Hola amigos! Founder Steve, here, to shed some light on one specific piece of our brand - prices. But first, a quick side-note on just what #HonestyHour is all about. We teamed up with a small group of social influencers and other brands to begin this series with one goal in mind - connect on a deeper, more human level through genuine perspectives. Social media can be all kinds of wonderful and all kinds of terrible at the same time. We hope to engage each other in a communal way that goes further than a highlight reel of our perfectly curated feeds.
With that in mind, here's some transparency about our prices (email me a list of 10 other brands/companies that did this and I just might give you a discount on your next order).
To preface, we're not doing this to serve as an "explanation in defense" of our prices, because we don't owe anyone an explanation - our prices are what they are based on: 3 years of research and experience in/with 3 different social companies, our heart/goal to care for the people making our stuff and our respect for you as a consumer, and the sheer cost it takes to create each individual product. We’re doing it to simply let you in on this part of our company because we believe good business is transparent.
RESEARCH & EXPERIENCE
My journey began when I created “AGORA” (a benefit concert event helping raise money for camp scholarships for both Young Life and LLYC in Austin, TX). The event was my first dive into creating a “product” that served a distinct purpose. It’s grown into an annual success, gathering hundreds of college students from around Texas with one goal in mind. From there, I worked for and started 2 social enterprise companies aimed at giving back to those in need by purchasing our products. While we experienced some success, both endeavors served as my personal “beta launch” for what you now know as Kintigo. It was a time of serious trial and error, learning, growth, and a whole lot of research.
If you have no experience in business, branding and product development, then much of this may be foreign or a first to you. If you’re an entrepreneur yourself, you’ll know what I’m talking about on some level. A lot goes into pricing, but a few obvious places to start are knowing your target market & looking at what your competition is already doing.
Once you determine those 2 things, everything else begins to fall into place. I encourage you to do your own research - you’ll find a wide range of prices and brands when you hold them up next to each other. We are essentially right in the middle of our competition - you can find some brands with similar products for cheaper, and you can find several with higher prices. In some cases, speaking about a few of our goods in particular, we could charge more than double if all we did was compare and mark according to competition. Luckily for you, we don’t stop there.
CARING FOR OUR MAKERS & RESPECTING YOU AS A CONSUMER
Producing and manufacturing quality products is expensive. Doing that AND ALSO caring for the people making the goods costs even more. Where you create determines some of your numbers before you even get going. Made in USA costs on average two to three times more than you’ll find overseas. Currently, half of our products are made in the USA and the other half abroad in countries like Haiti - all of which forming unique partnerships with small-batch manufacturers who specialize in specific goods. As we grow and continue on, we hope to develop even better standards for our brand and ourselves as people - empowering others with good jobs, taking care of the environment and creating business practices that are a part of a grander picture.
**Sidenote: Many brands will claim to be “Made in USA”, but are straight up lying to you. They will do things like slap a label or patch or stripe on somewhere in the US after the product has already been made somewhere else (that is technically called “decorated in USA”). This is why it’s important for us as social consumers to know a little bit about the industry - if you even spend 1 day doing research, you’ll find a lot of shady things happening and may realize some of the brands you currently support aren’t all they claim to be.
What does it look like to respect your customer? Partially, it means having a price range and sticking to it. Take a look at some of the places you shop, if they are having a different sale every other week, they are literally telling you, “we know our stuff isn’t actually worth the listed price, so here’s a giant discount to rub your belly and bring our crappy products down to their appropriate level”. That, and a sleezy sales technique they can afford to do because they’re doing an insane amount of units - bringing their product costs down crazy low, which gives them huge profit margins. We’re looking for like-minded customers to join our tribe, who care about brands that do honest, hard work to put their stuff out there.
COST OF GOODS SOLD
At the end of the day, your COGS is the primary item that determines pricing. That doesn’t mean the other reasons are secondary, they merely don’t carry as much numerical weight. Any successful business owner or entrepreneur will tell you that in order to sustain and grow, a minimum 50% margin is a basis for products. Most, especially if not concerned about some of the other things mentioned above, would suggest a minimum of 80% is best or required. If you’ve ever watched Shark Tank, then you know that is essentially all they care about - the numbers, the numbers, the numbers. While those “sharks” are on the show for a very good reason (they’re damn-good at business), they’re also called “sharks” for a very good reason - they’re playing into the notion that business is cutthroat, nay, rip you to shreds! We believe numbers are important, but they’re not the only thing that matters or will make this brand successful.
Let’s focus in on one specific product from our shop (currently), the Ruiz Tee - Treehouse.
Here’s the details and what went into this one shirt:
- Custom designed pattern (the actual fit/shape of the shirt) by Steve in Houston, TX
- 100% Combed, ringspun cotton cut & sewn in small batches by one of the best manufacturers in Los Angeles
- Enzyme-washed for a crazy-soft, vintage feel at our print shop in San Francisco
- We safely discharge print these so the design becomes part of the fabric, so you can’t feel it at all and will fade like a charm over time
- HD damask woven labels for sewn-in back tags
- Embroidered, heat-pressed patches on the left sleeve
Those are just some of the main things that went into this specific product, and don’t account for all the other perks to the brand experience you get when you buy it (like free stickers and mini prints, custom packaging, branded tracking, and hang tags).
Currently, this tee costs us $19.30 to make. We sell it for $38.00 and then give 10% of that away to a dynamite cause to help someone in need. We’d get crushed on Shark Tank…and we're okay with that. We intentionally sacrificed profit margins to start this brand, to still be able to offer you a crazy-fair price for an unbelievable product. If/when we can offer even better prices because of growth, we certainly will, but it’s important to understand we could (and maybe should) be charging even more across the board. And at the end of the day, there's something to be said for valuing your work.
Sure, we could buy tees wholesale from a company like American Apparel or Bella + Canvas for cheaper, slap a logo on, and sell the tee for $4 less (like most of the brands you know of do), but we’d rather create something truly special. Again, email me a list of 10 other brands giving you this kind of honesty and insight into their pricing/competitive advantage and I’ll reward you.
PS. Data shows we are more likely to consume from a company that is socially conscious. If you’d like an index on this, we can provide one. Not to mention, it’s totally worth one less latte a month from Starbucks to make it happen and care for people, their families and the needs of our greater community. Our goal and purpose will always remain the same - to treat everyone involved in the process (designers, makers, buyers) like people, like friends and family.