Collagen embedded in fabric - a fashion collection from Buki is meant to let ...
If you've recently embraced the health trend of drinking collagen for stronger bones, don't feel so hip just yet. One clothing company wa...
People want to wear clothes that feel incredibly comfortable but look stylish and are easy to take care of. Typically, they need to choose between “Performance” clothing, which is usually athletic, athleisure, or active silhouettes, or “Luxury” clothing, which are beautiful, but expensive. There isn’t a luxury clothing brand that offers consumers desk-to-dinner styles with performance qualities...until now.
US fashion trends have fundamentally become more casual, driving a growing athleisure market, but consumers are demanding more than ‘sweats’.
There are other clothing brands doing ‘technical’ clothing, but not in the luxury space, and not as a full clothing collection for men and women.
As a result, the $292B US apparel market is void of a high-end clothing collection that offers performance qualities in desk-to-dinner silhouettes.
People want to wear comfortable clothes that can take them from desk-to-dinner. With the benefit of innovation, and technology, Buki makes that possible.
Technology is improving every aspect of our everyday lives, and your clothes are no exception. We craft what we think is the world's most comfortable clothes by combining state-of-the-art fiber technology with luxurious fabrics. Our seasonless collection of wardrobe staples are great for travel, and even better for everyday.
Buki performs unlike anything you've ever experienced because it is crafted with our proprietary state-of-the-art Japanese fiber technology, Kinoki-3.0™:
We believe in “Fabrics First” and design our collections around our proprietary fabrics that perform: from keeping you warm, to cooling you down, and even softening your skin...Buki is a Wardrobe Revolution.
Co-Founders Joey Rodolfo and Stacy Bennett, seasoned industry executives, had a dream of creating the world's most comfortable clothing collection and Buki is turning that dream into a reality.
Rodolfo developed our proprietary fiber technology, Kinoki-3.0™, with the leading fiber innovation company in the world (located in Japan), and designed the collections around the innovative fabrics.
Bennett heads up the company’s marketing and operations efforts and together they are a dynamic duo that is passionate about innovating the apparel market with technology.
They opened a Pop-Up Shop downtown Seattle in November 2016 to test the concept and it was quickly a hit; the Seattle store has become their Flagship location and they are now carried in 65 high-end retail boutiques around the country.
Since launch, Buki has gotten great traction in their Seattle retail store, on their website, and in high-end specialty boutiques across the country.
We believe in the retail channel as a way to bring our collection to life; customers benefit from experiencing our revolutionary technical fabrics to fully appreciate them. And the true epiphany happens when they try them on and experience fabrics that they’ve never experienced before (because we’ve developed all of them).
The real testament is in wearing Buki over time; 70% of our sales are from repeat customers. Once you wear Buki, it’s all you want to wear. And our price points range from $98-248 so it’s accessible to build a capsule collection of comfort.
We’re planning to further develop our business into three primary channels:
Partners/Events: We are exploring several creative strategies to increase Brand Awareness and Sales with additional retail outlets: Corporate Pop-Ups (Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, etc) and B8ta Retail Stores.
Our desk-to-dinner technical clothing is very appealing to corporate tech employees and we were invited by Facebook HQ to host a Pop-Up Event at their Silicon Valley corporate headquarters; we are actively pursuing these type of corporate events.
We are a featured vendor partner at B8ta retail locations in Chicago, San Francisco, Houston, and New Jersey. The Impressions and Discoveries that we receive in their retail stores are of scalable volume with great synergy between our target customer and their target customer. Targeting $1M in sales in year 5.
Buki focuses on well-educated, well-traveled, and well-employed consumers who appreciate luxury, comfort, and style.
While we are targeting the $292B US apparel market, we keep our eye on the $46B athleisure market because of the comfort and easy-care factors. The comfort of Buki’s clothing is on par with athleisure, but the desk-to-dinner style is categorized in the Apparel market proper.
Our strategy is to introduce our clothing collection into their shopping path via their favorite high-end specialty retail boutique (our own stand-alone Pop-Up or via a retail partner) and by becoming a go-to clothing solution for their weekday, weekend, travel, and work.
Other brands are doing ‘technical’ clothing, but not in the luxury space, and not as a full clothing collection for men and women.
Most competitive fabrics that are marketed as ‘technical’ are simple polyester stretch with little to no technical function. All of our Buki technical fabrics are created with state-of-the-art fiber technology that outperforms other “performance” fabrics; plus, they are all sustainable and machine-washable (no dry-cleaner, no iron!)
We tested the waters with a Kickstarter campaign in 2017, but our fundraising journey really begins here at Republic. Joey and Stacy have personally invested over $500,000 to kick things off and prove the concept. Buki has obtained a $150K small business loan and has $292K cash in the bank. Conversations about potential future funding are underway with high profile individuals.
Our launch was a success and customers are loving the comfort, style, and ease of our luxury technical clothing: we’ve created our most innovative fabric yet in our Collagen Collection and we’re ready to expand into the high-end wholesale market this year, including spas and resorts.
May 2016: Finalize technical fabric development
Nov 2016: Launch Pop-Up Shop & website
March 2018: Buki gifted to all NFL owners/wives
June 2018: Launch Collagen Collection
December 2018: Reach $775K in sales
2019: Grow Wholesale
If we reach our goal of $107,000, we will be able to fund more aggressive sales and marketing programs to further accelerate our growth in 2019.
Joey and Stacy are passionate about how technology drives innovation. Joey was inspired by Richard Hellmstetter, the inventor of the Big Bertha, at Callaway who provided the design direction, “Design clothes like they’re equipment.” And Joey has designed clothes to function and perform FIRST, ever since. Stacy was influenced by her time at Clarisonic, a category creating device which was the perfect intersection of beauty and technology. She sees a similarity to Buki, which is targeting to be the leading ‘technical clothing’ brand in the world by intersecting technology and clothing.
Together, we can transform how people dress from desk to dinner. Thank you for your support.
- Joey & Stacy
The smallest investment amount that Buki is accepting.
Buki needs to reach their minimum funding goal before
the deadline. If they don’t, all investments will be refunded.
The Crowd SAFE is an agreement for future equity in the startup,
meaning that it can convert to equity in the future.
The Crowd SAFE is an agreement for future equity in the startup, meaning that it can convert to equity in the future.
$25,000 – $107,000
Buki needs to raise
before the deadline. The maximum amount Buki is willing
to raise is $107K.
We are using Republic's Crowd SAFE security. Learn how this translates into a return on investment here.
Speaker 1: Straight from Silicon Valley, three generations of venture capitalists and one guest judge equals ...
Panel: Meet the Drapers!
Tim Draper: Imagine that. They wanted another season.
Speaker 1: Entrepreneurs pitch ...
Speaker 4: Billion dollars lost every year.
Speaker 5: We were both wandering aimlessly.
Speaker 1: The judges ask the questions.
Tim Draper: So what's special about you guys?
Sanjay Nath: Where will this stay on your platform?
Speaker 1: But here is the twist. You the viewers get to invest for equity. This is your chance to own a piece of the next big idea. To invest in a company, go to meetthedrapers.com, find them in this week's entrepreneurs, and you can invest. You can share in their future success. At the end of the season, the entrepreneurs with the most funds raised are brought back for the season finale where Tim Draper invests in his favorite company.
Bill Draper: Become an entrepreneur because it's easy to get money, and that didn't happen at Wall Street.
Speaker 1: Let the games begin.
Tim Draper: Welcome back to Meet the Drapers. I'm really thrilled to be introducing our judges today. Our judges are Bill Draper, my father, a great pioneer in venture capital, and my team. Siri Srinivas. She is awesome and does amazing work at Draper Associates. And Andy Tang, also amazing work at Draper Associates. He actually kind of runs the business of Draper Associates and Draper University and all of the operations. And for today, we've always talked about what entrepreneurs should do, but now we're gonna talk a little bit about what they shouldn't do. What do you think an entrepreneur shouldn't do?
Andy Tang: So little things I pick up, the team dynamics. We have seen business not go well when the founders don't get along. So sometimes we ask them how long they've worked together. Some of the things they do you can kind of pick up on that if they talk over each other or start disagreeing in front of the investors. So that's immediately a no no.
Tim Draper: Yeah. They've gotta be better coordinated. And also having faith in each other. They'll fight because they don't trust each other with their job, whatever the job is. How about you Siri?
Siri Srinivas: I think the biggest thing I tell founders is to treat fundraising as a sales process. Just like you wouldn't really get angry with your customer for not buying your product, you can't take fundraising decisions too personally. Most times people get really defensive or get very personal, especially when they get rejected, which is kind of silly because you want to have a longterm relationship with all of your perspective investors. We're always looking to see if a company's a fit for us. So treat the entire thing like a sales process.
Tim Draper: Yeah. And think of it as a process where you're visiting one venture capitalists and you give this pitch and then you get a little bit of feedback and you move to the next one and you have a new sales pitch and a new one and a new one. It's not a surprise that Sun Microsystems got the funding on their 21st pitch. And when we funded Hotmail it was on his 25th pitch. It's a natural process. You're getting better. It's hard to tell a young kid how much if you practice over and over, you're gonna get better. But they don't really feel that way. And same with entrepreneurs. They don't really feel like they're gonna get better. They just say, "Here's my business. So why aren't you investing?"
Andy Tang: You almost wanna start with the low probability in investors first [crosstalk 00:03:57] the best for last.
Tim Draper: You wanna start with your spouse. They're the most honest with you.
Bill Draper: I've served in a lot of boards, and the biggest mistake in that relationship is for the entrepreneur to be carrying some bad news and not tell the board right away. So that is my biggest concern about what an entrepreneur should not do.
Tim Draper: Something else that sort of strikes me is show how excited you are about your business and show why it is that you're uniquely qualified for this business [crosstalk 00:04:32].
Bill Draper: You know, thinking about all those entrepreneurs that we've been talking to, the ones that stand out are those that had enthusiasm, energy, totally convinced that they were on the best horse in the game and they were gonna win the race.
Tim Draper: With that, let's bring on some entrepreneurs.
Bill Draper: Good idea.
Tim Draper: But first, let's see what's going on behind the scenes.
Stacy Bennett: I'm Stacy Bennett, co-founder and COO of Buki.
Joey Rodolfo: Hi, I'm Joey Rodolfo, co-founder and designer of Buki.
Stacy Bennett: We actually met when we both worked at an apparel company based out of Seattle. I was in the marketing department.
Joey Rodolfo: And I ran the design department for a big brand. And so I've been doing this for 35 years designing men's and women's apparel.
Stacy Bennett: My background's actually in marketing. I've been a marketing executive for about 20 years. I love brands and I love brand marketing and I love bringing the right product to the right person at the right time.
Joey Rodolfo: I had an idea and have been really focused apparel technology and fiber technology specifically and what was happening in Japan with fiber technology. We decided that we would venture out.
Stacy Bennett: Kind of make our mark on the world. We're really excited. I don't feel nervous. I just really excited to get out there and share our story with the Draper family. We're hoping that introducing the Drapers to Buki will create big opportunities to help us reach our goal of introducing Buki as a global brand. Everyone can discover the wardrobe revolution.
Tim Draper: Welcome to Meet the Drapers. Give us your pitch.
Stacy Bennett: Thank you.
Joey Rodolfo: Thank you.
Stacy Bennett: I'm Stacy Bennett, co-founder and COO of Buki.
Joey Rodolfo: I'm Joey Rodolfo, designer and co-founder of Buki.
Tim Draper: Are you moving in?
Stacy Bennett: Do you have any openings?
Tim Draper: You brought your whole closet. Okay, go ahead. Sorry.
Stacy Bennett: No, that's fine. At Buki we're creating a wardrobe revolution with our collection of luxurious technical clothing that can take you from desk to dinner, and it's all machine washable.
Joey Rodolfo: Unlike other brands out there, all of our fabrics are sustainably made.
Stacy Bennett: So we make about 10 different fabrics, and they range from producing benefits such as thermal regulation, keeping you at the perfect body temperature when it's cold outside, to a hybrid technology that adjusts to your body temperature.
Tim Draper: Do you own the technology or are you distributors?
Joey Rodolfo: No. We don't own the technology. We actually own the secret sauce that we use in putting all of our fabrics together.
Bill Draper: Tell a little bit about the secret sauce. We're on television. You could tell the world.
Joey Rodolfo: Sure.
Bill Draper: All the secrets.
Tim Draper: It's no longer a secret sauce.
Joey Rodolfo: There's a lot that goes into making fabrics. Obviously it's the technology behind the knitting that's a secret and also the way we blend these fibers. We bring the fibers in from Japan, and then we blend it with other fibers to create our own fabrics. The most important thing is that we do not use chemicals in finishing our fabrics.
Stacy Bennett: We launched the brand in late 2016 with a pop up store downtown Seattle, and it was quickly apparent that people love Buki. Our average order size is consistently $400, and our returning customer rate is 67%. So when people discover Buki, they love Buki. So we believe in the retail channel as a way to create an immersive customer experience where people can touch and feel and really discover the brand.
Stacy Bennett: Additionally, we're sold in about 62 high end specialty retail boutiques around the country. It's been really successful, and we foresee opening several more. So we did $845000 in our first year, and we're on track to do $1.3 million this year.
Tim Draper: Does it feel different?
Stacy Bennett: Yes.
Joey Rodolfo: Absolutely.
Stacy Bennett: Yes.
Joey Rodolfo: You can feel the fabrics. Please. [crosstalk 00:08:05] Come on up.
Tim Draper: [crosstalk 00:08:05] Why don't we just come up. You guys wanna try this?
Joey Rodolfo: Come on up and feel the different fabrics [crosstalk 00:08:10].
Tim Draper: Oh, this is very soft.
Joey Rodolfo: Very soft. And then you have to feel our collagen fabric.
Tim Draper: So it doesn't feel consistent. It feels like they're [crosstalk 00:08:17].
Joey Rodolfo: They're all different fabrics.
Bill Draper: They're very different. Yeah.
Joey Rodolfo: Well, there's 10 different fabrics that we've developed. Each fabric has a different range of benefits.
Tim Draper: Here, we'll let you get back to your ...
Joey Rodolfo: So with the different range of benefits, we've created a desk to dinner wardrobe. Part of our secret sauce as I mentioned is the knitting equipment that it takes to knit fabrics the way we're knitting them. 50, 60 year old knitting machines are embedded in every factory. Ours are state of the art knitting equipment that we use. [crosstalk 00:08:46]
Tim Draper: Your sales are $1.3 million. Are you making a profit or are you losing?
Stacy Bennett: We are just breaking even.
Tim Draper: And how have you been financed so far?
Joey Rodolfo: We financed it-
Stacy Bennett: Ourselves.
Joey Rodolfo: Ourselves. We've put in about just over a million dollars of our own money. We wanted to get this thing far enough to be able to get our brand out there. I'm not sure you're familiar with Cutter and Buck. I was a co-founder [crosstalk 00:09:08] and took Cutter and Buck public, so I've done this before with brands.
Tim Draper: What was your role at Cutter and Buck?
Joey Rodolfo: I was the co-founder of Cutter and Buck, and I designed the entire brand.
Bill Draper: How do you divide up your work between the two of you?
Stacy Bennett: Part of what we wanna do with raising funds is we wanna hire a CEO. Because right now I play the role of the COO and CMO, and Joey plays the role of the president and designer.
Joey Rodolfo: Yeah. We know we need a global strategist CEO because we see this as a global opportunity with our brand. When I was with Tommy Bahama I could see how important it was to have that visionary person that's thinking way ahead that understands the licensing part of a brand.
Stacy Bennett: So I've been a marketing executive for 20 years. Worked for Amazon.com. Launched their direct mail program way back in the day. Worked for Nordstrom. Ran their database marketing department. And so I really ... I head up the operations of the company, and then I play a marketing role.
Tim Draper: Now why did you do this? I mean, there are so many stores with so many different clothes. Why start a business in clothes?
Joey Rodolfo: Every time you put on that shirt, you wear it for one day, it goes to the cleaners the next day. Sustainability is a big deal for Buki, okay? So with our clothes, you wash it and-
Tim Draper: And you iron them out?
Joey Rodolfo: Most of them are hang dry.
Tim Draper: Hang to dry and they're good.
Joey Rodolfo: Yeah.
Andy Tang: What do you envision in 10 years? Does this become a Versace?
Stacy Bennett: In 10 years from now, we would have the consumer mind share of being the leader in technical clothing.
Bill Draper: I think that is a big mistake. Being known as a technical brand does not go with clothing. You don't feel good if you're a technical brand. It doesn't sound ... I would try to change your marketing program a little bit.
Joey Rodolfo: When we have customers come into our store and they don't get technical either, but they do get is easy care. Do I have to iron it? That's the ah ha moment when you tell them that they don't have to apply an iron, they don't have to send it to the dry cleaners.
Bill Draper: Yeah. Easy care, soft care, anything.
Andy Tang: Eco friendly.
Bill Draper: But not technical care.
Tim Draper: Yeah. I like the eco friendly. And you can go into your technology and why this technology works and how it's wonderful, but I ... Yeah. Technical clothes?
Joey Rodolfo: Yeah. Okay.
Tim Draper: Am I paying a premium for this? Is this higher end?
Joey Rodolfo: It is higher end.
Tim Draper: And you talked about ingredients. Are they all natural ingredients? You said no chemicals go into it.
Joey Rodolfo: We blend supima cotton. We blend it with our technology. And then in plating, you know, you'll have supima cotton on the face of the fabric and you'll have your technology against your skin.
Tim Draper: So inside does that make you sweat more?
Joey Rodolfo: No. It actually is the opposite. I was in New York recently and we ... It was hot. We had a customer that came in with a technical shirt, and she goes, "Oh, I'm wearing this technical shirt." It was stuck to her skin. So the fabric was doing absolutely nothing for her, right? So we sent them out with one of our shirts. She came back the next day and goes, "Oh my God, I'm dry. I'm dry." So to your point, our fabrics are designed to keep you dry.
Bill Draper: So what's your biggest problem today?
Joey Rodolfo: Customer acquisition is everybody's biggest concern as you go out there, right? Acquiring a customer and being able to tell your story. Now, we think that the competition is going to continue to come this way because the future is that people don't wanna dry clean their clothes, and I heard that for 10 years. So this is the future. We need to scale this up quickly so we can stay ahead of the curve.
Tim Draper: Well terrific. Thank you [crosstalk 00:12:30] so much for coming to meet the Drapers.
Joey Rodolfo: Our pleasure.
Tim Draper: Great.
Joey Rodolfo: Thank you.
Stacy Bennett: Thank you.
Tim Draper: Pleasure [crosstalk 00:12:34].
Joey Rodolfo: Pleasure to meet you. Thank you.
Stacy Bennett: Thank you.
Joey Rodolfo: Thank you for [crosstalk 00:12:37]. Pleasure.
Stacy Bennett: I think it went great. Honestly, it's like anything. You go with a plan, and there's a little curve in the road and you just kind of go with the curve in the road. And they had great questions.
Joey Rodolfo: They had great questions some other people have not asked. We talk about our brand positioning because we're a new brand in this space, and we refer to it as a technical apparel brand. People are confused oftentimes, but the ah ha epiphany moment happens when you actually try the clothes on and you actually wear them and you know that you don't have to dry clean them, iron them, that you can wash them. And that's I think what we had to get through.
Stacy Bennett: I think our big picture takeaway was the question that Bill Draper asked. Our brand positioning being so founded in technical is something we're definitely gonna take away and talk about with our team and hopefully come back around the finals with some pivots that they'll notice and be impressed with hopefully.
Stacy Bennett: I think what we're most excited about with the crowdfunding is that we started the brand in Seattle, and we want to expand to the rest of the U.S. and then eventually the globe. And so this allows us to accelerate that goal much quicker. We'd love if you could join us with our wardrobe revolution and invest in Buki. Go to republic.co/buki. B-U-K-I. Join the wardrobe revolution.
Stacy Bennett: Boom!
Joey Rodolfo: Boom!
Tim Draper: So let's see what our judges thought about Buki. What did all of you think?
Bill Draper: I thought Buki will be a success. Very good concept. It's good technology. I gave them a great brand idea. [crosstalk 00:14:43]
Tim Draper: If they take it.
Bill Draper: If they take it, they'll win. If they don't, forget them.
Siri Srinivas: I think this is sort of the golden age of consumer brands. I don't know if 20 years ago we'd be investing in a clothing brand. There have been a whole bunch of brands that have sort of built a whole new way of selling something that's very ordinary like Casper and mattresses. This is the right time, and I think [inaudible 00:15:04] going for it. But I didn't see anything new in the business model front.
Andy Tang: To think about investing in innovation and technology, I don't think of textile as an industry, but I think of brand potentially. Then I started thinking I actually remember learning in marketing there's something called a snob good. It's too cheap. Businessmen, they wanna feel like they pay up. You pay $100, $200 for a dress shirt, you're getting high quality Italian dress shirt. So these guys, their price point is about $200. So they could potentially have an interesting breakthrough. And coupled with this guy who has obviously done it before gives me some confidence. But I don't like the fact that they don't have a CEO. I thought that was a little bit weird.
Tim Draper: Right. And I don't know why that guy [crosstalk 00:15:45].
Andy Tang: He should be the CEO.
Tim Draper: He's a founder of a company that's went public.
Andy Tang: Right. He's certainly capable of doing it.
Bill Draper: I understand that. In fact, I thought that was a positive that they didn't try to do it themselves.
Siri Srinivas: Really? I would advise them to embrace it and take up the CEO role. One of them should.
Bill Draper: Funny, I had a totally different reaction.
Tim Draper: Really. We're gonna go to the crystal ball and we'll get a little vibe and then we'll sort of see what the crystal ball says. Oh, you've already gotten your vibe? [crosstalk 00:16:13] I'm waiting. You have good spiritual reads. Yeah.
Siri Srinivas: That's why you hired me.
Tim Draper: I did. Wow, okay. I got it.
Bill Draper: I got mine.
Tim Draper: Okay, here's how we vote. Thumbs up, thumbs down, thumbs all around, then you choose, okay?
Tim Draper: Thumbs up, thumbs down, thumbs all around. Wow. Three ups and me. Wow, I'm usually the up. I was sideways because there's just so much competition in clothing, and building a new brand, no matter what the technology or whatever, is tough. But they've made great progress. $1.3 million in sales. But it's not up to us. It's up to you. As a viewer you can vote, you can invest. This is the only show in the world where you can actually invest in the companies that are being interviewed. So go to meetthedrapers.com and vote or invest.
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