Alberto Gil of Hockerty tells us how customers design their custom clothes while the company tailor makes them according to the measurements.
Tell us about you, your career, and how you founded Hockerty.
Alberto Gil: I am an engineer, born in Barcelona and living in Zürich. Back in 2008, I was running an eCommerce agency along with 2 other partners and friends, also engineers. One of our partners went to China and came back with an idea. We could offer made-to-order suits through the internet. We had experience in website development and online marketing, but we had no idea about fashion and little experience in operations. We decided to try just considering it as a side project. Maybe because we invested so much passion in it, or perhaps because we were lucky, it started to get traction pretty soon, and in 2 or 3 years, it became our main business.
Do you have small habits that made a meaningful impact on your life and business?
Alberto Gil: I think that all founders have lots of ideas every day and lots of tasks to do. I try to prioritize everything I do by the impact it can have. Not only in revenue for the company but also my colleagues’ daily work. This helps me to avoid drowning in to-do lists and overcome potential frustration.
How does Hockerty market its product/services online?
Alberto Gil: It’s a very practical approach. It’s just direct marketing. Our customers want to see something that we can offer, search for it, and we show up there. This means we invest a lot in Google ads. When you search for suits, shirts, jeans, and shoes, you can always find us, especially if you want them sustainable or made to order.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to manage your online marketing?
Alberto Gil: To be honest, our main tools are spreadsheets, although it may sound odd. Let me explain. At our business, we make decisions by numerical analysis. So this means we invest a lot of time in business intelligence, and in the end, this means exporting databases, working with excel, making hypotheses, and making decisions.
As for online tools, our websites are pretty unique because they allow you to design your own garments. Our technology has been developed in-house. So we have photorealistic product designers. We have measurement algorithms that use machine learning to predict your body shape and other types of developments that help us offer our products through a website and convince customers to buy.
What is your hiring policy/process, and how do you retain your employees?
Alberto Gil: Nothing special here. We make new hires when we have needs for specific tasks or projects. We try to have a good working environment where each individual has an active role in the company. Everyone is important. Your work directly impacts the business, and we think that this is something that not many companies can offer their employees nowadays.
How are you funding your growth?
Alberto Gil: This is a bootstrapped company. This means that we have reinvested all gains since month one. Fortunately, we managed to create a business that was able to grow with low resources in its initial stages, which made it profitable from the first month. So all the profits were reinvested in marketing, month after month, making the company grow step by step. This means we will never be the biggest fish in the sea, but we aim to be the healthiest ones.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Alberto Gil: We share this market with any other fashion company offering either business and evening clothing or made-to-measure clothing. But we prefer to consider that we compete against any fashion business offering custom-made-to-order sustainable clothing. And there are not that many of those. On the other hand, I should mention that suit supply is a brand that we admire, despite having to compete with them every day. Our plan to stay in the game is to be loyal to our investment philosophy: meaning we invest what we have, sustainable growth. This allows us to be better protected against changes in the market, like lockdowns, recessions, etc.
On the other hand, we keep growing steadily year after year, offering our customers a wider product range. Our goal is to bring “made to order” to as many product categories as possible. We did it 2 years with shoes, we did it last year with jeans, and we will do it this year with sneakers.
Tell us a customer success story of yours.
Alberto Gil: We are a b2c company, so more than big customer acquisitions to be proud of, we are proud of many of our customers. We witness their success stories through the pictures they post on social media wearing our outfits, which makes us very proud of what we are doing. We could probably consider it a success to have developed a fashion brand that enables each of our customers to express themselves the way they are. No imposed fashion trends, no size restrictions. At Hockerty, every masculinity is welcome, doesn’t matter the style, the age, or the size.
Your final thoughts?
Alberto Gil: I take this opportunity to encourage all of you to rethink the way we consume fashion, try our product designers, and contact us in case you would like to see a product category we are not offering yet.