Case Study: Rareform leverages growth through Shark Tank appearance

Rareform has a rare take on the world - using the leftover material from old billboards to make bags, wallets and more, the company was founded in 2012 by brothers Alec and Aric Avedissian to support a mission of eco-friendly outlooks and making a quality product.

Recently, the Avedissian brothers were featured on the popular show Shark Tank, where they wowed the panel with the eco-friendly, forward thinking design.

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Transworld Business talked to Alec Avedissian about what the show did for Rareform, what the brand journey has been like, and what’s in store for the future.

Interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How much growth has Rareform seen since we last caught up back in 2013?

We started business in 2013 and since then we have more than doubled each year – but it’s easier to go from one dollar to two dollars. We are in over 300+ accounts across the country and the majority are all independent and boutique type stores.

What has been the growth strategy for you as an emerging brand?

We originally concentrated on hard-core surf shops and getting product in where we thought it needed to be.

However, we found that if our story isn’t told then it gets lost among the bigger players.

What makes Rareform unique is our story – people like to know that each bag is unique and that they are choosing a piece that somehow speaks to them. Also, we have concentrated more on social media, email campaigns and original content. We are going to be doing more video this year to show the process.

What specific tips would you give a smaller brand looking for growth in the action sports market at this time?

I would tell them to concentrate on profit margin. In the beginning we were so caught up in being in certain stores that we neglected margin--this is key to survival and longevity.

I would say grow your base of loyal customers and social following, and commit to being authentic.

Why does going on Shark Tank at this point in Rareform’s timeline make sense?

We filmed the show almost 10 months ago and it aired last Friday. We were just lucky enough to be one of the companies that aired.

We have wanted to get our story out there to more of a mass market and Shark Tank gave us that opportunity.

What elements of the business would see the biggest boost / support from Shark Tank funding?

The biggest boost has been the exposure--we beat last month’s online sales in two days since airing. We are concentrating on using the funds for inventory, new products, and focusing on growing our retailers base and key accounts.

Since we got the deal, we have met a ton of new companies in the Shark Tank family that have already been a great resource for us. That is invaluable in itself.

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How do you hope to preserve your brand authenticity while growing the business at the same time?

Our biggest thing is that we still do all our cutting, sorting, and washing of the material in-house at our facility in LA. We will always do that piece of our business – this isn’t something that we can give to someone else. We are also bringing more lifestyle and women’s products into our mix this next year.

My brother and I really try to make sure that whoever owns a piece of Rareform feels as though they are part of the family--if something doesn’t fit with our vibe, we don’t do it.