DSS sat down with the founders and creators of Res Ipsa, the essential brand for the stylish savvy traveler, to inquire about their brand journey. After years of legal consulting for eager entrepreneurs in Atlanta, Josh and Odini decided to step out of the consulting realm and into curating their own cultivated design. Hinting their legal roots in the face of their brand, Res Ipsa, ‘comes from the Latin phrase res ipsa loquitur meaning, “the thing speaks for itself” ’, which is effortlessly executed in their vibrant and unique marketing campaigns. Their entrepreneurial journey and business model is surely one to be admired by any inspiring business owner or seasoned expert.
Which characteristics of your personality shows through in your merchandise?
We call ourselves modern traditionalists. We like tried-and-true but not stuffy products.
How does your background influence your product and your role in the business?
Our background as lawyers helps us in two ways. First, it helps us as consumers because we are a lifestyle and travel brand, and lawyers do a lot of travel for both business and pleasure. We know what kinds of products we wished existed, and now we make them. Second, we approach business very methodically so we can anticipate the kinds of problems we’ll have down the road.
What do you think is the most difficult process of a new business set up?
The most difficult part is getting the infrastructure in place. There is a lot of work that has to be done that does not result in revenue—but has to be done before you can start marking money. For example, getting a registering with the Secretary of state, getting business license from your city, opening a bank account, getting a federal tax ID number, deciding how to keep your books: Online? Manually? QuickBooks? FreshBooks?
What are the “red flags” with contract reviews?
Things that are expressed in absolute categorical terms—for example words like “all claims” or “all damages”—are red flags. Also, limitations of liability and warranty disclaimers are usually bad news. The most important thing is to make sure the scope of services is explicit: state in detail what the service provider will be doing?
When is trademarking absolutely necessary?
A trademark is protection under by federal law. It creates a presumption of validity, which makes it easier to defend your products from infringement if you are going to export them to other countries where they could be knocked off. Simply using your trade-name and products in commerce creates a common law trademark based on your prior use—your rights are superior to anyone using that name or selling that product after you.
How do partnerships grow your business?
Partnerships and collaborations can create awareness by leveraging another brand’s sphere of influence. It makes people aware of what you’re doing while communicating that the brand is open to new ideas and new ways of reaching consumers.
What is a tip you felt yourself repeating to those who came for advice?
Be fearless. Call that store you really want to sell to, and if they say no, ask them why not. Whenever possible, do business in person. And if you can’t, do it over the phone. Email is the least preferable option.
What is your biggest tip for new entrepreneurs?
Be bold. If you listen to all the people who tell you why you won’t be successful you’ll be as miserable as they are.
What sounds scary in theory but is easy in process? And vice versa…
Being bold sounds scary because it doesn’t come with instructions. But the more your just do what needs to be done without thinking about how “hard” it will be, the easier it gets.
How have you been surprised by becoming an entrepreneur yourself instead of just advising?
It is infinitely more satisfying to operate your own business than stand on the sidelines and watch someone.
What makes having a brick and mortar location still permeable in this digital age?
If you sell a physical product, people will always want to interact with it before they buy it. The best way to do that is in a store. Even “direct-to-consumer” brands like Bonobos & Warby Parker are opening a brick and mortar stores.
How do you see yourself growing as a brand?
Developing a devoted customer base who will advocate for us to their spheres of influence.
How do you use social media tools like Instagram and Twitter to grow your brand?
Selling a physical product is a visual experience. Instagram helps communicate our brand identity visually. Twitter is more fleeting and it captures a spontaneity and sense of humor that is hard to communicate with a photo.
How do trade and gift shows expand your exposure?
Trade shows introduce you to people who are not necessarily looking for you. When you’re a new company, many buyers don’t know you exist so trade shows are a platform to introduce yourself to stores.
What influences expansion more, social media or sphere of influence?
It’s a chicken-and-egg problem. Social media expands your sphere of influence by making people outside your sphere of influence aware of your brand.
Who inspires you? Any speakers or entrepreneurs?
Ralph Lauren, Elon Musk, Mark Cuban, Seth Godin. And lots of small business owners who had the guts to do their own thing.
We are continually inspired by Res Ipsa, not only for their beautiful designs and ad content, but by their specialized and crucial knowledge of entrepreneurship. We thank Res Ipsa for taking the time to answer our questions about their brands and their entrepreneurial process.
This blog entry is the first of many entrees of our new entrepreneurial series! Check back here for more tips and advice on how to improve the marketing and growth for your brand!