Today, we speak with Joshua Adam Brueckner, Founder of SKINNYFATTIES, an eco-friendly startup with a simple yet brilliant idea of converting your worn, fat ties into skinny, fashionable ones. Founded just 10 months ago, the company is an example of the power of word-of-mouth and social media. Having no money for new job interview attire, Brueckner decided to redesign his old ties, which soon gained the interest of his friends. Once before and after shots of the ties started gaining popularity on Instagram, Brueckner knew he had something.
Being just 10 months in, what have you learned from running your own business?
I’ve been called brilliant and innovative in the press, but that doesn’t always mean that sales are rolling in. It’s quite tough. You have to be your own motivator at all times and in it for the long run.
Are there any other challenges you face?
We are doing something that no company has ever done before on a mass level. Every day poses new challenges, but you live and you learn.
You started selling your products on Etsy.com then transitioned to your own site. What steps did you take to achieve that?
I was just tailoring vintage neckties that I would find secondhand. Then I realized that I could be providing the same service to men all over the world by tailoring their ties. I launched SKINNYFATTIES.com where we offered the service. People loved the concept!
We tailor existing neckties – that alone makes us stand out. For every tie tailored, we donate $1 to helping low-income men reenter the workforce. We also provide free shipping worldwide.
Where do you hope to see your company in the next 5 years and how will you get there?
We are releasing our first collection of SKINNYFATTIES-designed neckties soon. We’ll also continue tailoring ties and see where the business leads us!
Any advice for a new fashion startup?
My advice to entrepreneurs starting their own business is to make sure they are truly passionate about what they are doing. TOMS Shoes started in Mycoskie’s apartment, Apple began in Job’s garage and Zuckerberg launched The Facebook in his Harvard dorm room. You have to be creative in how you leverage existing resources.
What is your take on the current fashion scene in New York City?
In terms of the industry, it’s very supportive. Now in terms of the men’s fashion scene, guys are starting to focus again on looking dapper. SKINNYFATTIES is proud to be part of that trend.
What do you see happening over the next 3-5 years in the fashion industry?
It’s so hard to tell. [For example] It’s funny that the color salmon is the “it” spring color. You just never know what magazine will feature the next it color. I truly have no idea – I can’t say. But what is cool about the fashion industry is that you can really wear whatever you want – just work it.
How did you finance your business when it was at the early stage?
The business model does not require a ton of overheard, so we’ve been able to grow incrementally as our sales increase. Our first major investment was needles and thread, literally. As we’ve grown, we’ve been able to add luxurious touches to our packaging, labeling and marketing. But really, it’s all been a learning curve.
Are you fundraising currently?
No, we haven’t been raising funds, but we are interested in creative partnerships.
Have you ever raised funding? If so, tell us about that process (investors, seed/angel, series)?
So far, we haven’t had any big investors or major fundraising activities outside of sales. Those doors are always open.
You do about 80 percent of social media in your day-to-day. What social media do you use?
We focus heavily on the use of Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
Do people tend to say “Skinny Fat Ties” or “Skinny Fatties?”
I refer to us as “Skinny Fat Ties,” but most people call us “Skinny Fatties.” I don’t care at all what people call us; kind of like that old saying, “Call me whatever you want as long as you call me.”
Learn more about other awesome New York Startups.