Sid and Ann Mashburn Made in Atlanta 008
Sid and Ann Mashburn
Michael Tavani introduces us with Alternative Apparel
- Good wipes is a Switchyards company, they bought a school bus, and went on a 40 day trip
Switchyards is about a year and a half old
“Atlanta is not historically known for B2C”
“Trying to create a density of people who care about that”
Evan Toporek from Alternative Apparel brought his wife, and 10 other of his family members
- 129 REI stores starting this month
ATL08 for 30% off
- They’ve been there since 2007
What is Sid and Ann Mashburn?
- First thing, hats off
- S: We’re a marriage. Originally from MS, fled to New York as soon as I graduated. I couldn’t get into design school. Got a job selling and asked to learn how to design.
- We grew up together.
- A: after 20 years of marriage, he finally got fired and said it’s time to do this now. I had gone to business school, so I wasn’t afraid. I said I think you’re employable.
- S: we looked at 9 cities across the country. Had it down to Chicago, New York, and
- A: it was February and there were daffodils
- S: we were living in Minnesota
- A: the daffodils kinda reminded me of London… I was a fashion editor at Glamour, etc
- S: Atlanta welcomed us with open arms.
- S: core values started with hopefulness and helpfulness. Today’s been a pretty good day, I think tomorrow’s gonna be better… it’s a gift from God that we came to Atlanta
Can you talk about your operations?
A: was just meant to be a men’s brand. Third year into it we started the women’s side of the business. Where jeni’s ice cream is now was our first women’s shop. 2011: the website.
S: 2013: Houston, 15: Washington, Dallas, 16: LA
- S: opening a women’s show was an offensive and defensive move. People encouraged us to start the women’s show. Who you’re hanging out with is really important.
How did it start?
- A: I met him first. I thought he was really cute. It was at the bad beach in New York, not even the hamptons. It was at Long Beach, where you go to see the sky. I asked him when the train was running. I saw that he got on, and I left an empty seat next to me. L
- S: … I had a girlfriend too. I called Ann’s mother in Va to ask for Ann’s number.
- A: the sweet story… if you ever saw The Decil Wears Prada, that was me. I said to the receptionist that the man I’m going to marry is going to call me. But he didn’t call, so I had to call him, and we got married
- S: her first photo shoot was Cindy Crawford’s photo shoot. One thing she’ll say is really cool about women those days… any way
- A: we’re really proud because this month in September is Cindy Crawford wearing one my shirts
- S: she got me a job at a startup that became J Crew… back then, unisex clothes weren’t really a thing. I oversaw all men’s products except sweaters. I said we need shoes to shoot with the pants. And they said do it. I’d get there at 7 in the morning and leave at 8 at night. The look was cool, it had a nice expression to it. I got called to work at Ralph Lauren, which was like being called to go to the Yankees. Interesting thing was I had a lot more experience that a lot of people. Polo was like finishing school… one day you’re a cowboy, the next day you’re banker. … getting from an A to an A+ was really hard.
- S: worked for Tommy Hilfiger, and ultimately at Lands End. They asked me to add style, but not too much. He was there for 8 years, and then I got fired.
- S: No job is ever too small. You will always find benefit from working in something you find joy in… here we are 10 years later
How does your brand make people feel
- Image of “Love and Happiness”
- S: we may seem kinda fancy and nice, if we’re ever pretentious, it’s over. We want it to be product for every girl and every guy. We have good, better, and best. Levi’s for 65$, and we’ll customize it for 30$, so you get custom made jeans for $95
- S: were trying to build a place where cultural crossroads
- A: we do a lot of educating in the shop. I want people to feel like they’re dressed the right way. I take a lot of joy in dressing in the morning, but then I wanna forget about it… nothing worse than thinking about that all day
- S: were super practical about what we wear. I’m sitting here in a suit, and I see this as practical. This is what I wear every day. People come to us… and we wanna be there for those occasions. We love design we love fashion, but serving people is wear it’s at
What’s the experience that people will feel when they walk in the store?
- A: we wanted it to feel like our home. We put a ping pong shop in it. We put a tailor shop in it. We wanted to show people that we knew how to fix it. … it’s a cool place to hang out. People always ask us who our poor customer is, and we hope we don’t have one.
- S: that also goes to who’s working in the shop. Our team of girls and guys, it’s a little bit like Ocean’s 11. If you’ve got a bigger guy, we don’t want you to see a bunch of skinny guys.
- S: “hug them with your eyes”
- S: records on the turntable, but no gangster rap and no death metal because we’ve got little ones and grandmas
Whoa re your brands heroes?
- A: my first boss Pauly melon - all these women I worked with at vogue. She was 62 at the time. Most of the women who were the big editors were in their 40s 50s 60s. And we worked with all these beautiful women. And I wondered if I could be one of those groups, I would want to be the older editor women, they were really appealing and attractive. They knew how to dress, and they were confident. Know that you look really great and then forget about it.
- My other big influence was my mother. I grew up painting on stones and sewing my own clothes. We moved every two years. My mom let me make my room once a Swiss Chalet. And my brother had a room With a bunch of half nude women on the walls
- S: mine is : my dad, a super encourager. When I wanted to go to design school, my dad said… you see that Monte Carlo out there you go out there and you sell that, and see if you can make it in New York.
My older brother was a super cool dresser. There were these shows like I Spy, Get Smart… close fitting suits. And then Sydney Portier.
How has your brand touched someone deeply?
- A: a long time customer passed away recently. And his daughter wanted to make sure he was married in his Sid suit. I think that touched Sid the most.
- S: he was about 87 years old. And he would sneak down to our store to buy a suit, and he would really sneak down to smoke a cigar. And he was gentle and wise. And you know when I heard that, the medium is clothes, but the real thing is relationships
What have you done that’s gone viral?
- S: it’s a little embarrassing, but Ann had worked at Vogue, and I had friends at Condé Nast, so I knew some people at GQ. And when I was in New York, everyone was wearing black. And I would like to wear white, and it seemed more southern…. GQ named me as one of the best dressed guys in America
- A: they wanted him to fly to NY, so we held down the shop. The young guys wanted to leave early , but I said that this is Sid’s.
- S: and we work late now
They both wipe their eyes.
MT: You weren’t trying to make your own brand. But you put a lot yourselves in there. Ping pong tables, etc. were you thinking about that as brand
- A: we did always wanna scale it. After you start working for other people, if you say you wanna make something great. We were 45, so we said we’re going to do it now, exactly how we want to do it.
- S: and Ann she warned me early on that we have to be comfortable being a single store shop
- A: I said that to discourage him because I didn’t think he’d want to have a single store shop
- A: I think we knew from looking at shops all over the world that we could really be something special. He knew that he had an idea. People may like it or not like it
Q: what do you wear at publix
- S: that’s the freedom of being me, I wear anything I want, cause I’m me
- A: girls are more fickle, I love Minola shoes. Anything that’s really well done. These Mexican shirts (?), Sid struggles with workout wear because he doesn’t make that. It’s really old.
- S: like 30 years old. Tiger shoes. I still play tennis
- A: we used to be really great thrift shoppers
What’s your advice for succeeding in the fashio industry
- S: really do your own thing. Guy ran the suit business for Ralph, guy gave a presentation to Ralph and said we’re getting killed by the black suit guys. Ralph said: let them have their day. … Think of the swimming lanes, you don’t look over. really really try not to look at other people. Get to work before everyone else gets there, and leave after everyone else leaves.
- A: it’s mostly business. Business is problem solving.
Q: what’s your process for making mood boards?
- A: we have different kinds. Stuff we’ve accumulated over the years. You get your cubby at Condé Nast so you put all your stuff on it. We use a lot of boards at the store to give us ideas. T could be a candy wrapper or a color. Birthday candles from your tenth birthday.
- S: I can remember when we put a pack of turquoise American spirits. We’ll take anything. We see a picture of something, we have an obituary of someone who invented… it could be a leaf or a piece of grass. We’re big on
- A: WSID on 1690
- S: music is good, but the DJ is terrible
What was the biggest challenge with introducing e-commerce?
- S: first day, website crashed. When I left land’s end, in the early 200s, e-commerce was fairly nascent but it was 45-50% of LE business
- A: giving up control was hard. The person setting up the website spoke a different language. That was hard. The technical part of it… we outsourced our photography for a while, but I’d done this before, so we set up a studio in our attic
How much do you need to be ahead? How far ahead are you thinking?
- S: now we’re starting in fall 2018. In the past we’ve been able to work closer to the season because we’re quasi-vertical. Jen do the secret of the business is the fabric mill. They’ve been forcing us to move a little earlier. We have to rely on them. Our MOQ (minimum order quantities) are not long enough that we can draw our own orders. So we rely on them to kick it off.
- A: in September were
What’s the biggest hurdle of working together as a married couple
- S: we will be here all night
- A: especially hard in the creative business, because it S all about feel
- S: especially someone you’ve been with for 30 years. What do you mean you don’t like that? Our desks are 47” apart. We have different talents. She can look through a camera. But I can see a swatch come together as a piece of clothing. And she’s a beautiful writer. It’s complementary
- A: on a good day we see each other as complements but there’s a lot of friction… I wouldn’t recommend it
What’s next for online made to measure?
What’s the legacy you wanna leave behind?
- A: it’s a family business. My legacy would be to continue the company and make it a great place for people to work. I hope that the women i our family who want to work in our company will continue it
- S: whenever you build something like this, there’s a whole lot of art in it. What we do is an expression of our heart. It’s incumbent on us to provide something that’s not fleeting that’s long lasting
- S: what’s the quality, the value proposition. How do we treat you so that you feel fantastic?
S: The radio show is wednesday 5-6, Saturday 8-9 and Sunday ?
A: And on SoundCloud