Even after centuries, retail is reinventing itself. But changes are not just with the technology to foster and promote e-commerce; some entrepreneurs are rethinking products themselves, and in the process are figuring out how to make them better, more durable, and more reliable.
I spoke via email to one of these young entrepreneurs, Michael Berkowitz, about his new brand Norwegian Wool, which designs and manufacturers stylish outerwear. He talked about what it was like to break into this line of business and how he created a new fashion concept.
Q: What prompted you to start your company? What was lacking in the men's coat market?
Berkowitz: I found that I was either cold wearing my normal wool/cashmere coat or looked silly in my casual puffer jacket. After learning that many other business professionals struggled with the same problem and that no good solution existed, I decided to work with a design team and create a hybrid of a cozy down parka and a formal looking topcoat.
Q: Do you have any background in fashion or retail? What led you to give it a try?
Berkowitz: No official background in fashion, but I always tried to dress nicely and stay on top of new trends. With my business connections and ability to oversee the manufacturing, I decided it was worth a shot.
Q: Tell us about some of the coolest, original features you put into this garment.
Berkowitz: The coat has a full down lining but uses new technology to make sure it is not bulky! The wool outer-layer has a special inner lamination to make it waterproof. The hand pockets are extra warm and cozy and the fleece lined collar is also great -- you pretty much don't need gloves or a scarf!
Q: What have you learned from starting this company?
Berkowitz: Every new business is a learning process... I think the toughest thing in the garment industry is making sure that actual production fully reflects design sketches. It usually takes multiple samplings before all kinks are knocked out.
Q: Now that you have launched, what's next?
Berkowitz: Our coats are off to a great start! Lots of sales on the website and the various stores throughout the Northeast, Midwest and Canada are already asking for more units. We completed our design for next year and version 2.0 will include a shorter waste length version. We are also adding a luxury signature line using cashmere and ultra high end trimmings.
Learn more about Berkowitz's business -- and see the coats and innovation at work -- at www.norwegian-wool.com.