With all the focus on e-commerce, especially this year as stores have gone through pandemic-related shutdowns, it can be easy to forget just how powerful an economic force physical retailers still are.
Consider this: 55% of online shoppers prefer to shop with retailers that also have a physical presence, not just online (Score), while a majority of shoppers still prefer to shop physical stores over online
The indicators all say one thing: Traditional retail may be suffering, like so many other industries, but it’s not going anywhere.
This is part of why so many product brands that begin online seek out retail relationships as they grow.
That was certainly the case with The Gold Gods, an urban jewelry brand started by entrepreneur Cam Love in 2013. Love started the brand as a college freshman, after studying business trends and noticing an opportunity in high-end men’s jewelry. With multiple retailers all across the world, one flagship store in Los Angeles, and a partnership with Zumiez retailers across the U.S. and Canada, The Gold Gods has achieved more than $50 million in sales in just 7 years.
I spoke with Love to learn more about how he grew The Gold Gods through retail, and how other product-based entrepreneurs can benefit from these strategies.
Shama Hyder: How do you find retailers to collaborate with, and what are some strategies you'd recommend others take to find retail partners?
Cam Love: When looking at potential retailers, it is critical to do your research on the target demographic of that retailer. Don't just try and get your brand in every single retail location you can find. Instead, it’s important to find retailers that align with your brand's vision.
For example, if you are trying to build a high-end fashion brand, it’s unwise to sell to a retailer who may specialize in lower price-point and off-price sales. Where your brand is sold will say a lot about how people perceive your brand, so choose accordingly.
When we started looking for potential retailers to sell to, we knew our demographic was going to be in the urban streetwear category, so we focused our efforts on stores that matched that vision.
Hyder: What’s one of the most effective strategies you used to find the right retailers or sellers to work with?
Love: Social media is a must for any consumer retail brand. We found our very first brand reps on social media. These connections were critical to getting The Gold Gods in our first retail locations.
Hyder: In addition to retail, are there other strategies you’ve used to connect with consumers in person?
Love: We’ve also participated in hundreds of prestigious international events, prior to the pandemic. One of the most recent events we attended was DXB in Dubai, and it was one of our most successful yet—we reached revenues of $35,000 in just two days.
Not only was that event great for sales, but it also allowed us to develop connections that continue to strengthen our growth.
Hyder: You started The Gold Gods without any experience in the jewelry or streetwear industry—instead of beginning with a product, you started by identifying a lucrative market. Do you think it's easier to build a business when you already have a specific product, or would you advise people to identify the market first, then look for a product to sell?
Love: Ideally, you want to identify market opportunities and distribution channels before you build your business. This will help get your business off the ground during its infancy. I saw a market opportunity in the men's urban jewelry category—then I built up the brand from there.
Hyder: What are some challenges of building a product-based brand from scratch that people just embarking on it might not anticipate?
Love: When starting and maintaining a business, there are always a lot of challenges. The Gold Gods rapidly expanded within the first year, and with that came some unanticipated issues, such as keeping up with fulfillment, inventory management, and customer service. Some other challenges include basics like proper bookkeeping and cash flow management. Some basic accounting knowledge can go a long way in running a successful business.
Hyder: How have you used social media to help you reach a wider audience?
Love: Social media has been by far the best way to connect directly with our potential customer base and showcase what our brand stands for and represents.
The Gold Gods was founded in 2013, which was right around the time Instagram started gaining popularity. We knew that it was critical to capitalize on the new platform and become a mover in the industry. That was a good move, because back in 2013, there were not very many jewelry brands on Instagram. Now, seven years later, they’re extremely common. It’s much more difficult to differentiate yourself from the competition.