David and Jeremy Miller are the co-founders of Label, a one-stop luxury clothing solution for busy professionals, celebrities and athletes. They never set out to become family business owners. David worked as an investment banking associate, and Jeremy was a research associate at a medical center, pursuing a career in medicine. Their parents did not hand over a business to them or financing for it. These brothers financed and pursued their dream on their own.
I wanted to know how these brothers who are so different in personalities and backgrounds, are able to work together and grow a family business. Here's what I learned:
Think and grow big.
Family business can be big business. In their first year of operation, Label grossed over a million dollars in sales. David has leveraged his investment banking experience to employ some of the best practices of larger corporations. Like larger corporations, they maintain internal operating and financial models to help manage their operations. They employ some of the same hiring tactics used by big corporations. They use personality tests in the hiring process to ensure that they work with talented and compatible tailors and style consultants.
David explained, "Our hiring process is extremely selective, and we generally hire employees who worked at the other large custom clothing companies."
Jeremy shared the secret to great communications skills among families who work together: "Being brothers provides us a unique opportunity to be completely transparent with each other and to voice each other’s opinion without restriction."
They trust one another. That trust continues to form a special bond that helps them to overcome conflict that might destroy other business partnerships. Sharing office space, and as Jeremy puts it "close quarters," forces constant communication. Mutual respect, integrity and trust represent some of the core values that underpin Label and shapes the brothers' ability to work well together.
Persist, persist and persist.
David and Jeremy had to overcome a significant legal obstacle when starting the company. Receiving a trademark for their company name was not easy. "We faced an uphill battle from the start, given that Label is a widely used term and can refer to clothing, depending on the usage," Jeremy shared.
The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) denied their trademark application that was submitted by an attorney. Some business owners would have changed their name or quit. Jeremy and David appealed the USPTO decision on their own and won.
Get good at solving problems.
David and Jeremy are adamant that you don't have to know all the answers but you have to learn how to be resourceful when facing new challenges. "We’re not afraid to ask questions and to seek feedback from others, whether it is an employee or a close family friend," Jeremy explained. The brothers embrace feedback from one another, and it has strengthened rather than strained their relationship.
Don't fear the unknown.
Jeremy and David left promising careers to start their family business and pursue their entrepreneurial aspirations. The luxury clothing market is competitive and they had no guarantee of success. The brothers invested all of their money into Label and continue to be the company's only source of funding to date.
They have no regrets and are full of hope and aspirations for becoming a large family business. They want to debunk the myth that family business has to be small business. They do not hold that view that all family businesses have low growth potential, and they do not operate their business that way.
Jeremy and David agree that it has been a rewarding experience to partner with a family member to pursue an entrepreneurial ambition. Their unique backgrounds and skill sets complement each other well. Jeremy is great at making decisions and David knows how to manage the details of the business well.
David shares, "We’ve received some interest from several prominent private equity firms but have declined these initial requests, since we’re keen on keeping Label a family owned and operated business for as long as possible. We want this business to be passed down to our kids one day."