Scott Morrison, Founder of 3×1 Denim
IN THE SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW
1. 3×1 Denim isn’t your first venture into the fashion world. Can you tell us about your progression from Paper Denim & Cloth Jeans to the present day?
Scott: I’ve always loved the denim business–from the minute I walked into that first factory and laundry–and I’ve always found the process itself to be an inspiration. The idea of inviting people in was the logical next step for me conceptually and from a brand building standpoint.
Earnest Sewn was very much a story about American heritage, both product wise and visually in the store. Although I love that story on a personal level, it’s no longer that compelling to me as more and more retailers have attached themselves to heritage and ‘Amerciana’ (the idea of using reclaimed wood, found objects and mounted taxidermy in shop or restaurant design).
While I’m no longer affiliated with either of those brands, both meant a great deal to me personally and professionally. As I’ve gotten a bit older and progressed as a designer, the process started to change and this concept felt right. I wanted to invite customers into the process, the same process that I’ve found so inspiring all these years. Also, I thought it was time to do something no one was doing. Something stripped down and raw.
There was also an untold story in denim, which is simply how do you make the best jean possible? It was clear to me that there were a few opportunities to do just that, but we needed to build the platform. At 3×1 we currently offer more than 135 different denims from Japan, Italy, Turkey and domestically, from Cone Mills. Many of those denims are some of the rarest and most exceptional in the world (not to mention the most expensive).
The quality of a 3×1 jean is just different than something mass-produced in a typical garment factory setting. The way we have set up our equipment, the way we cut by hand with shears, down to the way we sew and finish a jean. It’s simply better. And the fact that the entire process, from design to that final fitting, all happens in one space gives us a truly unique opportunity to ensure that every 3×1 customer is getting the finest product imaginable.
2. In 2011, the doors opened to your SoHo 3×1 flagship store/production facility. What’s 2012 have in store for Scott Morrison?
Scott: We’re launching our wholesale business in 2012. We’re also looking to open a second store/shop, so 2012 will indeed be an exciting year for us!
3. There is no typical day in the life of an entrepreneur. Please share with us a sample of your day, start to finish.
Scott: I wake usually around 6:30 a.m., make breakfast and read emails and a couple of blogs. I walk to 3×1 everyday, which for me, begins around 8:45 a.m. With our factory, design studio, and retail store all in one space it can be both extremely productive and at other times, very distracting. In a given day, I’ll be involved in everything from wholesale sales appointments to bespoke retail appointments, staff meetings, production meetings and the planning of production, down to the monitoring of retail sales and staff performance. If I’m lucky I grab a meal at my desk during lunch and try to head home before 8 p.m. It’s exhausting but I am enjoying every minute.
4. What are your ‘can’t live without’ Smartphone or Desktop applications?
Scott: iPhone 4S is my can’t live without smartphone. On the desktop side, I couldn’t do much without my iMac and a handful of applications like Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, Aperture, Lightspeed, and Microsoft Excel. Add a few Moleskine notebooks and Muji’s .38 black jelly pen, and I’m all set.
5. What are your tricks for time management?
Scott: I haven’t discovered a trick yet–but I’d love to!
I try to prioritize my day as much as possible, but I’m very used to things coming out of left field, and I like to maintain an open door policy for staff, so a lot of my day is spent putting out fires and refocusing both mine and the company priorities around our ongoing and immediate needs.
6. Given the current economic climate, what has been your strategy for building awareness of your business for short term and long term growth?
Scott: We focus on two things (keep it simple): 1) trying to bring customers into the store, and 2) trying to ensure that once they do, their experience is so special that they need to come back. Once a customer comes into the store, they will come back. As soon as they purchase a pair of our jeans, they will want another and will want to tell their friends about it. Press, referrals and street traffic in our increasingly busy neighborhood are key to our success now. Long-term growth will require we open other locations in the right cities and countries.
7. What was the best advice you received when you started your career?
Scott: Look people in the eye, know your product from the inside out, and always try to be honest with yourself. It’s easy to get wrapped up sometimes in what everyone else is doing, or saying, or wanting. And I’ve always tried to focus on making the highest quality products with great integrity. Even if sometimes you give up opportunities to make more money or sell more widgets.
8. What is your proudest achievement as an accomplished entrepreneur?
Scott: I think the fact that I’ve been able to introduce several different concepts into the denim arena that have been well received. That, and having seen a few of those people I’ve worked with for years start to break out on their own and thrive in a new space they’re creating for themselves.
9. How do you achieve balance in your life?
Scott: It’s something I constantly work on. Some days and weeks I do a better than others, but I’m fortunate enough to be able to enjoy a bit of the city and a bit of the country, time with my beautiful fiancée and our dogs.
10. What are your most rewarding charitable involvements?
Scott: I’ve always preferred to keep my charitable endeavors anonymous, but I think about empowering people on a daily basis in every aspect of my life: work, friendships, and charity.
11. Who has influenced your career the most?
Scott: My parents, obviously for the way they raised me, but on the professional side, my first real mentor in the apparel industry was a man by the name of Charles ‘Chuck’ Fancher. He was very instrumental in helping me get my foot through the door and passing along some values and ideas I still use today. When it comes to the denim industry and getting my first real opportunity to launch a brand, I owe much of the success I’ve had to Dick Gilbert, who financed my first denim concept, Paper Denim & Cloth.
12. What is your advice for someone interested in entrepreneurship?
Scott: A couple things I always think of:
- Build your concept/brand/vision around a story. By ‘story’ I mean ‘point of view.’ You need to have one, and it needs to be unique in some way if you’re going to be successful, no matter what business you’re in.
- Make it a priority to find something you love to do, and once you do, try to find a make a living doing it. If you can’t do that for a living, then try to find something you love in what you do everyday at work.
- Resist the temptation to delegate (at first)… as an entrepreneur, you’re going to be the driving force behind your company’s success and you’ve got to lead by example, out front.
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