We interviewed co-founder Steven Mazur, who started the company with Eric Huang, who he met through Venture for America, a fellowship program that matches recent college graduates with startups in emerging cities. They both worked at a Detroit-based digital advertising startup before launching Ash & Erie.
To date, they’ve sold thousands of shirts, and since filming, launched jeans, dress shirts and flannels. They plan on being the first major brand for shorter guys, offering them an entire wardrobe of options.
As for their current bestsellers, they noted that their original Everyday Shirt still earns first place in overall sales.
Here’s what else he told us about…
How the Idea Came About
We had always wanted to launch our own company and started to think about ideas. We thought about problems in our own lives and realized that it’s nearly impossible to find clothes that fit well. We’re forced to either buy custom clothes, tailor everything we purchase, or, if we’re lucky, shop in the kids’ section just to get the right fit.
The Everyday Shirt-Their 1st Prototype
We spent six months designing our first product, the Everyday Shirts. We started by looking at every detail of traditional clothes to figure out what we needed to change. We then conducted over 100 fittings with shorter guys of all shapes and sizes. To find those guys, we went on the street and found random guys willing to help! We also worked with a designer that had decades of experience with men’s shirts to ensure that we didn’t miss any detail.
Advice for Future ‘Tank’ Contestants
Practice makes perfect! We knew our business and numbers inside and out and watched a ton of Shark Tank to get an idea of what the Sharks might ask before we filmed. We spent hours rehearsing our pitch and asking each other potential questions and we’re glad we did!
Getting Hundreds of Pre-Orders Through Indiegogo
You’re taking us back to the very beginning! When we first launched the business, we had no savings and no money to put into the company, but we believed in the idea and knew there was a real opportunity. Indiegogo allowed to do two things: validate our idea and get the funding to develop our clothes. While we knew that we had trouble finding clothes that fit, we wanted to make sure that the market had the same issue. We received hundreds of pre-orders from people all around the world and that confirmed that other shorter guys wanted to buy clothes designed for them too. We were also able to use those pre-orders to fund our design and development process as well as our first order of inventory. Without those early supporters on Indiegogo, we never could have gotten started!
Pros & Cons to Running a Business in Detroit
We’re proud to be in Detroit and the best part is the people! The startup community is incredibly supportive and it’s easy to find people willing to lend a hand. New businesses are popping up every day and it’s a perfect time to be in the city. The biggest challenge to being in Detroit has been the lack of an established fashion community. We’ve found excellent advisors and mentors both locally and in New York, but we’re limited in our organic exposure to the industry.
Other Shark Tank products :