State of Proper had the opportunity to chat with Ben Meredith, the owner of Starboard Clothing Co. Something people overlook when buying clothes is connecting with the brand, and just buy what is popular. We hope you enjoy listening and learning about how Ben started, developed, and branded his own company.
Proper: Tell us a little about yourself.
Ben: My name is Benjamin Howard Meredith. I’m an attorney here in Maryland and am the owner of Starboard Clothing Co. I am also one of the co-founders of Bowties and Boatshoes. Both Starboard Clothing Co. and Bowties and Boatshoes were founded with the idea of providing East Coast Style centered around our Annapolis roots.
Proper: We heard you made your own bowties, tell us about that.
Ben: I sort of started Starboard by accident. Originally, I was making bowties for myself. I had taken a look at some handmade ties to review for Bows and Boats and thought, “I can do this…”
I found an antique Singer sewing machine that was in working condition and bought it for 40 dollars. Over the course of the next few weeks, I taught myself how to sew from a variety of sources ranging from the internet and my grandmother. Eventually, I made a few bows that were of the quality that I thought could be worn out in public.
Proper: So how did that start Starboard Clothing Co.?
Ben: Well, the reason I had been making ties for myself was so that I could wear them to work. When I finally managed some that were quality, I decided to wear them into the office. I had people inquire about them and when I explained that I had made them myself, some people offered to buy them from me.
At first I was hesitant, specifically because I didn’t want to sell something if I wasn’t sure of the quality, but after about a week of contemplation I started selling them to friends. I put up a website to be able to easily sell them through Paypal and that’s when things changed. We started getting orders from all over the place and things took off from there.
Proper: Why should customers choose your brand?
Ben: In my opinion, most brands start to fall short on quality, customer service, or occasionally both. It’s an unfortunate situation because there are people out there who think branding is more important than the quality of what you sell or responding to customers. We do our best to provide excellent customer service and quality products. Our theory is that if you do it right, people will appreciate it and support your company.
Proper: Where can our viewers buy your clothing?
Ben: We now have two retailers: Laurence Clothing in Annapolis and The Quinntessential Gentleman in Baltimore. In addition, we’ve continued to have direct sales right off the Starboard Clothing Co. website.
Proper: College kids are always looking to become a campus rep. Do you do anything like this?
Ben: We’re currently in the process of developing a campus rep program in earnest. At this point we’re so small that we don’t really have the budget to give away merchandise or promotional materials.
I have accepted some private emails as what essentially are applications. I figured most people that took the time to email me without a rep program in place are truly interested in helping with the branding aspect of the company. The problem is that some people take a campus rep position and use it as a status thing or just to get free stuff. Hopefully when we do launch the representative program, we’ll be able to recruit some genuine people to help us move the brand forward.
Proper: Thanks a lot for taking time to talk with us. Lastly, where can you be reached with inquires about Starboard Clothing Co.?
Ben: Feel free to take a look at the ‘Contact’ page on our website or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks for the opportunity to be featured on your site.