The Slow Fashion Boom: How Pioneer Kristian Hansen Is Changing the Fashion Industry

Kristian Hansen is the Founder and CEO of the sl∅ fashion company, which produces sustainable, functional, and handcrafted made-to-order denim. Having generated a $360,000 pre seed, a 100,000-person waitlist, and $10 million of projected revenue, Kristian and his team have redefined building companies through community. He grew the company from a single TikTok post to a community igniting the slow fashion revolution.

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Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Kristian Hansen shares the founding story of the sl∅ fashion company
  • How Kristian generates a consumer feedback loop
  • What is slow fashion, and how does it differ from traditional fashion?
  • The importance of sustainable fashion
  • Educating consumers and professionals about sustainable fashion
  • How the sl∅ fashion company has scaled by building a community
  • Challenges of launching a fashion brand
  • Kristian’s plans to launch ad campaigns
  • What has shaped Kristian’s professional career?

In this episode…

In recent decades, the fashion industry has relied on mass production, with thousands of garments manufactured daily, leading to massive amounts of waste and environmental deterioration. Additionally, the fast fashion model only allows for standardized sizes, limiting consumers’ choices. Slow fashion has emerged to counteract this trend, addressing sustainability and availability concerns. How can fashion brands leverage this model to expand their customer base and grow their businesses?

Fast fashion companies aim to fit as many consumers as possible into a single sizing set. By allowing customers to select their ideal size, fit, and fabric, fashion brands can offer made-to-order, tailored garments that expand accessibility while reducing potential waste from unworn products. While this model is more expensive and takes time, the products are of higher quality and last longer, saving consumers money in the long run. As an early pioneer of slow fashion, Kristian Hansen has built a loyal community and generated widespread engagement through organic TikTok content. He notes that remaining transparent and authentic about the unethical practices of traditional fashion is imperative in facilitating education and gaining valuable feedback to scale.

In today’s Up Arrow Podcast episode, William Harris chats with Kristian Hansen, the Founder and CEO of the sl∅ fashion company, about revolutionizing slow and sustainable fashion. Kristian describes how he generates a consistent feedback loop, the challenges he faced launching his brand, and the importance of sustainability in the fashion industry.

Resources mentioned in this episode

Sponsor for this episode

This episode is brought to you by Elumynt. Elumynt is a performance-driven e-commerce marketing agency focused on finding the best opportunities for you to grow and scale your business.

Our paid search, social, and programmatic services have proven to increase traffic and ROAS, allowing you to make more money efficiently.

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Episode Transcript

Intro  0:03  

Welcome to the Up Arrow Podcast with William Harris, featuring top business leaders sharing strategies and resources to get to the next level. Now, let's get started with the Show.

William Harris  0:15

Hey everybody, William Harris here, the founder and CEO of Elumynt. And the host of this podcast, I feature experts in the DTC industry sharing strategies on how to scale your business and achieve your goals. I'm excited about the guests that I have today, Kristian Hansen, they call Kristian the jeans guy at slo he and his team are redefining what it means to build companies through community, having generated a $360,000 precede and a 100,000 person waitlist 10 million projected revenue with $0 in ad spend. They are learning the slow Fashion Revolution. Kristian, I'm excited to have you here.

Kristian Hansen  0:48

Thanks very much as it's gonna be great.

William Harris  0:51

Yeah. And you were introduced to us by Katie White over at Kitcaster, I've actually had a couple of people that they've sent over they've been very impressed with. And so thank you, Katie, very much for this introduction. Yeah,

Kristian Hansen  1:02  

they've been really great. I really appreciate it.

William Harris  1:04  

I want to dig into we're going to talk about slow fashion, we're going to talk about the difference between that and fast fashion. We're going to talk about even just some of the community stuff that you've been doing. Before we do I do want to announce our sponsor, this episode is brought to you by Elumynt. Elumynt is an award winning advertising agency optimizing e commerce campaigns around profit. In fact, we've helped 13 of our customers get acquired with the largest one selling for nearly 800,000,001 that I pulled recently, in we were just ranked as the 12th fastest growing agency in the world by Adweek. You can learn more on our which is spelled That's sort of the boring stuff. Let's get into the good stuff. Kristian, I want to talk to you about just your your backstory of how did you end up starting slo? Why did you start in the first place, but I understand that was kind of like a funny story of opportunity here.

Kristian Hansen  1:56  

Yeah, definitely. I like to say it happened by accident. And it kind of did. At the time I was I was working in fashion, but I was in sourcing. And so sourcing in the middle of COVID Wasn't really happening. You know, travel was dead, everyone was on lock downs. And so I kind of was unemployed for the most part, working on kind of side projects, tried to really dig into the entrepreneurial side. And I figured, okay, cool, locked down great time to start something and kind of just bounce from projects and idea to project ideas, many, you know, kind of early stage founders do. And one day in the middle of the pandemic, I was like, hey, I need some clothes. And I'm very broke at the time. So let's go to a thrift shop, let's find some, you know, find some clothes, but middle of lockdown, so you can't try anything. It's like whatever, you know, what you buy is what you buy. And so I grab a bunch of things. I'm six foot three. So if I find pants that I'm like, okay, these look like the right length, they usually work. And I took them home. And next day I throw them on and I was walking to the metro station to go into town. And I was trying to put my phone in my pocket. And there was like no pocket this tiny little non existent pocket. And it hit me in that moment. I was like, Oh my God, these are women's jeans. One, how do they fit me into what this is what this is what women have to wear, like, this is what they're dealing with. And I don't know what possessed me in that moment. I had no social media following at the time I like 30 followers. They're like all my friends. I don't know what possessed me. But I was like, I need to tell someone about this. I just have to this is this is mind blowing. And I made a really terrible Tiktok walk into this metro station where I'm like ladies of the world, I apologize. This is terrible. I can't believe you deal with us on a daily basis. Wow. And I got on the train. And by the time I got off the train, maybe 15 minutes later, I get back into the connection. It's Ding ding ding ding, ding ding. And I basically 500,000 views on that tic tock massive amount of engagement. Just people like yes, that's what we deal with. And I'm like, Whoa, this is a thing. This is a thing.

William Harris  3:59  

You struck a chord? Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Obviously, yeah. And you learned a lot from that. Right. And so I think one of the things that I like about this is, when we're talking about coming up with product ideas, or how to improve products, a lot of people you know, there are all kinds of ways that we're going about it. But you literally just took it to social media raised awareness of a problem that you've discovered and said, like, Hey, this is the problem. And you got a whole bunch of feedback that you're able to use to develop genes that you think are going to be a lot better now crowdsource from people who are actually going to wear them.

Kristian Hansen  4:37  

Exactly. Yeah. So we just basically at that point, I was like, wait, I know how this works. I know how to make these things. I could do this. And, you know, it took a few months to kind of figure out how but I made a video and I said Okay, hi everyone. Hi, it's me again, that random guy who was ranting about the pockets by the way, if you want me to, I could make them with pockets. How you know, what do you think about that? And immediately people is just like an outpouring of Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, do this. And then I was like, okay, look, here's a Google Form. Just tell me what you want. Like, do you own a pair? That's great. Tell me what's great about them? Do you hate everything? Tell me why you hate everything. I just want to hear you, I want as much feedback as possible. And let's go. And over those first, like three or four months of basically doing that every day. And just defining the question further and further and further, we ended up with over 700,000 data points. And that is the birth of everything that we've basically been doing as a company, it's just building that feedback loop and building that community where people feel like, oh, I can ask for something, and they're probably going to take it into consideration and actually do it. And that was, you know, our day one was, I discovered this by accident, I spit balled with people, you know, around the world. And so we knew from the beginning that if we were going to raise money was going to be crowd funding, if we were going to build a product, it's going to be based on what the community asked for. And that's basically the path that we've taken so far. And it's been a it's been a it's been a huge ride.

William Harris  6:05  

Now, are you keeping that feedback loop going? Are you continually asking people, hey, what do you like about this? What do you like about that? What do you dislike about this? Is that? And are you taking that to social media?

Kristian Hansen  6:15  

Definitely, everything we do is based on consumer feedback, we even put it on the main label, we just launched a jean jacket recently, and literally on the main label, it says, powered by 44,183 suggestions. And like, everything that we do is tell me what's wrong with this. Tell me what's wrong with that. Why do you like this? Why do you not like this? And you know, we get a lot of the same stuff, which just shows okay, we're moving in the right direction. And sometimes we get some just crazy obscure ideas that we're like, That makes so much sense. Let's do it. And so yeah, we're, we're still super big on that feedback loop. And that is going to continue to be a really big core part of what we do as we continue to grow.

William Harris  6:53  

So aside from not having pockets, basically, what's the other piece of, let's just say, feedback that you received that surprised you the most, you're like, I had no idea. But while that mind blown now, like,

Kristian Hansen  7:06

I would just say it, it sounds. So basically just sizing, the amount of people that like, if you're somewhat regularly sized, dude, you don't have to worry about going to the mall and finding something that fits. You know, most people hate buying pants, and I'll tell you all about that rant a little bit later, but most people hate it. But the reality is that if I go to the mall, and I spend an hour, I'm probably going to find a pair of pants that fit me. And there is a huge amount of people around the world that just that's not even a possibility for them. They can't go to a mall and go to a regular store and buy a pair of pants, they don't exist. And that really blew my mind where I was like, Okay, one, I'm coming from a huge place of privilege that's wild, and to why there's a massive amount of these people, why are these fashion brands not serving them. And that was what really blew open the entire business model until like, Okay, this is so much more than pockets pockets was a great entry point, it was a great way to get people on board, it was kind of a it's a little bit of a gimmick in a way. But it was like if this is going to be a long lasting brand or long lasting project that actually has any form of systemic, you know, impact, we have to do something that kind of shakes the industry. And that's why sizing became you know, a big part of our of our future.

William Harris  8:19  

I love it. And you're not just shaking the industry in terms of the way that you're sizing product in the way that you're talking about products, or the way that you're talking about pockets and things like that, from what I understand the name of the company has to do with the way in which product is being made. And so, you know, you call this slow fashion, which would be a significant difference from something like xi in which we're very familiar now with like the rise of fast fashion. But you're ushering in what you would call this rise of slow fashion. How is slow fashion? We'll define that for me a little bit for anybody else that's listening as well. But then also define maybe, you know, contrast, how is it different from? Let's just say not the shins, but the traditional fashion? Sure, sure.

Kristian Hansen  9:08  

Yeah. I mean, you know, fashion brands forever. You know, basically from the 80s onwards, they were basically producing four or five collections a year, spring collections, winter collection, summer collections. That was it. You walked into a Tommy Hilfiger and 1999 in the summer, that was their collection. That was it. And that was their model. They had 100 new things in the summer, enjoy it. That's that. And once kind of the late 90s manufacturing started popping up overseas and all of a sudden they weren't making things in North America anymore. They started shooting them over to Bangladesh and Pakistan and India and these you know, other places in China and Cambodia and Vietnam. Then these fashion executives were like wait, we don't have to do four collections a year we can do 15 collections a year and we can have new things all the time and fast fashion now like she in in these monster companies have just taken that to an extreme where they're producing 1000s of things a day and the age is always more and more and more and more and more and more. Whereas slow fashion isn't even really kind of the first version of that it's not even really releasing a collection every you know, so often, it's the idea of making things for people that they've already that they've asked for that they've ordered. So we're a made to order model. And so what we're trying to do is go back to the way that clothes were made, like 100 years ago, 150 years ago, if you wanted a suit made, you would go to your local tailor shop, and you would walk in there and he would fit you. And you would pick a fabric and you'd say, I like this, but I don't really like this. And you had a really big say in what was actually going to be made for you. And when you received that that was like a for life piece that was like a pass down through the generations type of piece. And so one of the biggest problems with fast fashion is just that massive amount of waste, because the order structures are the complete opposite of that. Whereas I make one piece for one person, they guess and they go okay, summer, we think we're going to sell 200,000 pairs of jeans, we need to have those ready. And if they don't sell 200,000 pairs of jeans, they're sitting on 10s of 1000s of unsold pieces that either end up in a landfill or being incinerated or just end up sitting in stores forever. And that massive amount of waste is contributing to just unbelievable environmental problems. And so really, the you know, in a nutshell, slow fashion is purposeful. It's designed to basically try and be personal. And it's slow, because you're making something for someone, whereas fast fashion, the idea is how can we make as much as possible and put as much variety into the market as possible.

William Harris  11:28  

There's a challenge, where, as consumers, there's going to be a demand for fast fashion. And I don't think that there's going to be a complete disruption. From that there's always going to be an element of people that say, I want all of the possible options. And so there's gonna be an element of this. But there's also an element of people that say, I want something that is more intentional. And that's a word that I use often in life just right now, right? So I try to be intentional about what time I wake up. I'm intentional about what time I go to bed, I'm intentional about what I eat. I'm intangible my workout, I'm intentional about life, I'm living life on purpose. And I think that's kind of the, when I hear you talk about this, it's like, let's design clothes on purpose, not just shotgun approach, send everything out there and see what sticks and use that that's fine. If you're building a business. It's tough if you're talking about the environment, and so I appreciate where you're going with that. But what else is important about slow fashion, you've mentioned to me a couple of other reasons why slow fashion is an important thing that we should be focusing on. Why?

Kristian Hansen  12:36  

I mean, one of the big things kind of looping a little bit back into sustainability and everything kind of previously in terms of sizing is just the reality is, it's a very important thing for people to have clothes that fit them, and that make them feel good about themselves. And when you have a huge section of the market that don't fit into standardized size sets, because the fast fashion model only works on standardization and on mass standardization. Whereas you know, in the past, they would have 15 Different sizes for a pair of pants, they're now pushing it to nine and or they would have three different lengths, they're now pushing it to one. And the goal for them is how can we get as many people into this size set as possible? The goal for us is the opposite. How can we make this side set as vast as possible, so we can get that fit as close to that you know, tailored fit as you would you know you would originally have. And that's really important for people for their confidence for who they are. And for the longevity of the garment. Because clothes that don't fit well don't last, and clothes that don't fit well sometimes don't even get worn to begin with, they end up being purchased. They just sit in a closet, and they sit there forever. And so fit is such a huge part of fashion and a huge part of consumer fashion. And so that's that's probably one of like our core, you know, traits right now that we're trying to work on is like the best fitting pair of pants on Earth. And that's like our main commandment right now.

William Harris  14:01  

I love that. I won't pretend that product is my forte. Advertising is my forte, right. So if I misquote something you can correct me. I remember I want to say it was maybe GAAP, a couple years ago, maybe two years ago, that did something where they were really including a lot more sizes in the stuff that they were producing. It backfired pretty well on them. They ended up having too much of the wrong sizes for people how, you know, that can create almost the exact problem that you're trying to solve from an economic from from, you know, Konami, except not economic standpoint, but from from a global standpoint. How do you go about making sure that you're getting the right amount of these sizes in order to make sure that you're not creating more pollution, things like that? Because

Kristian Hansen  14:52  

we only produce what's purchased. So you know, we don't hold any stock. And so as a result, that very obscure size that maybe Never been ordered before, it doesn't matter, I've got the pattern ready, I have the material ready, I know, we already know how to make it, when that order comes through, I start making it. And so we don't ever actually have to worry about deciding ahead of time, okay, we need to hold this amount in this amount, we hold some things at various stages of production, like we have three or four sizes that you know, just based on the average size, human being is the most popular range. So if we get an order for one of them, sometimes we'll cut two of them or things like that, and kind of keep things, you know, moving for efficiency sake, but we don't hold any massive amount of stock for that reason. And it's exactly that it's the reason why fast fashion companies can't run a slow fashion system, because it would rely on them having hundreds of 1000s of unsold garments at anytime. And that's really dangerous.

William Harris  15:47

Yeah, no, that's interesting. One of the other things you talked to me about when we were talking before, in the importance of slow fashion, and why we need to at least become aware of this. And in those who can adopt it, is moving beyond even just efficiencies and things like that. But the human side of this took me through what you mean by that? Totally,

Kristian Hansen  16:09

I mean, you've got a big push right now with fashion brands that are claiming to be sustainable. And there's a lot of greenwashing in fashion. And while you know, some of them are actually taking very good steps. And you know, you'll see it and it's it's not wrong, you'll have a company, you know, there's a big one recently, h&m kind of backfired on them. They're using all these sustainable fabrics. But the reality is they were producing that line in Bangladesh in sweatshops. And so that's not sustainable. That's not sustainability, around you know, the entire circle of what actually needs to encompass a sustainable garment. And so for us, human capital is so important, because we don't think about how much it goes into a pair of pants, believe me until you produce a pair of pants, you don't know how much goes into it, it is so complicated, it seems so easy. But there's about 30 or 40 steps to really create anything in fashion. And right now the model is based on the cheapest labor possible and the cheapest parts of the world and producing as many things as they can, that will never be a sustainable model. And so you can use the most amazing sustainable fabric on Earth. But if that's how you're manufacturing, from a human capital perspective, it's never going to be sustainable. And so that's a huge part of what we're trying to accomplish as well. And that's why we built our own manufacturing facility is I now have complete end to end control over how my people are treated, and how my people are advancing and how we, as a group of human beings can make our lives better collectively, not just I'm paying pennies on the dollar so that I can maximize my bottom line.

William Harris  17:45

Yeah, I mean, it's very beautifully spoken. When you talk about this, you know, there's the the mindset of the consumer, then there's the mindset of the consultants and the people running business. How, how are you going about changing that mindset in consumers and in professionals?

Kristian Hansen  18:05  

Sure, yeah. I mean, you brought up a great point before, I mean, you can't eliminate fast fashion, at the end of the day, there's always going to be a need for things quickly. And there's always things that they don't need to be made in a slow fashion way out. You know, for an example, I'd say like, like a graphic t shirt, let's just say you're like a sports fan. And you know, you want a t shirt for your sports team that doesn't never needs to be made in a slow fashion kind of way. And you want to fast, you want to go and see a game, you want to go into the store and you want to buy that that's I get it. And there's always going to be those things in people's closets. For us the thing that we're trying to tackle are those staple pieces that don't need to be purchased that way. You know, most people have three or four pairs of pants baby, they were two of them religiously, and a couple of them kind of just sit there. We're saying, Okay, how do we make it so that those staple pieces that can be built to last and can last you literally 20 years? If you want them to? How do we replace the really low quality, poorly made unsustainable version with our version that is going to be in that closet for as long as possible. And so the goal with the consumer mindset shift is like, Look, do you want to buy $25 jeans every three or four months forever? Or do you want to buy our $100 jeans once and have them for the next 10 years? And that has actually been a surprisingly easy pitch. And once people have it and they feel the difference in the size and the quality and they're like yeah, I'm not going back to that anymore. And so right now is a lot of education and which is why our primary marketing has all been through Tik Tok organically and we can speak to people and have really good community engagement because there is quite a lot of education that goes into that buying experience. But as a whole, the mindset is something that we're all familiar with. And the big thing is that a lot of people thought it was reserved for the rich and it has been reserved for the rich for a very long time you want clothes made for you customized for you at any stage. And what you're making all man is going to be hundreds and hundreds $100. And that's really our whole goal is like Ken, how can we make bespoke clothing completely accessible for anybody and everybody who wants it? And once you explain it to people like that, they're like, yeah, here's my card. Let's do it.

William Harris  20:18

Yeah, I love it. You talked about the idea of how your marketing is on tick tock in social media. So that's a big part of how you're doing this. Before the show, we were talking about community building, versus traditional marketing. And from what I understand you have spent $0 on advertising. And you've built this up now very well, like we said, three, I think it's $360,000 in pre orders, and then, you know, over 100,000, on the waitlist. Tell me a little bit about how did you really turn this into the type of model that can allow you to scale that way? Yeah, I mean,

Kristian Hansen  21:02  

complete and utter honesty. It's like, we give people the good bad, the ugly, and they love it. And, you know, it's, it's, it's a no, there's nothing hidden from plain view. And that's the way that we've always built this community. And that's the reason that people invest in us to begin with, when we put up that first investment round, it was like, I really kind of have no idea what I'm doing. But I have this idea. And I want to make it happen. And if you want to throw 100 bucks at it, I think it could be really big. And boom, there we go, basically 300,000, you know, straight up into into the we funder. And then same thing with our first launch, it was like, okay, leading up to it. It's like, Hey, we got this prototype, we're pretty happy with it. But we've never sold a pair of jeans before, we have no idea how this is gonna go. Let's call it a soft launch. Let's do it. And everyone's like, okay, cool. It's almost a gamble. And that psychological instinct in humans to like bet on people that you know, they resonate with or that they like, or that they want to be associated with has been a huge part of that. And so that tick tock following, and you know, that email list and that group of investors, that's the only group that we needed year one, to push almost a million dollars in sales. And so I wasn't ready to push it out to the rest of the world and to run ads and to, you know, really blast off. Because we were having so many problems fulfilling the initial products, I didn't need to at no scale, at that point, we had to do a lot of very unscalable things in the beginning to learn how to make them scale. And so that was our entire focus in the beginning was let's build a super rock solid community. These are the people that gave us all that feedback, and all those ideas, they have the empathy, and they know what's going to happen. And they know that this there might be roadblocks and hiccups, and let's build with them. And then when we're ready for that scale, we'll be ready for that scale. And that's the time when we're really going to push it out to the world.

William Harris  22:50  

Yeah, we appreciate honesty, just as human beings. I know I do. And I think everybody you know, it's been a big push, and something we've been able to see we pull back the layers of a lot of things on social media till we see you know, what's behind the scenes, and what's going on, and the emotions and everything that's involved. And I think that's a really good net positive thing that social media can bring to the table. There's a lot of things that social media can can cause damage by but there's a lot of positives it does reminds me of Alfred Nobel, I believe when he saw his his oh, what's it called when you pass away? I'm drawing a blank on the name. But when you pass away, and you read your obituary, so ceases have bitchu airy, and I think it hit invented dynamite TNT. Yeah, and is a visionary. He didn't actually die, though. But they mistakenly, you know, thought that it was him and, and they're reading is a victory. He's reading. He's a visionary. He's basically talking about how he created this stuff that he originally created to be used to, like, you know, allow for trains to pass through and blowing up rocks and things, but had also been not used for wars. And so he looks at he says, I gotta I gotta change this. But I think the same thing is true for a lot of social media. There's positives and negatives, and you're using it for a very positive way. You talked about problems. What are some of the problems that you've ran into your one, that you're like, Oh, this is interesting. If anybody else is embarking on an adventure of creating their own fashion brand, these are some of the things that you've run into.

Kristian Hansen  24:15  

Oh, man, that list is we could talk for a long time. It's, it was crazy. I mean, it just largely everything is harder than you expect it to be in fashion. And everything takes longer than you expect it to. It's like, you think, okay, cool. He's gonna buy some fabric, you gotta find a manufacturer, you can get things moving, and xy and z. And the reality is, you know, at its core, fashion is one of the most complicated industries on earth because of all the moving pieces and the amount of things that go into making something that's so detail orientated because that's what the consumer wants. And you take fashion that's already complicated. Denim is probably the most complicated, you know, sub industry within it, and then you add, let's not do it the way everyone else is doing and instead of doing nine sizes, let's do three one. 100. And, yeah, it was wild. It was it was a disaster, quite frankly, the first launch. I mean, we thought it was going to take us five, really, it took us five months. It was like, everything that could have gone wrong went wrong. And you know, it was like Murphy's Law, in every sense of the word. And so it's just peek startup mode, like putting out fires every single day, trying to figure out like, Okay, how do we do this? How do we do this? How do we do this, but to be honest, I wouldn't change it for the world, we learned the only reason that I'm here right now in Turkey, with the knowledge to actually build this factory, and how we can actually make it work now came from seeing the problems firsthand and being like, I don't like how you do that I would do this differently. And if I build my own factory, I need to do this differently. Because it doesn't work for my model, it works for a fast fashion model. And so it was the definition of square peg round hole. And we couldn't jam it in there any, any any more. And so yeah, the first launch, even the second launch was chock full of issues. And now most recently, we finally got things under control. And we just relaunched again in November, and things are moving very smoothly. And so a lot of learning a lot of problems. But because we went with that community model 97% of people have been unbelievably understanding and like with us from the beginning, no matter what timelines that would have just murdered most companies, the empathy that we had as a result of building the product alongside of them, that they're in a it took us 13 months to deliver a few people's jeans, and they then received them. And the next day bought three more pairs. And I'm like saying they're like, I just took a year to deliver you a product, and you just gave me more money. Like, that's crazy. That's just wild. And so it's those kinds of things that just made this year like so unbelievable. But yeah, that's long story long. Fashion is complicated.

William Harris  26:59  

And I think that's the beauty, like you said, of the honesty that you've had with your community, because they can look at this and say, Yeah, sure, that's a lot longer than I'd like to get it. Typically we're looking at things, you know, on Amazon saying I want it next day, 13 months, quite a bit different. But they're looking at number one, the vision that you have for where you're going for this, and they're saying I support that vision, that goal. And you've been honest along the way. So you've gained my trust. And I think there's a lot that other brands can learn from you. Because there's a lot of times where we're not that brand loyal, just as general, right? There's a lot of brands were saying, I don't care about whether it's this brand, or this brand, I want it faster, I want it cheaper, I want it more fashionable, I want it whatever. But if you can take the time to really develop that trust with your customers, then you don't just have customers, you really do have people who are willing to go to bat for you, and invest in you and continue to be alongside for the ride even when the inevitable hiccups come because that's going to be true for every brand, there are going to be things that could potentially set back any brand. But you've invested in that community. I think that's a huge testimony to what you're doing. Thank

Kristian Hansen  28:15  

you. Yeah, no, it's it's, it's been unbelievable to see that side of humans, you know, which is, which is like, really made it so worth it. Again, the 3% of those people were furious and said some horrible things, and I still hear their voices in my head before I go to sleep at night. And that's to be expected. But the good outweigh the bad, you know, nine out of 10 times. And so it's like a bit of a social, like social experiment that really, we had no idea how it was going to work. And I've been really lucky now to see, okay, if you ask people for help, they're more than willing to help you most of the time. And if you say I've got an idea, I need your help. Will you help me if you think it's a good idea? If they do, they'll help you. And you know, I've just employed that as like our primary tactic for just about everything. It's like, I need to know this. Can you help me?

William Harris  29:11  

And then what about ads? I know you mentioned that you're not doing ads yet? Is it simply because you're doing everything you can to keep up with the volume of growth that you're having right now? Or is there an actual reason why you're like, No, we don't ever want to do ads, like against our gameplan in any time in the future.

Kristian Hansen  29:30

We definitely go into in the future. The the goal is actually in kind of the new year to begin, because we have so much data that's just kind of being unused right now. But it was just really a we're selling out organically and our customer acquisition cost is zero. So there's kind of no point there was no point in doing retargeting ads or no point in doing a google ad or trying to get more people on the site when we would set a target and we'd be like, Okay, we want to sell 3000 hairs tomorrow's launch. And you know, we sent out a $300,000 goal. And then we would open the site and six hours later we were sold out. And so it got to the point where we couldn't keep up with the organic orders, we're never going to, you know, then go and invest in ADS. And so now that we're in a position where we own the supply chain, and we're pretty much vertical, now we need those orders. And now we're actually getting to the point where it's like, okay, getting the organic orders is now just starting to get a little bit harder. And we're just kind of falling short of the targets organically. Now we want to begin supplementing with with the paid side. And so I also wanted to figure out what those numbers looked like in terms of how we could blend a paid acquisition strategy with an organic strategy to kind of figure out what that blended customer acquisition costs would look like. And then we could really use that in our modeling. And you know, the big goal of trying to keep it as affordable as possible, it's very hard to keep, you know, fashion products affordable when you know, customer acquisition costs are north of $50. For you know, a lot of brands. However, if you can do it in a blended way, and you're still acquiring more than half of your monthly goal organically, you're still spending that 50 bucks, well, now you're meeting in the middle, you know, some around 25, we can budget things like that. And so I wanted to take as much time as possible to really truly understand the organic numbers and the organic growth. And now I'm really comfortable with that foundation. So it's time to you know, flip the switch.

William Harris  31:26  

Yeah, sounds like you're thinking about things the right way. And I like to hear that. I want to dig into the personal side of who you are, before I do. Is there any other concept about slow fashion or sustainability that we didn't talk about yet that you want to make sure that we address with everybody,

Kristian Hansen  31:45

I think for the most part, we've got it covered, I think I think as a whole, you know, it just in kind of summary. The big thing that I've really been trying to lean towards, especially from a fashion perspective, and especially this is this comes from a place of, you know, some privilege to have being able to afford some of these pieces. And fast fashion does largely serve a demographic that is, you know, not looking to buy $100 pair of jeans. And that also is okay. But the big thing really is that a lot of people don't think about it, if you have the money, and you like something like you like a pair of jeans, I would encourage you to go and look in stores that you would normally be like no way, it's going to be too expensive. Because actually, normally, you'd be surprised at how you can still find deals from some of these great brands, even designer brands will have fantastic deals and the quality of that product over time. Like if you just broke it down to the amount of wares versus you know, say you buy a pair of jeans that Zara can still run for $70, you could maybe get 12 or 15 wears out of those before they start to break down here maybe at like $5 aware. Whereas if you're gonna go and buy a really, really great high end 300 $400 pair of jeans, you could literally maybe you end up wearing those jeans 200 or 300 times. And that overall kind of idea is what I really encourage people who have look at their claws, and they're like, I don't wear 90% of it. Awesome. Bring it to a thrift shop and replace those staple pieces with really, really great pieces that are going to last you a long time. And you'll see the difference. And then you're hooked. You're like okay, I don't want to ever buy the cheap stuff ever again. And so that's that's something that I'm really working on myself. And I would really encourage people if they're in a position to do so.

William Harris  33:32  

That's good. I like that a lot. Let's talk a little bit about who is Kristian Hanson. Tell me about your childhood. What what has shaped to make you who you are today.

Kristian Hansen  33:50  

That said, it's a great question. So I was pretty fortunate I got to grow up overseas. I grew up in Dubai and I got to Dubai when it was not the city that everyone knows it to be today. And you know, the big city of gold with all the Lamborghinis and you know, manmade islands. And when I when I got there, it was a sandbox and like there was nothing and this is like basically the year 2000. And I was like three years old. And I just got there and I was no idea what was happening. No idea why we just left Canada and moved across the world. And it was a really pivotal time for that city. And it grew at just an unfathomable rate and I grew at the same time. And so I really attribute a lot of my growth and development and who I am as a human to growing alongside one of the biggest cities on earth and seeing you know, the differences and every time I'm there, it's something unique and new and something is there. And there's this mindset of like nothing is impossible. Nothing. They're like okay, well solace tower. Let's do it. Man made Island. Yeah, let's do it. Like, you know, ski hill in the middle of the desert. Yeah, let's do it. And that mindset when you're surrounded by it as like a really young child, it's super contagious. And you know, my parents did a really great job of like, kind of teaching us about that. And my dad is a pilot. So I got to travel a lot and see a lot of parts of the world. And so, you know, my upbringing, I think, really allows me to be who I am as an entrepreneur, and really use kind of a world perspective and be able to come to a place like Turkey, where I don't speak the language, and I'm living in the middle of nowhere, and you know, renovate a factory and build a factory, and I don't know what's going on, but you just do it. Because you get uncom, you get comfortable with being uncomfortable. And you know, that as a whole, I contribute, or I think contributed a lot to who I am and what I do, and kind of my insatiable desire to change things and make things grow. And I think that's why the only thing I could ever do for my entire life is startups and building things. So

William Harris  36:03  

we were talking about this for fun. I love languages as well. So Dubai, speak a little Arabic. You said you speak some French from growing up in Quebec? Or did I get that wrong?

Kristian Hansen  36:16

I lived kind of, kind of between places. I'm in Montreal, for the most part right now. So I'm in Quebec in Montreal? Yeah.

William Harris  36:23  

Yeah, and Italian and Spanish. And so there's a lot of different languages, and I'm right there with you, you probably speak them better than I do. But I think it's late for you. So I'd say maybe miss that'll head, right.

Kristian Hansen  36:37

There you go. I love I love bumping into people that just like, like little bits of languages, because it's so funny when you can just even like, you know, here, I'm in Turkey, and my Turkish is terrible, it's really bad, I need to get much better at it. But I get such a kick out of like, you know, and the people around me get such a kick out of like, the 10 phrases that I know. And you know, you can use it as you can use it as such a way to break bread with people. And you know, they just the effort, even if it's terrible, even if the pronunciation, they just laugh, and immediately you're closer to them. And this thing that's supposed to divide us, like brings us together immediately. And I love that about the world.

William Harris  37:23

I'm right there with you. there for a while I would practice writing Arabic with my left hand, yeah, English with my right hand and speaking German at the same time. And it was just that idea. It's like I wanted to be able to do like all three at once and just challenged my brain to do different things. But I think my love for language was exactly like what you were saying, I was talking to my girls, I've got three girls. And I want to say it was maybe fifth grade, I had rented every single book from the school library about Japanese, right, it's like, that's how big of a nerd I was. But it was like trying to learn as much as I could back then. And we didn't have the online stuff to learn it. So I was renting books from the library to learn it. But it was just that idea. It's like every little phrase that I can learn allowed me to bridge a gap with somebody else. And not just those types of languages, but the language of music, the language of math, there's so many different languages. But I think the more of those that we have the ability to learn your point, it brings us closer together, which is really a beautiful thing.

Kristian Hansen  38:17

I agree. And I think now more than ever with the internet, you know, we're also seeing that things that we traditionally I don't think would would consider a language is now being brought front and center, like even just programming languages and the language of even things into work. Like, you know, I feel like I previously I didn't speak marketing, I didn't speak project management, there are these like nuanced languages within the English language that over time, and previously, unless you were working in that industry, you would never hear it, you would never see it, you would never do anything. And now with social media, and with all the content that is out there all the time, you can be scrolling through something and all of a sudden they call it a day in the life of a programmer at Apple. And it's like, oh, I want to know what's going on here. And they're speaking a language they don't even completely know. And it's like, wow, there are people that wake up every day and do a thing that I know nothing about. And I love that that fascinates me.

William Harris  39:15  

That's beautiful. Um, what about books and podcasts? When I asked you about this question, you said that you're reading two to three a week, which is just blazingly fast. What books are you reading? And why are you reading them that fast?

Kristian Hansen  39:31

So to be honest, it's it's this little trick that I learned a few years ago that it sounds way more kind of impressive than it is. But I read them at the same time. And so what I try and do is I buy three books on the same subject. And so if I go to like the business section, and like right now I'm reading three books about like growth because I'm we're about to kind of enter a growth stage. And so I'm trying to kind of train myself to be maybe eventually our head of growth instead of working on everything out us. And so you know, I'm reading a great one called growth IQ right now from one of the VPs of Salesforce. And you know, it's a fantastic book, but then I look for another one that maybe even has a competing, you know, idea on something. And as a whole, I'll just open it up, and I'll read the first chapter. And then we'll go to the other book, and I'll see if there's any chapter, that's anything close to the chapter that I just read. And then I'll read that perspective. And then I'll grab the third one, and I'll look for anything that makes sense. And I'll read that one. And so meanwhile, by the end of it, I'm ending, you know, I'm ending my night reading maybe one or two chapters of each of them. But by the end of the week, I'm through all three of them. And now I've got three completely, vastly different perspectives on a topic. And it's completely changed the way that I learn and the amount of information that I can learn and the relevance of those little things because I used to just do one at a time, and you just forget those little pieces here and there, but it really irons them in when you can see two perspectives at once.

William Harris  40:55

It's very interesting. I haven't heard that before. I really liked that idea a lot. Is there a book that stands out out of all of the books that you've read so far, that you're like, this is probably the one book if I was going to tell somebody they need to read one book. This is the one

Kristian Hansen  41:09  

from a startup perspective, I would say. Zero to One, Peter Thiel. I think that book to me, is, so it takes such a complicated thing, and makes it so simple that even people who don't want to be a founder would read it and be like, Wow, I actually kind of understand now how these companies work, and like how these companies are born and like how, as a whole, our society that is run by companies that at what you know, at one point, Apple was a startup Microsoft was a startup. And so I think it's really hard for some people to get this, you know, idea of like, where did these companies come from? They did. They didn't just spawn, but you hear the founder story, and you watch the Hollywood movie, and it's very dramatized. But you read a book like that. And it's like, it's actually very simple. If things go well, but it's very simple. And so I love that one. It's a mandatory read for anyone in our organization.

William Harris  42:04  

That's, that's great. You just reminded me of some things you talked about, like the Hollywood movie, so when they make the Hollywood movie over slow genes, who do you want to play you?

Kristian Hansen  42:13

Oh, Massimo, and I would say to Caprio, um, yeah, that would be great. And I'm, I'm very animated as a person. And I feel like in like, in the factory and in places and yeah, that'd be that'd be sweet as probably. That'd be a dream come

William Harris  42:30  

true. That's great. I love it. Um, lastly, I wanted to talk about oh, if you've met anyone famous, we talked about like, yeah, you've got a couple of interesting stories there. But it's always fun to see who some of them they don't necessarily need to be famous, but just inspirational where it's like, maybe you look up to them, and I might not know them, but like within their their realm. You're like this is you know, one of my my heroes. Yeah, no.

Kristian Hansen  42:56  

Yeah, there was there was a summer Alright, sorry, actually, no, it was a winter winter times with better weather. It's a better story. Yeah, it's a better story. There was a time where I was skiing in Montana. And I was basically just loading up getting onto into the gondola. And it was one of those, you know, you sit on the little bench and on a proper chairlift, and you're kind of enclosed. And I remember getting in sitting down, and this guy come in and he's got his the eyes closed, closed up and everything coming over. And he's like, Hey, can I just ride to the top with you? I'm not skiing. I'm just going to the lodge. Oh, yeah. Shark pop in. And he walks in, he pulls his mask down. I'm like, No, that guy. I know. I know this guy. So why don't we know this old dude. And so I shake his hand. Ah, oh, nice to see you. It was Warren Buffett. No way. Yeah. And he just was meeting a friend or something at a lodge and I'm there and I'm like, this is the longest gondola on this mountain. I have like three and a half minutes sitting across from this guy. And he's like, in such a friendly mood. He's just like, stocks must have been going well that day. And I just straight up was like, Okay, I'm shooting the shot. I'm like, so can I would you mind if I just asked you some questions like I'm very starstruck at the moment, he had a big laugh. And I had this like crazy, one on one interaction for like, three minutes. And I didn't even know how to kind of articulate what I wanted to ask. But he is the definition of like that book of a guy who takes something that's so complicated and makes it sound so stupidly easy. And that conversation like changed my entire perspective on I was like, 19 at the time, I just completely changed my perspective on like, what I wanted to do, I was like, okay, whatever I do, it needs to be that making something that's really complicated, simple, because the eloquence in it was just like, mind blowing.

William Harris  44:51  

I love that. Yeah. One of you know the Oracle right. I mean, he is so, so intelligent in his ability to take complex things. make them seem like everyday common knowledge. Okay, and then the next one was any funny quirks about you? When I asked you this, you said that you're kind of like a Mike Ross of sorts from suits. Explain to us how you are like a Mike Ross.

Kristian Hansen  45:19  

I just get a lot of flack from from my girlfriend and everyone that you know, we work with, because I remember really odd things. I'm not like, you know, perfect photographic memory. Like, I don't even think that actually properly exists. But the amount of times where we'll be in a meeting, and someone will just be like, oh, yeah, you know, do you remember this? And this and this? And I'm like, oh, yeah, that was the guy who was drinking that coffee from that place. And we were doing this instant, like, why you remember that? Or no, and it happens like 10 times a day. And so people people make, they just laugh. And I think the funniest part about it was I had never had I'd never done that before ever. And then I was playing junior hockey, like at 1920. And kind of my last season, I got a really bad concussion. And when I like come knocked out cold, and I woke up, I felt different. It was weird. And I thought a cabinet concussed, of course. And about a month later, I realized, like, No, I am Slyke, substantially smarter than I was. It was really odd. And I went to the doctor, and I said, like, Am I crazy? Like this is really, really weird. And he said, Well, actually, no, they're actually working on a study right now to see because apparently, some people there's a, there's a part of your brain that when it gets damaged, it can actually repair itself better than then previously. And they say it's really odd. And we're not entirely sure how it happens, that must have been what happened. And as a result, like my memory improved overnight, like my ability to process data improved overnight, and I was like, wow, my entire life was turned upside down from getting hit in the head with a hockey puck.

William Harris  46:51  

Wow. Yeah, that's what and I've heard stories like that. I also do not have a photographic memory. But I do consider myself to have a very good memory. The term for someone who remembers literally basically every thing from every single day as hyperthermia. Last time I checked, I think there were seven confirmed cases in the world of hyperthermia. And it's not something that is good, right? Like this is going beyond just normal memory. And this is remembering, like, every single detail and it's it becomes to the point where it's debilitating. But that sounds like you got the sweet spot of of hyper memory that serves you well.

Kristian Hansen  47:29  

Yeah, no, I couldn't do it. Let remember everything all the time. Man, I, I already can't sleep at night, because I'm thinking about things that would be just next level.

William Harris  47:41  

That's great. So playing off of that memory a little bit, is there a quote that you live by? So you've read a lot? Is there a quote that you would say, this is one of my favorite quotes, that exists?

Kristian Hansen  47:56  

I have two that I'm pretty I kind of have everywhere. One of them is from the one of the greatest philosophers of our time, Han Solo, never tell me the odds. I love that one. When, when we're built when you're just building and the reality is that, you know, probability is not ever going to be in your favor. And you know, that from from the beginning of startups, you know, like 99% of them are destined to fail. And I hate that you hear that statistic all the time, especially when the when the economy is not very good. And you hear okay, X amount of startups are gonna be, you know, failed to raise an X amount of startups are gonna, you know, burn through their ad budgets, because people aren't buying and I hate the negative probability. So I use that all the time. Never told me the odds. And then the other one from James Bond, never let them see you bleed. I love that place. It's just like, in the purse in the perspective of and it's made a huge difference in like how I deal with a lot of the founder stuff, because I mean, I'm sure you know yourself, like in one hour, you can go from having the worst thing that's ever happened, and then having it resolved. And there's just no point in ringing the alarm bells. And in the early days, when it was just like me and my co founder and a couple of other people, I'd be like, Oh my god, I just got this text messaging, like, we're being sued. And you know, immediately everyone's freaking out, and now the entire day is ruined. Meanwhile, now it's like, Okay, now let's figure out why is this happening? Is this real? What's going on? And you can actually work through things entirely before you ever actually need to get to the point where you're like, Okay, this is a big deal. And I love by loves living by both of those.

William Harris  49:35  

Because they're both great quotes. I love that of all the things that you've read, you know, we could go, you know, it's like, oh, he's gonna go Marcus Aurelius or something like that. And he's like, nope, Han Solo and James Bond and it's so perfect. The even just that idea of what you're talking about where entrepreneurship is, you can go from the highest highs to the lowest low that right back up to the highest high in a matter of an hour. It's it's One of the most difficult things that I think that I've even seen and somebody that I really respect said it this way, he said, it's kind of like, getting really good at being kicked in the balls. And so it's like, it's not the best way to say it. But I appreciated the idea where it's like, you see those monks? And it's like, sometimes you see those monks. And it's like, they're just repeatedly being kicked in. It's like they've developed this tolerance, being able to have that happen to them. He said, That's entrepreneurship is to just get to the point where it's like, that doesn't even faze you anymore. As hard as that might be to believe. Yeah,

Kristian Hansen  50:30  

no, I, I love that one. And I think the I mean, you've probably heard this one too from from Reid Hoffman, who is I love I love Reid Hoffman. I mean, and he has a great book Blitzscaling. And that's also one that I absolutely love. And he says, like entrepreneurship is like throwing yourself off a cliff and building the airplane on the way down. And sure, it's like, yeah, you feel like you're falling all the time. And then you're in your life depends on your ability to build. And I love that. Yeah.

William Harris  51:01  

To your point, if the odds are in your favor, favor, the yield wouldn't be great either. Right? So it's like you almost have to go, take take the bet that's a little bit harder. I'm Kristian, it's been absolutely amazing talking to you today. If people wanted to follow you and connect with you, what's the best way for them to do

Kristian Hansen  51:18

that? Everything is on our website. So if you want to head over there, it's really easy. It's just And so everything is there. All of our social links, my email, if you want to reach out, we have completely open communication with that with everybody. And yeah, that'd be great. I'd love to connect.

William Harris  51:38  

Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing your time and your wisdom with us today.

Kristian Hansen  51:41  

Yeah, thanks for great conversation. This was fantastic.

William Harris  51:45  

And thank you, everybody else, have a great rest of your day.

Outro  51:48  

Thanks for listening to the Up Arrow Podcast with William Harris. We'll see you again next time. And be sure to click Subscribe to get future episodes.

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