We Only Make One Thing... But Why?
Give your customers what they want. We believe in this rule, yet we find ourselves intentionally breaking it when it comes to expanding our offering beyond our basic core T-Shirt. We are flattered by the requests we have received for other clothing items (pants, sweatshirts, etc.), different t-shirt styles (V-neck, pockets, etc.) and Ts designed for women. Expansion seems like an obvious route for any business, yet we remain stubbornly committed to sticking to the same style men’s T-shirt. The simple reason for this rather poor business decision, is that we started this company with the simple desire to meet a personal need and create what we consider the perfect T-Shirt. We wanted to make sure it was always available, again addressing a personal pain-point from past experience. Also, once that bar of ‘perfect’ was set – albeit subjective – we were determined to not dilute that standard in any way.
That focus on a perfect T originated based on a personal desire to only own clothes that we truly loved wearing every day (more on that journey here). We simply could not find a T that met our stringent standard. Making matters worse, when we did find a t-shirt that we really liked, we often found it difficult to re-purchase the same one. Major brands have an obvious financial incentivize to replace their offerings on a regular basis as an ever-expanding offering encourages customers to come back to you to see what else you have to offer. Most clothing purchases are based on impulse and nothing triggers an impulsive reaction like something ‘new’ (or something old ‘on sale’). It’s why virtually every major clothing brand’s business strategy centers around up- and cross-selling you on their other offerings. We don’t approach our business that way, however. By focusing on one singular product that focused on quality and versatility, our hope was that demand will eventually be self-sustained and not dependent on marketing trickery.
That said, we admittedly did recently break from our singular focus on Ts – sort of – as we introduced face-masks in response to the current COVID-19 pandemic. We really did not want to sell face-masks, though… so we didn’t. We decided to include them with our current summer collection. Our internal rationalization was that in today’s world, a mask could be arguably seen as an extension to our vision of a ‘perfect T.’ No one wants to wear them (including us and we make the damn thing!), but if you do have to wear a mask to protect yourself and others, as well as adhere to local guidelines, then might as well get a really good one! Now, we cannot claim our mask is ‘perfect’ as we frankly don’t know what a perfect mask is. We did however insist on the same premium quality Pima Cotton that we use for our T-Shirts and relied on the expertise of our hand-selected Peruvian factories to make them as good as they know how. Including them at no extra cost risks creating a perception of them being somehow cheaply made. This is far from the truth, however, and another example where we allow traditional business-sense to come secondary to our commitment to the principles our company is based on.
Those principles are so important to us, that we put them in our name: If you are going to do something, then do it well – don’t cut corners (more on that here). Recognize life is too short to strive for anything less than greatness in your endeavors. We personally do not wear other types of Ts, so we cannot say what constitutes ‘perfect’ in a different style of shirt. We also have not felt the same lack of availability in other clothing categories. That standard is important to us, and just filling a gap to make a sale is not enough. Our founders - which includes the person writing this - come from a corporate sales background and have climbed the proverbial ‘ladder of success’ in that environment, only to be left feeling unsatisfied. In building ‘If… Then Well’, we purposely chose to create a company, brand and product that we can stand 100% behind. We never want to sell anything that we cannot personally say is superior to everything else we have personally experienced out there in that same category. We sincerely love our t-shirts. Maybe that is the real reason why we are ok with not chasing financial gain at any cost… We feel like we have already achieved ‘success’ in knowing that we will never have to go shopping in search of another T-Shirt ever again!