Hendricks Park: Fashion for the Y Chromosome
Attention Men: Do you hate shopping? If yes, you might be interested in the year old company, Hendricks Park, which has recently received much media…
Attention Men: Do you hate shopping? If yes, you might be interested in the year old company, Hendricks Park, which has recently received much media attention. Reports in FoxBusiness.com, YahooShine.com, Blackbook.com, and Privateclubs.com rave about this men’s fashion style service that’s threatening to put personal shoppers out of business. I had the chance to speak with co-founder, Manoj Dadlani, about the up-and-coming opportunities that the company is affording men who have a fear of venturing into any space that resembles a clothing store. With fellow co-founder and CEO, Lisa Bruckner, Dadlani has created a virtual shopping experience with cool features that include no stressful searching, no fitting rooms and best of all, no waiting on long check-out lines. Hendricks Park is taking the fashion industry by storm, so read on to learn some fabulous tips.
Leora Hefter: Why did you choose the name Hendricks Park? Any relation to the oldest city park in Eugene, Oregon?
Manoj Dadlani: Our company was exactly named after that. Lisa Bruckner, Co-Founder and CEO of the company, lives right outside the park and so the name feels close to home- it’s also catchy and sophisticated.
What is your position in the Company?
I’m the Co-Founder and Vice President of Special Operations which means I do a little bit of everything. But I really focus on business development.
What’s your background in fashion?
I started a men’s clothing brand called Arbitrage.
So how did you and Lisa meet?
I actually reached out to her when I read her blog and then she became a customer of mine in another business I had. Then through that relationship we met and built Hendricks Park.
Tell us about Hendricks Park.
We’re taking the pain and suffering out of shopping for males. You apply on our website and once you get approved you have a stylist assigned to you. You have a ten-minute consultation and your style expert chooses the clothing for you and sends them to you in the mail. You’ll try the stuff on and she’ll give you her opinion on whether she thinks it looks good. She’s brutally honest and tells you how the outfit looks, but ultimately you make the decision. You don’t ever have to enter a store or a fitting room. We have someone who’s going to give you personal style advice and take all the pain out of shopping.
Wow, that sounds like a pretty good deal! I noticed that you spoke of the female style experts. Do you have any male style experts?
We happen to have not had any style expert applicants that were male who met our needs. But we’re in the process of hiring a whole new batch of stylists and in this batch there are a lot of good guys in the mix. So if they go through the interview and do well, you can be sure you’’ll be seeing them. But it was not on purpose that all of our style experts ended up being females. It’s just the way it worked out.
Where is your company based?
Our corporate headquarters are in Bend, Oregon, but we’re totally a virtual company. Our style experts are located all around the country. Actually one of them just moved from Oregon to Malaysia. We work through Skype and video chat, so we can connect with our clients from anywhere.
Where do you find your clientele? Is it exclusively word of mouth?
It’s a big mix. We’re not doing much advertising. In general, the best way has been through word of mouth, but it’s mostly been the content on our blog. We have a lot of style tips. We actually made a virtual wardrobe makeover for Mark Zuckerberg and we also created a men’s style cheat sheet with great tips for men. It hasn’t yet launched on our website but it’s currently available on Lisa Bruckner’s blog. (Check it out at http://www.wasabinights.com/).
I noticed on your site you encourage the client's significant other to be present during the consultation. Why do you think that’s important?
We actually highly encourage it. Most significant others want their partner to dress well and in turn, people often want to dress well for them. Also, it’s good to have them involved because then everyone is happy with the result. Third thing- it’s a fun process, so this way, it becomes fun for the style expert and then everyone else involved.
Do you think that conducting the consultation over Skype creates any barriers such as not having a complete view of the body type as one would in person?
Not really because we don’t just look at the video chat [to choose the outfits]. We look at the information the client provides which we put into our database. We also take into account which brands fit them well. Then we match their body type and categorize them into our database to be accurate.
Why do you exclusively advise male clients?
Men hate shopping and don’t want to spend their time doing it. We’re creating a new retail business. We want it to be focused and go after someone that has a pinpoint. Men, from our understanding, are easier to serve because the male body type can be classified into about 3 forms and so it’s easier for us to match them up and be more accurate. That being said, we might expand to women’s clothing in the future. First we want to do it really well for men and then that [women’s clothing] will be the natural add-on.
What, if any, challenges have you encountered in the different stages of your business?
I think everything has been a challenge. We’re kind of operationally in chaos because we have so many different parts. For example, we have a virtual sales force- we had to figure out how to hire, and manage them. We had to deal with inventory- products shipping out and coming in, and managing cash flow. But we spent a lot of time working through our operations and figuring out how to make it work.
Have you partnered with any larger clothing companies to date?
Specifically with clothing companies- I don’t know if we’ve partnered with any yet. We have things that are in the works. Some of the brands we carry include Citizens, Agave denim, Joe’s Jeans, 7 For All Mankind, and Ted Baker. We’re working with 70 to 80 brands. We work directly with every one of them.
Do you see yourself as a threat to personal shoppers or fashion consultants?
I would probably say yes because in a way we’re democratizing personal shopping. With us, you don’t pay for the advice- you just pay for the clothes. A lot of personal shoppers are going after high-end clients, but that ‘s not really our target clientele. We do overlap, though, so in that way I guess you’d say we are a threat.
What problem in the marketing of fashion do you believe you are solving? Is there a specific niche you are filling that you don’t think can be filled by personal shoppers?
I think it’s more of a service to make guys’ lives easier. From my own standpoint, I’m 6”3 so it’s an automatic pain to find sleeves that are long enough. Every time I have to find shoes, it’s a pain because they only have certain selections. The other thing is that I hate being in a fitting room and trying things on. So this makes it super easy, and my style expert gets to know what I like. It saves me a lot of time. That’s what we’re going after- the guy who doesn’t like to shop or waste time, and I think that is the majority of men.
In what ways can you see the company expanding in the future?
We’re focusing on men now and once we develop these relationships, it gives us a lot of opportunities to expand. These guys will bring others. We also want to expand our product portfolio. We are doing a bunch of related things. The possibilities are really endless.
Tell us one of the biggest tips you find your experts giving to your clients.
Make sure your clothes fit well and aren’t too baggy. Getting the fit of something to fit your body right will be a world of change to your appearance.
And now for some general advice: How would you advise young entrepreneurs trying to navigate through the start-up scene?
There are three key things to think about. First, with whatever you want to do, you have to be really passionate about it. It’s going to be something you’ll eat, drink and sleep, 24 hours a day. Related to that, you must be really persistent since there will be a lot of roadblocks and you better be ready to put in the work. You just got to drive it home and make it a win. And lastly, focus! Don’t try to spread yourself too thin. Don’t try to take on too many angles. Once you dive deep into it, you can branch out, but at first, keep it simple.
What are your favorite blogs?
Fueled’s blog (laughs...)
I really like blog maverick, which is Mark Cuban’s blog, but he stopped updating it. But what I like reading a lot is Mark Suster’s blog called Both Sides of the Table, and on a daily basis, I read TechCrunch, Mashable, and crowdSPRING.
And now for some fun questions:
What’s your favorite restaurant?
Sala One Nine.
How do you drink your coffee?
Black coffee with cinnamon.
Where do you shop?
Rockmans in Union Square is a cool store.
Snacks at the office?
Granola Bars, Gummy Bears and Ice Cream.
Practically, my favorite brand would be Ted Baker, but from a fashionista standpoint, I would say Alexander McQueen.