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At 23 years old, Stirling Barrett found himself sitting on the stoop of his newly purchased home, located just outside of the French Quarter of New Orleans. He had earned a degree in fine arts and won a few notable Best in Show titles, and he decided his next step would be to invest in his future. Shortly after, he founded Krewe.
Barrett, a native of New Orleans, knew that his hometown had 300 years of untapped potential that he could use to build his brand. While he had no shortage of inspiration, he found building a brand outside of the traditional fashion capitals proved to have plenty of challenges. But six years in, Barrett said his focus on sustainable growth, achieved by starting smaller, has been a key factor of his brand’s growing success.
“In a time where brands rise and fall faster than ever, we believe in sustainable growth as a hedge against that,” said Barrett. “If you’re really growing through word-of-mouth, that will be a lot more sustainable long-term.”
In this week’s episode of The Glossy Podcast, founder and creative director Stirling Barrett talks about how Krewe got its credibility in the market, why mobile retail is key to brick-and-mortar expansion and why New Orleans is the best place to build a business. Below are excerpts from the episode, edited for clarity.
Using recognition to create brand credibility
“A huge opportunity for us was that we were a part of the CFDA Vogue Fashion Fund two years ago, and we had to really show that we were worth taking note of. We were the first winners or runners-up that weren’t from New York or LA in the 15-year history of the program, and they were really supportive of the idea of brands taking place outside of the key fashion hubs. That was really important to us, because it gave us both self-credibility and credibility within the market.”
Testing new markets through mobile retail
“The [online] Krewe Cart, was our [first means of] selling direct-to-consumer, then that turned into a pop-up, then we sold through our offices, then we opened our first store. Throughout the experience, we realized what we were really doing was testing the market and making sure that the consumers were there for a store. With our [current] tiny-house strategy, which are these basic mobile stores in trailers that look like New Orleans shotguns, we’re able to test different markets and see if our consumer base is there before we think about opening a store.”
Making every dollar count
“We think we can be smarter with less money, and that gives us the opportunity to be better and cut through the clutter. There are so many people who have a ton of money that they’re willing to throw at the problem and try to solve it that way. Well, if we don’t have that, then we have to be better.”
Investing in every aspect of your brand
“We’re investing the most in people. We believe that great people will create great opportunities and continue to grow the brand. On an actual marketing or spend side, we do invest a good bit online and with our partners, and then we invest around our brick-and-mortar so that we continue to grow brand awareness. It’s not a silver bullet strategy, where we’re really pumping money into one area; it’s so much more about all of these things coming together.”