Archive for August, 2012
On Saturday, August 25, 2012, I attended a trunk sale at D-Structure, a clothing boutique and art gallery at 520 Haight Street in San Francisco, California USA.
Modify Industries, Inc. was the guest of honor at this trunk sale, showing their fashionable colorful Modify Watches brand wrist watches. The vibe at this trunk show was outstanding, due in part to the trendy location of D-Structure, between Mad Dog in the Fog at 530 Haight Street and Cafe International at 508 Haight Street, in the Lower Haight neighborhood.
I got to meet Devon Chulick, one of the co-owners of D-Structure.
Chulick told me that Aaron Schwartz came into his store to propose that D-Structure carry the Modify line.
Schwartz is the CEO of Modify Industries, and I didn’t know he made sales calls like this. Chulick told me he is totally bombarded with pitches from companies asking his store to carry their products, so Schwartz had to clear a high bar to get his product into D-Structure, which, from what I can tell, is well curated for its location and apparent target customers.
Schwartz, Chulick and Ayo Oluwole are pictured together above. Each is wearing a Modify Watches watch.
Oluwole is the VP of Marketing for Modify Watches. He used to live in New York where he did marketing for true luxury brands like Salvator Ferragamo. At Modify, I see evidence of Oluwole’s past experience with luxury goods — even his business car looks luxurious, with one rounded corner and muted pastel colors.
Schwartz is a great salesman, once selling thousands of watches to a Silicon Valley company that’s known world wide after he was randomly seated on an airplane flight next to a buyer from that company.
The watches are named Modify Watches because they are so easy to modify, without tools. The strap is made of soft and pliable silicone rubber, so one may take out the hard plastic time piece just by pushing it out of the strap. In the photograph above, you can see two complete watches on the left, and an empty watch band on the right, with the time piece sitting next to it. The time pieces and straps come in small and large — for women and men. The straps come in dozens of colors and the time piece inserts come in dozens of designs. Companies can order custom faces for the time pieces, in quantities as small as 200, the last time I heard. The swap-ability of the straps and time pieces gives buyers more fashion looks for less money. Modify Watches are simply fun, so I can see people buying them even if they carry a mobile phone, which, after all, is close to carrying an atomic clock in your pocket, because cell phones would not function if not for the extreme precision of the clocks the carriers use to make cell phone networks operate.
I’ve written about Modify Watches brand watches before, so I’ll tell you a bit about D-Structure. The store is beautiful — hip, quirky, warm and energetic. There was a quality DJ on hand for the event, and the sound system had quite good fidelity, and was loud enough to make you feel like music is a key element of the marketing strategy for the venue. It wasn’t loud like a nightclub, but it wasn’t soft either. It made the event feel like a real event, not a sales pitch.
Devin Hexner, an intern at Modify Watches, kept busy, and seemed to be doing a good job. I overheard him talking to some fans who work at a big national retailer, and Hexner sure looked like he was making a good impression, from all the smiles and laughter I saw.
I met a lot of people at the event. I spoke for a bit with Julia Garcia and her friend Shane Rand, pictured above. Garcia introduced herself to me because I had on my crushed red velvet sports jacket I got at a pop up sale for 90% off its original eye popping four figure price. I almost didn’t buy that jacket because I worried it would make me look like a young Hugh Hefner. I am thankful I bought it, since I have never owned an article of clothing that has garnered more compliments.
I would love to conduct one of my photoshoots of models in this store, with the model or models wearing some of the outfits the store has for sale. The location is very photogenic, as you can see in the photographs that I took that illustrate this post. Garcia and Rand are photogenic, so perhaps I can photograph them in the store, if they find this post and are interested.
Hana Alyssa Sidia and Mary Frances Knapp, the only two models I introduced myself to at the event, are photogenic, and I would enjoy having a chance to photograph them properly, with my lights and reflectors.
This trunk show was at night and I used only the ambient light available. This means I had to choose an ISO setting of 4,000, so these pictures are more grainy than usual. I upload my photographs at full camera resolution of 21 megapixels. To see the full size versions, click on the pictures twice in delayed succession.
The artwork is interesting — not something I would buy for my home, but it was engaging and fun. Totally appropriate and it improved the aesthetic of the shop. I especially liked the ‘antiques’ on display as decoration, including several manual typewriters from 50 or 75 years ago, and several cameras from the same time period.
Yellow 108 brand hats looked great. I need to get into wearing hats.
Look, a Schneider-Kreuznach lens on a camera that didn’t display its own brand where I could see it. I love old cameras.
Modify Watches are water resistant, a point hammered home by the three watches on display in a bowl of water, above.
Modify Industries is on a roll. I enjoy attending their events. Schwartz has allowed me to borrow some of his company’s products, which I have some of the models I work with wear on camera. I will return all these watches, and I did not write this or any post about Modify in exchange for this loan. Schwartz is my friend, and I like writing about companies where I know the founder or founders. I make this disclosure because it may be legally required.
Modify Watches retail launch party at Hangr 16 boutique in San Francisco, California USA, August 9, 2012
On Thursday, August 9, 2012 I attended the retail launch party for Modify Industries, Inc.
Modify Industries is the company behind the colorful and fashionable silicone rubber Modify Watches brand watches that feature time pieces that without tools may be interchanged between bands. You can see people wearing Modify Watches in the top three photographs that illustrate this post. The watches come in two sizes. There are dozens of time pieces and dozens of straps (bands) to select from.
Modify Watches was a finalist competitor in the 2012 Berkeley Startup Competition at the University of California. That competition is very competitive, and it’s very difficult to become a finalist, as there are only eight per year, while most years more than 100 teams apply to compete.
I am friends with Modify CEO Aaron Schwartz.
Modify has focused its attention on eCommerce sales and enterprise sales. It has achieved impressive success in both areas, selling to big companies including Google.
Now Modify is moving into retail by selling to boutique retailers.
One such boutique is Hangr 16 at 3128 16th Street in San Francisco, California USA, near Valencia Street. Hangr 16 carries the Modify line of products. The store’s energetic and charismatic buyer, Liddy Parlato, decided to sell Modify’s eye catching line after she opened an email targeted to her store from the company. Parlato told me she gets 30 pitches a day by email. Parlato’s store is spare and elegant, with a well curated selection. It’s not jammed with hundreds of product lines like many boutiques. Thus, Parlato’s decision to carry Modify’s products is a win for Schwartz and his team. Parlato is one of four owners of Hanger 16. She comes from a background in advertising, not retail.
While researching this blog post, I learned that Hangr 16 was voted the Best Clothing Store for Men by readers of the San Francisco Bay Guardian weekly newspaper. That makes the store’s decision to sell Modify Watches all the more special.
Abie Hadjitarkhani and Nathan Dintenfass attended the launch party. I know Dintenfass from the Haas School of Business at the University of California Berkeley. I met him while he was getting his Masters of Business Administration degree. I participate in many events at Haas to help the students and by extension The Lester Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Dintenfass and Hadjitarkhani run Hotel Delta, a boutique consultancy that helps entrepreneurs create great products.
Hotel Delta produces the Products are Hard conference.
Nathan Dintenfass is one of the smartest entrepreneurs I know. I have spent hours listening to him advise startups, and his wisdom is evident and deep.
Congratulations to Schwartz and his impressive team at Modify Industries. I predict great things to come.
I took the pictures that accompany this post. I uploaded them at full camera resolution of 21 megapixels. Click on them in delayed succession to see the full size versions, which are larger than your screen.
Legal disclosure — Schwartz let me borrow six of his company’s watches so that I may photograph them being worn by the female models I photograph. I pursue photography as a hobby, and do not charge for my work, so perhaps this disclosure is not legally required. To cover my bases, I am disclosing this loan. I proposed this arrangement, not Schwartz. I would have written this post even if Schwartz did not let me borrow any watches. I will return the watches to Schwartz once I photograph them with some additional models.