Morning Joe | January 08, 2013
>>> welcome back to " morning joe ." the co-founders of a small business , their 3-year-old small business on the rise growing at a rate of 200% each year.
>> that's good. a good rate of growth. good to see you. first things first, a new father, paul . congratulations. new year's eve baby.
>> seven minutes before the ball dropped. snow maybe there's
>> how much sleep have you gotten zblnt maybe there's a reason you're here and not with the baby. we want to bring you guys in, you have first such a great story in school together and also facing the headwinds a lot of people have faced the last few years with the economy and succeeding. paul , i start with you. how did you guys get together on this and why did you choose shirts?
>> a great question. we weren't always shirt makers. we were in business school in 2007 in the uk and we were heading to world finance in 2007 , seemed to be the direction to go. as luck would have it and life have it we graduated the day before lehman brothers went down and plans changed as for a lot of people at the time.
>> are you guys even 30?
>> just checking.
>> a little over 30.
>> a little north of 30.
>> we came out and started to panic and gave us an opportunity to say the jobs we were supposed to do after business school don't exist anymore. we always loved clothes and lived in london and spoiled by this idea of german street and going sort of one great specialist who does it really well. we came back from the states. i'm from virginia and paul from louisiana and had trouble finding things as simple as shirts that fit well, the right quality that lasted a long time. what if we had an american shirt maker that focused on fit and quality based in the u.s. and had an american brand.
>>> see the shirts everywhere now. you sort of cracked the code in terms of men are difficult to shop for. it's this fit of the shirt and you found it. how did you grow the business? how is it i see them everywhere now and i can tell it's a ledbury.
>> that's encouraging. we like to hear that. it's been word of mouth .
>> i am.
>> we tell someone like harold and harold will wear the shirt.
>> willie is your number one model. i got introduced to the company and i love it.
>> it in no way compensated spokesperson. i got them and love the shirts.
>> we had it -- people are coming back. that's something about a small business , your friends and family will buy something once. when people start coming back, we have a guy now shopping for 16 months and has 120 shirts. people are buying more.
>> that's a lot.
>> in growing a business, that's what happens to a small business and how they get off the ground.
>> what is the challenge? you have been growing but not easy to start a small business in this climate.
>> our biggest challenge has been dealing with the demand. a great challenge to have. an inventory heavy business dealing with an offer whelming demand has been far and away our biggest challenge to date.
>> also convincing people in 2008 that starting a luxury shirt business was the right move.
>> that's called thinking outside the box .
>> it was. i think i was told more than once we should be making burlap shirts, where the economy --
>> garbage bags.
>> simple proof it was a simple business, make them fit better and put it online and make it an e-commerce business we would have something.
>> it's kind of counselor intuitive and i've heard people say it's a good time to start a small business . why is that?
>> i think it's cost, first of all. you get start-up costs for half of what you would before. we had great deals. for people like us , we recalibrated the way people purchase. there was a time in 2007 , people would buy a $300 shirt and say, a $300 shirt has a logo, great brand, fine. for us, we started this and people said, i want to shop differently, want to know what it's made of and the construction and quality and value and we offer that and educate them not. for us, it turned out to be a perfect time to start a higher end.
>> what do they cost?
>> about $135. and you go online and cut out the middleman. it's an a wholesale environment. that might be $250 above. people really respond to that and everybody can appreciate a value.
>> a good story. a couple buddies making good.
>> congratulations on ledbury and on your baby, more important.
>>> coming up next, the president on the council of foreign relations . richard haass of the romney campaign, dan senore, much to talk about. also, mayor michael bloomberg of new york city and mika's dad, dr.