, to thousands of expensive styles as if it defined who men are. Each brand has taken on a personality and targets a specific group of men. You have Duluth Trading Co. who is all about comfort for working men. And you have Andrew Christian who is all about gay men soon to remove their underwear.


What's the personality for your leather brand?

What's stopping you from hiring a marketing manager or an advertising agency? Why are you looking to surrender both operations as well as marketing/sales?


There was an online leather company in the early 90s that I really liked and have since forgotten since I stopped wearing leather, that was mostly online, and they also wholesaled to other shops. What was unique about them is that you could mail them a pair of your favorite jeans and they would send them back with a pair of leather pants that fit the same as your favorite jeans. How cool is that? I didn't have to be local to try them on. I didn't have to take lots of measurements and maybe still get it wrong. I didn't have to guess whether their sizes were the same as the sizes at the department store. I referred people to their online shop all the time.


I don't think you need an equity partner. I think you need to get your fire back. And you may simply need to hire a marketer or agency to define your unique value proposition so you can start being distinct and attract a target audience. It seems quality is not the issue.


This actually sounds like a fun project, because often the hard part is delivering a quality product people like. But you have that down. Now you need to turn up the "sizzle" as they say.


I'm interested in learning more, but your CFL profile is private. Reach out to me directly if you'd like to chat more about a specific assessment of your brand position and where you would most benefit from outside help, whether that's me or someone else.

Nicolas Schwabach Top door-opener good at generating business leads

October 9th, 2019

Try paying for your marketing, photography, videography etc with your leather goods via one of the big corporate barter companies. Or flag a barter opportunity via one of the big freelancer sites. If your leather goods are top quality, there will be definite interest.

Riz Khan Business Owner, Business Coach, Startup Advisor and Investor

October 9th, 2019

@Nicolas what are or where can i find the big corporate barter companies?