Episode 42: Aman Advani, co-founder & CEO of Ministry of Supply

I chat with Aman Advani, co-founder & CEO of Ministry of Supply. My favourite takeaways from our discussion are...

  • Why it's important to know the industry you're disrupting.
  • The art of balancing form and function
  • How they created the workliesure category nine years before it existed
  • Why giving your personal phone number to customers is a great idea

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Tim Richardson 2:53
I usually like to start things by kind of doing a bit of a rewind. So I'd love to understand a little bit more about the first few months of ministry supply. Can you can you talk me through it?

Aman 3:04
Yeah, oh, man, we're zooming way back. So he, you know, I going even before those first few months, you know, growing up, I grew up in near Atlanta, Georgia, in the southeast United States. And it was not an entrepreneurial culture or time, you know, both both are kind of fighting against me. So I was working in consulting after graduating undergrad engineering, and in this, you know, Monday to Thursday, travel schedule. And really, the number one thing I found in that period was how much I just despised Sundays. And it wasn't because I didn't like my job. I quite like the firm. But it was said you're getting on a plane Monday morning and having to pick up dry cleaning, and then hacking your hotel iron. And as soon as you get back to the hotel on Monday night at the client site, you pull all these kind of Brooks Brothers clothes off and you put on your gym clothes and, and often the analyst would kind of meet back up in the lobby and keep going in kind of lounge clothes. And and it was so productive. Everyone felt like they got all their work done between at midnight. And so with that kind of revelation in mind and my engineering toolkit, my pocket, I came to MIT in 2011 for a business degree, and was just so lucky to meet my now partner Gihon, who is undoubtedly smarter and better engineer, but two of us who he and I had both been hacking our own prototypes. I mean, one of the ads we had been taking strips or pieces of athletic clothing, in my case socks in his case shirts, and sewing them with more formal clothing. So in my case, taking the soles of Nike socks and replacing the soles dress socks, in his case, taking the centre back panel of a running shirt and replacing the centre back panel of a dress shirt. So that under a blazer, he could still stretch and he could be wearing this really tight fitting dress shirt but still move around. So for us when we met this is a 2011 2012. It was just kind of a special moment of validation saying Wait, maybe other people care about this. Maybe it's not just us. And that was kind of that, that first few months of really kind of forming our team was just on this pure joy and having somebody else who cared?

Tim Richardson 5:07
And how did the kind of like, how did it go from there? How were the first few years then did things kind of go to plan? Did they not like, talk me through that?

Aman 5:16
Yeah, I would say in some lights, yes. And some lights? No, I mean, in light that we are still here today and churning and pushing, I would say absolutely went to you couldn't have asked for a better outcome. What I would say then the lesson I like to give people in those first few years is that we, we wasted a lot of time with the kind of naivete explicit mindset saying, Hey, we're fashion outsiders, let's kind of reject the industry and build something entirely new. And in hindsight, I think there's something to be said about knowing the industry, you're disrupting, right, and having some understanding of why everything exists, and then deciding what break, you can still be that cowboy, but but with a little bit more knowledge in your back pocket might help. So, you know, we spent so much time building this absolute engineering beast of a product that could just handle everything. And it still is 19 times more breathable than a traditional shirt, or one of our marquee shirts, the Apollo, you know, it regulates temperature, there are NASA patented materials built into the garment that are forever rechargeable in the wash. And in despite all the technology didn't look great, you know, those first few shirts off the line. And so now you can build this, you know, stunning engineering feat, but as Tesla has shown us until, until it's pretty on the outside, nobody cares. It's under the head. And so I you know, if I could give lessons to other entrepreneurs, that's the one start with is just know the industry you're disrupting. I think there's something to be said about not necessarily being an expert, but at least being familiar.

Tim Richardson 6:44
leads me on to another interesting question. And I suppose you kind of touched on it. They're like, you're this kind of engineering science machine behind this this company. But how do you guys describe it? You know? Is it a science company? Is it a fashion house? Is it both?

Aman 7:00
Oh, it's such a good question. It's one weakness, I struggle with that the core, we are absolutely a fashion company. But we're a fashion company who is taking a hard stance on differentiation and, and that is being done using a scientific toolkit. But ultimately, we want to create his club that is super comfortable, from a fabric standpoint, feature rich, from a performance standpoint, and then most of all preventable. And the only way to let all three of those coexist and be gracefully married is through science. And so that's really our toolkit more than anything.

Tim Richardson 7:31
And I suppose following that theme, I'm assuming you guys have got a pretty involved product development process. So I love like a higher level, you know, can you talk me through like, sort of from idea through to kind of finish product like how does it work?

Aman 7:47
Yeah, absolutely. You know, it is it is relentless. It is exhausting. I mean, if you look at the steps involved in bringing a product to market for us, it's almost, you know, tool fault, long and arduous. Right. And if we weren't so stubborn about this theme of truly, deeply tested, we'd probably have cut about half the process out. But we start with a story we start with with with a brief we start with understanding exactly what is the opportunity statement? What are we trying to change. And if that's not bulletproof, a lot of product concepts get shot down, right? There are a lot of areas that we say we want to get involved in, get shot down, we tend to kind of also be aware of our toolkits. So if we just see a growth opportunity statement, we don't have the tools to solve it. We put it on the shelf. But as soon as we can create that really great product story, we will often go so far, so great, the product page before the garment is even sketched, and tell that story. And then we can be sure that like the scientific method, we're starting with us with a problem statement, right? And kind of how do we mirror that in fashion. From there, it goes into what I would call somewhere around 18 months of toiling. That's everything from pure design, through fashion design all the way through our development process, our ratio of design to development resources is one to two. So you can get the sense that we are development heavy, right? We're looking to create very simple, elegant, timeless designs, the 50% of your closet, you are 80% of time, but focus all of our energy and attention on what we call the magic details. So first and foremost, what is that fabric? In most cases, we work with famil to co develop something that's absolutely perfect for the use case. And then those magic details stuff like comfort, soft, stretchy waistband and dress pants that you wouldn't wear, you wouldn't expect it laser perforations in garments to allow heat to be released where you wouldn't expect it. Everything all the way down to a microcomputer chip in the lapel of our Heated Jacket or coffee beans in the fibres of our socks. So you can see across the board, that development toolkit has to be wide to solve a wide range of problems. From there we go into constant cycle of repetitive cycle of build tests, build tests, build tests, and those tests are quite wild and they send Like years of use, and just a few days, so we can simulate, let's say, three years of machine washing, and just a few hours, actually, well, maybe a few days, if you actually stretch it all out. So that way, what we want to do is make sure that we see what this product would look like, two, three years after purchase have used absolutely relentlessly, before we put it on the shelf, and it doesn't pass any of our tests, we come back to the drawing board and start back over. So that process can be exhausting, it can have so many false starts so many resets. If it wasn't our bread and butter, we'd probably have given up on it. But at the end of that you come up with something quite stunning, but we're dealing is, you know, this incredible confidence, this bulletproof confidence that a customer would gain the joy that we predicted, you know, maybe up to two years earlier. And assuming that profit statement hasn't changed materially that that garment would answer that question. So that may be more than more than you bargained for at the question. But hopefully,

Tim Richardson 10:53
that's crazy. No, no, it's fascinating. And I wonder like, along that journey, do you have like suppliers that you guys work with? And like, how does it How does that kind of work? Is that like a highly vetted process? Do you have like a small ecosystem of like, partners that you kind of collaborate with? How does that work?

Aman 11:10
Yeah, exactly. So we've got I mean, I keep on coming back to this word toolkit, right, which is this idea that we continue to use a group of people, fabrics, tools, technologies that we have grown to rely on. And at the same time, as we're using those, we're also expanding them. And so for us that that process is, is as the development process, the partner selection process is iterative. Sometimes we find a magical partner, we want to put all of our eggs in that basket. And sometimes we find a partner that's just good at one thing, and we want to find out where they might plug in, while we're in the future. So building that kind of toolkit of partners and technologies is really half the battle in the starting point.

Tim Richardson 11:49
And I suppose following the same theme here, I noticed that, you know, part of the mission is to provide a balance of scientifically backed comfort and convenience wherever the day takes you. So I'm curious, I think I might know the answer. But I'd love to understand like, do you ever have a bit of a conflict there? Like, do you have to make a choice between science and convenience? And like, how do you go about that?

Aman 12:12
You know, early on, I think we used to very much think of it that way it was its trade off it was Does it look good or uniform or function right, left, right, right. For an emotion or rational, we felt like it was a trade off, and you're trying to find this perfect balance where you didn't give up on either one too heavily. And overtime, we found that they can actually have the opposite effect. They could be multipliers in an easy example I like to give as a very simple example is that a dress shirt that has quite a bit of stretch and room where you want it but but tailored where you where you'd like it as well, actually allows you to look sharper, and be more comfortable. So in that case, you might wear a better fitting shirt rather than you know, for a long time, people were wearing these big balloony dress shirts as a small example. But by allowing that shirt to have the stretchy, you were able to gain the range of motion and the aesthetic that you wanted. And that for us is you know, that's just one example, we can bring that example. They're huge and carry sweat shorts, right? It doesn't have to be this formal items. But how can the two actually feed off of each other? Is the question not? How can they be at odds?

Tim Richardson 13:11
So a term that I was kind of aware of before but certainly picked up on as as I was researching for our chat. That is work leisure? I'd love to understand from your perspective, like how would you describe it? And then how has kind of the last 18 months changed or accelerated the adoption of this category?

Aman 13:35
Yeah, you know, I think there's a term that actually we had a good year type profile a few months ago, it was termed a bestowed upon us, and we embraced and we said, Great, we liked it. We think that sounds like a good idea. And, and for us, it was really that's been the theory for the last nine years, right? So for us, that's not been a new idea. We we in a lot of ways have been preparing for a post pandemic dress code for almost a decade without knowing it. And this idea of a workplace that may change on an added on a moment's notice a workplace that maybe home coffee shop office, or commuting in between. And this idea, kind of this hybrid work style requires a new dress code and a dress code we think is completed. And so for us that perspective actually hasn't changed. We just happen to have a nine year Headstart.

Tim Richardson 14:19
And what were you seeing nine years ago because it sounds like maybe back to your consulting days you were seeing it then you know, there was this like, mix of, of work and after work kind of melding into one is was it was that the kind of like genesis of some of these ideas going all the way back to that time?

Aman 14:38
Yeah, I mean, we actually set my partner again set it and he and his wife actually both said Guinness World Records for fastest half marathon and suit. This was in 2016 or 17. And, and we use it to the point that even if you don't plan to run a half marathon of your suit, you should be able to and the idea that this kind of tested for extreme comfort and extreme circumstances was so important. And we want to make sure that even if you didn't, even if he just came inside of your desk all day, just got a few times to go to the bathroom, grab lunch, whatever it was that you felt this kind of comfort and confidence, saying, I'm not going to get something like sweat stains, I'm not going to be constricted, I'm not going to be dying to get home and taking stuff off. All that can affect your your psyche, whether you were moving between four different work locations are just sitting at a desk in either case, your closing has a dramatic, often subconscious impact on your psyche and joy. And if we could alleviate that, we felt why wouldn't we? And so it just it kind of it worked, you know, in an interesting way to our favour and everybody learning at once that comfort could shut Dr. Joy and productivity and, and they the whole world learn that all at once while they were working from home for the last 18 months. Yes, it's

Tim Richardson 15:45
slightly unfortunate. Okay, you know, rather sizable world event for that to happen, isn't it?

Aman 15:50
It is we would absolutely just for the record and prefer that not to. If one is looking for silver linings, I think somebody learned him coming out of this, how to prioritise that. Enjoy that productivity.

Tim Richardson 16:03
So I don't want to dwell too much on the last 18 months, because there is a plethora of content and literature and podcasts and whatever out there about COVID. But I'd love to sort of switch gears slightly. And from your perspective, learn a little bit more about what you've seen, and how you've adapted to your kind of customer engagement over the last year and a half. Have you guys been heavy on acquisition? Has it been retention? Like how has that kind of played out?

Aman 16:32
Yeah, you know, I think we found over over the course of 18 months, we changed a lot, right? Not not just you know, yes, we were certainly on the work leisure path the entire time. But that meant we start to embrace even a wider aperture of styles. And in doing so we launched gym clothing soon we're going to launch home DNA for your bed, you know, launching boxers, right? So our aperture of products widens to allow for kind of full 24 hour clock of where you could be wearing Ministry of Supply products. And so in doing so, you know, over the course of the pandemic, and masks, you know, being a big part of that service. Well, we were heavy acquisition, but we were bringing on new people at a remarkable clip for a company whose whose market product market fit had been compromised. So I think we were 18 months in of acquisition and only in the last two months. And we realised Wait a second, let's not abandon the folks that the goddess here. Let's come back and put that emphasis back on retention marketing. So I think we're trying to rebuild our own funnel and saying it and re entering high growth. But first time in two years, you have to put your balanced funnel hat back on remember that it's not just about finding new people that like your new stuff. But remembering the folks that again, got you there in the first place and thinking about how do you nurture and build those relationships so that people come to you first, when they're looking for a new blank?

Tim Richardson 17:49
Yeah. And those those kind of like, I'd love to just touch on that those kind of like previous customers? Have you found that having a really clear purpose, and you guys are very impact driven? Like, does that help with with customer loyalty and brand advocacy? And like, how do you sort of build and nurture those those kind of relationships?

Aman 18:12
Yeah, and we think we think that actually, you know, in terms of being a responsible company, right, what does that mean for us, if it has two pillars, right? It has the carbon planetary impact pillar, which is genuinely just using tools like 3d printing, recycled materials, better end of life care, and more durable garments, fewer better mentality. And of course, achieving for us last year, net carbon neutrality was kind of the goal there. And the second part of that being what we call starter kits, we do that for both adults and children. The adult section is giving away clothing to anyone who needs it. I mean, if you walk into our Boston store right now and said, Hey, I just need a new outfit. I got an interview tomorrow, but I can't afford it. They'll get you outfitted for free with no questions asked. And we've done that 1000s and 1000s of times over the years, we have a similar programme for kids, for kids with a scientific exploration box are expanding on over the next couple of years. And then doing both of those, you know, kind of what we would call modern day CSR, which is we would call the soul which has to be authentic and can't just be writing checks. If we think has a tremendous effect on three groups, right, not just our community, of course, first, our own team and our motivation, excitement to be engaged in the work that we're doing and the impact it can have beyond our customers. And then absolutely the third bucket being where you started this question, which is our customers. They love me along this journey. They think it's wonderful and thrilling and they identify with and if they don't, they leave and we think that's okay, if this is not a mission that they're interested in being a part of. They can also self identify the way out which actually helps our targeting even more so that way. We say that getting someone figured out they're not a customer is almost as valuable. Someone's figuring out who they are. And a soul is a really quick way to accelerate that decision.

Tim Richardson 19:57
Yeah, that's so interesting. That's like a very unique perspective, I've not heard that a lot from direct to consumer brands, I think that the the natural Lean is to throw another retailer. Yeah, yeah. And I suppose just just picking up on that, do you guys think it because you are quite a unique company that allows you to have those sorts of slightly unique ways of thinking about things as opposed to maybe a more traditional direct consumer fashion brand?

Aman 20:29
Yeah, you know, I think we are playing the winner, not playing not to lose, right. And that's a mentality that our team and investors have to embrace. renseignement take some risks in there. You know, we're launching a big campaign here pretty soon to bring in donations for Afghan refugees. It'll be landing on us shores now or in the near future. Yep. And there's some polarising opinions on that. And we're going to live with the consequences and the upsides of being able to do what we think is right for a community. So and that way, you do have to have a, you know, a, an ecosystem that is tolerant, in fact, encouraging, of taking such stances that you feel strongly about, right. And that authenticity then shows right through to the person who is the rightful recipient of that both on the receiving end of the donation, but also on the customer side, something identifies with that mission.

Tim Richardson 21:18
Okay, on to the funding piece of me, because I'd love to explore that in a little bit more detail. But I recently saw a business a fashion article, and it suggested that there's like a new four Ps of marketing, and it's a pyramid of purpose positioning, partnerships and personalization. I wanted to know what your take on that is, and how do you think you might fit into that mix?

Aman 21:39
Yeah, okay. Good marketing play was a lot of good 14 is the one that I glommed on to, that we haven't really talked about, it's positioning to right and saying, you know, it's an increasingly dense marketplace of people who are trying to outfit this new dress code. Yeah. But it's one that we you know, I think for a long time, we were playing in what we thought was blue ocean right there were not a lot of people shouting from the rooftops you know, ditch the business casual. It was not a common or popular stance, we were facing quite a few headwinds. But recently with with this new dress code, this tailwinds have come back, but with the tailwinds comes a red ocean. Other people that might jump on this tailwinds as well. And so I think for us having to be a lot more careful and cautious about announcing our market position, announcing where we stand relative to competitors has become an increasingly great priority for us. In fact, just yesterday, our team was discussing how do we start to include, you know, market norms or incumbents in our marketing that we show our product stack up against others, right, we've used some statistics against generics, like 19 times more grievable. When we publish that research, what if we show what that actually looks like the monitor customer in on that comparison? So they understand the differences? Does that let our engineering prowess shine in a way that it can't in an isolation?

Tim Richardson 22:53
And is that just just picking up on that? Are you guys seeing more of that? I assume that that's where things are going because I don't know, athleisure? Brands, they're starting to maybe get to the peak of their product rollout. And they're starting to look at, you know, slightly sideways categories, like a work leisure area? Yeah. Are you seeing more of that coming from from from other sort of athleisure brands or, or big brands?

Aman 23:16
You know, what I said was, we're seeing parts of that coming in when I say as we think there's these five pillars, and I'll go in my quit speech here. And we think these five pillars of work leisure, and we think it's really important that all five are checked to create and define this new, you know, this new industry, this new category. And so we feel like there are many folks who are attacking one, two, sometimes even three of these pillars. But rarely, if ever, have we seen even a product that scratches all five, let alone a company or brand who holistically approaches all five, and I can quickly rattle through them. I'm talking about them already here, but comfortable. And we're talking usually in fabrics. feature rich, we're talking in make an easy care. And the third really presentable, and which is the hardest to check if you hit the first two, the fourth would be durable. And that takes that relentless testing, simulating years of use of our lives before it hits your doorstep. And the fifth would be responsible. And that's one that we feel like has to be an imperative to enter this category, which a lot of bigger players are kind of struggling and playing from behind. So if you don't have all five of those, we don't think of it as work leisure. In that case, we can kind of show that comparison more proudly and let our customers in on that. And that definition.

Tim Richardson 24:22
That's really interesting. I think we could add that to the to the four P's.

Aman 24:26
That's right. Yeah, we need to make a better alliteration here.

Tim Richardson 24:30
Exactly. Yeah, there's a good equity in that somewhere. So switching gears ever so slightly, um, we touched on that the other day when we had a quick chat. And I know you guys are early adopters of headless I'd love to understand a little bit more about your econ tech stack journey. Can you kind of talk me through it?

Aman 24:49
Oh, yeah, I don't know how much time do you have? So we started like money did this is still the top 2013 launch our first website on Shopify, it was kind of the go to it was The basic I would not say feature into the titles just get a site up quickly without having to code it yourself tool. But a couple of years in, we were kind of convinced by a lot of folks that Magento was that you needed to do if you were going to be a North million dollar business, which at that point, I should think we were, you had to go Magento. And Shopify was effectively kind of Etsy brands only. And it turns out, that wasn't right, we made the move, we went through a number of Magento gold developers only to find that they were not scratching that just we needed, the turnover was massive. And the competence, the time maybe things have changed was not what we needed to be the development team. So we then rewrote everything switched back to Shopify, and since 2017 or so, and it turned out Shopify had caught up and become quite a feature rich option. And then, about two years ago, we got the itch again, we said, we love Shopify, we have so much content flowing through, we don't care about complex pricing rules, we don't care about, you know, crazy algorithms that you might get in a more, you know, a deeper cart solution. But we do have a tremendous amount of content that we need to keep track of. So why don't we look at a CMS and go headless? So 2018, we made that switch. And we're quite grateful we did that the site today is no better converting and aesthetically, looks and works better than we've ever asked before. And we are excited about with the next two years will bring and we'd love to stay in touch with you and your team. But for now, it feels like we've got the best of both right? We've got this really rich content management system merged with this beautiful stunning. First in class best in class shopping cart in Shopify.

Tim Richardson 26:33
Yeah. So I mean, like your journey is kind of a great snapshot of the the Econ platform market over the last year. Yeah, no, no, you're not alone. Yeah. We also talked about the other day, just we touched on it ever so slightly, but it's a bit of a sidestep topic. But But this idea of greenwashing, which is pretty talked about, I suppose at this point in time, like what? What do you guys think about it? Do you think it's, is it? Is it better that people are being exposed the idea of consciousness or conscious consumerism, etc? Or do you think it's dangerous that companies are potentially piggybacking these ideas for their own gain? Yeah, yeah,

Aman 27:14
I'm generally a more forgiving mindset when it comes to good intent. So in that way, even if we don't think the exhibition is right, and we can be critical of each other and peers and the industry on what we call, greenwashing, and techniques to kind of suggest responsibility and climate consciousness that that aren't actually having the impact that maybe stated or marketed, perhaps that marketing message is outpacing the actual reality. But even in that case, I'm sympathetic to saying at least the intent is good. The only wrong answer without addressing it or attacking this question at all, not acknowledging or denying it is going to cause the problem to get much worse, in fact, fool consumers into a sense of confidence that we're all okay. And so in that way, I think we're critical of anybody not doing anything, but we're, but we're encouraging of folks that are doing something and just need to find a better way to do it. So in that way, we think there's a more scientific approach. But we, we want to help read find it and understand it.

Tim Richardson 28:11
That's, yeah, that's an interesting take. And I, I wonder, sort of, like following on that theme. And getting back to some of the other concepts we talked about earlier, but like, Who do you guys look to for inspiration? Is it people? Is it other brands? What do you look for that sort of thing?

Aman 28:32
Yeah, you know, I think what we found is that by trying to narrow that question down to one answer, we always do placing a chasing game. So instead, what we've done is actually kind of create idols and each of those five pillars I went through earlier so for instance, a responsible we can Patagonia is doing a wonderful job. They're the ones that taught us about the dangers of PFS before the market really knew about it. So you find that you know, idol and each one of those pillars then go for it, right. So from a performance standpoint, we love look under armour and Lululemon. Really a wonderful job. From a presentable standpoint, there are more idols and I can suggest a lot of people making great looking clothes. And so that and we think there's a tonne of players out there that are excelling in one of those pillars. And if we can idolise them in that pillar only we can then focus on building this first class stack of pillars that defines where feature category.

Tim Richardson 29:26
Wanted to switch gears slightly again. And you guys have been doing this for more than 10 years. So I'd love to understand what still surprises you.

Aman 29:38
Oh, man, you know, to say that we weren't caught off guard by the pandemic in general would be a lie. I think. In general, we are constantly surprised by what kind of wrenches can get thrown at us and how we can kind of end up getting in our own way or outside scenarios can get in our way. But in terms of what surprises constantly we we love this idea of super customers and seeing how they act behave and think. And we're so grateful for folks that turn over their entire closet in our favour. I think, you know, while that's the intent that clothing, it's meant to work nicely together, it's meant to double on system. I think we're still just everyday and I get, I speak to five to 10 customers per day. And every time one of those emails just says, here's what I did to my wardrobe, here's what I did to overturn from, you know, 100%, not ministry, sliding 100% ministries by it still surprises us. I mean, think as, as kind of first time entrepreneurs that didn't know this was an option in the nine years ago. To get that kind of an email is just a wonderful and pleasant surprise, it reminds us why we do it.

Tim Richardson 30:38
That's so cool. So you, super customer? Is that the definition? Or is it kind of like a general VIP sort of type? Person? Yeah, we

Aman 30:48
like to try to measure it in terms of closet chair, right? We're thinking if this is somebody who's kind of betting on us, we want to bet on them, right? Yeah, it's a cohort of customers, we've identified who you know, or something is launched, they will buy it, they have built an inherent trust in our brand, not a specific trust and a specific product. And by doing so have identified themselves into our definitions and algorithms as a super customer. It's a customer that we want to obtain, nurture, and build, right, and often on a one on one basis, it's why, you know, 10s of 1000s of them have my personal cell phone number, and many of them use it right? All of them can email me directly and get an answer, usually within a few hours. And so that way, we think building these kind of one on one nurturing relationships across, you know, 1000s of people is possible, if that's what you prioritise.

Tim Richardson 31:35
That's so interesting. And so was that something that you guys had kind of thought about prior to beginning? Or is that something that sort of like, evolved organically? You know, by virtue of being a startup or challenger, you know, you kind of have a small community that you start with, and you kind of grow with them? Yeah, I

Aman 31:53
mean, that's as engineers, our background, our mind always goes to numbers. So early on, I developed this playbook, we called quantified empathy. And we still very much used embrace it. But it's this idea of taking customer sentiment and feeding it back. And so with by quantifying, you know, the sentiment, you know, by being able to say, not just I heard one person, say, x, but I've repeatedly heard why you can be sure that the inputs you put back in the system are, are good and relevant, and not just a vocal minority and stuff. We found time and time again, it was important to kind of let the right feedback bubble up. And instead of just listen to the vocal minority, it's very much a part of the scientific method. This iteration requires data.

Tim Richardson 32:36
So I suppose following on from the kind of like, what surprised or continued to surprise you over the last decade, I'd love to sort of take a look back and understand like, what's the best decision you guys have made? And what do you think has not been the best decision you've made?

Aman 32:52
Yeah, I mean, I think it's a really good question. I mean, I think I went to the NOC best earlier, right, which was kind of trying to play the outsider game. And in doing so, losing out on the beauty of this industry was kind of an early, take that back fashion industries want to be embraced. And it's stunning and exists for a reason, helps to drive emotional states and identities in a way that, you know, very few other industries can play. In terms of best, I think, you know, I'd come back to 18 months ago and kind of betting on this not going away. And betting on this, I would say not going away from it from a contagion standpoint, but not going away from a what do we like, right, what drives away hybrid workstyles, here to stay. And I think we were fortunate, probably by May to acknowledge that this would cause a long term change, and up ended our content and product development strategy to adjust and kind of micro tune our approach accordingly. And so I think in that way, we're now still seeing the fruits of that Labour with, you know, products launching this month that are so relevant to the time because we made that decision 18 months ago.

Tim Richardson 33:59
So interesting. It's usually one of my favourite questions to ask people's that kind of like, yeah, retrospective, your decision making type concept, I suppose. Following on from that, though, and getting back to something I said earlier, I'd love to understand a little bit about your, your funding journey. Can you can you talk me through that. And I may, they didn't pick up on the kind of what you said about like, getting the right investors on board and some of the kind of like decision making you've had to do and then their reactions and how you kind of dealt with with with with them.

Aman 34:33
If you said our investment I missed the operative word that he said our investors. Yes. Yeah, it's interesting. We, one of the questions we were asking that you're kind of profile is kind of why would your investors be sticking with you? You know, you're a company whose relevance was marginalised severely overnight, and then definitely, why would why would what is their continued interest and we took a bridge round of financing during the pandemic, are they writing you know, six, seven figure checks? And we asked them that yeah, First of all, we're not gonna, we're not gonna pitch you, you give us your credit or what have you, you all have seen a number of companies, you've seen a number of decades of ups and downs, what is your take on this? And their answer to us, which we've adopted and should have thought of ourselves was, if you were to start a company right now, why wouldn't it be this right? We know there's no dress code emerging. We understand after all this in the dust settles, the world will have changed irreversibly. Why not bet on a company who's who's betting on that? Right, and this idea that, you know, and happens to just have nine years of practice. So I think they're, I would say, beyond patience, I think they're probably accelerated in more excited thinking about what the new opportunity came the tailwind so now be behind us.

Tim Richardson 35:42
I'd love to switch gears again, ever so slightly, and just talk about like you how you in in Gihon work? Like, what do you think, is the kind of keys to the successful relationship that you guys have? And how do you guys define roles? Was it done beforehand? Has it evolved over time, all that

Aman 36:02
sort of stuff? Yeah, it's a thought, I think the simplest way to kind of explain is that we like to come back to saying complementary skill sets, but absolutely overlapping value sets. And that seems to be the magic formula. They say, general sentiment, how you think about building a team or culture, how you think about attacking the market, how you react to challenging situations, those are overvalue shine. But the complementary skill sets is where you can really hit a hit the gas on divide and conquer, right, with with little overlap, that that should naturally exist. handoffs, but beyond that, really embracing this idea of divide and conquer?

Tim Richardson 36:42
And was that something that was like quite immediate when you guys kind of first met? Or is that kind of built over time?

Aman 36:49
I think the bounds of that have been evolving over time. As we all you know, progress grow and learn. But I would say conceptually, now, that really hasn't changed, I think it's a quite a stroke of luck.

Tim Richardson 37:04
We're kind of coming up to around the 40 minute mark. So I think we would, it'd be good idea to sort of start rounding out the conversation. So I'd like to sort of start looking forward a little bit. And pose one sort of hypothetical question before we do that. So what would you be doing if you weren't running Ministry of Supply rather,

Aman 37:22
connect this up and working for a company who was doing the same thing? I know that's maybe a bit of a Dodge of an answer. But the the general premise, we come back to go back to that in 100 years and saying, We were not necessarily coming at this from let's be entrepreneurs standpoint, it was I really want to wear this clothing, it was very much a you know, if it doesn't exist, then we need to make it and if it does exist, then we should just go work for whoever's making it. And it wasn't necessarily that kind of a desire for, you know, an entrepreneurial journey, it was much more about making this specific product. And so if we weren't doing this, I think the natural answer would be to find out who's the second best and go work for them?

Tim Richardson 38:07
How long do you think that would last before? You'd be I think we're gonna start our own thing here.

Aman 38:13
We did I think everyone gets itchy, no matter what.

Tim Richardson 38:17
Yeah, I've got a sense that you guys would get he and I think this would be created no matter what, maybe even if that was the case.

Aman 38:26
Maybe Maybe that's more of a testament to stubbornness than then vision, but

Tim Richardson 38:33
I suppose. You know, what does Ministry of Supply look like in in 2023?

Aman 38:39
Yeah, we just went through this exercise, I have so many good answers for you. But, you know, we come back to really doubling down on this 100% Trust and 100% of pillars, right. And I keep coming back to this and saying, there are some really special things and you know, in the next couple of years ago, see and kind of really blowing out this, we call it absolute control of heat and temperature or heat and moisture. Through our we call our Mercury operating system that we we brought to market a couple of years ago with the mercury jacket. And expanding that system out and kind of pushing the bounds and what technology and clothing can do and they truly coexist. But at the simplest level, really, we want it to be the 50% of class that you were 8% of time. And that's the work to do to get to that point has changed so dramatically. That our best bet is continuing to lead the way and define what work leisure means. Embrace it and show people how that system of thinking can actually be more than the sum of its parts.

Tim Richardson 39:37
I think that's a great way to end the podcast. Man. Thank you so much for joining me.

Aman 39:42
I cannot thank you. Thanks for having me