A Q&A with OLIVERS Apparel co-founder David Wolfe. The San Francisco-based startup, which has designed high-quality athletic shorts for men, completed a $271,043 fundraising campaign on Kickstarter on September 13th. Its original goal was $10,000.
SUB: Please describe OLIVERS Apparel and your primary innovation.
Wolfe: OLIVERS set out to make better fitting, higher-quality men’s athletic shorts. Pretty simple, but surprisingly overlooked in the men’s athletic apparel market.
SUB: Who are your target markets and users?
Wolfe: We’re targeting males, aged 25-to-45, who live active lives and appreciate high quality, well-fitting apparel.
SUB: Who do you consider to be your competition?
Wolfe: All the obvious athletic apparel companies.
SUB: What differentiates OLIVERS Apparel from the competition?
Wolfe: We believe OLIVERS’ differentiators are quality, fit and design.
SUB: Can you elaborate on what specifically makes OLIVERS shorts better? What about the design is innovative?
Wolfe: The fits are much more tailored than a typical athletic short. The four-way stretch in the fabric is unique. The short is made of a nylon/spandex blend—as opposed to the poly/spandex blend found in almost all shorts. Nylon is stronger, more durable and softer than polyester. It’s water repellent—uncommon in most athletic shorts. The paracord is MIL-SPEC [military standard]—stronger and more durable than most draw cords in athletic shorts.
SUB: What were the first steps you took in establishing the company?
Wolfe: The initial impetus behind OLIVERS was the realization that there wasn’t high quality, well-fitting men’s athletic apparel. This was a problem we all shared. Once we came to that agreement, it came to deciding on a single product. Instead of focusing on an entire market category, we wanted to focus on a single product and really perfect the details. The athletic short was something we all felt was lacking in quality, fit and design.
SUB: What was the inspiration behind the idea for OLIVERS Apparel? Was there an ‘aha’ moment, or was the idea more gradual in developing?
Wolfe: I don’t know if there was one ‘aha’ moment, but as guys with knowledge of the men’s apparel market, it was something that all of us recognized was a gap in the market.
SUB: How did you come up with the name? What is the story or meaning behind it?
Wolfe: One of our founders, Barrett Purdum, came up with the name. OLIVERS is phonetically ‘all over,’ and that’s a focus of the product—athletic shorts that can take you from the gym to the grocery store, and vice-versa. We thought it was a fun and cheeky play off of the ‘all over’ theme.
SUB: You recently exceeded your Kickstarter campaign goal and surpassed the $100,000 mark. How do you plan to use the funds?
Wolfe: The funds will be primarily used to order the components needed to make the shorts, and then to manufacture them. Anything extra will be used for product development and to grow the business.
SUB: Why did you choose to raise money via Kickstarter rather than more traditional funding sources?
Wolfe: We liked the idea of creating a product and allowing the community to give us feedback, whether they liked it or not. Rather than trying to raise a bunch of money and hope people liked it, the idea of testing the concept in the market before raising money was very appealing.
SUB: Do you have plans to seek additional outside funding in the near future?
Wolfe: Not at this time.
SUB: What have the most significant obstacles been so far to building the company?
Wolfe: As in starting any new company, there are a bunch of small obstacles that can add up. But nothing was too significant—it’s been a tough but rewarding process.
SUB: What are your plans for distribution? Do you have retail partnerships in place, or do you have plans to develop those, moving forward?
Wolfe: We plan to sell the shorts through our website, and at select retailers going forward. We do not currently have retail distribution in place, but we are working on that. Our website will be live and taking pre-orders shortly after the campaign ends.
SUB: What are your goals for OLIVERS Apparel over the next year or so?
Wolfe: To continue to focus on perfecting fits and making high-quality products; to serve our customers as best we can—and hopefully acquire new customers.
OLIVERS Apparel – www.oliversapparel.com