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GOTH: Billion Dollar Problems with Ecommerce Returns

Sonny Byrd
Sonny Byrd
Hello from CLT airport, on my way to the big apple. It’s not lost on me that my “Get Over The Hump” newsletter has consistently been published on Thursday… I guess I need as much help getting over the hump as anyone else.
Below is a reflection of my foray into the men’s fashion industry, plus links to a couple of amazing startups I don’t think you’ve heard of. Then one crazy link about the world’s weirdest timezone. Enjoy!

Building a Clothing Business from Scratch
Tonight I’m hosting a press event at my clothing store on 21st St in Manhattan. Writers from GQ, Men’s Health, New York Mag, Forbes, many others are attending along with lifestyle influencers like Steven Onoja and Brian Lindo.
I’ve been reflecting on the amazing and bizarre confluence of factors that led me here.
My journey into men’s fashion started in a strange place - a strip club in Times Square. I worked at a tech startup at the time, and my boss told me to go see his friend to have my wedding suit made.
It turns out, this “friend” had rented a glorified janitor’s closet on the second floor above the club. I found my way upstairs and crossed my fingers that I wasn’t walking into some covert drug operation.
From the moment I met with my “clothier” (first time hearing that word), I had the most phenomenal experience. I didn’t want to leave! It was so fun, intimate, and really made me feel like I was the most special guy in the world. 
When I got my bespoke suit, it was like putting on a Superman cape. It was a conversation piece, one-of-a-kind, and gave me all the confidence I needed to stand on the altar on my big day.
I was so enamored with the experience, that after the wedding, I quit my job at the tech company and went to work for the suit guy! By then he had a store in Chelsea. I waltzed in and said I’m here to learn your business and do anything you need me to do.
After helping double the size of the retail business, life meandered on to different things and ten years went by. My unique experience in menswear was mostly a fond memory
But, when COVID hit, I heard through the grapevine that he was closing his business permanently. I swooped in to salvage some of the resources developed over the past decade to start a new company that would make similar products - but in a new way. 
That’s how Grey Custom Clothiers was born. I didn’t want to be just another clothing business. In traditional retail, the customer relationship is tied to their transactional value. Grey is a membership-based business model. We’re incentivized to provide an amazing experience to clients, regardless if they’re spending $5,000 or $100.
We make our living on the membership fees we collect.
Today, we’re almost 600 members strong. We have a wonderful showroom on 21st St. in Flat Iron, and the business is growing nicely via word of mouth. I haven’t spent a penny on any kind of advertising or marketing (yet).
I truly don’t know what the future holds for the business. But I’m very curious to find out!
It's Raining Returns
I’m obsessed with the problems caused by direct-to-consumer ecommerce returns. Here are a couple of startups who are tackling the problem in fascinating ways.
  1. Resale: They ingest massive amounts of returned merchandise, and with a single scan of a barcode, generate a discounted product listing page across 28 different channels (think Wayfair, deal sites, etc.) Then they pay a revenue share to the brands upon sale.
  2. Two Boxes: One of the biggest challenges in dealing with tons of returns, is quickly determining which items are worth saving and which are trash. The founders of Two Boxes are building a platform so that any warehouse worker, anywhere, can quickly know what an item is, what to inspect, what to do, and where to put it.
I couldn’t be more bullish on both of these.
World's Weirdest Timezone
Australian Central Western Standard Time (ACWST) is observed across a tiny ~200 mile territory. It’s a 45 minute time change, one of the very few timezones based on 15 minute increments.
Til next time! Take care and stay in touch.
Here I am groggy at the airport. I truly need help learning how to take good selfies...
Here I am groggy at the airport. I truly need help learning how to take good selfies...
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Sonny Byrd
Sonny Byrd @sonnybyrd

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