Back in 2008, Faraz Zaidi, Nabil Zaidi and Iram Zaidi-Ahmed were just your average cousins. They knew nothing about entrepreneurship. One day they were sitting at the kitchen table talking about a topic near and dear to them — fashion. “At the time we felt like there wasn’t a company putting out graphic tees with a message,” Faraz said.
Fast forward to 2015 and their brand Profound Aesthetic had earned over one million dollars in revenue, landed a partnership deal with PepsiCo. and had grown 200 percent year after year since launch. They also had the top selling product for two years straight in Urban Outfitters and their products were worn by everyone from Justin Bieber and Rihanna to Chris Brown and The Weekend. The secret to their success? Staying on top of what their customers want (and don’t want), making the necessary changes to meet demand and then leveraging that demand to scale distribution.
The process all begins on their website. They release four major collections a year — and several bonus ones in between — through their Web store. Their website acts as a testing ground where the cousins track which products have the best sell-through rate. “From there we’re able to design future products around selling patterns. Patterns could be anything from specific colors or uniquely shaped silhouettes to styles or fabrics,” Faraz said.
This helps dictate the direction of the next collection. At the outset Profound started as a graphic heavy brand. But over time, based on customer behavior tracked via Google Analytics and their shopping cart provider, the cousins had to do a complete rebrand. It was a difficult decision, but a necessary one, nonetheless.
“Our analytics showed our target demographic purchasing and engaging more with products that showed minimal to no graphics or logos. Based on that information we launched our BASICS collection. It was a hit. In fact, our BASICS quickly became our highest selling [collection of] products,” said Nabil, co-founder and brand director.
Between the e-commerce data and social chatter, they’re able to confidently predict what future styles will sell. “We keep an eye on everything… the business of fashion, competitive brands, blogs, music, events, social media… everything,” Faraz said. “This is how we continue to forecast what our customers want instead of chasing trends.” According to Nabil, the key is to immerse yourself. This includes everything from monitoring social accounts and replies of movers and shakers to segmented Twitter lists of competing brands and more.
The best part? After establishing proof of concept through a strong sales history and celebrity attachments, it’s much easier to convince key retailers to invest in their vision. It also affords the cousins another benefit: leverage. By having strong consumer demand on their side, the cousins have been able to negotiate much better terms. From there it’s just a matter of having the cash in place to handle the initial production.
Financing has been, for the most part, kept in house. Profound was bootstrapped at the outset and — aside from a bridge loan to handle one of their first large purchase orders — has been entirely customer funded. Over time, after releasing collection after collection and immersing themselves in their niche, they’ve developed a good grasp on exactly who their customers are.