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Jedidiah owner on cause-driven business model

By Shelby Stanger
March 16, 2011 8:12 AM

 

Kevin Murray, owner of Jedidiah, talks about the brand, its biggest customers, his graphics and printables company and how he plans to use social responsibility to create a new way of doing business in the apparel industry.

 

How is Jedidiah doing these days? How is business? How has the economy impacted the brand?

We are still here! It has been tough at times, but I believe all the companies who have survived the past few years will be stronger and better having weathered the storm.

 

Like most apparel companies, we took a shock to the system in 2008. We lost about 40% of our wholesale customer base over a three-month period of time from either bankruptcies or credit related issues.

 

However, 2010 was encouraging.

 

We bounced back and grew 21% in revenue and we are projecting another 25% growth this year.

 

I don’t think the overall retail storm is over, so we are being cautious in our growth models and in choosing new retail partners.

 

How big is Jedidiah now? How many employees? How many doors?

Jedidiah TWe are projecting $3 million in sales this year, with eight staff members selling into about 350 doors.

 

You also own KJM Screen Printing. How much a part of your overall business is Jedidiah compared to KJM and what do you do at KJM?

KJM Enterprises is a screen printing company that I started when I was 23 out of my garage. For the first 10 years we built the company around contract screen printing for other people.

 

But about 15 years ago we started our journey of building a direct to retail manufacturing business.

 

Today we print almost exclusively for ourselves through a network of licenses, private label programs and house brands, which we sell into mid-level mass merchants like JCPenney, Sears and others.

 

Jedidiah board shortJedidiah has been developed out of this existing infrastructure.

 

I wanted a way to use our knowledge in art design, manufacturing and distribution to be able to create a brand that had an embedded generosity model. Jedidiah is 25% of our overall business and we plan to leverage the Jedidiah philosophy by doing more programs built around a charity model.

 

What's new in the line?

For Spring 2011, it is 17” board shorts and an extended custom knit collection. Fall 2011, we will showcase a few new great jackets and the best graphic collection we have ever created.

 

What categories are the biggest for you?

We are an art-based brand, so graphic tees still drive the business, but we are also creating a niche for some great cut-and-sew pieces, such as our popular jackets, which were spotted on members of the cast of Glee, Modern Family, 90210 and more this winter.

 

Are your products all made locally or overseas?

 

Our tees and knits are all made domestically and printed at KJM. Board shorts, jackets and non-printables are all done offshore.

 

Who are some of your most important retail partners?

On a national level, Nordstrom has been important. However, their consolidation of going back to one buying office made it difficult to gain traction last year. That being said, we just had a great meeting with them and think we may be able to get in to all-store buys rather than just regional buys. We are hopeful to continue to build our business with them.

 

We also love to work with The Buckle. They have been a good partner for us and they believe in who we are and what we do as a company.

 

On the specialty store level, we have been gaining good traction. We have added about 35 new accounts for Spring 2011 from both the West Coast and East Coast. Some of the retailers we added locally this season include: Sun Diego, K5 and Spyder.

 

See Page 2 for international business and philanthropy

 

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