For yet another fun and insightful session of our Founder's Wednesday Series, we were joined by Kasper Brandi Petersen, co-founder of LABFRESH- a menswear brand that makes shirts that are stain & odor repellent, sweat blocking, and eco-friendly. Unlike most fashion houses, LABFRESH wants you to buy less and wear their products longer. Their FreshCore™️ technology makes shirts hydrophobic, antibacterial, and easy to care for. The result is a collection of timeless essentials that stand the test of life.
"For me, going from being a student to having a job and wearing a suit and tie every day for 10 hours, while traveling to humid places- it was impossible to not get any sweat stains and manage to look decent at the end of the day."
LABFRESH started as a Kickstarter project in January 2017. The founders, Lotte Vink and Kasper Petersen have always believed that people should be able to expect more from clothing. They became the most-backed European apparel project in crowdfunding history, after which, they quit their jobs, got a small office in Amsterdam, and started building a business from scratch.
"I would never want to spend some of the best entrepreneurial years of my life on a mediocre product that everyone could copy. I wanted to make something unique."
FreshCore™ is a unique treatment mix developed by LABFRESH that combines performance-enhancing technologies in one. All of their products are stain repellent and also have antibacterial properties, which means they kill the odor-causing bacteria. As a result, they stay fresh for days - whether you travel, cycle to work, or run to a meeting. All their products are easy-care, which means they require less washing. The third-generation business shirts by LABFRESH are also wrinkle-free, so they need no ironing between washes and make for a perfect travel companion.
"Keep it simple."
As a beginner, you often tend to believe that you need a lot of different products for your customers, from different fits to a variety of colors and fabrics. LABFRESH did the same, until a deep dive customer interview where they realized that when customers were asked what colors they like, they would say a lot of different colors. But when asked what colors they own and wear daily, turns out everything they own is either white or blue. "So now, we tell our customers we have one business shirt and one casual shirt and no one has ever complained", says Petersen.
"Let's ask the people if they are interested in our product and if they are not, we just don't do it."
Crowdfunding is a combination of customer research, funding and also a way to connect with your customers. People don't just have to tell you that it is a good idea, they have to give you money- and that is the ultimate validation.
"If you are building a direct-to-consumer brand, building a community first is the only way to start."
First, you build a community, then you get a great product and then you start building a business. If you do it the other way around, you will constantly focus on the commercial part of it instead of just making people happy and making a great product. You cannot build a culture that is different than what you are, that looks a certain way on paper, but is very different in reality. Stay true to yourself and your customers.
"Make something that fits you."
Check out the entire conversation to know more about Crowdfunding, Building a Community for direct-to-consumer brands, omni-channel strategies, and more: