Photo Credit: Ackime Snow
Maurice Malone, Williamsburg Garment Company
“Year –1, we are a one man operation doing small time business.”
Maurice, please tell Sugarcube customers how you have managed to gain the mindset of ‘small is beautiful’ business model in an increasingly corporate branded world? –Even when corporate giants are re-branding to appear as boutique brands.
When I went into business, I had very little money. I knew I couldn’t out BIG any company, so I made being small my advantage. Big brands operate big. Everything’s about the numbers; personal service is not an option. Being small allows me to build relationships and react faster to customer needs. I want to have personal relationships with every boutique where the brand is sold. I want to personally respond to calls or emails and have friendly conversations when possible. I want to build friendships, not stats, which is why I view the retailers as my partners. Being small allows the boutiques to be my eyes, ears, and voice in communicating directly with consumers. I want the Sugarcube customer to feel that they can say to Edward or Elisa, “tell Maurice it would be cool if blah, blah, blah,” and they can respond, “that’s a good idea, I’ll make sure to tell him,” and the customer knows he or she has been heard.
Which leads us to ask how your one-person company has the dexterity to use mass manufacturing in a meaningful way?
When you think of this type of business, you think a team of people and lots of money determines success. In my many years in business, I’ve mastered the art of multitasking and spending less to achieve more. I’m putting everything I have into this brand to make it successful. In my efforts, I want to create something meaningful, so I made it my goal to do everything myself in the first year to inspire people ––To be a real example that you don’t have to go the traditional route to do anything.
You have a certain aesthetic criterion in your designs as translated through production. That cohesiveness is present between women and men’s styles. Is it the way you think about material, content and process that translates into product with ‘quiet’ integrity? –And , simultaneously badass, like your vintage inspired denim Naval Shirt.
I believe in silent branding. Like when you see a product, design, artwork, photo etc. and know who did it because of style. As a designer, when you can make it work, even between women and men’s styles, that’s when you have something. That’s the purpose of my coin pocket and other design details in the jeans. They are timeless, adaptable foundations.
All sorts of jeans from high-end handcrafted, to mass produced ‘non-jeans’ of fluff, fill the denim world to the brim. Please tell us your thoughts about the current state of the denim market.
For as long as I can remember, people have said the denim market is over saturated. To me, it’s not that it’s over saturated, it’s just lacking new ideas, strategies, and purpose. The denim category is one of the most copycat areas of the fashion industry. People start new brands thinking they can offer the same thing and put their brand name on it – then if that doesn’t work, they are surprised.
We have great respect for your affinity for independent endeavors, whether designing or producing in cross industries, but it’s often a rough world for independents. Going forward, will your multitude of business departments all agree with your “One Man Operation doing Small Time Business” motto while using one business card? –Just kidding, seriously.
My goal is not to always be a “One Man Operation,” however I do plan to keep operating all my companies like Small Time Businesses. I believe over the past decade or two, Big Business in its efforts to increase profit and gobble up competition have lost sight and forgot about important good customer service and relationships. There’s a beauty in calling a company and talking to a real person that’s not on the other side of the globe. Even getting an email question answered by a real person apposed to being led through a maze of selection boxes matters. Old-time small business service in the modern age is my advantage as an independent.
And finally, what one-piece of advice do you have for evolving independent designers and producers?
The most powerful quote I can think of for those in the business of being creative as well as for those in the business of starting a business is Apple®’s “Think Different.” The world doesn’t need another brand or product like “this or that.” Discover what the world is missing, needs, or what your edge is, then figure out how you can bring it to market. The ability to problem solve is as important, if not more important, then creativity. After all, what good is a good idea if you don’t know what to do with it?
Thank you, Maurice.