Q & A with Online Menswear Company Frieschskys
By Amanda Harth
Dan and I met at one of the strangest moments in life. Dan and I both originally went in with the idea that the workshop will enhance our skills as leaders and small business owners. We both signed up for a seminar that taught you how to be a human being. Yes. I signed up for a 72 hour course on how to be a human being and cried for 72-hours. And yes, it works. He and I both connected in a vulnerable state and ended up sharing our interest and discovered we both work in the fashion industry. Dan Stecker is the co-founder of a Milwaukee based e-commerce company that sells designer menswear from around the world. Below we discuss fashion companies in startup mode and what’s next for Frieschskys.
Where did you get the idea to start Frieschskys?
Most brilliant ideas are usually created when you are getting high or drunk. (That was a joke, I think lol)
It was actually an idea that came just after I was fired from a recruiting company. I was hanging out at my friends apartment and we just finished watching Lost. My friends were already selling clothing on eBay as a side hustle and as I shared with them that I didn’t know what I was gonna do. To make a long story short it was as simple as asking myself why don’t you try selling clothing on eBay.
What was the biggest obstacle you faced starting your business?
Biggest obstacle I faced was in regards to partnerships. You need to be very careful just who you work with because we all have different standards of excellence, different standards of work ethic and just different motivations. So finding the right people to work with is tough in starting a business.
How did you decide who your target demographic would be?
Trial and error, and then just thousands of online transactions on eBay until we finally developed enough sales records to make a healthy decision on just who we should target.
How long was it before you received a profit?
We were profitable 10 days after we started and never looked back and I’m in year 13 now.
In 2009 angel investor Steve Daily invested in your company. It’s different for every business, but what are a few tips on ways to land an investor?
Try and be people’s friend rather then trying to convenience people of your business. Be your true self, and allow for relationships develop organically. Make sure you never lie when it comes down to your business. It’s important you invest in your character, have high standards of accountability and most importantly be a man or women with integrity.
Did you have any mentors in the beginning stages of your business?
Oh yea, nobody that actually had the title as mentor but people that demonstrated selfless acts of honesty, as well as just passion and conviction in how they spoke. If I could use this opportunity to thank Dave Berry, Ravi Singh, Charles Belinda, Dr Khalil Moses and John Elson.
Top three rules for fashion start-ups:
Stay lean, convert your apartment into your office/showroom to keep overhead down. Stay humble, all the while be willing to wear multiple hats. Meaning some days you will need to be the buyer, seller, shipper, customer service housekeeper, compliance officer, claims specialist, everything in one. No days off, I worked everyday for 5 year straights. If you want this and you really want it. Don’t take anything for granted and if you don’t reinvest profits back into your business why will investors invest in you.
How would you describe the current state of fashion as a whole?
In trouble. Most of the decision makers don’t have vision. I compare fashion distribution to that how music was distributed before the internet. All the shot callers in this game feel as if they have all of the control the same way music executives did until streaming, YouTube and how we listen to music now a days.
Are there any mobile apps, softwares, or resources you use on a daily basis that help you get the productivity out of your business?
Magento, eBay, Amazon, Instagram, facebook
How large is your team now?
What area of your business do you spend the most time on now?
I’m a managing partner that leads in all ways. I try and produce the most amount of listings in house, I focus on maintaining the highest standard within our customer service e department, all the while continue to act as the relationship manager with investors. Putting projects in front of them. I’ve been traveling a lot this last year now as a buyer/auditor. Never lose sight on wearing multiple hats in a small business. Your people will respect your work ethic and you will get more out of your team if they see they can get a lot out of a good leader.
What is the most effective marketing tool for your business?
Feedback, word of mouth and simply guests leaving personal experiences on various platforms has been an effective marketing tool
What is your winning formula?
Integrity, Accountability and being a good listener.
What are some of the brands you feature now?
Zilli, Brioni, Brunello Cucinelli, Kiton, Isaia, Canali, Tom Ford, Gucci etc.
What shopping habits are you seeing in your customer?
Everybody wants a deal or an additional discount embrace the fact people are giving you second, third and forth chances to earn their business. If you don’t, I will. And good luck getting them back.
Do you have a goal of how many other brands you want to partner with in 2019?
I don’t want to expand in other brands as much as I just want to stay within the LVMH lifestyle.
What changes would you like to see practiced in the industry going forward?
I would like to see more virtual realities, more bringing together brick and mortar stores meet e-commerce real estate and just evolving that space to something that we haven’t really seen yet.
What changes are you most excited about for your business in 2019?
I landed a new partnership, and now with a healthy and lean team, I’m excited with bringing some new projects to off pricing platforms.
Do you have any plans for expanding into another market in menswear within the next two years?
Yes, I would like to develop a store front location on Rodeo Drive all the while working in off pricing, and older stock. Also looking at opening a Vancouver location as well as Toronto. As you read this I’m actually on a flight to close on a women’s project, shoes, purses and outerwear that will be the first time we ever introduced to the market.
Lastly people told me my whole life that you can’t do it. Even today I hear a lot of no but motivation can be a beautiful thing. Don’t allow for self doubt to overwhelm you. If you don’t believe in yourself who will believe in you.
Reach for the heavens and maybe just maybe you will find a place just for you.