How do you and Danh stay motivated?
We are driven to reinvent the customer experience in fashion. We want every person – not just a fortunate few – to be able to experience the quality, style, and comfort that we know is possible.
What made Danh want to start Butter Cloth?
Danh always hated wearing dress shirts. He’s always said, “They’re stiff, they’re scratchy, and you can’t move in them!” He set out to develop a dress shirt that felt like his favorite t-shirt. With a special blend of long fiber cotton and a unique manufacturing process, he created a profoundly soft fabric that he named “Butter Cloth”. It has incredible breathability, 6-way stretch, and an exclusive double-finished construction that Danh says “makes you look like a Friday night… but feel like a Sunday morning!”
Ha – I can say from experience that Butter Cloth shirts definitely make you feel like a Sunday morning! Let’s talk about your Shark Tank experience – what you learned from it?
- Have a product with a genuine “hook” – It must be something that is easy to differentiate and solves a problem for the consumer.
- Have a marketing plan that is scalable – Customer acquisition costs are key.
- Know your numbers – Create a solid business plan and be very close to it.
Great points! How did you know that this is what you wanted to do?
You know, I think Danh has this ferocious curiosity about fabrics and garment construction – he’s a very gifted designer with an inventor’s mind. He does have a background in fashion – he grew up working in his family’s small tailor shop in Vietnam where he started making his own clothes by the time he turned 10.
In 1994, his family immigrated to California. His family wanted him to become a doctor or lawyer, telling him “fashion is a poor business.” Danh followed his heart. He took fashion classes at a local community college and landed a job at Mattel – designing clothes for Barbie. When he had saved enough money, he left Mattel and enrolled in his dream school, Otis College of Art and Design where he got his B.A. in fashion. Danh’s talent and mentorships later got him recruited by 7 for All Mankind, Hause of Howe (Union Bay), and finally Affliction Clothing where he was Head Designer for 10 years before starting Butter Cloth. I really believe that Danh is proof that dreams really do come true.
Danh has such an incredible story. I want to shift gears to talk about success. How do you define success for yourself or Butter Cloth?
Success is the satisfaction we get from knowing we have succeeded in our customer’s eyes – that we have been able to exceed their expectations. We can only measure that by the growth in our customer base and their continued support of our brand.
I agree ! Customer retention and loyalty is a great way to measure success, especially when you are scaling your business. Do you think there’s a price for success? Have you made any sacrifice to achieve your success?
There is always short term sacrifice for long term success. As long as you have a clear vision of your “why” the short term sacrifices will always seem worth it. Live like no one else today, so that tomorrow you can live like no one else.
Love that – you know, I don’t think I’ve heard that last bit before. So, let’s talk about failure. Tell me about a time you’ve failed and what you learned from that experience.
I once tried to patent an invention. I loved the idea, and I convinced a few others to love it too. I did a lot of research and spent a lot of money on lawyers. I invested countless hours in designing and developing prototypes. Eventually, I did focus testing and discovered that the market for this product was extremely niche, making it very difficult to scale or make a profit. I learned that no matter what I think of a product, it is the customer I have to listen to. Solving a problem for just a few people seldom makes for a successful business. I learned that I have to serve a mass market in order to accomplish my goals.
Definitely – your product can be absolutely fantastic but if it doesn’t solve a problem that your customers have, it’s not going to help your business grow much. In terms of sales, what has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome and what did you do to reach the next level?
I would say our biggest sales hurdle was in the beginning – selling our dream of Butter Cloth to the people I needed in order to help us succeed. I knew I could not do this alone. I needed a strong team, and selling does not come easy for me. But each person I got on board made the next one easier, and today we have an unbelievably strong team.
Last question – what is one significant goal for Butter Cloth’s future?
We want to grow the company to a $50M brand within 7 years. We are laser-focused on that goal, and we know that the only way to get there is through a growing loyal customer base.
Awesome – I have no doubt that you’ll get there !