THEY SAY THAT EVERY GOOD THING THAT COMES TO A MAN, COMES FROM THE ADVICE OF HIS WOMAN. IN THIS CASE, YOUR WIFE WAS THE CATALYST THAT STARTED WURKIN STIFFS? I’M SURE THAT’S A HECK OF A STORY TO TELL!
People ask me.. “How did she marry you?” I let everyone know, “That was 50-pounds and twenty years ago!” Amie’s the best and can do it all. She makes me look good.
DID YOU HAVE ANY INTEREST IN STYLE/MEN’S FASHION WHEN YOU WERE YOUNGER? DID YOUR FATHER TEACH YOU HOW TO DRESS? WHO WAS THAT ONE PERSON IN YOUR LIFE THAT TAUGHT YOU RIGHT FROM WRONG?
I have an identical twin brother. I would say he was the more stylish one growing up. However, we did dress up and still do as a family, during the week (dress shirt, tie and suit) for religious services. At an early age, my father taught us how to tie a tie, tie our shoes and later in life… Tie one on. Just joking!
WHO/WHAT INSPIRES WURKIN STIFFS ON A DAYTODAY BASIS? YOUR OFFICE, WHICH WE SEE ON MANY OF YOUR GREAT VIDEOS, APPEARS TO HAVE A LOT OF PICTURES FOR INSPIRATION ON THE WALLS. CAN YOU EXPLAIN HOW THOSE PICTURES HAVE INFLUENCED YOUR BRAND?
I’m really into clean design and the functionality of things. Gadgets and kid’s toys inspire me, especially those products out of Japan. Sounds crazy. The simplicity of things inspires me as well as the fun. We do post up a mood board of things we like as a brand, as well as things we don’t like. Usually, most of it is not menswear related, unless we’re trying to nail down a look and feel for a photo shoot. We also like to tape brands on our wall we’d like to partner with for synergistic collaborations.
WHAT DOES THE CREATIVE PROCESS LOOK LIKE FOR A WURKIN STIFF PRODUCT? WALK US THROUGH YOUR IDEA OF WHAT THE FINAL PRODUCT MIGHT LOOK LIKE? HOW LONG DO PROJECTS USUALLY TAKE?
Everything has a story and the best products seem to hit me out of thin air. Speaking of air, I designed a new package that hit me while I was sitting on an airplane. I was looking out the window and looking at the jet turbine. I always have my notebook with me. So, like all projects, I start sketching ideas. Then, I’ll do a 2-dimensional drawing in Adobe Illustrator. From there, I’ll take the final revision and have it made into a 3D-model and prototype. Usually more tweaks are needed, and usually, like a newborn, around 9-10 months after conception the first sample is born from the production line. We finally spank its rear end and figure out how we’re going to introduce it into the world. That’s how babies are born, right?
WURKIN STIFFS HAS BEEN AROUND FOR ALMOST 10 YEARS. WHEN YOU SEE YOUR PRODUCTS IN STORES, BEING SOLD ONLINE, AND EXPANDING INTO NEW ACCESSORY CATEGORIES, HOW DOES THAT MAKE YOU FEEL? HAS THERE BEEN A SINGLE MOMENT IN YOUR GROWTH PROCESS WHERE YOU STOOD BACK AND SAID, “WHOA, WE’RE REALLY DOING THIS!”
The “Whoa, we’re really doing this!” kind of enters in year two. And, it sounds more like “Whoa, we’re really doing this?” But yeah, it’s crazy to see how much we’ve grown and how much we’ve learned over the years. It still gives me the chills when I walk into a store and someone is selling our product to a customer and seeing their excitement. Remembering that feeling gets me through the tough times and reminds me why I do what I do.
YOU STARTED IN 2006, A TIME WHERE THERE WAS A LIMITED SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE (TWITTER, IG, FACEBOOK..ETC). TODAY, WHAT HAS SOCIAL MEDIA DONE TO HELP WURKIN STIFFS GROW AS A COMPANY? HAS IT HELPED OR HINDERED YOUR GROWTH AS THE MENSWEAR ACCESSORY MARKET CONTINUES TO GROW?
I started with a one-page website with a “Buy Now” button. Then, quickly went into stores without the social media we see today. So, I feel we adopted social media late in the brand’s lifecycle. Anywhere people are talking about you and can learn more about your brand/company/products, it’s all a good thing and helps. How to use it better on multiple levels? That’s the real question we’re always trying to answer.
WHO IS YOUR CURRENT CUSTOMER? WHAT TYPE OF PRODUCT IS HE LOOKING FOR? TYPICALLY, WHAT KIND OF GUY IS HE?
Actually, our customers are men and the people who buy for them. We have many women customers who purchase gifts for their men who are hard to buy for. Würkin Stiffs products are those “gotta-have” cool items and excite customers because we fill that void. Our guy cares about the details, loves functional gadgets, appreciates design, and doesn’t take himself too seriously but aspires to be his best and works very hard to attain what he’s after. Hopefully, the only DBag associated with this man is ours (100% Silicone – $49.50). Shameless plug.
THE PACKAGING SEEMS TO BE EXTREMELY IMPORTANT TO YOU. MOST COMPANIES DON’T SPEND MUCH TIME IN THAT AREA. CAN YOU TELL US WHY WURKIN STIFF PUTS SO MUCH EMPHASIS ON THAT? CAN YOU RECALL IF EVER YOU RECEIVED A TOUCHING EMAIL OR IF A CUSTOMER EXPRESSED THEIR EXCITEMENT WHEN RECEIVING YOUR PRODUCT?
Many moons ago, when I bought my first iMac, I saved every shred of packaging. I was amazed at the thought and detail of the layout on how it was presented. That experience to this day never leaves me and I want my customers to feel that too. And, today I purchase things just because I love the packaging. My wife and I were in a department store once and I said to her “You like that watch?” And, she said, “Yes, do you?” I said, “It’s okay, but the packaging is amazing!” Needless to say, she got a brand new watch and I had the packaging I was drooling over. So, that’s an innate for me.
So… touching emails. There’s been many and I love when people reach out. I really love the emails that go something like “OMG… I love your product, but how do I get the Power Stays back into the packaging?” And, I’m like, “The package is just meant to be purchased and thrown away!” LOL
WHERE DO SEE WURKIN STIFFS GOING IN THE COMING YEARS? ARE YOU LOOKING TO EXPAND INTO OTHER ITEMS OR WOULD YOU BE INTERESTED IN OPENING YOUR OWN BRICK AND MORTAR STORE?
All of the above. We have lots of things on the drawing board and we are looking to expand Würkin Stiffs into more of a lifestyle brand. I like to approach things differently and try to do things never done before and/or against the norm. I have a few new ideas for brick and mortar too. At the end of the day, no matter what we do, it all has to make sense and be innovative.
WHEN IT COMES TO MEN’S STYLE – WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 5 DO’S AND TOP 5 DON’TS?
- Do – Get your suit tailored… It will change your life.
Don’t – Go wearing a suit off the rack unless your name is Brad Pitt and everything looks good on you.
- Do – Buy items that look and make you feel great. Even if it’s more expensive, you’ll use it more and have it longer.
Don’t – Buy more items just because it’s on sale. That’s a good way to clutter up your closet and get you depressed.
- Do – Wear crazy-fun socks… It’s a great expression that people get just a peek (ooo… mysterious).
Don’t – Wear socks with just underwear and sandals. Never a good look, not even for Brad.
- Do – Accessorize! It’s the little things that can uplift an old outfit and you’ll receive compliments.
Don’t – Use a lapel pin for a tie tack. Tacks are out, tie bars are in!
- Do – Checkout Wurkinstiffs.com and buy something for yourself or someone you love.
Don’t – Leave empty handed.
SOMETIMES, HAVING THE RIGHT ACCESSORIES ARE ALL A GUY NEEDS TO STAND OUT FROM THE CROWD. WHAT SUGGESTIONS WOULD YOU GIVE TO A GUY WHO IS JUST STARTING TO BUILD THEIR WARDROBE? WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO’S LOOKING TO EXPRESS THEMSELVES MORE BY TRYING DIFFERENT THINGS?
I was that typical guy who never wanted help at a department store and never entered a men’s specialty store. Würkin Stiffs threw me into this world of trying things and receiving expert advice as I visited men’s stores. Yes, they want to make money by selling you stuff, but mostly they want you to look your best. It’s truly a game changer when you put your defense down and accept help. Go into these stores (which may be out of your comfort zone), ask for assistance, try things you would not normally put on and watch the transformation. Spend more on less. You won’t regret it… I wish I had this advice years ago.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WANT TO SAY TO OUR AUDIENCE?
Be your genuine self, do what you are passionate about and love. The rest will come organically, but you can never stop working hard and do not take “No” for an answer. I invented one product (Power Stays), received a utility-patent and sold it out of the back of my car from store-to-store… that’s how Würkin Stiffs began. You’ll get out, what you put in. And lastly, look and feel your best while doing whatever it is that you do… People do take notice and remember.