candlesCircling back with three start-ups that celebrated milestones in recent weeks, Modern Fellows looks into life after successful Kickstarter campaigns and how to build a community in the global digital marketplace:

Peter Field Custom Clothing: On March 3, Nicholas Monterotti celebrated a successful Kickstarter funding project for his Chicago-based start-up Peter Field, raising $17,600 for a new venture that makes custom-tailored, Made-in-America neckties, bowties and pocket squares.  Looking ahead, Nicholas reports that the company will move into new space in the next 2-4 weeks, likely in The Loop, and begin building out their production process.  The plan is to hire one or more tailors and upgrade machinery to complete the Kickstarter orders and to develop and launch a new website to better handle online orders for custom pieces.  From there, the company will look to add additional products including custom vests and slacks.

American Trench: Philadelphia-area entrepreneurs Jacob Hurwitz and David Neill also completed a successful Kickstarter campaign, raising over $19,000 for their start-up American Trench in January.  Jacob visited Washington recently and brought along one of the company’s signature trench coats, an impressive piece that features expensive fabrics and quality construction.  The founders are already looking ahead to manufacturing a broader range of products, including socks and hats.  They are also wrestling with several critical decisions, including evaluating the right partnerships and distribution channels as well sizing and fit (the trench is aggressively cut).

Black Lapel: Online custom suit-maker Black Lapel, meanwhile, celebrated its first anniversary in February, releasing a year-in-review in the form of the data-driven graphic below. In their first year of operation, the team at Black Lapel has used impressive graphic and website designs, built credibility through a consistent focus on quality content and advice via The Compass, effectively used social media tools like Twitter, and benefited from largely positive reviews from bloggers and customers across online platforms. Their anniversary graphic captures their voice, demonstrates a sense of humor, and alludes to an impressive statistic about the global reach of online firms: The company sold suits to customers in 66 countries since it was founded. Next up for Black Lapel? Hopping on the double-breasted suit bandwagon.

The ability to do business online requires more than hanging a digital shingle, particularly in a field such as custom clothing where consumers are looking for some level of trust and comfort in the ability of a company — which they are likely never to visit in person — to deliver a garment or accessory that meets their expectations of appearance, sizing, fit, and quality.  Black Lapel in particular has created a digital community via content, peer reviews and social media that offers a level of trust and confidence for potential customers who might be skeptical about purchasing clothes online.

Similarly, Kickstarter’s platform provides the chance for start-ups to tell their story and generate some buzz and media attention, as the experiences of American Trench and Peter Field illustrate.

As for those Kickstarter successes, Peter Field highlighted some interesting statistics about the platform: the average success rate for all Kickstarter projects is around 43%, but only 27% of fashion projects have been funded — and of more than 700 successful fashion projects, less than 200 raised over $10,000. American Trench and Peter Field deserve credit for generating the interest, relationships and media that helped their ideas succeed.

Photo credits: Candles via flickr/gotbrimmed; Black Lapel graphic courtesy of Black Lapel.

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