Entrepreneur, Explorer, Angel.
Sometimes all at Once.
02TH September 2017
Entrepreneur - Leadership - Portfolio - Timely - Trendy Butler - Uncategorized
Founder Profiles: Jeremy Barnett of Trendy Butler
(Los Angeles, CA) My interview with Jeremy Barnett from Trendy Butler had some surprising twists. Trendy has rocketed to the top of the “I-work-in-tech-make-money-and-don’t-know-what-to-wear” category. The secret has been the science, and frankly, I think Jeremy and his partner should build a subscription business selling anything, given their algorithms. Anyways, here’s my interview with Jeremy
First Question: The Entrepreneur’s DNA
Miles: Jeremy, my first question for you goes back to your what I call entrepreneurial DNA. What did you do as a kid or as a grownup within your family that led you to want to start and grow your own business?
Jeremy: My childhood was a little different and abnormal. I was raised by a single mother who struggled with addiction. I was kind of in and out of a bunch of different schools. There was a lot of instability and not a lot of structure. I didn’t really have a dad as a role model, and for whatever reason, that served as a driving force rather than a destructive one. I grew up in La Jolla, CA and we were very middle class. We didn’t have a lot, but we didn’t have a little. I was surrounded by a lot of friends that had pretty much whatever they wanted whenever they wanted it. That was my life.
The driving force for me at a very early stage was I didn’t really do well in high school. I wasn’t ready from a maturity perspective to go to college when it was time to go to college. But, at the first stages of my entrepreneurial career, I was just a really good salesman. I didn’t really even know it until I got a job selling newspapers for a company called Investor’s Business Daily. It was a telemarketing job, and I was in a room full of maybe 100 people or so. I was the first week on the phones and I was the best sales rep in the office. I was making two grand a week at 24, 25 years old or something like that, which felt amazing.
I ended up realizing that I had a gift of communication, and I can talk to people. I was always able to make friends and to be comfortable and get to a point where I was able to communicate with people in a pretty effective manner. My schooling really came in the form of somebody that was like a really specific coach. And I studied the science of communication and I studied psychology, I studied NLP, which is neurolinguistic programming, and all these different things. And what ended up happening was I started cultivating my gifts. I would consider myself to be somebody who was never going to work for somebody, it was never in my DNA.
I was always somebody that was starting and trying new things, and that was always my driving force. I just wanted to provide and be the person that ultimately my father was not, and ultimately that was a good. Somehow that bad part of my life was actually a really good part of my life. It really taught me that everything that’s around me and everything that’s in my world was something that I had to create and figure out. There was nothing that was given to me or handed to me. So because of that, I’ve always had that mentality, and that mentality has served me really well through all of my business ventures including my most current one, Trendy Butler.
Question Two: Did you have Mentors?
Miles: Did you have a mentor at Business Daily or other places that started to help you hone your skills and allow you to understand what gifts you had and that you could polish?
Jeremy: Yeah, I did. My first mentor was not at Business Daily. It was actually a guy that I had worked with that was very versed in neurolinguistic programming and an expert in communication. He taught me a lot of things about my speech and things about my pattern and the things that I do and say and how I communicate with people. And he taught me the value of understanding how important it is to communicate with people in a way that they want to be communicated with. And that was really the basis of all the different fundamental things that I employed during my daily routines, and it’s the basis of how I’ve always communicated with investors or strategic partners. His name is Todd. He’s not with us anymore.
His name is Todd. He’s not with us anymore, but he was a very, very special human being, incredibly intelligent, and I learned so much … My schooling with him was the equivalent of me maturing from being a sales rep to somebody that was actually going to be a leader. And that was when I really fine-tuned my leadership skills, which is a never-ending process. I mean that’s the one thing that I’ve consistently done; there’s an ongoing process of learning and self-discovery and growing that is a part of being a good leader. And that’s just a part of my DNA and all my different routines. I’m very, very conscious of continuing to do whatever I need to do to make myself better, and I hold myself accountable to that.
Question Three: When did you realize you current business was an Opportunity?
Miles: When Trendy Butler fell in your lap, what were the circumstances that allowed everything to gel at the formation.
Jeremy: That is a very interesting part of my life. I would consider myself being at the tail end of a very significant crossroads that I had to go through at the age of 36. I’m 43 now. At the age of 35, I had an online casino that I lost through a really, really, really bad hire. And it took me about a year to continue down to zero. So at the age of 36, I’ve got a wife, a kid, another kid on the way, and I’m bankrupt. Completely flat busted and bankrupt, and it drove me down to a pretty bad place, both mentally and spiritually. It had been a great business. It was killing it. And we were doing all the things that you would want and it was just taken away from me, literally overnight. And I made the decision to take my family up to LA and explore this opportunity at an AI company. And I was so interested in the company that I decided to take an internship. That is roughly about five and a half, six years ago to this day.
And I took an internship at the age of 36, maybe 37 years old. And I was able to raise a small amount of money, low seven figures, for that company because I still had maintained some good relationships through this process that I was going through. That company was an AI company. It didn’t work out, but the lesson there was that I put myself in the mix, I put myself back in the mix. And the gentleman that I met there is my current business partner today, and when we realized that company and the ingredients of that company weren’t what we needed in order to go to the next level. We literally just went and smoked a cigar one day, and we were like, “Okay, what do we want to do? What do we like doing? What’s something that we can understand that we have experience with?” Every successful business I’ve had has been continuity models or some sort of residual income, and that’s what I understood. I’ve always loved fashion, but I wouldn’t consider myself a fashion guy. But I do enjoy fashion.
So what ended up happening was we decided to start Trendy Butler, my partner had experience in one of our competitor’s technology and understood where they were deficient in. And that was literally, the origin of Trendy Butler in March of 2014. We launched in January of 2015. And we’ve been literally successful almost from day one as we knew we could be disruptive. Disruptive meaning just take existing infrastructure and processes that are acceptable or at least looked at as being acceptable in fashion, and we built technology around those processes that nobody had done before, and that’s the base of why we’ve done what we’ve done.
Question Four: How has your Leadership style changed over time?
Miles: What do you think leadership meant before you started Trendy Butler and what do you think it means now?
Jeremy: Fundamentally my version of leadership was making certain that everybody liked me when I was structuring and doing, and that is not the correct way to lead. There’s been a pretty dramatic shift in the way I’ve done business just in the last 18 months. And the one thing that I can tell you, the biggest lesson that I’ve learned as we’ve grown from what I was to where I am now is this: when I started Trendy Butler I was really good with all the front-end stuff, which is the conversation and the pitch and the who we are and how we do it, the feel-good stuff. And now it’s a combination of the real feel-good stuff and the conversation and the who we are and what we are coupled with a lot of processes that makes the front good. So the front has to equal the back if that makes sense, right? That’s one thing from a psychological perspective… hey, what are the different fundamentals of the way I lead, today. I’m all about healthy conflict and constructive conflict, and when I see something that’s not right, I’m okay with speaking up. And it doesn’t matter if it’s the most uncomfortable situation, that is the most unbearable situation. And I’ve dealt with some things that have made me mature as a businessman and as a dad and as a husband.
Like when you go through processes when you’re holding people accountable. You go through processes where you’re not going to stand for something that isn’t good for the business and isn’t going to get the business from this point we’re at right to the hundred million dollars mark. When you’re able to hold people accountable to those standards, you hold yourself accountable to the same standards. Those two things have to be congruent. And what ends up happening is personal growth and even more important than the personal growth from a company perspective is the company starts to shift and you start to see really amazing. Magnificent things happen around you with the people who are in the trenches with you.
So we have to act like a company that’s on the way to that and we have to have the ingredients of a company that’s on our way to that, both from a process and fundamental psychology perspective. So I would say that really getting comfortable with conflict in a healthy manner is the most dramatic shift that I’ve had from a leadership perspective.
Question Five; How to speak to millennials… so they listen?
Miles: The fifth and final question is something that I find fascinating. Most of the entrepreneur founders that I work with are 26 to 34 millennials. But I only have to deal with a handful of them. You have tens of thousands of millennials that are buying your stuff and paying you every month for it? Like what the hell do they actually want and need on a consistent basis that you’ve got? Let me rephrase the question, I guess. What are the key elements to not just selling but retaining millennials in a subscription business?
Jeremy: That’s a long, good, and very loaded question! The reason we have certain competitors that once were very highly revered and now on a downward spiral. Number one is the full price, and number two is the experience; men don’t want to deal with people. Women, they want to deal with people. But men, we don’t want to deal with people. We want something simple, we want the decision made for us. And most men, with the exception of a few here and there, don’t really care about high fashion versus non-fashion. So that’s the base fundamental of our company; really good, high-quality basics like a really amazing V-neck sweater that’s been made in a wool blend or a really amazing pair of jeans that can kind of just go with anything. That’s the foundation of our company; we give you pieces that can build your wardrobe.
And then as you’ve stayed with a subscription for an extended period of time the technology recognizes that and we start layering in pieces and making suggestions as you grow with our company. For us everything is data-driven and everything is like when we give it to you, there’s a rule, number one is something that fundamentally we would want to wear and it’s got to be season appropriate, so it’s not off-price, it’s not off-season. Number two is the quality has to be at a certain level. And number three is we’re not doing anything that we would consider to be too fashion- forward because we saw that there’s just not a lot of room in that space for error. We’re not dealing with the super trendy guy that’s paying attention to what Kanye’s doing or anything like that. That’s not our customer.
Our customer is like a normal dude that makes somewhere between $50,000 to $80,000 a year at a job, and they just want something simple, good and easy given to them. And it’s like, “Oh yeah, I want that shirt but I want that shirt in six different colors.” So that’s the basis of Trendy Butler. What’s happening now though is we have a couple different things that are getting excited, so that’s our base product. We have a new price product that just came out, which is a $95 base package. And we also have $155 base package. So our two different package options give way more optionality for people who want either something a little bit more expensive or something more specific. But again, the key ingredient in understanding the data of your customers. When you get a customer, then giving your customers what they want is based on the data.
Miles: So to be honest, it’s about the data, it’s not about your unique connection to millennials. If they were spending the money, you’d go after the geriatrics because, in theory, you could have the data to make it right.
Jeremy: Absolutely. Yeah, we have customers that are all over the spectrum, primarily in the millennial, the 24 to 34-year-old age range is most certainly our target audience. When we hear over and over is a very simple; “Oh wow, this is nice. This is worth the money.” And that’s what we strive for.
To shop Trendy Butler, visit them here.
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