Q: What is your name, company and position?
A: Ali Fatourechi, Genetic Denim, Creative Director
Q: Give us a description of your company and its success.
A: Genetic Denim is a premium denim brand. We launched two years ago and have exceeded 200 stores domestically and have entered international markets such as Japan, Canada and Australia. I partnered up with Shaun Hurley, an industry insider, who is our president of Sales, and Scott Sartiano, who is president of Marketing. We initially started with a strong marketing force that got Genetic Denim in various publications nationwide that helped make Genetic Denim a recognizable name. I worked on designing and creating a line that would be recognizable for its lightweight, soft fabrics and impeccable fit. Finally, Shaun — with his denim knowledge and great reputation amongst buyers — debuted our line at Intermezzo, which is a trade show in January 2006.
Q: Describe what a typical day is like for you as the Creative Director of Genetic Denim.
A: A typical day starts with answering e-mails and following up with development and production issues. Then I sit with my associate designer and discuss our development for the upcoming season. After, I sit with my partner Shaun Hurley and we discuss sales strategies and how the line will be represented to the buyers for the upcoming season. That information then gets passed onto our sales reps and showroom in New York. It is very important that they understand the inspiration for that season which they use as a selling tool. I generally take a couple hours to do tears from magazines for inspiration and ideas. I then spend about an hour at my manufacturing facility doing wash development and fittings on styles that we are producing for our stores.
Q: Tell us a little about your background before you launched Genetic Denim.
A: Before launching Genetic Denim, I spent a year studying my consumers. I started a mobile denim store. I traveled from New York to Texas and visited 42 cities in search of what women want in a pair of jeans. I funded the tour by buying my competitor's brands and selling them to college students across the country for a discounted price. I bought overstock and styles from previous seasons at a discount and sold them for half the retail price. After two semesters of traveling, I realized what women want in a pair of jeans, moved to Los Angeles and started Genetic Denim with my two partners.
Q: How did you come up with your business idea?
A: I’ve always been a jeans guy. I grew up wearing and loving vintage Levi’s. To me, jeans are the only article of clothing that transcend seasons and borders. I wasn’t sure how to start a brand with no technical design background. For me, fashion starts from the streets and works its way up. I know there are limited retail outlets in and around college campuses so I decided to go on the road and sell jeans for a fraction of the cost and gauge the response from my potential consumers.
Q: Describe how you developed your idea into a successful business. What steps did you take along the way? What obstacles did you face? What was the hardest thing about starting your own business?
A: Once I spoke to people and friends who I look up to in the business world, and they truly believed in my idea, it was all about execution at that point. Once my partners signed on to take on my idea I knew there was something there and that Genetic Denim was going to be a strong force in the premium denim world. I faced so many obstacles. We were under-funded in the beginning, and we had major production issues, which prevented us from shipping for six months. The hardest thing to do was starting a business with no prior experience and making people believe in you and giving you complete autonomy to do as you want.
Q: What are three important tips for starting your own product line?
A: 1) Have a clear and concise plan.
2) You must have conviction in what you are designing. Fashion is subjective and you have to know that your clothes might not be for everyone.
3) You have one shot, make sure that your clothes fit. It is the most important aspect. If they do not fit, people will likely not try your clothes on again.
Q: What are some tips for standing out in a competitive market?
A: 1) Have an angle different than anyone else.
2) Create a buzz that makes your brand the "must-have" brand.
3) Make sure your voice (design) is heard and you know who you are designing for; pinpoint your target market and that will translate to your buyers.
Q: What are some mistakes you’ve made in building your business? How can someone avoid making those kinds of mistakes?
A: Mistakes are a blessing. My mistakes will not be someone else’s and I think it’s an important aspect to a business. You can’t avoid mistakes; you just have to learn to deal with them the best way you can.
To visit Genetic Denim, click here.