Two programmers building an apparel business with no prior experience. Ask us anything!

DULO
Feb 27, 2018

Hey there, we are Marin and Julian, the team behind DULO.

Our mission at DULO is to use technology to eliminate the friction of caring for and wearing a dress shirt.

"Our products stand for time. We stand for taking control of it."

The business is completely bootstrapped and self-funded.

We've also been documenting building the business from Day 1. Hopefully, sharing what we've learned (or failed at :) to provide a blueprint for anyone wanting to start a business, even with no prior experience in an industry.

We believe in being transparent and sharing our process, ask us anything!

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How do you different yourself? 

Mar 3, 8:12AM EST0

Hey Matt,

By creating a brand around entrepreneurship and encouraging people to take control of their time.

We do this in two ways.

Firstly, create a product that stands for saving time, a piece of mind (so you can direct that energy elsewhere, building YOUR thing) and confidence

Secondly, by documenting our journey as we build this business. By being practitioners of the craft, instead of theorists. By being in the trenches with you, instead of in the audience.

Thank you for this question and good look with your AMA!

Best,

Julian

Mar 4, 7:15AM EST0
What do you think will make people purchase "Dulo" over any other product line?
Mar 1, 7:41PM EST0

Hey Biamorais,

We hope that a combination of an innovative product (and it's benefits), quality and a strong brand behind it, will put us in a great position to be amongst the top brands in the category.

Currently, we are building a brand around encouraging people to take control of their time, by building/working on their own project/ventures. The time aspect also fits well with the product properties that the shirt save you time and gives you piece of mind (to direct that energy elsewhere), due to the fabrics taking care of the shirt, instead of the wearer.

Great question!

Regards,

Julian

Mar 2, 3:54AM EST0
When will you know you will be ready to expand Dulo more, probably more on the collection, overseas collaborations etc?
Mar 1, 4:38PM EST0

Hey Majas,

Regarding overseas and collaborations, we already ship worldwide and are always open for collaborations :)

Regarding the product line, we have a few more ideas on how we could improve the traditional dress shirt that we want to implement, before we expand the collection. We do have some ideas for other products categories, but that will be a bit further into the future.

We also need to align the branding and financials, before expanding our collection. Currently we are solely about dress shirts, in order to expand to other products, we need to have a solid brand and audience that will support the introduction of new categories.

Thank you for this Q!

Best,

Julian

Mar 2, 3:55AM EST0
What surprised you the most about the process of starting your own fashion store, Dulo?
Mar 1, 11:31AM EST0

Hey Abigail!

Entering an industry you know nothing about is not as hard as it looks, as long as you bet on your strengths and create an environment where others can cover your weaknesses.

In our case, having no experience in apparel production, we teamed up with a great partner to cover manufacturing, so we can focus on all the other things involved in building a business.

You learn by doing and as long as you keep moving forward and do, you will get closer and closer to your goals guaranteed.

Thank you for this question!

Julian

Mar 1, 3:10PM EST0
What resources were most invaluable to you when starting your business?
Mar 1, 8:55AM EST0

Hey Westhilldan,

I would say the internet :D

It's a bit of a broad answer, but it's an amazing thing that gives all of us a shot at building and learning stuff, we otherwise wouldn't have been able to, or have access to it.

I mostly consume content about how other people approach building a business and try to learn and apply it to what we are doing at DULO.

Thank you for the question!

Julian

Mar 1, 3:13PM EST0
What does the name SULO stand for? How did you come up with that name?
Mar 1, 5:36AM EST0

Hey George,

We have a whole blog post of how we came up with the name DULO.

Feel free to check it out! We also mention the other names we considered, which is always fun to look back to :)

Best!

Julian

Mar 1, 3:15PM EST0
Do you consider yourselves fashion designers and do you believe that it is possible to be a good designer without a proper education?
Feb 28, 1:32PM EST0

Hey Kevin,

We don't consider ourselves fashion designers in any way.

We work with partners that have experience and expertise in that area and just set a general guideline input on what we want the final product to look like/be.

As we learn, we try to speak more and more the technical language of creating apparel, but with complete trust and respect for our partners opinion.

Thank you for this great question!

Best,

Julian

Feb 28, 1:42PM EST0
How did you get from being programmers to designing shirt dresses?
Feb 28, 10:14AM EST0

Hey Mladen,

We are building these products (dress shirts for now) to scratch our own itch of having formal clothing that looks great, without having to invest time in caring for it (ironing, trip to the dry cleaners etc).

We also saw an opportunity to leverage the expertise of our home country to manufacture a quality product at a cost we can afford to self-finance.

We have a blog post on how the idea came about, feel free to check it out!

Thanks for the question!

Julian

Feb 28, 1:06PM EST0
What is your opinion on current fashion trends?
Feb 28, 10:02AM EST0

Hey Praveena,

Not big fans of fast fashion brands, where quantity is prioritized over quality. Zara, H&M etc.

Big fans of brands that choose to create fewer items, but focus on quality. 

We are big believers in buying fewer, more expensive items, that will last longer and not promote consumerism and mass purchase behavior of items that do add any value to your life.

It's a blog-worthy topic that we might address in the very near future.

Thank you for this question!

Julian

Feb 28, 1:03PM EST0
In the first place, what was the objective of recording the whole procedure?
Feb 28, 6:15AM EST0

Hey VKWN,

Initially, there were two main reasons we decided to document our journey.

1. It would serve as a content pillar. Meaning, that as we are working on DULO, there will always be something to document and share. Therefore providing a ground for a good content marketing opportunity.

2. It would be fun to take a look back at all the things we've been through and compare to wherever we are at that point.

Eventually, we realised that it could be a valuable blueprint for anyone wanting to start a business, to reference the steps we took and see the time it takes to build something, preventing any discouragement and frustrations one might have when starting out.

Thank you for this great question!

Best,

Julian

Feb 28, 7:19AM EST0
In your website you state that products can't be ironed: How do you make sure that clothes always stay impeccable?
Feb 28, 4:52AM EST0

Hey Jov4ee,

Our products CAN be ironed, but the whole idea of using performance fabrics to create dress shirts is not having to iron them at all.

By using materials tested in an active environment, we are able to achieve fabrics that do NOT NEED to be ironed and are wrinkle resistant.

We also get other benefits from these fabrics, such as a 4-way stretch, can be machine washed (hang to dry and wear, no trips to the dry cleaners) and are antibacterial, preventing any bad odors.

In addition to that, imagine you are traveling and your shirt been squashed in your bag. You can take it out and put it on immediately, as the fabric heats up and irons itself out when it comes in contact with body heat. It also feels softer than cotton, bringing a certain smoothness and lightness to it.

Great question, if you have any more, drop us an email at support@weardulo.com.

Thanks!

Julian

Feb 28, 5:01AM EST0
Do you think you are limiting yourself to just focusing on a single product instead of having an extensive range of clothing?
Feb 28, 2:12AM EST0

Hey Tahira,

For now, it is necessary for us to limit our range to just one product. We compensate by having color variations + men and women's versions.

This narrow focus allows us to improve quickly on the product with the feedback we collect. Having too many products will also make it even harder for us to get our message across.

Now, we can focus on improving the product and set the right brand message. Do one thing, but do it well - that is a principle we apply in this case.

Thanks for the question!

Marin

Feb 28, 2:19AM EST0
Where did the idea of ​​creating DULO come from? How was the process?
Feb 28, 1:33AM EST0

Hey Hinagy,

Thanks for asking that. Actually, I wrote a very detailed account of how the idea came to be. Check it out here: https://medium.com/the-needle/birth-of-an-idea-e18a55258891

Cheers,

Marin

Last edited @ Feb 28, 2:03AM EST.
Feb 28, 2:03AM EST0
What are some of the aspects DULO took into account during brand development?
Feb 27, 7:24PM EST0

Hey Yena,

For sure one of the most important things has been to think about the target audience. Who do we want to talk to? It is a hard question to find an answer for unless you are a super niche product.

Another factor we consider all the time is personal relevance - we must personally believe in the things we are saying. They have to feel right.

Thanks for the question!

Marin

Feb 28, 1:10AM EST0
What advice would you offer other companies about measures they can take to ensure success in today's competitive marketplace?
Feb 27, 6:13PM EST0

Hey Adrienne,

My advice would be to focus on building a brand from the very beginning. Also, be very patient. Good things take time and a lot of perseverance. 

Another advice: have a cofounder that you trust. You need someone to share the load with along the way.

One more, start collecting email addresses immediately.

There are many more, but I think for small companies - these are a good start.

Thanks for your question!

Marin

Feb 28, 1:08AM EST0

What marketing methods has DULO used and which have been the most successful?

Feb 27, 4:43PM EST0

Hey @nkojic,

We have tried a lot of stuff and still trying out new ones.

For starters, we got the basics covered when it comes to social and website - we have accounts on Instagram, Twitter, Medium, YouTube, Soundcloud, Snapchat (and even some less known ones).

We are documenting the process of building the company - this is our main strategy. We produce blogs, vlogs, podcasts, and the narrative on social is around it too.

In addition, we spend a lot of effort in building genuine connections with other like-minded people on different communities - such as Medium, Indie Hackers, Product Hunt, Reddit, etc.

And then we meet a lot of people in real life and talk about what we are doing :)

Thanks,

Marin

Feb 27, 5:19PM EST0
What role will DULO play in the future of innovative fashion?
Feb 27, 4:01PM EST0

Hi Caroline,

I think we are positioned well to lead the wave of advancements of performance fabrics into the formal wear market.

Thanks for the question!

Marin

Feb 27, 5:14PM EST0
Do you believe it is necessary for a company to have a brand and why?’
Feb 27, 2:10PM EST0

Hi Silvija,

It is very important, in my opinion. The main reason being that a brand has much higher staying power and potential to have a bigger impact.

If you have a strong brand and people who are eager to support it, you become antifragile as an organization.

Whether that is competition, changes in the market, or other major external shifts, you will be able to withstand these if you have a strong brand.

Hope this answers the question. I am sure there is a blog post worth of thoughts in here though :)

Thanks for your question!

Marin

Feb 27, 2:38PM EST0
Why shirts? You say you are both programmers, so how did you get into shirts? Would you expand to other clothing items?
Feb 27, 7:41AM EST0

Hey,

You can read some of our reasoning here.

The short answer is that we started by scratching our own itch. We like to wear dress shirts but hate everything related to taking care of them. For example, wasting time ironing, not being able to move freely because it constricts motion, getting sweaty and wet patches, bad smells...

These are all inefficiencies we hated and decided to try and do something about it. That's how our non-iron, stretch shirts came into being. What works in our favor is that our country of origin - Bulgaria, has huge traditions in textile and clothing manufacturing. So, we found a nice opportunity to give back to our country as well and have the production there.

In the future, we will expand to other lines. But for the next couple of years, we will focus on dress shirts, to make sure we make the best shirts out there that people love to wear. Hopefully, in the process inspire others to give entrepreneurship a try as well :)

Thanks for your question!

Marin

Feb 27, 10:10AM EST0
Did you have moments where you thought this is all crazy and not worth it? What kept you going?
Feb 27, 5:55AM EST0

Hey Ivana.

It is hard to think of a moment when I was feeling discouraged about the business. It is my thinking that whatever the outcome of this journey, it will end up being a positive experience. I am learning and have learned so much over the past year and a half. 

Of course, there are times when I can feel overwhelmed or have doubts, but those are quickly removed because of the perspective I have which is that DULO is another step in building my legacy. 

I do this because I want to be in control of my time. For me is very hard to work for someone else and be part of other people's agenda. I want to be responsible for how I spend my time. I don't want to go ask for permission every time I want to go do something that is not directly related to work.

I also want to build something bigger that has an overall positive impact on the world around me and even further. If it works, great. If not... I gave it my best shot and enjoyed the ride :)

Thanks for your question!

Marin

Feb 27, 10:05AM EST0
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