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Tiffany Montgomery
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Sullen focuses on Ts instead of cut and sew

By Tiffany Montgomery
June 03, 2008 6:03 AM

I had an interesting conversation the other day with Jeremy Hanna, Sullen's co-founder and director of marketing and sales, that offers a window into how a small brand is making adjustments in a tough economy.


Sullen is still growing rapidly - in the first quarter, sales doubled. But the company has rethought its business plan given the economic changes.


A year ago, Sullen was jumping into cut and sew with shorts, denim and fleece, categories it didn't have tons of experience in. The management team is now focusing on art-driven T-shirts, hats and accessories - "What we are good at," Jeremy said. The company is also still selling a few boardshorts and custom fleece for winter.


"We're being very cautious," he said. "We don't want to make any wrong moves."


Sullen noticed that buyers' orders were changing and they were looking for items that can refresh shoppers' wardrobes inexpensively.


Sullen is now offering 50 men's T's and 15 women's T's in its line. Sullen is also keeping track of trends and incorporating important ones - like color - without changing its identity, Jeremy said.


Though Sullen's nine full-time employees are squeezed into its Irvine headquarters, the company decided to hold off moving to a bigger warehouse for another six months to see how the economy shakes out.


Jeremy and co-founder Ryan Smith brought on an investor about a year and half ago with a background in textiles to help with infrastructure.


International sales are doing well, and East Coast sales in the U.S. are also growing rapidly, Jeremy said. Sullen's largest accounts are Tilly's, PacSun and Zumiez. Jeremy did not want to disclose an exact revenue figure, but said Sullen hopes sales will reach $3 million to $5 million this year.

 


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