For certain young menswear fanatics, the gents behind Run of the Mill Shop are the Traveling Wilburys of the blogosphere: a supergroup of like-minded bloggers who came together to combine their powers for the greater good. Or in this case, for a slice of the ever-growing e-commerce pie. Jeremy Kirkland of Start with Typewriters, Jon Moy of Getting Beat Like You Stole Something and Lawrence Schlossman of Sartorially Inclined met through their individual online ventures and formed Run of the Mill Shop as a unique way to service the interests of consumers who, just like them, are constantly on the look out for quality products that no one else has. The shop launched in the spring of 2010 with exclusive pieces from Mark McNairy, and this season introduced a limited assortment of private label Run of the Mill shirts and shoes.
As their latest wares begin shipping to eager fans, I sat down with Jeremy, Jon and Lawrence for a round-table discussion to talk double monks, cashmere underwear and their picks for the finest brick-and-mortar shops. By “sat down for a round-table discussion,” I of course mean “emailed them.” They’re bloggers, guys.
SWIPELIFE: Hi guys. First of all, congrats on the success of ROTM. I thought I’d start this interview by asking the question that is on everyone’s mind: of the three of you, who do you think will be the first to Zuckerberg the others once ROTM really hits it big? [Ed. note: Lawrence, duh.]
JEREMY KIRKLAND: Yeah, definitely Lawrence. Good thing we got his signature to forge everything else! Though I hear Jon is starting another company that’s going to buy our company and dilute his shares.
JON MOY: Yeah, Lawrence might Zuckerberg us, but I’ve already Madoffed Jeremy and Lawrence.
LAWRENCE SCHLOSSMAN: This is actually a pretty relevant question considering I just wired my personal account all of our ROTM profits and am currently on my way to LA to start my own hip hop record label. I’m gonna call it Jew Boy Records.
SWIPELIFE: Well, good luck with that. You guys should rent Band of Brothers. Anyway, was e-commerce something you’d always been interested in or did it happen organically?
JK: Nope…e-commerce was never an idea, but we’re too poor for brick and mortar. It works well though, except PayPal is the Antichrist.
JM: Plus having an online shop lets us write things like “effortless,” “curate,” “quiet style” and “timeless” a lot.
LS: I was too busy writing about clothes on the internet to even think about selling shit.
SWIPELIFE: So given that this was new territory for all three of you, was there an existing business after which you modeled ROTM?
LS: I mean, there are a good amount of “blog shops” around now, but when we started there weren’t nearly as many. We just try to do our own thing and, luckily, people have responded to that.
SWIPELIFE: When I think of starting a new business (like my restaurant that only seats parties of one, called Maybe Next Year Bar & Grill), the first thing I immediately struggle with is simply where to begin — the logistics of it all can seem intimidating. Once the idea was conceived, how did you move forward with making it a reality?
JK: Honestly? We vetted the idea to a few folks wondering what reaction we would get. Andrew Chen from Self Edge and 3Sixteen was a huge encouragement. He’s was like, “Oh sure, you guys can totally do that!” We were like, “We can!? Oh right, WE CAN!”
JM: I definitely remember right after Jeremy, Lawrence, and I decided we should go through with it I had a small, fleeting “What did I just get myself into!?” moment. But, yeah, anyone who hates ROTM probably should send a letter to Mr. Chen. He’s been a constant source of encouragement. And also a great example of how a business should be run. To get the ball rolling though, we just hooked up with rich ladies to bank roll us. Sugar mommas are the new camo.
LS: I like to think we planned things out to the best of our ability. All that logistical stuff is important, but when you are working on a scale like we are, a lot of it is white noise. We didn’t overthink it, that’s for sure.
SWIPELIFE: So now the shop is open and you’ve been working together for some time. Even though your individual aesthetics seem to be relatively similar, you do all have strong personalities and opinions. How have you been able to bring that together to form a singular point of view for the ROTM brand? Do you each handle specific responsibilities?
JK: Most of it is collaborative. There have been a couple things and ideas where it came from [one] person, but everything has to get approved by everyone else. It actually keeps us form investing all of our money or time into one thing.
JM: I think our personal aesthetics are just similar enough to reach a consensus, but different enough to keep us from all liking the same exact things. Although now whenever making a decision I remember the sage words of Lawrence: “Sometimes, you can’t just listen to your heart.” I’d say it’s definitely collaborative more than anything else. With just 3 of us, we kind of have to wear several different hats to make it all work.
SWIPELIFE: I’m still wiping down my Twitter feed from the giant mensweargasm that erupted when you first released images of your private label pieces. Were you surprised by the response?
JK: Totally. I think we were just hoping we could sell a couple of pairs. We used to mail most of it out of my office. With the most recent orders, it looks like we gotta figure something else out. Good problems to have. We’re just blessed to be able to sell and share the stuff we love.
JM: I was completely surprised by the reception. I mean, I knew we liked the stuff a lot, but sometimes it’s hard to tell how people will react. All I can say is I’m really happy people are as excited as we are.
LS: Yeah, that shit was mindblowing and absolutely, 100% humbling. We love our customers.
SWIPELIFE: ROTM is an online business and you three are pretty entrenched in the blogosphere, supplemented by the likes of Twitter, Tumblr, ChatRoulette, OK Cupid, etc. Are you ever tempted to just unplug and open up a little stand selling double monks on the street? In other words, do you long for the human touch? From a business perspective, of course.
JK: There are A TON of stores that know how to be a store, y’know? They know how to merchandise and create a great vibe. Our store would probably just be the old set of Happy Days with free soda and grilled cheese. I think for now we’d rather leave it to everyone else. But…some shops might be selling our shoes soon.
JM: Oh, you didn’t know? I push double monks and cutaways out the trunk of my car, too. Come down to Detroit, I’m set up next to the dude who sells nag champa and phallic wooden sculptures. There are moments where I flirt with the idea of a brick and mortar shop for Run of the Mill. It would be great, and it would be fun to get to actually have face to face conversations with our customers. But then I realize we would use the space to just sit around and goof off.
LS: I’d love to meet and chat with more of our customers. I mean, the guys who buy ROTM gear are, as I would imagine, more or less like us. Hopefully someday we can get face to face with those who put their money up in support of us to not only show our gratitude, but to nerd out over monk strap buckles.
SWIPELIFE: On that note, let’s bring it into the brick and mortar world for a second. What are some of your favorite shops?
JK: Goose Barnacle, Bergdorf Goodman, Sid Mashburn and Union in LA.
JM: Self Edge, CHCM, 45 rpm, BEAMS, De Corato, and Hot Topic.
LS: Damn, being the last one to answer this question is like having the last pick in dodgeball. Only the fat, un-athletic kids are left.
SWIPELIFE: Well, this has been fun. I feel like I should end with a question like, “What’s next for ROTM?” But, if you’d prefer to use this as an opportunity to get something off your chest or speak your mind, by all means do so. There’s no time like the present.
JK: Organic beef jerky and cashmere underwear (in that order).
JM: I’ve been working for the past few years on the ultimate Shape Ups collaboration. And I want to bring back Starter jackets. But really, there’s nothing like eating organic beef jerky in cashmere underwear. Don’t knock it till you try it.
LS: I guess I’ll be the one dude to answer this seriously, goddammit. Speaking on behalf of myself, and myself alone, one of my dreams is to have a brick and mortar ROTM men’s shop here in NYC [single tear runs down cheek].
VISIT: RUN OF THE MILL