Eight years after launching as a watch brand, Shinola is ready to ramp up its growth.
In 2015, Shinola’s former CMO, Bridget Russo, said the company generated $100 million in revenue for the year, up from $60 million in 2014, per Business Insider. To continue building on that growth, the brand recently entered into two new partnerships — one with IMG to navigate licensing deals on brand partnerships and collaborations, and another with cloud-based product life-cycle management software platform Backbone to get products to market faster.
“During early conversations with Shinola’s design team and the product development team, we saw they were growing really quickly. They were launching into new categories and really needed software to help centralize all of that product data and all that design information,” said Matthew Klein, CEO of Backbone.
The new software, implemented within the last few weeks, allows the Shinola brand to manage the design and product development process for all the goods it sells, including watches, small leather goods and bags. It also gives the brand the opportunity to share that information through a cloud-based system with all of its internal design departments across categories and with the brand’s manufacturers and factories. In the past, the brand relied on multiple programs and apps to track and communicate steps in the design and development process.
“Not only are we getting our watches, our leather goods, all our products to market faster, but we are also doing so more efficiently. That allows us to put human resources and financial resources to use other places in the company to help us grow,” said Tom Lewand, CEO of Shinola.
While the brand hasn’t completely decided where those resources will go just yet, as it’s still in the early stages of working with Backbone, Lewand said they could be used for marketing costs, growing the brand’s e-commerce business and building brand recognition in international markets. It will also give the brand a chance to take more risks when it comes to product development and entering into new categories, he said.
“We know that with a more efficient go-to-market timeline, we can afford to experiment a bit more and take some risks. If you are saving time and money in your product development cycle, you can deploy products that might have some edge to them,” said Lewand — meaning if a new product that is outside of Shinola’s typical aesthetic doesn’t resonate with customers, the brand can quickly pivot and move on to creating something new.
Currently, Shinola sells watches, bikes, journals, leather goods and pet products (including dog beds and toys), but through a partnership with IMG, announced Monday, the brand plans to expand its focus. Shinola will work with IMG to explore products in the home, travel and décor categories, likely based on the brand’s expansion into hospitality earlier this year. In January, Shinola opened its first hotel in Detroit, where the brand’s headquarters is based.
One challenge the brand may face, as it continues its expansion into new categories and new product offerings, is whether it goes too broad and takes on too much too soon, said Peter Dixon, chief creative officer at brand and marketing consultancy Prophet.
“The brand is reaching an inflection point that will be interesting to see them navigate. As it grows into more categories, there’s always a chance for overextension. They’ve been fairly smart so far,” said Dixon.
Working with Backbone could be a key way to mitigate some of that risk. The cloud-based software platform currently works with a number of digitally native brands including Outdoor Voices and Allbirds, helping them streamline the manufacturing process.