Just the other week, we hit a milestone of 100,000 youtube subscribers. As such, we thought it was a good idea to answer your questions about Gentleman’s Gazette and to give you a glimpse behind the scenes. This is a recording of a live Q & A session we did on June 30, 2017.
These were the questions:
- How did you get started with the website?
- What was your personal favorite Fort Belvedere product?
- Since you have clearly improved your abilities both in front of the camera and editing the videos, would you consider remaking some of your older videos?
- Do you fear that as Gentleman’s Gazette grows, you will lose the quality and boutique nature that current subscribers like?
- You are from Germany, nice! Do you want to start in German too?
- From where do you get the history of the clothes, where do you do the research?
- Would you start a warehouse in Europe?
- I’d love to hear a bit about the design process for Fort Belvedere products, how do you go about finding such niche manufacturing processes?
- Do you feel there is a limit on the content you can deliver?
- Will you ever produce bespoke products?
- How much time does it take to write an article, on average? (8-12 hours
- Personal favorite Fort Belvedere product?
- Do you ever think that you will start your own clothing line with shirts and suits and jackets?
- Do you have plans to expand to retail or create your own stores?
- Do you only wear Fort Belvedere or do you wear all kinds of brands
- Would you design some belts and suspenders at your shop later?
- What new products do you hope to produce in the future?
- Which Fort Belvedere product do you think is the most useful?
- Are you looking to tap private equity firms or other large sources of capital for your next leg of growth for Gentleman’s Gazette?
- How many video takes do you shoot normally? Will there ever be an outtakes reel?
- How did you learn so much about clothes? You are not even from fashion background
- How do you know so much about classic style?
- How do you think your products compare to other luxury brands? I know you say you are the best but do you believe you outclass brands with a heritage such as Kiton?
- Will there be a GG for women?My wife asks: Not what to buy from Fort Belvedere for the husband, but more like classic style for women, explained by Sven (and his wife).
- I am always impressed with the extremely specific manufacturing Sven is able to use. Such as the socks that use many needles etc. These things must be difficult to attain?
- What led you to start producing products?
- What was your first article? Favorite article?
- Do you design all your products personally? Do you have an R&D team behind you?
- Fashion illustrations – why do you use them and how do you find them?
- Could you tell us a bit about the process of designing and producing a Fort Belvedere product?
- What was the first product you designed? What led you to start producing products?
- Favorite article and why?
- What have you done to get so good at speaking, especially with little or no prep? Is it simply a talent or have you had to practice to acquire it?
- Will GG venture into the market of image consulting?
- Do you want to collaborate with other companies?
- Is that someone on your logo?
- What part of your business puts out the most money? Ad money or Fort Belvedere Products?
- Have you considered having original illustrations for your articles?
- Will shirt studs come to Fort Belvedere?
- Why don’t you sponsor Aaron’s or Antonio’s video?
- Winter socks from GG in the future?
Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette!
I’m really sorry last time. We had some internet issues and the stream cut out so you couldn’t really follow.
Today, we improved that situation. We’re also recording the stream in case there are issues again so we can figure it out and monitor it.
So, welcome and I thought I do this kind of video and Q&A because we had over 100,000 subscribers on our YouTube channel so thank you very much for your support and when we started a few years back, that seemed far away but apparently, you like some of the things we do. So, thanks for spreading the word. It’s very helpful for us reach a larger audience so we can help more men.
Now, as you can see probably this is not the usual space. It’s because we moved into a new house and we came here because this is a really large nice office space. As you can see here, we have about a 1000 square foot in one room and it’s like 10-foot ceilings so this will be the place where we film all of our videos, where we’re going to do photography. It’s very exciting for us actually, to have all that. It took us a while to find a place like that because we want the light from the top and this is perfect. Of course, it’s a big room so yesterday I had to soundproof some things because of central air-conditioning and it’s always different but when we started filming the videos, we actually lived in a condo building. So, there was a porter’s room because the building was from in 1916. He used to shovel coal and do his laundry and so he had his own room.
That’s what we used for our videos. All the videos that you’ve seen up to this point were filmed in that basement room. And while it was okay, it was quite small and every time we wanted to do something different, we rearranged the entire lighting and here, it’s going to be a lot better.
Last time, Last Monday during the video we already got lots of questions and I’m going to go through some of them but please ask us new questions, we will disperse and I’ll try to answer all of them today. Simply because it gives a great way to connect with you and just show you that we didn’t just end up at that point. It was just slow progression, we make mistakes. We had issues that things didn’t work out the way we wanted to and these are just things you have to overcome.
So how did you get started with the website?
Well I came from Germany, I got married to my wife and I applied for a green card and in that time period until you get your work permit you’re not allowed to work so I just started with a website because classic ones clothing was my hobby and it was just a good way to have an outlet for it and by the time I got the work permit, we had already advertisers and the economy was really bad at the time so I figured “hey, why not create this website” and I learned that you could make a decent living off of it if you do, do it for five years consistently and do it really well and so then that, that really worked out for us and then people asked us “Hey where are you getting these products from?” and I would say “hey it’s from a flea market in Vienna” and so I had to simply tell them that right and it wasn’t helpful so we decided “hey why not why, why couldn’t I create and design products and then sell them to people so that way I wouldn’t have just to tell them ‘hey there’s something unattainable that’s really nice, but actually you could buy it right here’” and rather than using Gentleman’s Gazette as our brand name we decided to use Fort Belvedere because no gazette has a kind of newspaper aspect to it and we felt like that publishing aspect wouldn’t be quite so well for a brand and Fort Belvedere was a residence of the Duke of Windsor which is very well known for his style and they had glamorous parties there and so we thought it was a cool connection basically between the style and my wife always said “oh I want something with an English country house” and so it was a good combination of both.
What was your personal favorite for Belvedere product?
That’s actually really hard to tell because obviously you know I’m designing all those products and I do that because I like them or I feel that they’re not around so I guess some things that are particularly proud of are the ones that are not so easily available otherwise are not available at all for example we do our single end bow ties right that you can’t find anywhere else. We do also all of our black bow ties with a fixed sizing in different shapes and to my knowledge this is the largest selection you can find anywhere in the world so that’s what I’m proud of also things like you know like the cufflinks that we made and designed and I was part of the process from like wax block to that final product and you know, sourcing the different things and understanding how casting works and it’s very exciting but it’s a lot more steps than what you might think and that’s why we talk a little bit about it when we talk about our cufflinks; same things with the boutonnieres, the lapel flowers. I just didn’t wear one today because the lapel is quite slim and also I haven’t quite assorted and unpacked everything from when we moved here so next time I’ll wear one again.
Since you’ve clearly improved your abilities both in front of the camera and editing the videos, would you consider remaking some of your older videos?
Well definitely. If you check out our first video, I think it was 50 things about me and you know it was very slow, we filmed it at our living room then and the light changed and I just didn’t know how to be the real me for the camera because it’s actually quite difficult that most people don’t realize that if they’re just the way they are in real life it looks super slow and boring so you intentionally have to kind of be more active in front of the camera just so it looks like when you talk to the person in real life and we did a lot of videos that you know, I thought that would stand the test of time and be there forever. Now obviously we could remake some of those and I think as we progress will redo some of the old ones, but have a strong emphasis on covering new topics that we haven’t discussed yet because you can still watch the old ones, the content is there and yes, we could improve it, but maybe we’ll make a spin-off video of that.
Do your fear that as Gentleman’s Gazette grows you will lose the quality and boutique nature that current subscribers like?
Well growth always means that you have to hire more people and in the beginning you know I started like that and I think most people do, you do everything yourself, right? And then you get to the point where it’s just overwhelming and you just feel you’re close to a burnout because you’re publishing articles every day, you answer all these emails and the day only has so many hours and you mainly collect your family and your spouse simply because you focus everything on the business and that’s the point we have to realize “wow I need help” and for me the first thing was to outsource accounting books, A) I sucked at it and B) I hated it and so it was just the first thing for me to outsource and then talking to Antonio Centeno from Real Men Real Style I learned that he had used assistants and so why I jumped on that bandwagon and that was really helpful because I could teach them and they could get stuff done that needed to be done, but that I necessarily won’t have to do and so as we grew you know my wife joined the team, we have a video editor now, we have another assistant and we have two customer service people that can help answer emails and as we got emails, we realized that “wow there’s so many spam emails, so many PR emails are totally not related to what we do so we had to implement a ticketing system that allowed us to provide really good customer service by filtering out this crappy emails and develop all these processes so I think as we grew, you were actually getting a better experience now that’s more boutique-y then if I would just do everything myself because then you would not get a reply for three months or never so I can see that as you grow you are less involved , but we try to have core values internally for our employees to show them that we want them to do and even though I can’t answer it, they answer it in my spirit basically and then we also talk you know we have that strong belief that everything we do is bout quality and above all and as long as I am the CEO of the company we’re not going to change that. If we ever sell the company for example, yes, that may be different if you have a different CEO, if you have different owners they may look at different things, but we never built the Gentleman’s Gazette and Fort Belvedere to do that so at this time I don’t foresee that to be a problem.
You’re from Germany, nice! Do you want to start in German?
Well you know actually, theGentleman’s Gazette started in German and in English because I thought it was a competitive advantage for me to write in German and in English. Well down the road I realized the kind of core audience I’m talking to in Germany speaks English very well so they can understand me and so the market was just smaller rather that writing something in German and in English, I could just write two things in English and still satisfy that market. So at this point I don’t think I’ll do an entire German channel because investment for video would be a lot of work and difficult to do and you could understand it, there’s a good school system over there so everybody speaks English and I consider it a great way to just learn what’s going on.
Where do you get the history of the clothes? Where do you do the research?
Good question. Actually, we have like three big bookshelves full of books and that’s what I did, I started collecting vintage men’s fashion magazines and books and I just you know hoarded them basically then I would also go to libraries and go through old magazines, I would digitize them, I would sometimes spend two to four weeks in libraries just taking pictures over and over again until my neck hurt and my back hurt, but I have all of these archives now that I can use to research and to look at old you know styles from the 1930s and I have magazines you know from England, from Austria, from Italy, from Germany from the US and so it’s interesting to see style similarities and differences and I also found that these old books are sometimes just intensely knowledgeable you know there is a lot of great knowledge in there especially in Germany and although some things you have to do and touch to really understand the books can help immensely. I found a great guide you know on hats that talks about the proportions of the face and the brim size and a crown height all these things you just never even hear about today so we’ll take that and you know use modern graphic design and make it consumable for you guys so stay tuned for that and that’s basically where I get my information from, it’s from the 1930s, from the 20s magazines, books and of course I also visit craftsmen and talk to them, but I find you can learn less in-depth information that way and with books and magazines.
Would you start a warehouse in Europe?
Good question. Actually, it’s something that we have thought about it in the past. It’s just a step that requires considerably more in terms of logistics because now you have one shop, but you have two inventory centers and inevitably you know you have more products, you’ll have products out of stock in one warehouse that are now in the other warehouse and people want that from there and I understand that it would be easier for consumers in Europe not having to deal with customs and stuff at the same time, logistically, it’s quite expensive for us to do that and it requires an investment. Our software is set up so we can handle it, but at this point, we just need to scale up a little more for it to make sense so we can handle it; it’s definitely something that’s on the roadmap, but probably won’t happen in the next year or two.
I’d love to hear about the product design process for Fort Belvedere products and how do you go about finding such niche manufacturing processes?
Alright, so you know I start usually if I find something that has seen these old magazines where I’m like “wow this is amazing”, right? Why is that not around anymore and or I just can’t find it so it all starts with things usually anchored in 1930s and 1920s or something where I feel like “hey this has come a long way, but why can’t we do it this way or that way?” for example you know when with the bow ties I would you know read in Indian Hudson’s gentleman book oh you know a black tie bow tie should have a fixed neck size because then you can untie it and if your wear a detachable collar it can be visible, but it was super hard to find them and then I found one store and they had this one bow tie and I found another store and had the exact same bow tie so there was just one shape and I felt like we got to change that or when we for example our boutonnieres you know I look I go to nature and I look at flowers and say hey I want something like this I want you know up help yeah shades size and then I go through the process and talk to trying to find some vendors and once I find these craftsmen I always look for the best quality so we don’t care if you are in Peru, in Germany, in England, in Italy or in Vietnam we look for what kind of quality you can put out on a consistent level and one we have that you know we really get quality things and so we constantly improve our products and then I always want to visit the manufacturers at their facility not at trade shows, but at their facilities because I can see what they do, I can see their passion for it, I can see their processes, I can see who they employ and what kind of skill goes into it and so it’s really great to see that. So design processes are just very long and once I’m at that stage we’ll have a prototype, once the prototype is ready and I like it then I use it and I test it. For example, with the socks you know I wore them for a long time I didn’t want them to slide down, wash them over and over again, I you know use them sitting a lot, I use them just in everyday life when I go to trade shows and those things and then once it passes that test where we say yes this is a good product, it stands the test of time then we start production runs and they’re going to be available to you basically.
Do you feel there’s a limit on the content you can deliver?
You know it seems overwhelming and I think we’ve written about a thousand posts so now I can say hey we have these thousand posts – no we have 150 videos that means I could to a video about every post on top of that I can do a lot more videos so even though it may seem there is a kind of a cap to what you can do at this point I really don’t quite see that yet and it’s the same thing for example with you know all the fashion illustrations I’ve so much materials in these bookshelves that I can use and make good videos and good content out of it so I don’t see that now.
Will you ever produce bespoke products?
Bespoke products are really nice because you can really decide what you want very specifically and what you don’t want. Well that requires generally though is a very high educational level of the consumer, the customer for example when you do a jacket you know I can ask you hey do you want your sleeve hat you know do you want these two ends of the fabric folded this way, folded down this way or split up one this way and one that way and most people are like I don’t know you tell me and it could be like a subject, but we really guide a customer say well for your shoulders we think this would be better it’s just an entirely different business model it’s basically me using my time to help one person at the time. What we’re doing right now is I can do this video for example and I could do an educational video and I can help a hundred, two hundred people at a time, for example, a how to tie a bow tie video was watched probably over six hundred thousand times and it’s on track to be a million I could have never taught 1 million men to tie their bow tie to the video I can do that so we try to find a sweet spot between quality and having different sizes such as in socks you don’t necessarily need the bespoke level because the bespoke oval would only give you maybe you know the color choices , but doing bespoke socks would be extremely expensive because you would have to set up the machine and everything for one pair of socks so one pair of socks would cost a $1,000 right doesn’t make sense if I can get a very similar model for $40 that has really high-quality yarns that are finely knitted socks that last and stay up so I don’t see us at this point going into bespoke except maybe for rings I’m thinking about doing some pinky rings and they’re you know stocking let’s say sterling silver or gold on a mass scale would be super costly and that makes sense so I could see us doing kind of a custom model in that way.
How much time does it take to write an article on average?
You know it really depends if I write the article and let’s say its fashion illustration and I can just you know go through my knowledge and what I know and tap through it, it can be quicker you know let’s say that’ll take four hours, but then you know you have to have the picture editing after do the emails all the things that go into it the social promotion and forth that’s also time that comes on top of that if you write in history you know an article on leather for example right and I have to take out my books and look at everything I know plus do additional research that can take a lot longer so if you have guides you know about sweaters or cashmere those are posted require a lot more time to produce.
Personal favorite Fort Belvedere product?
I think we mentioned that before. I think I love all of them, but one thing that I really am proud of is our boutonnieres because no one else in the world does those it’s a company that, that’s special you know we found them and they used to make those but in a very different context and o I helped them do those things and it’s a one-of-a-kind item that you can find and you can check out the video I think how a boutonniere is made in our channel to really appreciate that.
Do you ever think that you will start your own clothing line with shirts, suits, and jackets?
Yes, I think we will add that to Fort Belvedere as a line, but we’re currently you know still expanding our accessories line for example we’re going to add belts, we’re going to spinners, but it’s not just regular belts you know we try to have the best quality leather on both sides that we can find and then it’s going to be an adjustable system that you can use, you can exchange the buckles which is helpful because you’re in a brown belt and a black belt maybe four different buckles which gives you eight combinations other than just two belts so it’s easy to travel, it’s good for the environment and since the qualities are top-notch you know you can do that and they will last for a long time. We’re also currently working in vest prototypes because I feel there’s just a lot of bad cut vests out there and I want to do it on real nice ones even in vests with the right cutout double-breasted, single-breasted you know some with an open back for evening and stuff because it’s usually hot and you don’t take off your jacket anyways so things like that we want to do and then the next step will probably be overcoats because I think there’s a big gap for great stylish overcoats and then you know as we progress and gain experience and that I can see us doing shoes and suits and jackets.
Do you have plans to expense retail and recreate your own stores?
Good question. We thought about it and in the beginning you know I never wanted to be in retail because I didn’t want to stand in the store and sell something to someone because again you know it’s not so scalable I have to wait for customers to walk in and inevitably you know you have nobody coming in all day and then ten people at once and then nine leave because they feel they feel like you don’t treat them well and so it can be a very frustrating experience as we’ve grown I can see us going into like a store model having our own stores if you know we can have clear structures so I don’t have to personally be involved in the store. The problem with it is it’s a huge capital investment and you need to exactly find the right location and that you know requires a lot of wok also I think we’re you know the online is working for us and I’m much rather I’m a master of that rather than be a jack of all trades and master of none and I don’t say we’re not going to do that it’s just an entirely different business model and same with retail now if we go to a retailer like a small boutique haberdashery, for example, right and let’s say we create ties right so I design a fabric then we will do a test run so I you know I pay for that then we have a test run of the fabric then we make the test prototypes then we show that to retailers then they order it then I have to pay for the fabric you know that’s printed don’t have to pay for the production then once the product is done it’s delivered to the customer now they want payments in terms of 90 days-120 days then they know when they end up paying maybe more like a 180 days so at the end of a day I’m financing this entire production for a year almost so let’s say they go out of business I lose all of my money so then all of a sudden you’re more into banking business than in the clothing business and that’s not something I want to do at this point in time.
Do you only wear Fort Belvedere or do you wear all kinds of brands?
Well, first of all, you know Fort Belvedere right now is not a full clothing line and it’s for accessories so do we have a lot of Fort Belvedere accessories? Yes. Simply because I test everything so you know I have all of the prototypes you know I have all of these things, but then also some other ties because it’s nice to wear, but I also have lots of other things for example I have a lot of vintage ties because I love the inspiration and I love the old fabrics, the old matter silks, the old jacquard silks so I take that and say hey I want to do something like that and it all comes from past products that are really stylish and I take the best of both worlds you know because we offer the ties in three sizes so you can get that benefit, but you can get a fabric that you otherwise couldn’t find so no, I wear lots of other products you know that are not Fort Belvedere. I think today Fort Belvedere is like my cufflinks, my tie, my pocket square, this is a Ralph Lauren Purple Label, this is an I think James Meade, it’s an English shirt so it’s different.
Are you looking to tap private equity firms or other large sources of capital for the next leg of growth for Gentleman’s Gazette?
Interesting question, because yes, as you grow you need a lot of cash, you need to hire people, you need to increase your stock levels, things can go wrong; you need insurance, you need to rely on things so yes, that requires a lot of capital and sometimes it seems the easy way to go with an equity firm that give you money so you can grow quickly and basically grow the pie bigger so your slice gets bigger, but the key point is that you just get a slice of that right so with giving away or with getting money you lose a lot of control; they may have different interests, they may have different goals of just getting returns quickly which oftentimes means the product you know we sell it at the same price, but we diminish that the quality of the materials that go into it that’s lowering the price and thus increasing the margin so at this point I think we’re still good, we have enough capital reserves that we you know we own the company 100% and we decide what’s going on and I am interested in slow, steady, steadfast growth just like our products are and so at this point I don’t see us partnering with a private equity firm. I mean of course if someone comes to you and says I’ll give you a hundred million dollars for your company to invest in for 50 percent of course you’re going to think about it at this point we never had an offer so you know it’s something we don’t think about and I never grew this one like one of those companies that that you see a lot now I know where people just grow it to be bought out by a bigger company; that was never my goal, I just wanted to do what I love and produce products that I really like and I think should be around more and just add more elegance and style to the world so we’ll see.
How many videos takes do you shoot normally? Will there ever be an outtakes reel?
We shoot videos, we usually you know, we try to shoot them one in a row simply because it’s much more efficient; the lighting is set up, the sound is set up, you’re in the groove, it just goes more quickly so you know we create the scripts and we film one after another or maybe three or four in a day in session after a while t can get tiring and also like standing and stuff so you have to take a little break, but then we just let the camera run basically and because of the script you know I can go over it and sometimes you say the same word over and over again which is quite funny and we could actually do an outtakes reel so I’ll pass it on to the inner to do that, but yeah we try to keep it flowing and moving.
How did you learn so much about clothes?
You’re not even from a fashion background. That’s true, my background is in law, but you know just because you train something doesn’t mean that that’s your passion. For some reason, you know when I was in high school, when I was 14 or 15; I started with fountain pens that I came across with on eBay I was big into eBay as a teenager back then you could still sign up for that and then I found more fountain pens and cufflinks, so cufflinks needed a shirt so I you know got into shirts and then oh cufflinks shirt you need a nice suit and at the time I have found this book “gentleman” from Ben Holland Germany which was a big book and it talked about you know that classic style and I thought it was fascinating and then I went on and found other books that were older that I thought you know had even a lot more information and so it just became my hobby and if something is your hobby and your interest you know reading it is not like work, it’s fun so just kept reading more, computing more, meeting with craftsmen and so my knowledge grew over time and then like I said you know I got this library those magazines I found, it’s like “wow this is amazing”, “these patterns, that color combination”, “why is that not around anymore?”, “what’s going on?”, you know like all I can see is H&M and Esprit stuff that I didn’t really connect with so that’s how I learned so much about it, it was basically self-taught and I have to say I’m a good personality for that, I like to learn things and do it myself so I didn’t know anything about the internet really or WordPress I mean I was good with computers, but had no idea how things work with websites so I just learned that by doing it and understanding what’s going on and it was the same for me with the clothes.
How do you think your brand compared to our luxury brands?
I know you said you’re the best, but you believed you out class brands with heritage such as Kiton. So you know heritage brands, I mean the great thing about it is that oftentimes they have large history, they had generations of people who have done things a certain way and there’s a lot of knowledge built up that’s usually great, right and so I didn’t have that, I didn’t have a great-grandfather who was into clothing, who could teach me all the details, I had to do all of that work myself by meeting with craftsmen and understanding how they do things, what the difference are, but in terms of what we think we do in a unique way is that we focus on the quality first we don’t say we want a product that costs a 150 dollars no, we take a product and say hey we want to use the best quality materials that we can, we want to have a smart design, we want a classic design and the we’ll see what it costs where we price it and because we are a small company and we directly market to people, there’s no middlemen I think the quality product that we offer you will pay more if you go with a heritage brand or just a larger name-brand simply because they have a lot bigger overhead, they have retailers in between and everyone wants to earn and that’s legitimate, but at the same times that means a higher price for the consumer. I hope that answers your question.
Will there be a Gentleman’s Gazette for women?
You’d be surprised, I get asked that a lot because people seem to like that classic timeless style. Unfortunately, I don’t know of any website or YouTube channel that caters to that niche and personally, I just don’t know enough about women’s clothing to do that. Also women’s clothing inherently changes a lot more frequently and so the quality materials they use are a lot lower than for men’s in general and so I know it’s not just something I’m interested in, I’m not interested in fast fashion or just like low price stuff and there is a niche further, there is a market for that, it’s just not what I want to do. So I don’t think there will be a Gentleman’s Gazette for women or a lady’s gazette, but never say never right?
What led you to start producing products?
People asking for it and my lack of finding them. I talked about it earlier in the video, so you can go back; I answered it before.
What was your first article and favorite article?
First article, you can actually go back and we just published and recently made it a lot better was an article on the Panama hat because at the time I had just bought an original Panama hat from Ecuador and it’s called Panama hat, but the best ones are from Ecuador and so I thought that was a good first way to start it. Favorite article, oh boy that’s hard, there’s so many good guides that really have a lot of information. For example, I know that tweed guide is very long and in-depth and it just covers and entire range of things, but I like the guide articles that we made because I think that’s where a lot of work goes in and they provide a lot of value in terms of knowledge so I think those are my favorites.
Do you design all your products personally or do you have an R&D team behind you?
At this time yes, I design products, I sometimes draw things or show pictures of all things and then I have people who make it into the actual design, but yes, I drive in all the colors, you had it in and where I want it to be and the size of it and what we want to do and the colors. As we grow, I will have to hire someone who has the same design philosophy as I do and where we connect and do that, that’s definitely something, but at this point, there is no R&D team behind me, it’s me.
Fashion illustrations; why do you use them and how do you find them?
I think it’s a lost art and oftentimes they are just over exaggerated meaning other people have very long torsos and relatively short legs was just a stylized idea of what fashion should look like. I love them because they are oftentimes a little edgy for the time, but they’re well put together, they show nice patterns and they show the color combinations and the proportions of the crown – the head for example and you can just see much more detail in it sometimes. Also the fit you know it’s ideal if you go out on the street and you have a hundred bespoke suits only one is really truly perfect and the others are so-so for the illustration you can get it right a 100% of the time and I just think at the time photo sometimes were not of that highest quality so if someone was wearing them and now a morning coat it was just all black and you can’t see the details for the illustration you can see everything and it’s also like the artistic aspect of it so I find them in all the magazines so I have done research and find stuff in libraries or I just bought them from eBay and then I collect them and I digitize them and group them all together and try to see the patterns of designs that were in the US, and in England, and in Italy at the same time it’s quite interesting to see and understand that.
What have you done to get so good at speaking especially with little or no prep; it is simply a talent or have you had practice to acquire it?
Well, look at my first video ad you’ll see that it really wasn’t always like that. I just learned what I had to do to retain people more because on youtube you can see people kind of watch your video and at what point it drop off so I could go back and see hey what did I say that made it go away? Overall, I think yes, I’m a communicator, I like talking to people but you still have to remind yourself not to “uhh, hmm.. mm…” and this is a topic I love talking about. It’s about clothes, you’re not asking me about accounting for example. You know that would be a very different ball game. But once I know about the topic and yeah I consider myself as an expert in it, I’m good. I can just talk and I think having all the articles and having all that structure, helps cause you know, breaking things up and having headings and bullet points just helps you consume the information better and having that in mind trains you maybe also in law school you know. On the one hand, on the other hand, 1 2 3 yeah. I still ramble at times so I’ll try to keep that short and to the point.
Will GG venture into the market of image consulting?
Good question, when we started from Belvedere at that time we had some very good customers and I did that one on one image consulting. The problem is it requires a lot of time to do it right. I need to understand you know, what is your social position, what events do you attend, what sports do you go to, what jobs you have, what circles are you in, where do you want to be in, what is the goal. You have to understand all of those facets and people are not always necessarily telling you why they want to dress well. Maybe it’s because they want to be recognized more or respected more at work. Or maybe, it’s a self-confidence thing, but people are not going to tell you I want to dress better because I’m self-confident so you have to dig deeper and understand it then you have to analyze their current wardrobe, see what has to go, what can stay so in the end, it requires a lot of time to do it right and in that same time, I could have done other things, I could have developed other products, I could have made new videos, helped a lot of men at the same time. So, by the time all of that said and done, I need to charge a very high rate for personal image consulting so it makes sense for me and for my business. Then it’s too high for most people to do that because they could just come to a website and learn about it themselves in a way. So maybe if we had a certification process where we could do image consulting but me personally doing that, it’s probably not going to happen because it’s simply not cost-effective.
Do you want to collaborate with other companies?
You know, collaborations I think can be really cool if you find companies where things align perfectly and so you know, you can probably see on our website we don’t have many sponsored posts, very rarely we have some ads. But we only work with companies if we think it’s a really really, really perfect fit. Otherwise, we just turn away $10,000 or however much they offer because it’s just not worth it and we feel we would disappoint your trust and I can see us collaborating with a company for certain products maybe. We get a lot of collaboration requests but often times, it just feels to me that they’re looking for an outlet to sell their stuff. So if we come across the right product where I feel like, yes we could use both of our expertise to come up with something that’s truly better, yes I can see that. But I think it’s hard.
Is that someone on your logo?
Good question, it’s actually an old fashioned illustration of a guy in a white tie and I used it and in illustrator, you know traced it and changed it a little bit and made that kind of oval shape out of it so it’s a fictional fashion illustration person, not a real person.
What part of your business puts out the most money, ad money or Fort Belvedere products?
It’s interesting, you know when we started, most of the money came from advertising. We didn’t have products and that was kind of the model and I thought wow, if I have this advertiser, I can have 10 more, and I can have 10 x the revenue. Well, the problem is not all advertisers pay. You know the first advertiser we had, he wanted a long term contract and then he just stopped paying so you have that side of things and trying to sue for the money. You know it can be costly too. So then we had the products, then it required a lot of upfront capital investment, but now it allows us to get a scale of money. You know, for example, people can shop 24/7 from around the world, when we sleep, people can buy things from Australia so we make money which is very nice. Also, I can focus on creating the products and then you know, create it then redo and stock it and build systems with the warehouse. Other people can do things and we can still make money.
If we do a sponsored post, for example, I have to be involved with it. I have to talk with people and that’s just something I don’t enjoy as much. I’d much rather focus my energy on things I truly love rather than doing something and then you have other person’s point of view and you all have to manage that. I find that more frustrating so I’m building the Gentleman’s Gazette to be completely independent in the sense you know we have income from YouTube, we have ad income, we have lots of pillars of income we don’t rely on just one thing but we can do exactly what we want, say what we want and I would say yes the most revenue is generated by product. For other people, it may be different. If you talk to Jose Zuniga from Teaching Men’s Fashion, I mean he must be doing 10 sponsored videos a month or more and he could probably do a 100 if he would accept all the things but it’s just something that works for him. He tried the physical products and he felt like it wasn’t worth it for him at all.
Aaron Marino, you know from AlphaM, he does a lot of sponsored posts, Antonio Centeno as well. But Aaron also have physical products so it seems like everyone eventually goes towards physical products. Antonio has lots of Digital products we have some digital products but often times people are not willing to pay for something. Let’s say like an eBook or a course even though it would save them a lot of time and it could save them a thousand or two thousand dollars or maybe even $10,000. They still feel that the hundred dollars investment is not worth it because they feel “oh maybe I can get it for free somewhere” and sometimes you can find bits of pieces of information somewhere but it’s just going to take you a lot of time to understand how it all fits together, and I find a lot of people don’t value their time a lot. So that’s the problem.
Yeah, we’re at 40 minutes now. I think we can go for 5 more minutes or even longer if there are more questions so keep them coming. If we answer everything, then there’s no need to continue. But if you have any questions, please let us know.
Have you considered having original illustrations for your articles?
Yes, I’ve been approached by some illustrators. The problem is, you know, the kind of style is different, and everyone has their own style and they can do cool things. It just is a lot of work to create an illustration rather than doing good pictures, for example. And then it’s also costly so the ROI, I don’t necessarily see because if you spend, you know 6.. 7.. 800 thousand dollars on a set of illustrations for an article, you have to see how will I make this money back and it can be quite costly and we’d have to test to what extent people really prefer the illustrations or with the photographs. Yeah, so I would like to do it if I had the right illustrator approach us that has an idea of clothes because otherwise, they may be good illustrators but they don’t understand really close details so maybe they’re doing the tuxedo outfit with a guy in a top hat- which is wrong, and I don’t want that so then I need to babysit that person, I need to invest a lot of time, and that’s kinda not the goal I want to pursue. Plus, there are so many great unpublished vintage fashion illustrations that have that nostalgic effect and have that attention to detail that, yeah, I think we’ll stick with that for now.
Will Shirt studs be available for Fort Belvedere?
Yes, I want to offer them, I want to offer full dress sets, shirt studs, waistcoat buttons, and cufflinks so I think it’s a lost art, basically. The other day at Sotheby’s there’s an incredible selection of cufflinks from aristocrat person in London and also nice dress sets and stuff and I think that just really changes the look of your tux or your white tie ensemble, it’s just really great.
Why don’t you sponsor Aaron or Antonio’s video?
Well, you know, like a sponsored video with Aaron costs like 20,000 dollars since I know him and he’s a friend, he’d do it for less probably 10,000 dollars. It still is, you know, a lot of money and I may give it a try at some point in time simply because they have a large audience and they know what they’re doing. I don’t know if it’s a 100% key fit for it. But at the end of the day, you have to try it basically. With Antonio, I think there’s a fair amount of overlap. I could try working with him as well and see you know the sales it basically generates. For us, you know it’s like hey I could pay Aaron $10,000 to make one video or we could take that money and maybe make 10 videos ourselves. What ROI is better in a way? Yes, I would reach a different audience because it’s a larger audience but you always have to weigh things up against each other and you know, $10,000 is a lot of money and you want to think about it carefully.
Winter socks from GG in the future?
Yes! I want to add some wool socks to the line-up. That being said, I’m wearing our current socks in winter as well because I’m usually in an inside environment. I don’t walk around too much. It’s something that we’re planning to do.
So, thank you very much for joining us here today. If there were other questions that I didn’t answer, it’s because they didn’t pertain to Gentleman’s Gazette. We’ve just found what we need to limit what questions we answer because otherwise, it’s too much. It’s too overwhelming. It’s not helpful for people. Cause it’s just all over the place.
We’ll do you know specific Q&A’s like shoes or shoe polishing so you can ask very detailed questions and everyone that comes to that session really gets a lot of value out of it.
Yeah, lots of style questions that mean we’ll do more style Q&As. Maybe you know on a regular basis like once a month, style Q&A for people. That way people can benefit. If you have any questions, I always suggest to search first on the website because we have lots of articles and lots of guides like I said a thousand so chances that we covered what you’re asking about, that we covered already are quite high.
So yeah, thank you very much!
Stay tuned, now we’re on a new space here, we’re going to start filming a lot more and thanks again for coming to the Gentleman’s Gazette and if you know someone that maybe would like what we do, please you tell them about us or just share it on your social media channel. If you’ve bought products from us, leave a review. All these things help us to broaden our reach and just help more men so we could do cooler things, better videos, higher production quality, and more Q&A sessions.
Thanks and have a wonderful day!