Episode 146 – Coffee N5 – Sipping on Success: Unveiling Your North Star in the Fast-Paced World of Luxury Bags and Entrepreneurship with Tony Drockton

Welcome to a captivating episode of Coffee N° 5. In this engaging conversation, host Lara Schmoisman sits down with the remarkable Tony Drockton, founder and chief cheerleader of America’s fastest-growing handbag brand Hammitt.

Join Lara and Tony Drockton on this thought-provoking journey through Tony’s life and business experiences. Discover how his roots and early influences have shaped his unique approach to entrepreneurship.

Don’t miss this opportunity to gain a firsthand understanding of the philosophy that propels Tony’s vision for Hammitt, an American luxury brand inspired by European craftsmanship and unwavering quality.

Tune in and sip your favorite coffee as Lara and Tony dive into the world of business, success, and the importance of fostering relationships. It’s a conversation you won’t want to miss, right here on Coffee N° 5.

We’ll talk about:

  • Navigating the busy life, heart, and mind of this successful entrepreneur
  • How to remove your blinders to achieve your goal
  • The importance of wholesale
  • How to take advantage of every opportunity

For more information, visit Hammitt’s website.

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Lara Schmoisman 0:05
This is Coffee Number Five. I’m your host, Lara Schmoisman. Hi everyone. Welcome back to Coffee Number Five. And today my coffee is ready and I’m ready to have an incredible chat because I got somewhere very special for you. So Tony Drockton, did I said it right? They always go. No. Tell me. How do you pronounce it? Because I always made sure everyone’s –

Tony Drockton 0:37
When you’re in Europe, it’s a mess. And over here, it’s Hermes and right and, like, there’s a million so I’m – in when I’m here. But you know what? I’m pronounced – in other places. So you nailed it.

Lara Schmoisman 0:48
Yeah. He is the CEO of Hammit, I was honored enough to be in different meetings with him. I met him in person. And he’s not only a lot of fun to chat with, but also he’s so open about his story and what everything he did in his life, so I thought I had to bring him to coffee number five and just have some coffee with him because I really want to learn more about his story. And where did you started? Tony, how did you start it because I know that your life is a roller coaster like mine. So tell us a little bit about you and how you got here.

Tony Drockton 1:28
So let’s let’s be do this. Let’s try this. Just had my 7457 cup of coffee. So Tony Drockton. Born in Cleveland, Ohio, went to Bowling Green State University graduate school moved to California in 1990. started writing the Yellow Pages door to door, made money, met a customer started in the roofing business for years largest roofing company, California sold and got out dumped in the internet 98 to 99 learned all about tech stack. And then before things fell, jumped right into residential finance construction right before the real estate boom 2000 2006. Build some home sold everything to a couple years off 2008 met Stephanie Hammit invested some money. And here we are. 15 years later, as co-founder of, I believe, one of the highest-end luxury handbag brands in America focused on leather. How do we get on?

Lara Schmoisman 2:16
Wow, that’s so long and fast. So I’m sure that people ask you this question, how do you find the time to do everything? And I always say that, like what my mom always tells me if you need something as someone busy?

Tony Drockton 2:31
Yeah. And you know, how do you find time to do everything is a loaded question, right? I think being a successful entrepreneur, you’re you’re you, okay, pick it up and sweeping the floors. And But ideally, the most successful ones, and I’ve just listened to many through yours and other podcasts, they focus on a very narrow amount of things, a very narrow amount of things. And they have blinders on for everything else. So, you know, the entrepreneurial journey is to really have laser focus on that North Star where you want to go, and at the same time, see a piece of trash on the floor and pick it up.

Lara Schmoisman 3:08
Yep. And that’s it. And you need to do a little bit of everything, but you need just find those times to really concentrate in what the goal is.

Tony Drockton 3:16
Yeah. 100%.

Lara Schmoisman 3:19
I mean, what is amazing about your trajectory is that you switch, like from being in Yellow Pages, roofing and getting home the different spaces. And that takes a learning curve. So how do you approach a different space, and that you started probably without very limited knowledge. And you really need to learn how to work in the trenches. And because every industry has their own things.

Tony Drockton 3:47
You know, I think it goes back to the early history. My dad had a little grocery store in Parma, Ohio, I worked in it. And we literally did every single job, right from counting the money at the end of the day to unlocking in the morning and turning on the alarm, to stocking to cleaning to taking care of people at the cash register, to solving problems to finding items, special requests. So if you think about that, it’s not like I say I worked in a grocery store, and my job was to stay in the deli and I only made sandwiches for five years. Now that I worked in the deli and made sandwiches I did it all then so each time in life is I’ve seen opportunities in other areas. To me it was simply shifting from making a sandwich to refilling the milk to ringing somebody out to going to pick up bread because we are out of it and bring it back to make sure the customer has had a great experience, rinse and repeat. So even though I did sell Yellow Pages, which is advertised, and even though I did start a construction company, specifically around roofing that’s construction, and then I jumped into the internet, which is technology. And then it seemed like a pivot. Like wow, what did he do? He went into the mortgage residential roofing And now, you know, building homes. And all of those are very related to that early experience, which is I applied the things that were most important for success those and really, let’s face it, the basics for success is, you know, you work very hard, right? You eliminate as many obstacles that are in front of you that are preventing you from getting there, right. And ideally, you select a great team to work with and train, and most importantly, are always focused on that customer experience. And that customer experience is critical. If you get that right. Even the rest of these, they’ll work.

Lara Schmoisman 5:35
I love that you said that because your team is so important. And like it, this is something as everyone knows, I started my agency not that long ago, like four years, four and a half years ago. And growing a team, I think is the most challenging thing because, like someone like me that I am ready to sweep the floors to. And that idea of oh, I started in this wall really early on, and I had to work as a project manager. So you seen the progress and you know, you’re ready. If you need to step in for someone, you will do it because I know that you were opening stores for your team. So you know how to do it.

Tony Drockton 6:16
Yeah, you know, I think when I hear it’s difficult, over the long haul for the same person to hire people, and this is the long haul not for a window. I always go wait a second, what can that person do to improve themselves? Because really, are you hiring people? are you attracting that? Right? Why? How is it that Richard Branson built all these different companies for Virgin? Right? Yeah, obviously, he must attract great talent. And then how is it that Tony from Zappos had people that worked there for 1015 years since the beginning, and continued to build? So he must have learned to attract? So I think yes, sometimes in short periods of time, finding the best is very competitive. But I really believe when you build a company and a culture that’s attractive for people, there’s opportunity. They’re having a little bit of fun. But most importantly, this is the one word, they work hard. Yep, work very hard. If you can attract that type of person, you have a total winner, because let’s face it, if you have a lot of fun, but no one’s working hard, you’re probably not going to stay in business. Right?

Lara Schmoisman 7:27
Of course, of course. And that’s really hard that to explain on for people to understand that they don’t have that mindset, that this is a domino effect, that if that, in my team, if someone one person doesn’t work hard, affects the others, because everything is a domino and everything is like a puzzle.

Tony Drockton 7:48
Yeah, well, it’s like it’s sports teams, right, there was an Ohio State Notre Dame game a couple weeks ago. And last play. It was won by one team, but it was won because the other team had one less person on the field because somebody didn’t step up. It didn’t get out there. By the way, it was a house. Take that one, it was noted in the last I love both teams, even though I’m a buckeye. But I tried to not stay there. But I hadn’t said, but the reality is one person let down the entire team. They played the entire game, to a stalemate, right to the last second. And because that one person wasn’t on time wasn’t out there wasn’t on the field. They lost the entire game. That’s the life of an entrepreneur. Yep. It’s the life that you choose to lead. When you build a team, knowing that if one person lets the team down, you very much will lose.

Lara Schmoisman 8:44
And you as an entrepreneur, you’re the one who needs to take that their responsibility.

Tony Drockton 8:50
Yes, yes. And you know, actually, I think you start, but you actually have to just hire people that do it. I don’t think it’s sure in the end, I’m responsible for everything. Yeah. But if you don’t hold people accountable for not getting on that field, if you’re if you constantly say, well, it’s okay, you can do better next time. Most likely, you might have a great culture, but you’re not going to win.

Lara Schmoisman 9:11
Okay, I agree with you. 100%. It’s, I mean, I believe in working hard, I don’t believe that you have to be like working 24 hours, there is a very, very huge difference of working harder than working overtime. And I think that there is a huge confusion about that. For me, for example, I learn I always say that I learned the good things, but I also learn a lot more than from mistakes or from the bad things. For example, when I open the agency, I was like, I created the culture before I had a team. I knew what I want and I think I know that you do the same because you’re calling yourself the chief cheerleader if I would. It’s it’s really important that you’re the one they are supporting your team. I’m not their shot. So give orders, I’m there to support my team to mentor my team. But what I asked in exchange is that they work hard.

Tony Drockton 10:10
Yeah, you know, and again, like you said, it’s not about the hours. You know, it’s about the intensity and the velocity within the constraints that you’ve set for yourself for hours. Right? So, you know, I’ve never, you know, back to sports, or even entrepreneurial CEOs that have crushed it. Rarely do you hear them talk about their effort. Yeah, they usually talk about their output, or they talk about their results. But the effort is given, right? So if you’re, if you’re talking too much about your effort, well, then you’re probably not getting the output or the the, that would be desired. Because let’s face it, it’s a team no matter what every company, I love when somebody wins back and they’re like, listen, I owe all of this to the tall boy that kept me you know, hydrated. Before I went to the game, I owe it all to the concierge, the customer service people that make our customers happy when there is a problem. Without that, we would never have been able to want to win. To me. That’s a That’s true leadership. And that’s also an example of people that work hard, that get results. And they know they do it through team and their own leadership.

Lara Schmoisman 11:21
Let’s shift that for a minute. Because I can’t stop looking at the beautiful horses we can do. I want to talk about two things here. Oh, yeah. Well, let’s look at them.

Tony Drockton 11:42
First of all you know, I have a thing for purses and for access, you just want me for my handbags? If that’s true.

Lara Schmoisman 11:45
That’s so true. I anyway, um, let’s talk about the luxury industry because they’re not sorry, industry, it’s very different. That many other industries. What for you are the key difference from working in a luxury industry to working in like, a roofing set? My VN is necessity.

Tony Drockton 12:06
Well, I mean, I think it’s the clearest Divine is the difference between need. And want. Right? You need a roof over your head?

Unknown Speaker 12:16
Yes, it’s a commodity me the forest.

Tony Drockton 12:19
Right? Right. It’s a commodity, right? luxuries a one. Right? If you want it, that means the company that’s created, it has done a great job, right? No one needs more luxury products, nobody, but they want them. And so that’s the difference between the consumer or to the client, or to your guests, whatever you want to call them and hospitality. But now let’s talk about the experience. The experience in commoditized products, commoditize industries is pretty cut and dry. In general, it’s all about that price. It’s all about really a single call a relationship. And it’s very transactional. It’s a commodity right? Now, when you look at luxury, it’s a long tail experience. It took Chanel many, many years, even in the 70s, they were not they were nothing they were today to get to where they are, right. And so to build a true luxury experience, you have to do it over multiple generations of people that care and love about that, that brand.

Lara Schmoisman 13:26
That’s the infinite game that that’s the real branding and the real brand. And it will go through several generations.

Tony Drockton 13:35
Right. And so you know, when people say I have a brand, and by the way, we don’t have one. I’m here to say Hammett doesn’t have a brand. Okay, we have products. And we have positioning. And we have a greatest assortment. But when I’m at I hope at that point, we really do have a brand, right? Because we know what the brands are. We can name them on about two, two fingers. Right? If the globe knows your name. Wow, you’ve nailed it. Right? Oh,

Lara Schmoisman 14:03
you have a collection of products. Beautiful. Yeah, yes. And that and you are playing the infinite game. You’re trying to get there because you’re doing things right. And this is something we talked several times. And we’re both believers of brand awareness.

Tony Drockton 14:19
And we have brand awareness, but I don’t believe that’s still the ultimate goal of Chanel. I mean, we haven’t reached it now. Are we heading towards there? Absolutely. And how do you get there? You do a one relationship at a time. And that’s relationships with your clients relationships with your team relationships with your vendors and partners relationship with individual hands that make our handbags. It all adds up to really carry it about that long-term Northstar of becoming something that people want.

Lara Schmoisman 14:50
Yeah, and we’re talking a little bit about brand awareness. We were talking the other day I was at a conference and you were speaking actually and you were there. About the, the power of wholesale. And that’s how you started your brand and kind of explain to us why you decided to go into that direction.

Tony Drockton 15:13
I mean, in its simplest form, it is the fastest way to get brand awareness and spread your products amongst people that want to buy it without having a lot of money up front. I mean, there might have been a day where people thought we can just do a website. I think you said you started wanting 98. I had one in 94.

Lara Schmoisman 15:33
Yeah. And maybe you just give away

Tony Drockton 15:36
Yeah, ah, well, you had it for like Premiere. Yeah. And I think those are done. And I think the day of just putting on social, it’s done, it’s toast right. Now, wholesales the new black Wholesale is now the way to get product on shelves in front of the right eyeballs at the right time. And to do it with no incremental cost. Besides talking to the buyer for individual store, and getting them to carry it. It’s why a lot of those direct consumer brands from seven, eight years ago, some that raised hundreds of millions are now all trying to get into the same wholesale partners. It’s why Nike who got away from carrying in certain partners just went back and did it again. Right. Don’t think of it as wholesale. That’s what I try to think of it as a partnership, when it’s a partnership, and everybody’s working towards the same goal to give the customer the same experience. And it’s the same product. And ideally, it’s been sold at the same price. It’s a creative to everybody in the channels, including the brand owner. Now poor Wholesale is still dead, poor Wholesale is solid to everybody, let them price it any way they want, create different lines for different channels, put your name on all of it. And then at the same try try to do it online and try to get it in luxury stores. It’s not going to work.

Lara Schmoisman 17:01
It’s hard. I mean, I talk to brands all the time, small brands, bigger brands. And I see that there is like I don’t know if I call it Big eyes. But a lot of small brands, their goal is just to go retail big stores, and they don’t understand many times that the margins are not there. And this is what I am struggling also with a lot of yum brands that they think people will buy it immediately. Which is not true. You need really it’s gonna take time to get someone to buy your brand.

Tony Drockton 17:39
Let’s compare luxury back to commodities, right. And yet, let’s talk about the margins are not there, right. So if you have a commodity product, or if there’s no brand awareness, and you’re competing fiercely on price, right, you absolutely will get crushed, you’re trying to sell to the largest stores that wholesale, they’re not, you’re not going to make a lot of margin, it’s just not going to happen. billion other options out there. But now if you have luxury positioned, you’ve got very healthy margins, which really is you have to have for you to be really luxury, then you should have the you should you do have the ability to sell through the best wholesale channels and maintain very healthy margins for both yourself and for them. That’s high quality wholesome. So I think you have to be realistic on where do you sit on that continuum, and it could be somewhere in the middle, and then determine where are the proper partners that you want to go after that you can maintain, you know, and again, I’m not going to go after –

Lara Schmoisman 18:37
How do you go after a partner?

Tony Drockton 18:39
Well, I think you’ve again, first you have to be realistic on where you’re at. Right? So let’s let’s assume I’m I don’t know, let’s assume I’m a cosmetic brand. And let’s assume I’m always 35% off on my own website. And let’s assume my average price is $12. All I’m just making it up, I doubt you’re gonna go to Neiman’s and Saks, and try to get into those stores, right. So you want to where are you positioned, I mean, you might be an altar. And also supplies you might sell more than anywhere. But what’s going to happen is also going to look at your business model say wait a second, you’re always 30% off, that’s your actual price. So go into I’ll tell you want to realize they’re not going to look at how much your list prices, they’re going to say this is what we want to see data on what you’re selling at. And by the way, they have access to it without even asking you ever selling price is six, I need to make this margin. This is what I’m willing to pay for.

Lara Schmoisman 19:38
And that’s I really think that a lot of run think the only way to sell is to do a coupon and I always talk to my clients and say you don’t want to be the Bed Bath and Beyond. I never want to buy beyond without the coupon.

Tony Drockton 19:52
Yeah, well again, listen, if you know your brand positioning and you’re able to be profitable and do it with coupons and do it with them. You know why?

Lara Schmoisman 20:00
A freight. But that’s your moment that becomes your model.

Tony Drockton 20:04
But if that is and you could scale it, I support you but be realistic about exactly. And it’s very difficult. It’s just as difficult to do that, in the long run, as it is to build Hammett on the model that we have, which is price integrity, it’s always the same price. Yeah, product integrity, everyone gets exactly the same product. It’s one specialty store in the middle of Wisconsin, my largest department store partners my own online. So it’s the same product, my customer, so then you get brand integrity. Yeah. And if you do that, then you’re allowed to ask for great margins of your partners.

Lara Schmoisman 20:46
Yeah. So you started Hamid, you started different companies, and the mindset of the CEO of their founder here. That’s, that’s a whole different story. And I know that we can have different podcasts, but I mean, it’s hard. And besides the work ethic, or the hard work that we put in, it’s a roller coaster is like, I gotta make it I’m not gonna make it to the super day. Not every day is a good day. And it’s hard emotionally. How do you deal with those emotions? And that roller coasters?

Tony Drockton 21:23
Well, first of all, I wasn’t that good at it, especially when I was back in the 90s. I mean, I was my roofing company. I was on a high when we were crushing revenue, and I was extremely aggressive and just like that young kid, go, go go and we weren’t. Then I joined the CEO group. And then it was it was called Tech, the executive committee. So I had outside board, I learned from other CEOs, I learned a lot of things to do. And I watched a lot of companies, flounder. So I learned surround yourself with other entrepreneurs. Then I transitioned to start Hammett. I will skip in between but then I found a personal coach, a strong personal coach named Ken Beamer. And Ken’s been coaching me for eight years. He’s also coached by other executives in the company, some of the other team members. And Ken’s individual coaching really brought me away from the up-and-down roller coaster of day-to-day, and just out Oh, term roller coaster, sometimes long down, sometimes spins. So on the emotional side, I feel much more balanced. But what does that look like today? Well, my balance is usually going as hard as I can when I need to go and getting the job done. And also shutting down when I can and recharging. And so I’ve take some time for myself. Now when things don’t go right, like in the last five years. And let’s face it, we’ve had a lot of heavy challenges in this business. I’ve also learned to be positively aggressive in my communication. So positive, aggressive means I’m very direct. And I stayed with facts I try to stay away from you are the personal side. And whether I’m dealing with an individual or whether I’m dealing with a company, I know where I want to go in the conversation before it started. And I also am open to where they want to go. And hopefully at the end, I try to find win-wins. So we can keep going forward. Because if I can’t find win-wins, undoubtedly that relationship will end.

Lara Schmoisman 23:21
Yeah, something that I noticed also in the moments that are difficult as a CEO, or as a leader is that in moments of crisis, in moments of crisis is not about blaming, it’s not about analyzing the problem that will come later. And it needs to come later, we need to figure out what happened. So it doesn’t happen again. But in a moment of crisis, it’s a moment of actions is moment to say we’ll stop. What can we do to get out of this problem?

Tony Drockton 23:51
Yeah, exactly. And you know, if you if you reframe crisis, what is it really, it’s really opportunity. So the first thing that I’ve learned is, every moment that’s challenging is really the biggest opportunities in your life. So you want to make a quick analysis of what’s happening here. If this is a decision that I can still make and make quickly, and it’s not going to put us out of business, I still make it quickly unless allowing more time is going to bring me enough additional information, then I’ll make a better decision. That’s so important as an entrepreneur.

Lara Schmoisman 24:28
And remember, I believe in data, data is fundamental, but also your gut feeling as a CEO many times

Tony Drockton 24:35
Well, you know, you can overanalyze it, though. Yeah, is the issue, because sometimes everything looks like a crisis. But when you’re able to sit back and go, Wait a second, yeah, this is a challenge. But it’s also it’s also an opportunity. And if I make the decision now on what to do, I’ve cleared the table to make better decisions down the road as long as it’s not going to put me out of business. So the one decision I don’t make quickly is The decision that is irreversible, if it’s an irreversible decision, because I’ve made it and now we have to go with it, and it eventually can end up in a bankruptcy for the company or a massive change in where we’re going for our North Star, that one, I want more data. Other than that, I want to make decisions quickly, because as an entrepreneur, your job is to make them quickly, and hopefully, your team members to make them quickly. And then most importantly, if they make them quickly, and they’re not the right decisions, allow them to learn from it, make another one and another one. And another one. If you ever worked in a company, or if you ever worked with someone, where they’re constantly over analyzing every decision, it’s painful,

Lara Schmoisman 25:40
It’s not only painful, things don’t move, they can still I mean, there is no business, there’s no growth, I mean, it can be lost, but there’s not movement, and you need to and in products like yours, or that they’re seasonal. Also, you have seasons, and you’re always going to come with new products and new styles and new trends. And so if you don’t make those decisions fast enough you might get with overstock.

Tony Drockton 26:06
Well, Think about what you just said there, right, we’re a luxury position brands. So we’re not, we’re not looking at what’s trending on Instagram and coming up with a product in three days and putting it out there, like the fast fashion brands, were one year ahead. We’ve already got a year ahead finished. Imagine, if we didn’t, then everything’s a crisis of guys. Also, if we were trying to react to the trend, it’s like, oh, my gosh, this color is trending, we don’t have it, we need to do this color. Some fashion brands run that way, and they run themselves in the ground. If you want to, over the long run, you have to stick with that decision you made on your color story a year ago, you have to stick with the inspiration, you have to stick with the majority of your collection. And you have to learn from it for your future collections.

Lara Schmoisman 26:53
And the same goes for marketing, because I always believe in strategy. If you’ve made a strategy, you will need to stick to that strategy. And if you made a mistake, but you don’t know it’s gonna work or not if you didn’t do it, but if you try to change it all the time, nothing was gonna work.

Tony Drockton 27:10
But don’t get me wrong. If today’s collection has some product in it, that’s really struggling. And we’ve designed it for a year, we will adjust the future silhouettes or colors if you have to. Right luckily, right now everything’s doing great, but you’re not gonna do it.

Lara Schmoisman 27:25
Or you’re not gonna do it a month into the connection. What’s that? You’re not gonna do it a month into since you launched the connection, the collection even?

Tony Drockton 27:36
Yeah, we would be only making adjustments in product that maybe we have fully designed, but we haven’t sold ahead or may already. Right. Those are some costs, you let it go, you keep going. Right? That’s what samples?

Lara Schmoisman 27:54
You don’t try to spoil milk you keep going?

Tony Drockton 27:56
And how does that relate to what you said the emotional roller coaster ride? Because I want to bring it back to that. Yeah, we know that you have sunk costs into things. And then you become aware that they’re really sunk, to beat yourself up over it. Or to try to make small minor adjustments to recover a little here and there. It will, it will take you down. Instead, what did I learn from it? What can we design differently? Let’s put that into the channel. And let’s go that way. That’s what that’s what great brands have done over 10 2050 year arcs that are different brands that try to operate on a daily or a monthly basis.

Lara Schmoisman 28:36
And those companies who work in those crisis and they always trying to fix or change things last minute, you are doing something that to me, it’s sacrilege. It’s burning your team. I mean, I never buy –

Tony Drockton 28:51
A question for you. So what do you do when the market is completely wrong? You’ve come into a company and you’re looking you’re like, like they’re not doing anything? Do you let that continue?

Lara Schmoisman 29:03
No. You stop you strong with the foundation, you really need to strengthen that foundation and then you build from the foundation if there’s something wrong is because the foundation is wrong. If you have a strong marketing foundation, then you can build a little bit it will go down there are some things are gonna change, but a strong marketing foundation, that’s a break.

Tony Drockton 29:26
Right? Right. I agree to you know, I think what stuff that’s working you lean into the things that are not you lean out of but learn from it so you don’t repeat them.

Lara Schmoisman 29:36
And also marketing is not science. Things are changing all the time. We have new platforms, new trends, new things that happening like for example in the last few years, I agree with you 100% People don’t buy in social is not going to bring you that revenue. It’s going to help you for brand awareness, but I do believe in reviews. People want that social proof that other users and they are. So they’re willing to spend the money, mostly large luxury. Because what happened is luxury before was only for certain people, now it’s so aspirational. And I know people that will save money, she has to have one of their purses, but they want to make sure that they’re gonna make that educated decision that your purchases are gonna last.

Tony Drockton 30:24
You know, I think since you went there, I will tell you, here’s my analysis over the next 12 to 24 months, which is pretty simple. There’s a lot of companies and a lot of in all categories that felt they were a brand that felt they were successful. And maybe that was because of the top line revenue, maybe it’s because of the amount of money they raised, whatever, maybe it’s because the mind employees over the next 12 to 24 months, you will find out and the customer is the one that will make that decision. And there’s very little amount of marketing spend over a normal amount. And there’s very little amount of capital raising, that’s going to change that. Because when things level out and normalized, which is all I think they’re doing, they’re normalizing for us. The consumer has the ultimate choice of who they want to go with of what product they want to wear and carry and be a part of the community. And for Hammett, we’ve been preparing for this day for 15 years, we’ve been preparing for the time where somebody couldn’t outspend us on digital and lose money on every product. Somebody couldn’t out raise money on us because we didn’t raise money, and just spend it all to look they’re successful. Now the consumer has the power, and they’re making choices every day. And you know what, thank goodness, they’re choosing to buy a lot of hammocks and carry on all three of our stores, online. And in all of our wholesale partners. It’s wonderful to see and we’re leaning into it.

Lara Schmoisman 31:52
Well, I do believe that the customer are speaking and speaking as a feedback. And I feel like now that there was a few years that were with all these influencer craziness and people, the customers got smarter, they call or they realize that the influencers are doing the job, and they are really selling products is not different from advertising.

Tony Drockton 32:17
Yeah, yeah. And they’re still they’re still great place for them. But I think change to content creators, I’ve always called them that. I think a content creator that creates amazing content. Even if you know that’s what they’re doing, if the contents worth consuming. People will keep going there. So that’s where that’s where I go. And that’s where Hammit goes. We’ve always had strong relationships with authentic, transparent content creators over long periods of time. And, you know, we just we just launched up Hammitt University, which is our clear Tony bag. Actually,

Lara Schmoisman 32:51
I’m 100% agree with you. And as an agency, I always say I don’t I don’t believe in influencer marketing. I believe in content creation.

Tony Drockton 33:01
I bring this out if we’re going to wrap up shameless plug Tony clear top seller. It’s just a clear bat. Yeah, needed. For any event. Yep. For any sport, you can’t get in without it. We have to keep everything identical except switch leather for the clear. And this is very, very high quality. By far the biggest trending bag it was worn by Stafford’s wife during the Rams Super Bowl, it was word by but Holmes wife Brittany during the Super Bowl in LA. So this here, this single unit. This is our Opus right now, it’s really, really trending among all age groups. So we launched Hammond University, this is a marketing thing for you. Yeah. Other brands to do this, we, we finally reached into the university network. And we said we’re going to get them to where Tony Claire’s, to the football games, to the sporting events to talk about us to share the love. And it’s exploded our brand on campuses since the beginning of the football season. So that’s where you that’s when you do pivot fast, and you lean in quickly, when suddenly you realize there’s a huge opportunity in marketing, and it does use it. But the right kind of that, because they have to wear it. They have to post about that to talk about it. And they’re doing it in conjunction with their favorite team, their college. So there’s a lot of authenticity there.

Lara Schmoisman 34:19
Yeah, but it’s like they’re not selling a product. It’s about the lifestyle. It’s about it’s not about the product itself. It’s a why they use it and how they feel, isn’t it? And that’s what it really makes a product unique. You make it really your own.

Tony Drockton 34:38
No, it’s great. It’s great. I really love it. So what else you got for me? What else?

Lara Schmoisman 34:42
Okay, wait for it. We go. I have one more question for you. Because I always say that we learn more about the mistakes that we made. What’s that mistake that you made, but you learned so much from it that you say I’m glad that happened?

Tony Drockton 35:02
To me, you know, I think my biggest mistake was not going direct to the consumer earlier, you know, 2008, way before it was popular, and I already had the business model laid out, we were focused on specialties by, you know, 2012 13, we had a ton of them around the country. But I was so focused on building that one channel the business, even though I was told by my mentors, by other CEOs, you need to focus on their direct consumer, I didn’t see that opportunity as what it was back then. So that was the biggest mistake. What did I learn from it? To keep my blinders wide, no matter how well we’re doing through a channel, no matter how well we’re doing with a single product, so that I can not miss the next direct consumer craze, whatever that is, right. So that’s why right now we have a much more balanced distribution, marketing team and all dangers. I took that instead of beating myself up. I took that lesson and said, You just missed it. You were told by people you were told you were you went to conferences, you were like, yeah, there was a huge mistake. And you know, luckily, it didn’t put me out of business. The positive side was we continue to have these strong relationships in specialties and in department stores, then when we launched direct consumer, we were able to leverage the success based on that wide distribution. But if I would have jumped in five years earlier, we probably would have been even more profitable and more successful.

Lara Schmoisman 36:34
Well, you’re doing great. Anyway. Thank you. Thank you. Thanks. Well, thank you so much, Tony, for being here today.

Tony Drockton
I really appreciate I enjoy this coffee break with you. So thank you so much, Lara.

Lara Schmoisman
And to you guys, I see you next week in more Coffee Number Five. Find everything you need at LaraSchmoisman.com or in the Episode Notes right below. Don’t forget to subscribe. It was so good to have you here today. See you next time. Catch you on the flip side. Ciao, ciao. What I love about the beauty industries is that there is always room to grow. I love to learn more about innovation, possibilities of investment, and partnerships across the industries. If you want to learn more, join me at Beauty Connect these November 6 to eighth in Los Angeles.


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