Season 4 Episode 2
December 15, 2020

[Step by Step] How Can I Use Marketing Automation to Get More Done with Less?

How does a small-but-mighty team compete with big global brands? Bahzad Trinos tells us exactly how his passion — his obsession — for denim has helped the brand Naked and Famous rise to the top of innovation and admiration from those in-the-know.

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Naked and Famous Denim is among the most sought-after Japanese selvedge denim labels in the world. Their head denim nerd, Bahzad, a self-described "Otaku", Japanese for an obsessed fan, sits down with us to discuss the challenges of connecting with customers and growing a brand in a niche market. How are they doing that? Marketing automation. Or, in Bahzad's own words:

The beauty of email is the fact that nobody can take your audience away.

And grow they have. With just a small team between Canada and Japan, the denim retailer have built up multiple brands by being ultra-obsessed with product innovation. Their Instagram following routinely helps them steer the direction of the product. In fact, being a fan of denim in general helps give Naked and Famous the edge. They don't retail only their own wares, but they curate and sell the products from other brands, worldwide.

In this episode, Bahzad talks about how to connect with customers worldwide who are reputed experts in a highly technical and complicated product, with deep history, and strong opinions.

We are the fans, so when it comes to fabrication, our aim is always to just kind of impress ourselves. And if we can make something that impresses ourselves then we've got a pretty good feeling that our audience is going to like it, too.

Key Takeaways

  • How can small and medium sized businesses can get more done with small teams?
  • How do we automate the customer journey?
  • What are new and emerging channels that are ripe for innovation?
  • How can I learn from bigger brands who encourage cross-channel customer shopping?
  • Where do I market to an existing customer to encourage retention?

Noteable Quotes

On a channel like YouTube, the thing about it is you can watch a three minute video and then it'll play you another video from your library, so you can engage customers and it's going to show them what they want to watch. So you can tell your story to that customer and if your customer is interested in binge watching all your videos, they can do that. And you can tell them with your own words, with your own sincerity what information you're trying to let them know about. So it's a much more personal way of doing things.

Phillip: [00:00:15.58] Hello and welcome to Step by Step, a podcast by Future Commerce, presented by Omnisend. This is Season Four of Step by Step. So if you are joining us for the first time, welcome. This is Episode Two of Four. If you're just jumping in midway through, might I suggest that you go back and listen from the very beginning? Because this series is best enjoyed when you hear from beginning to end. It is tough to attract an online shopper. We all know that if you're an independent retailer, or you're an eCommerce startup or you're in direct to consumer, you know that you have to spend, spend, spend, spend, spend to acquire a customer. And when you do, to reacquire them over and over costs more of your time and more of your money than you are comfortable spending. Well, say no more, fam. We've got you covered this season of Step by Step we're asking the question, how can a DTC brand compete with established brands? And I'll tell you what, some of the secret to that is employing the right amount of automation when it's necessary. In this four part series, we're sitting down with Founders of small and medium sized eCommerce startups to help you craft the ultimate multichannel customer strategy. We're going to leverage automation. We're going to take marketing to the next level. So we're going to get started today by sitting down with Bahzad Trinos. Bahzad is the CDO, the Chief Denim Otaku at Naked & Famous Jeans. Find out more about what Bahzad has to say about how he is leveraging social media and automation in every customer channel to make the customer journey unique for Naked & Famous. It's going to be an amazing listen, so let's not waste any more time. Let's join Bahzad as he teaches us how DTC can stand toe to toe with established brands Step by Step.

Phillip: [00:02:08.20] Today, we have Bahzad Trinos of Naked & Famous. I would typically have described Bahzad as the CDO, but I don't think it means Chief Digital Officer in the world of Naked & Famous. What is your title officially, Bahzad?

Bahzad: [00:02:20.65] The Chief Denim Otaku at Naked & Famous denim.

Phillip: [00:02:26.89] {laughter} For those who don't know what that is...

Bahzad: [00:02:26.89] For those who don't know what that is, basically I'm a big giant denim nerd and I kind of do a little bit of everything.

Phillip: [00:02:34.14] Brian's theory, his working theory, is that there is a nerd for everything that exists.

Bahzad: [00:02:38.73] Oh, absolutely. No question about it.

Brian: [00:02:40.35] It's true. There is a nerd for everything that exists. That's the passion economy at work. The enthusiast economy.

Bahzad: [00:02:44.37] Anything, whether it's like flavored salts or cameras.

Brian: [00:02:50.22] Yes. Yes.

Bahzad: [00:02:50.40] You're always going to find a nerd who knows, who can go so deep into any particular topic. And regardless of how boring you might find any particular topic, once you get into like nerd zone of it, it can be quite fascinating. Even keyboards. I like mechanical keyboards and a lot of people are like a keyboard is a keyboard, but go into Reddit and look into the mechanical keyboard sub-Reddit. And you will just read mind blown.

Phillip: [00:03:20.22] A keyboard is not just a keyboard. Apparently. This is what I'm being told recently.

Bahzad: [00:03:25.41] No. No.

Phillip: [00:03:25.41] When you nerd about denim, what does a denim nerd think about on a daily basis? And how do you make that into a business?

Bahzad: [00:03:33.89] A denim nerd. You know, these are people who are obsessed about fabric and the way fabric's made, the history of the fabric, the way it ages, the way it wears. There's so much history in this fabric and it's the fabric that we all wear. Absolutely everybody owns a pair of jeans, and it's unlike any other fashion that has ever existed. Jeans are the only thing that you could wear from... You can find one hundred year old pair of jeans, put them on today, and it wouldn't look any different than jeans that are sold in the store today. But if you were to find a suit or a dress or anything like that, they really look of their time. Now, a denim nerd might be able to look at a really, really old pair of jeans and say, oh, well, that's from that era and that's from that era because certain things changed throughout the history of denim. But it's quite fascinating to look at an old pair of jeans and read it. Look at the way that the jeans have faded, the patterns that were created and kind of get a feel for the person who wore that garment. And when it comes to denim today, there's all kinds of denim. We're in a particular niche called raw denim, which kind of fits a little bit more in the world of heritage and workwear and the spirit of the old way of making things. And when we make jeans, we're pulling from that inspiration, that type of manufacturing, and you can buy a pair of jeans today that you can wear that are essentially very, very similar to what somebody was wearing 50 to 100 years ago.

Phillip: [00:05:18.70] Brian, I was waiting for you there.

Brian: [00:05:21.95] It's such an incredible thing that this is such a lasting industry. I think it's something that's really compelling to me about this industry, is that it has the ability to, like, go on and on, and you can build a brand that lasts so long. Tell me about your story, how did Naked & Famous get its start. And how did you enter into the brand?

Bahzad: [00:05:47.78] Well Naked & Famous Denim started in 2008, just around the time of the economic crash. But the real history of Naked & Famous Denim goes back a couple of generations. So Brandon Svarc is the Owner and Founder of Naked & Famous Denim. But it was actually his grandfather that started our company in a sense. So he was a Holocaust survivor. He was actually on Schindler's List. And after the devastation that occurred, he came to Canada and started a business and his business, as many people at the time, they just did what they could do. And he was selling household wares door to door. Gloves, towels, you know, sheets, that type of thing. And from there, he established a company where he would sell more and more of these things, a workwear business. He was manufacturing coveralls and overalls and jeans and work wear garments for the Canadian workwear industry. Brandon's father got into the business when it was his time, and he still works in the business today. And when it was Brandon's turn to enter the business, he wanted to take things in a little bit of a different direction. He instead of doing kind of a mass market, just basic work wear garments, he wanted to do something a little bit more on the premium side of things. So we took our knowledge and understanding of making workwear and the heritage behind that and applied it to some of the best and most interesting and innovative fabrics in the world, of which that all comes from Japan. And so a prefecture in Japan called Okayama. This is essentially the mecca of denim. Anytime you hear about expensive jeans, so to speak, Japanese denim, it all comes from this prefecture in Japan where they've essentially mastered the art of making denim the traditional way.

Phillip: [00:07:55.83] So I'm starting to feel, I'm getting a hint of the nerdistry that we could really get into here. What is Naked & Famous or sort of the family of brands? And how are you retailing today compared to what you just described as sort of the heritage business there? How do things look today? How are you selling today?

Bahzad: [00:08:12.45] The way Naked & Famous began, I mean, as a business, interestingly enough, it was very similar to the way Brandon's grandfather started the business. When Brandon started, he had a suitcase and he was going to shop to shop. He would find the coolest shop in any particular city. He'd walk in and say, "Hey, I've got this brand. You want to take a look at it?" And some people would just kick them out and say, "Hey, you need to make an appointment, jerk." Or some people are very receptive are were like, "Wow, this is really, really incredible stuff." And so that's how the brand started. It was literally just going to shop to shop, knocking on doors. And then we did the trade show thing, and we were still doing that up until they all got canceled. A little thing called COVID . You might want to look it up. Anyway, so we were doing a lot of trade shows and we were meeting with buyers from all around the world. We would travel to Paris, Berlin, New York, France, well Paris is France, Las Vegas. We would do trips in between. We'd go to Toronto, Vancouver, Seattle, so we were on basically a whirlwind tour every six months meeting with people and buyers from every direction. We would also have inquiries from people online, people who discovered us, people who discovered us through social media. We've got a pretty I mean, we're on Instagram. That's probably our most active social media base, but we still have Facebook and YouTube as well. I do live streams all the time. So a lot of people find us through the many various ways. We're pretty active on raw denim message boards and forums. So there's a lot of just general activity that goes on, whether it's from a customer who is really eager about a product. They go into a store and they say, "Hey, I really like Naked & Famous. Do you guys carry this?" Or maybe the buyers themselves are doing a little bit of research and they find this that way. But generally speaking, the business has been steady. I mean, we're in a little bit of a difficult time here because a lot of businesses were forced to close. So for those businesses, some of them, they weren't really ready for online. And I remember talking to a lot of buyers and people we work with about their strategies and a lot of them were like, "We're focused on our in-store experience. People come in, we want to be able to show them and fit them and do all these things for them," which is a fantastic way to do business. I mean... But when you are not allowed to do that, it becomes a struggle because how do you interpret that experience online? And luckily, I watched a lot of people pivot and so there was a bit of a slump, I think, at the start of this thing, but things have started to normalize. I don't think we're out of the woods yet. But, you know, business is still steady. We've got our online store. We've got our physical retail shops, and we have all of our wholesale and retail partners.

Brian: [00:11:22.85] Talk to us a little bit about that. The brick and mortar strategy versus your digital strategy. How has that sort of been a balance? How did you first get into digital and how has that sort of play out here in the last nine months?

Bahzad: [00:11:36.55] Right. So originally when when Naked & Famous hit the market, we didn't have our own physical stores. We didn't own them and we didn't have our own online store. I would say back in that time, in the late 2000s, early 2010s, a brand selling on their own website was kind of taboo. Because you were doing this wholesale business, you didn't want to be competition for your own customers.

Phillip: [00:12:09.71] Sure. Typically it's wholesale, right?

Bahzad: [00:12:13.57] That was driving the business, and so over time, at some point, you know, you have to take some control of what's going on. Wholesale is great. But it's not like you have exclusive contracts with these partners for years and years and years. You can have one or two bad seasons for whatever reason, and that business is gone. So for us, it was about trying to keep things steady. We also wanted to be able to present our products in a way that was our way. Because there's little control you have at retail, at other people's retail stores. I mean, you can provide product, you could provide POP and display stuff, but the way the messaging works and the way you want things displayed, well, that's completely up to them. So having our own store, we've been able to do that. We've been able to put out more communication and we started doing that around 2011, when we opened our first store in Montreal called Tate + Yoko. We didn't make it a Naked & Famous Denim store. We actually made it a multi-brand store. We wanted it to be a celebration of denim, a celebration of manufacturing. In our store, we only carry products that are made in Canada, USA and Japan, the three countries that kind of put all of our... They're the three regions that Naked & Famous Denim kind of lives within. So we carried similar products to us and so we carried other denim brands in our store as well. And by having that retail environment, we could also better understand what customers needs and wants are. We could figure out just what it takes to make the best denim shop in the world. And we've had many years of experience doing that. I think we run a pretty good denim shop and we've expanded into New York. We opened our own store in New York two years ago. And that's been going okay. I mean, without the lockdowns and stuff.

Brian: [00:14:22.33] That's such a powerful thing to have both physical retail and digital. It's something that you touched on there that was really interesting to me. The fact that you were able to get data, gather data from having brick and mortar stores versus being only digital... Talk to me a little bit about digital has played a role in that as well. And have you been able to take learnings from both sides of that coin and put them back into your strategy?

Bahzad: [00:14:51.64] Sure. Well, when you have a physical space, the feedback that you get from your customers is totally different than the feedback you get from online.

Phillip: [00:15:01.60] It instantaneous.

Bahzad: [00:15:04.34]  [00:15:04.34]If a customer doesn't like something, they're going to tell you. Or you can get a gauge from just the people walking in the door. If enough people are passing on a certain product or for another product, then you know that there's something working here. Whereas online you don't know when a customer passes on something, you only know when they have chosen something. So that helps us develop products for our customers. The [00:15:34.97] online feedback is great because in some sense, it's not necessarily just the information that we're getting from our online store because we're pretty involved in our community in general and in the raw denim world. So I'm on message boards. I'm on forums. I'm seeing what people are writing. I'm seeing what people care about. And that's not to say that just because somebody wrote something, that's necessarily what they care about. Sometimes you have to gauge where the trends are going just from the way that people interact with... People will post photos of their worn in jeans, for example. This is a very popular thing. You know, we are all obsessed about our jeans and the way that they fade and they progress. People post photos up on that. And you can especially with Reddit, it's very democratic in the sense that everything gets to be upvoted. So, you know, if there are certain types of jeans that are upvoted a lot or certain types of fades, then it's not just the comment section that is important to to pay attention to. It's also to see what how people are reacting. For us, that is checking out the message boards, seeing what's going on out there in the general community, seeing what's trending on our social media, what type of imagery do our customers like? What type of things to people react to? So I guess there isn't just one thing you have to look at. You kind of have to look at all on the whole and using your experience try to figure out what that actually means in terms of creating experiences and products for customers.

Phillip: [00:17:12.30] There's a sense that these days you are the kind of marketer it seems, or I am sure you wear a lot of different hats, but it seems like you have a real understanding of your customer because you have a real understanding of the community that's formed around the product. And so maybe you have an understanding of how to talk to that customer because you are that customer. But still you can't be everywhere all at once. And I get the sense that you are doing a whole lot with a very small team. Like what is the team outfit look like at Naked & Famous? Do you have half a dozen interns sitting around doing this kind of stuff for you all day long?

Bahzad: [00:17:52.29] No, actually, I stopped bringing in interns because I felt like I was spending more time telling them what to do than they were actually doing anything. So I would have to tell you that it was like out of all the interns we've ever brought, ever, maybe two or three have been acceptable or better. I have to say, we've had some good ones, but some of them, you're just like, I cannot wait for this internship to be over.

Phillip: [00:18:16.92] {laughter} You're the teacher.

Bahzad: [00:18:17.96] Yeah.

Phillip: [00:18:18.39] You didn't realize. It's an education. It just it wasn't for you.

Bahzad: [00:18:21.90] It was not for me. So I don't want to babysit anybody. But no, we're a very, very lean team. And like you mentioned, I am the customer. I came from the online forums being a nerd, being a fan, and then now I'm on the other side of things. And so our entire team is made up of nerds and fans, so we're very, very close to the community that we're creating for. Our sales team is myself, my wife and one other person. That's it for the whole entire world. There's three people.

Brian: [00:19:00.96] Wow.

Phillip: [00:19:01.32] Wow.

Bahzad: [00:19:01.32] Right. We have a photographer. We have our store manager. We have some store staff. Warehouse staff. Of course, we have our own factory as well. So let's consider that as well. We do have people who are making our products for us. We own and operate our own factories. But just the general sales, you know, putting up all of the the product photography, doing all the social media photography, it's a very, very small team, small group of people. The thing about the photography is that a lot of our staff, we know how to work a camera. I'm taking photos, my wife's taking photos. Our store manager is taking photos. We have a photographer who's doing product photography and doing social media photography as well. He's doing all the edits and things like that. These days me and my wife are shooting the videos, and I'm doing the editing and putting them up on our YouTube channel. So not only are we designing the collection, we're writing the product copy. I'm doing the email blasts. I'm making the videos, developing the product, going to meetings with the fabric suppliers, doing the buying for our retail stores. It's a lot of tasks. And, yeah, we're just maybe, I don't know, maybe we're workaholics and we just don't know how to relax. {laughter} But it's a lot of stuff that we all do together in a very, you know, fine mix. And maybe that's why I hate bringing in interns because they just mess up with my flow.

Phillip: [00:20:30.36] {laughter} There's something to be said about the modern work sort of passion economy, if you will. And Brian said this earlier. There's like this idea that your work is your passion because you have made a living out of something that you care deeply about. And I find that that sort of person has a resourcefulness to continue to make that viable for them. And so where you might have in a larger company, where there's much more diversified roles, you've got discrete roles of people that just do one thing and only focus on that. You couldn't possibly even imagine that. I'm sure.

Bahzad: [00:21:14.07] No.

Phillip: [00:21:14.18] Your hand is and everything you because your personal touch is imbued into every experience.

Bahzad: [00:21:19.83] Yeah. It's also ego.

Phillip: [00:21:23.37] {laughter} I wasn't going to say that. I mean...

Bahzad: [00:21:25.11] Yeah. I mean, I don't think I have a big ego, but I don't want to make something that's crappy. So it's all about if we made a good product, we have to show that product off in a way that tells the story the way that it should be told, because there's so much room for failure in terms of making something really great and then nobody knows about it. There are all kinds of products all around the world that are fantastic. And you've never heard about it. So if we're not telling our story, if those email blasts aren't going out, telling the customer the information, when they can get it, why is so special, here's a video explaining the story behind it... If all those things don't happen, people are going to miss this.

Brian: [00:22:03.87] So true.

Bahzad: [00:22:04.98] Yeah. And if I'm not doing it, then there's very few people I trust to do it. So it inevitably becomes I have to do it.

Phillip: [00:22:14.31] So this is where we have to try to show a little bit for Omnisend. Do you feel like the capability of marketing automation helps you keep that personal touch, but to do all the things that can be automated away so that you can focus on the things that really matter, which is the storytelling piece?

Bahzad: [00:22:34.02] Sure. I mean having any tool... Because Omnisend, our email marketing platform, is a tool and you have to be able to use that tool effectively. So before this, we've used other marketing things and were they returning their value? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, often no. But this one, it was just I'm not a programmer. I'm not trying to deep dive into a lot of the nitty gritty when it comes to email marketing. I just kind of want to do what I need to do, send my email blast. If there's automation's that we can do in terms of rewarding customers, like for example we do email marketing rewards. Well, a rewards program without it being an official rewards program, for example. So if you spend X amount of dollars with us, we surprise you with a here's a coupon code. And instead of me trying to figure out, OK, well, how many customers have spent X amount of dollars in this period of time? I can just quickly program that in into Omnisend. Customer spent X, and as soon as they hit that threshold, here you go. I can send that coupon code. So it's a nice little reward for our customers and it's a thank you from us. It's not anything more than that. We really appreciate your business. You've been a loyal customer of ours. Here's our way of saying thank you. Here's a coupon code for your next purchase. And the reality is, is that more than half of our customers are repeat customers. So odds are that that code is going to be used. That is going to be something that is going to be of value to that person. So being able to do things like that really, really saves us a lot of time. And it creates a meaningful experience for the customer.

Brian: [00:25:44.75] So interesting too that 50 percent of your customers are repeat customers. That's an astonishing number. And it just speaks to what you've built at Naked & Famous. It's such an iconic brand. And you really have built like I like a true cult following. And you could only do that... I do want to back to tools in a second. But before I do that, let's talk nerding out again first, because it's so interesting to me that you're telling a story that really only you and your team can tell. Just a few people. And you're telling it and it's being amplified through these tools that you have. The story itself, you have to have tools to be able to tell that story because you need to be the one to tell it. And I know that you're telling stories both through your words, but also your products. So tell me a little bit about that. You've got your own factories. You're a very tight team. How do you create products that are continuing to engage your customers?

Bahzad: [00:27:01.80] Right. So, like I said before, [00:27:03.48] we are the fans, so when it comes to fabrication, our aim is always to just kind of impress ourselves. And if we can make something that impresses ourselves then we've got a pretty good feeling that our audience is going to like it, too. [00:27:16.26] And over the years, you could take a customer from one of our basic styles and when I say basic, you know, for a raw denim, it's a 12 and a half ounce or 13 ounce dark indigo raw denim jean. So a very classic iconic denim. And you can take them from that to a super heavyweight denim, twice the weight or denim that has incredible texture to it. We call it a slubby denim. So our customers are along for the ride most often. They start off with their first pair. They get used to it. They start to see what this whole raw denim thing is all about. They go on the forums, they go on our Instagram, they start to see the evolution of jeans and then they start to interact with the community online. They're looking at other people's photos. And from there, you just you start to become more and more intrigued. And so when we release a new fabric, be it a very slubby denim, for example, you know, you've got a lot of texture there. And why does it have a lot of texture? Well, then you explain it's because of the way the yarn is spun. It's spun in a way that makes an irregular sized yarn. So when you weave with it, the denim becomes very, very bumpy. Well, why would you want to use an irregular size yarn? Well, the reason for that is because back in the olden days before they had a big complicated machines to make everything nice and uniform. We were spinning yarn by hand. Yarn spun by hand wasn't uniform at all. So you would get to look and feel of hand spun yarn garment. So every little tiny detail tells a little bit more of a story, and it tells the story of the history of production as well, so we can get into complicated dyes. We do a denim we call our core series, for example, where a typical pair of jeans starts off dark indigo. And the more and more you wear it, it gets lighter blue, lighter blue until you start to see more white through that denim. And a lot of people don't know why that is, but I can tell you why that is. And that's because of the way the yarns were dyed. In Japan they actually do it a very, very special way called rope dyeing. That's where they take the white yarn. They dip it into a vat of indigo, they pull it out, they let it dry. The dip back into that vat of indigo. They pull it out, they let it dry. And they repeat this process many, many times, depending on the color, essentially, that they're trying to achieve. But the most important thing about this process is that they never allow the cotton yarn to remain at the indigo bath long enough for the cotton to absorb indigo to the core of the yarn. So what you have is a white center core yarn with layers of indigo built up over top of that yarn. So when you wear that jean, those layers of indigo will start to fade away, revealing the different indigos hues underneath until you eventually get to that white core yarn. So that's why your jeans fade.

Brian: [00:30:21.05] Wow. Wow.

Bahzad: [00:30:21.05] Especially your Japanese rope dye denim jeans fade. And that's why Japanese denim is known for its fading properties, because they do the special dye technique. Other countries, they do it different ways. There's vat dying where they just dump the cotton yarns into a vat of indigo. They let it soak up and that's it. So they don't fit this nicely. We developed a technique where your blue jeans will fade to different colors. So that's a fun story because you get to kind of explain this rope dying story. But now we've put a twist on it where we take that white core, that white yarn, we do a special dye called a reactive dye, which is a permanent dye. That color doesn't wash out. And then we rope dye on top of that. So you can have a blue jean that, for example, will fade to purple or fade to red. We also did a rainbow core one where it was multicolor. So our customers, they're engaged in why the things work the way they work, and when we bring out new products, we're always building on top of these stories or even traditional dye methods and incorporating that into what we make. So there's a lot of fun in what we do if you're a fabric nerd. And even if you're not a fabric nerd, sometimes you could just appreciate a beautiful fabric for it being a beautiful fabric.

Brian: [00:31:44.43] What's the craziest fabric jean... What's the craziest jean you've done so far?

Bahzad: [00:31:50.07] Right now this is... We're actually we're doing it right now. So we're doing a 40 ounce denim. And that might not mean a lot to you. But this is the heaviest denim fabric in the universe. There's nothing heavier than this. It shatters...

Phillip: [00:32:12.15] In the universe, not in the world.

Bahzad: [00:32:14.31] In the universe. I used to say the world, but now I say the universe, because this is, it's unbelievable.

Phillip: [00:32:20.43] This is great.

Bahzad: [00:32:21.13] A typical pair of jeans is between 10 and 12 ounces. You know, you go to any shop, you go to a mass market shop that's what you're buying, right? When you're getting into like the enthusiast denim world, then maybe the denim is a little bit heavier. You might go from like 13, 14 ounces up to like a 15, 16 ounce. And then when you get to like really nerd's denim world, you know, 18 ounce, 21 ounce... In fact, 21 ounces, that was probably only about maybe a little more than 12 years ago when that came out. And that was the heaviest denim in the world at the time. It was about two times the weight of a regular pair of jeans. We did a 32 ounce denim, which just smashed that record. And so between then, since we did the 32 ounce denim, little companies here and there, they do a 33 ounce denim. One company did a a 38 ounce denim, but it wasn't actually a company, it was a denim mill that that made it and that they never made production. So they made one jean. Big deal. We've had 40 ounce denim made. That's like four times the weight of a pair of jeans. A size 32 jean weighs 5.5 pounds.

Phillip: [00:33:45.36] No way.

Bahzad: [00:33:46.29] Yes. So it is... And you'd think like why? Not only is the weight crazy, but sewing it is unbelievably difficult. No sewing machine was ever developed to sew through this type of fabric. No denim sewing machine. You know, when you're doing jeans production, there are certain machines that you use and they're designed specifically for making jeans. Yeah, try sewing fabric that is four times the weight of what they're expecting to be sewing through. So we actually had to custom order sewing machine that can sew through absolutely anything, but unlike a regular production line where you have machines that are designed to do specific tasks in the production line, this is a single needle machine that we have to do every single operation on. So making jeans on this machine is also unbelievably difficult. Making the fabric took years, sewing the jeans is like a day just to make one pair. So yeah, it's not easy, but nothing easy has ever been... I don't know what I'm trying to say, but...

Phillip: [00:35:03.20] Scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could they didn't stop to think about whether they should.

Bahzad: [00:35:08.06] That's right. Jurassic Park.

Phillip: [00:35:10.07] Yeah, that's Ian Malcolm.

Bahzad: [00:35:12.41] That's pretty much it. Yeah, that's right.

Phillip: [00:35:14.36] I though for sure you were going to say glow in the dark, but it's like the six pound pair of jeans that I didn't know that I needed. But I absolutely need now.

Bahzad: [00:35:26.91] Yeah. I mean, they're not for regular folks.

Phillip: [00:35:31.01] No.

Bahzad: [00:35:31.52] You have to be a masochist. You have to be a denim masochist. And there are there are guys who just they want to push, they want to push it. And, you know, we've been selling 32 ounce denim for many years now. We've had many customers wearing them. And that's like wearing three pairs of jeans at the same time. In fact, we like to say guaranteed uncomfortable or your money back. And we have yet to issue any refunds. So it's like wearing a carpet on your legs. They look really cool once they're faded in. And it's for the bragging rights for sure. I've got the heaviest pair of jeans in the world. They're going to be very, very limited in terms of production. It's not something that we can make thousands and thousands of pairs of, even if we could, I don't know if there's that many masochists out there, but they're going to be a very, very special jean and will be one of a kind for sure, and nobody, nobody will be able to surpass this weight ever. Unless it's us.

Phillip: [00:36:30.47] I was going to say that this is where two years from now we have you back on and you start claiming 50 ounce denim and then we'll have another conversation. Innovation seems to be core to how you're keeping yourself ahead. Assuming the world kind of gets back to some semblance of normal, whatever that is, in the next short period, what's the next thing on the horizon for you? What are you going to have to do to be successful in the next year or two?

Bahzad: [00:37:02.45] Well, I think we stick to our game plan, and that is creating fun and interesting and innovative products. Remain as much a part of the community as possible. Be as accessible as possible. And that's really been our winning strategy. I answer whether it's email questions, customer service questions that come through, or questions that come through on Instagram. People message me privately. They want to talk denim. I'm always ready to talk denim with you. So that's really our winning game plan, to continue to innovate, continue to make products that excite us the most. Because if it excites us, I know it's going to excite our audience and remain as close to the customer as possible.

Brian: [00:37:47.27] What about channels to tell the story? You know, you've got this awesome innovation story. You've got incredible voice. You've got incredible brand. You're telling the story through many mediums and doing live video like you mentioned. What do you see as sort of the next wave, the next channel to bring Naked & Famous Denim to?

Bahzad: [00:38:13.57] I think for me right now, one of my biggest focuses is growing our YouTube presence. I think there's one thing where on a medium like Instagram where you're posting photos and you have a little caption, that's great for a lot of people, but it's not as long lasting as a YouTube video is, because I think it's not very common that people are scrolling back and looking through maybe some of your old posts. Sometimes they do, but I don't think it's an occurrence that happens quite often. Instagram is very much a I looked at it for a second scroll up or down. I don't know which way it goes anymore. And you see the next picture from whoever else you follow. But the other real problem with Instagram is that unless you're paying, like Facebook, they've captured your audience. You know, if you put up a post, only X percent of your audience is going to see that. And I get the analytics back and sometimes it could be as low as five percent. So that's not great. So, yeah, it's not good. And I mean, OK, they want you to pay. That's fine. I understand that, but we're cheap, so we don't pay for much in terms of marketing. {laughter} So that's the reason why we post often we have our Naked & Famous Denim Instagram. We have Instagram for Naked & Famous Denim New York. We have an Instagram for our Montreal store Tate + Yoko. And we have another brand called Unbranded Brand. So we have a lot of different Instagram accounts that we're constantly putting up information on. And I know that a lot of our customers are cross following our companies. So sooner or later they're going to come across that post. But whereas [00:40:08.58] on a channel like YouTube, the thing about it is you can watch a three minute video and then it'll play you another video from your library, so you can engage customers and it's going to show them what they want to watch. So you can tell your story to that customer and if your customer is interested in binge watching all your videos, they can do that. And you can tell them with your own words, with your own sincerity what information you're trying to let them know about. So it's a much more personal way of doing things. [00:40:43.80] And I mean, the other way of kind of communicating with your customers goes back to email, because when you're doing your emails, even with YouTube, they're not going to tell your entire audience that your new video was up. It's just the way that it works. So we have a smaller following on YouTube, but hopefully we can grow it. And I think we will. It's just it's a time thing. But unlike these social media platforms, even Facebook. It was many years ago when they basically stole your audience from you. Nobody's going to steal your email list. If you have an email list and you send an email, all of your customers, every single person who signed up and wants those notifications gets that notification. Whether or not they open up their email that's one thing. But the fact remains that everybody gets that email. Whereas if I put up a post on Instagram, well, I've got maybe 15, maybe 20 percent chance that my person who specifically followed me, who told Instagram, hey, I want to follow this company, I'm interested in their content, and they've decided that they're not going to show them my content. That's weird. That's strange, I don't like that. But if you signed up for my emails, you're getting my emails. I'm not going to say, well, I'm going to send an email blast, but I'm only going to send it up to 20 percent of the people. If I want to segment my customers and say, OK, well, I'm going to have a regional event and I really only need to tell people in that region about it, there's no point of me sending out tons and tons of emails to people who that information is going to be relevant to. Or if I wanted to send out a birthday surprise email, I can segment my customers and say, OK, for any customers who've put in that information, it's your birthday. OK, maybe I can send you a birthday card or something like that. [00:42:34.02] But the beauty of email is the fact that nobody can take your audience away. [00:42:39.48]

Phillip: [00:42:40.76] I think there's something to be said too about the emergence of SMS and sort of the viability of it as a marketing platform. There was a study I recently saw of even baby boomer adoption in SMS as a marketing channel, and it is being used more and more for things like alerts and news and weather. And now we're using it for a package pickup, for buy online pickup in store orders. And I think the adoption and shift to SMS also has a similar advantage in your ability to basically have every communication read and not filtered by an algorithm.

Bahzad: [00:43:20.63] Sure. I mean, when is the last time you didn't read a text message?

Phillip: [00:43:25.60] Well, it's political season here in the United States. So, a lot. {laughter}

Bahzad: [00:43:28.76] Oh ok. I don't know.

Phillip: [00:43:32.48] But before now...

Bahzad: [00:43:33.47] I don't want to get too much into politics.

Brian: [00:43:34.88] That's true.

Bahzad: [00:43:35.70] I don't want to get too much into politics. But I signed up for both sides' email campaigns just to see what's going on.

Phillip: [00:43:42.44] Just to learn. Yeah.

Bahzad: [00:43:43.16] Oh, my God. You will learn the amount. It's incredible how many emails they can send out in one day and the types of language that they use to try and get you to donate. I've learned a lot from that. And some of it I just like don't do these things because it is the most annoying thing you can do to anybody. I would be like, I'm not voting for either one of you because of how annoying your emails are.

Phillip: [00:44:08.75] {laughter} Yeah, that's so true. There's a lot to be learned there. I think, too when you think about the as we come into a holiday season, when we're recording this now, there is an uptick in communication from every brand. And I think that it can be a deluge. Right? I'm afraid to open my inbox in the morning for fear of the sort of just mass of email I have to sort through. But I'll say this. There are brands that I look at every single piece that they put out. Every single piece. And because it's truly special. So it is possible to cut through the noise, right?

Bahzad: [00:44:47.11] Oh, yeah, right. I mean, we try to include some new information with every single email, whether it's a release. Here's a link to our latest video. Here's our blog post. Here's here's a special offer just for you. You know, we do a lot of deals that are exclusive to just our email subscribers. If you follow us on email, you're going to get a deal that is not advertised anywhere else, only you know about it. So it's worthwhile for you to check that email, whether or not you take advantage of that deal this week or next week or whatever, that's up to you. But I'm not sending people just general "Shop with us today because of X reason." No, here's a reason to shop with us, or here's a reason to check out our newest news. It's sometimes not even a call to action to buy anything. It's just here's news. Here's what's going on in our world. And now you know about it. And if it's relevant to you, then maybe you're going to check out that product. But if it's not, at least you know about it. You know what we're up to.

Brian: [00:45:52.46] It's useful to your customers. I love that.

Phillip: [00:45:55.78] Yeah. That's what I was going to say, there's a utility in information that they can learn from. By and large, the number one email that's open by brand is the shipment confirmation email. It's like your order has been shipped. Number two is product back in stock or a new product alert. And I think when you're looking for what connects with the customer, hey, certainly it's not necessarily the discount and buy, buy, buy, but it's more about, hey, here's something that you didn't know that you could discover. And I think that that's such a powerful thing that you can learn as a marketer.

Bahzad: [00:46:37.49] Sure. I mean, they signed up for your email list. They want your information. So you should give them good information. And I mean, I love emails. I mean, I sign up for every single thing, and I enjoy going through email lists. Sorry, the marketing emails that I get in my personal inbox, which is too many. But you start to see like who's just dialing it in and who is trying to create something of value.

Phillip: [00:47:12.15] So if we were to direct folks to Naked & Famous, where can they find you online so that they could try to find something of value in their own inbox and maybe learn a thing or two from you?

Bahzad: [00:47:21.99] Sure. Well, if you go to the Naked & Famous denim website, that's our main website. That's actually not an eCommerce website. It's our website. It's just news and product information. If you want to shop, you can click to shop now button. It takes you over to our store in Montreal, Tate + Yoko, so you can sign up for both mailing lists. You'll get somewhat similar information. But Tate + Yoko is a multibrand store. So you're also going to get information about other releases that are not just Naked & Famous Denim. And then we also have another brand called the Unbranded Brand, which is the symbol of brand, just a slightly lower price point. And you can check that out on the Internet as well.

Phillip: [00:48:05.92] Amazing, well, Bahzad Trinos, thank you so much for joining us, and this has been very enjoyable. I appreciate all your time.

Brian: [00:48:13.54] Thank you.

Bahzad: [00:48:14.17] My pleasure. Thanks for having me.

Phillip: [00:48:17.82] Well, thank you so much, Bahzad, for joining us and thank you for being so open and honest about just your obsession with creating things that don't exist in this world. I myself need thirty pound jeans. I have to have them. I have to have them like right now. And glow in the dark jeans too. I must have it, and I know where to get it. I can get it from Naked & Famous. You can do more with less. I want to know how you're doing it. Are you automating your way to better customer relationships and being in more channels and more active with fewer people and fewer hands in the pot? I want to know how you're doing it. Drop me a line at Thank you so much to Omnisend for making this season of Step by Step possible. I want you to automate everything that you possibly can and you can do that by starting your journey, not automatically, but by taking action. Go right now to Coming up on our next episode of the podcast, in Part Three, we have James Le Compte, who is the CEO of To'ak Chocolate, a luxury chocolatier who is delivering truly one of a kind product. Truly one of a kind product, an endangered species that through an amazing act of conservation, they rescued from extinction and are now making chocolate for the world to enjoy. An incredible director to consumer story. James Le Compte joining us on Part Three. And I hope you'll join us, too, for Step by Step. Thanks for listening.

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