Primitive started as brick and mortar in sunny Southern California known for their dope selection of shoes and apparel. We caught up with Ricky Jordan from Primitive to chat about their story. Get their authentic insights on their decisions to go wholesale and how it’s impacted their business to grow into the skate brand they are today. Plus, more about what they love most about Brandboom!
The Primitive story: How did it start and how did you decide on what the brand was going to sell?
The Primitive shop on Ventura Blvd. opened in 2008. When we opened, we had a vision of the brand that we wanted to become and opened our store, launching with a few Primitive branded items like t-shirts, boards, and hats. We were 80’s and 90’s kids, so the styles and fashion we grew up with were a big influence, we had that background in our blood. Everyone was collecting Nike SB’s at the time and Primitive wanted to make sure that was the core. Everybody came to get shoes from us.
We decided to go with brands like Stussy, The Hundreds and HUF – those were kind of some of the early brands, and Vans of course. We didn’t carry the whole line though, just stuff that fit the colors, styles and cuts that Andy, Jubal (Jones) and Paul (Rodriguez) liked. That was their vision for the store.
How did you get started in wholesale? Which channels are now generating the most sales for you?
It was at the Agenda trade show. Zumiez approached us and kind of knew who we were, and that’s where one of our first wholesale PO came from. At the time we were actually shipping from the shop.
At this time, it was just the shop and our 5 or 6 employees including Andy and Jubal. But from that point on every PO from there either doubled or just kept growing, which then led to us having our first warehouse outside of the shop. By the end of Summer 2013 we had about 20 employees in the warehouse alone, not including the retail store. In 2 years we went from kind of a shop run, just trying to get some t-shirts printed with the right look and feel and everything, to having an actual full-blown marketing department, video, media, warehouse, HR, that type of thing.
What has wholesale done for your business? How much of your revenue is comprised of wholesale orders?
Our wholesale started around 2011. I would say 75% if not 80% of our business is wholesale. It had been growing and our retail store did well, but we still sold other people’s products and we decided not to move to a flagship type of store model at this time, as we wanted to concentrate further on the brand itself. So our resources were better used in wholesale because that’s where we had the momentum, as we knew we could better build our business this way. It was better applied in wholesale. We knew we could make more profit that way and build our business.
How did you do this tradeshow season? What made your trade show participation successful this year?
We had one of our most successful trade show seasons in the last few years. We have new sales staff on board. We got a lot of new in-house guys and they just jive together well. The whole formula is really good right now. For the first quarter trade show season, the guys have exceeded their sales goals. We did very well domestic wise.
How do you keep growing your business when it’s no longer trade show season?
We’re constantly growing internationally, so that’s one major thing that we’re concentrating on inside and outside of the tradeshow seasons. E-commerce has also grown quite a bit over the last year or so, it’s nearly tripled for us. We’ve got a lot of guys on board for different buys and so forth – which we’re actually performing through Brandboom. Which is really cool. So, all that’s helped.
How do you use Brandboom and how does it fit into your business’ workflow?
Brandboom was the first adoption that Jaan Bhatia and I have put in place and it was nice to see the growth. Initially the sales guys were a little worried because some of them hadn’t touched Brandboom yet. Before Brandboom the sales guys were still sending out Excel spreadsheets, paper catalogs or pdf catalogs. I remember the adoption rate was a little low in the beginning but eventually it got quicker, especially with our large purchaser stores.
We’ve grown our E-commerce and social divisions quite a bit over the last few years. It used to be all freelance guys before they came in-house. We have a solid team now, including one of our old school guys, they upload images and everything to Shopify and our art and marketing department preps images for the website.
Since they already have the product descriptions, the skus and everything else it’s easy for them to switch to Brandboom to update products for our sales team. We’re able to save our sales guys time by not having them do data entry. Brandboom fits in well between those two departments, and now we’ve linked marketing, social and E-commerce together with sales which is a link that we were struggling to make before, and Brandboom helped with that.
What’s also great is that you guys integrated seamlessly with our ERP software. This helps tremendously with SKU’s, PO’s, SO’s, inventory, warehouse locations, wholesale order fulfillment, and pre-accounting software finance data.
What’s your favorite part about Brandboom?
The AutoMatch feature! As long as the guys upstairs in the design department label the jpegs correctly with the right skus you can match the images with the skus. It saves the guys a lot of time from having to eyeball images and drag them over and upload them and pair them with products. That’s probably the number one time saver here.
Where are you displaying or marketing your products?
We have Tilly’s, Zumiez and Pac Sun for the big box stuff, so they’ve got their displays in the stores. But we actually do quite a bit of displays even for the smaller stores that are selling quite a bit for us. Even though we are a brand that started in the West Coast we are continuing to globally grow.
How do you establish buyer relationships or find your buyers?
These days we actually get contacted a lot out of the blue. A lot of people contact us about sales, wholesale, consumer, and I pass that on to our sales team. It’s not a big part of our sales, but it just shows the growth. A lot of it is word of mouth. Like oh, so-and-so is selling Primitive, they’re doing really good, we want to do that too.