Tuesday, November 3, 2015

This Brand Really Does Know “Shit From Shinola”

Here’s a great story about a brand that is upscale, local, made in Detroit, and using storytelling to engage with the upscale consumer. What could be better?
Refreshingly, this is not a “comeback” story about Detroit. We’ve all seen the sad pictorials of abandoned factories and blighted neighborhoods. And we’ve read all about what went wrong with Detroit in books like Charlie LeDuff’s Detroit:An American Autopsy.
It is not a story about a brand that is merely using Detroit as a backdrop for their new hipster campaign while sending the manufacturing offshore. 
No, the Shinola brand story is about successful entrepreneurs who are making upscale products and creating jobs in Detroit. Participating in the “maker movement,” which supports artisans who make handcrafted, small-batch goods, Shinola’s stores host exhibits and events to offer a platform for American-made goods.
Shinola’s founder, Tom Kartsotis, and current CEO, Steve Bock, both have roots in the watch business. Kartsotis founded Fossil Inc. in 1984 and Bock is a former Fossil executive. The pair wanted to bring Swiss-based watch technology to the U.S., and build a company that also would produce other design-focused products stateside, such as bicycles and journals. Their mojo is working overtime, as they seduce luxury retail buyers with their brand story.
Also, the name itself is a kind of ‘in your face’ departure for products that are pricey. Yes, it comes from the saying, “You don’t know shit from Shinola.” Shinola, as it turns out, was a brand of shoe polish that was sold from 1907 to 1960. You learn something every day.

Read the full story by Christine Birkner

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