Pacific Issue is a custom clothing company on a mission – they want to rid the world of boring shirts. We sat down with Aaron May, one of the founders to dig deeper into how Pacific Issue got started and what’s ahead for them.
1. What was the inspiration behind starting Pacific Issue?
Mike and I both fell in love with custom clothing while living overseas: I was in London, working for a financial software company, and Mike lived all throughout Asia, Europe, and Australia while working in media and software sales. When we returned to the US, we wanted to combine classical tailoring with what we saw around us in California: fewer guys wearing suits, but still a need for great-fitting custom shirts that can be worn to your start-up job, out to a date, or in a corporate setting.
2. What eCommerce platform are you using and why?
We started on WooCommerce, but launched a crowdfunding campaign to fund a custom-built website to give our customers the best possible experience we could create. The framework utilizes an open-source platform, but it was really great working with our developer to make it our own, and provide our customers with a fun, easy to use shirt ordering process. We looked at a number of more ready-made platforms such as Shopify, but with custom, we really felt it was necessary to not be confined to an out of the box platform.
3. What was your biggest challenge starting Pacific Issue?
The biggest challenge was figuring out how to translate the high-touch experience of getting custom clothing from an old-school tailor into a 21st-century mold. We are firm believers in high service: we won’t stop until our customers get a shirt that they absolutely love. It’s hard to capture people’s attention on the internet, but we do our best to be proactive and helpful once they have trusted us with their money.
4. What advice would you give to apparel makers trying to get started online?
Get to know your suppliers. We started the company by spending a month in Asia, and so far we have been incredibly fortunate to have a good working relationship with them. We could have gone for the cheapest manufacturers, but instead we chose a vendor that not only makes a higher quality product, but is also highly responsive and works with us to implement our ideas.
5. If there was one thing you could go back in time and do differently, what would that be?
I would realize from day one that this is our brand, and that we need to take ownership at every opportunity to tell the story. When we were filming our crowdfunding video, we didn’t give our director a clear concept of how and what we wanted to communicate. It was both of our first time working on anything creative, and underestimated the complexity of telling a compelling and engaging story. We rushed into production, and didn’t realize it wasn’t what we wanted until we saw a cut of the video. We ended up taking a massive step back to really think about what we wanted to come across in the video, and re-shot with the same director. We ended up getting a product we truly loved and believed in, and were excited to share with the world.