Ecommerce

3 Lessons You Can Learn From This Entrepreneur's Big Pivot

Feeling unappreciated selling a luxury product, he quit his job and now has a multimillion-dollar business.
3 Lessons You Can Learn From This Entrepreneur's Big Pivot
Image credit: Pintrill

Two years ago, Jordan Roschwal was an operations manager at a Mercedes-Benz dealership. He wasn’t broke, but he wasn’t happy either. Fast forward to today. Roschwal oversees a staff of 10 and his business, Pintrill, does three million dollars a year in revenue. His product? You guessed it. Pins.

Here’s how it all started.

“Back in 2008, when Kanye was on his Glow in the Dark tour, he was saying a lot of different stuff. He said being used is normal, but it's not okay to be misused, overused or abused. If someone is using you, they need you for something. You need to be used. You should be useful. [But for me] it got to the point where I was totally being abused,” Roschwal recalled.

Related: Business Success Starts 'With One Person, an Idea and a Passion'

Enough was enough. Roschwal saved up what money he could before quitting the car dealership. Now jobless, step one for Roschwal was to find another job. Simple, right? Not quite. Despite his best efforts, he couldn’t find a position anywhere. With rent to pay and money dwindling, he was at a crossroads.

So he decided to become his own boss. “I like pins," Roschwal said. "I always collected pins, and I wanted to make pins that I hadn't seen before. So that's what I did.” He opened up an ecommerce store on Shopify, uploaded several pin designs, blasted it out to the media -- and held his breath.

Shortly after he opened the Shopify store, his lease was set to renew. “I was like ‘should I re-sign my lease or get an office for Pintrill?’ I would have had to take my entire savings to put down on the apartment but then I wouldn’t have had any money to eat,” Roschwal said. So in April 2014, he made a fateful decision -- get the office for Pintrill instead of renewing his apartment lease.

After he pulled the trigger on the office, the blogosphere responded in full force. Roschwal's brand scored features in Hypebeast, Highsnobiety, Complex and a slew of others. Within a year, he crossed the million dollar revenue mark and hasn’t looked back since.

Related: How to Make $1 Million This Year the 'Easy' Way

“You know what was most exciting for me?" Roschwal posed. "When we did $100k. That was {expletive} nuts. Like, in pins? Are you kidding me?” he gushes. Pintrill was started like many successful companies -- by a founder deciding to scratch his own itch. What follows are a few standout excerpts from our chat at this year’s ComplexCon which was powered by Shopify.

Get your customers collecting.

“Eighty years ago or less, luxury was defined by money," Roschwal said. "The reason I say it’s unfortunate is [because] it creates class structure. It creates division. That’s why I make pins luxurious through exclusivity. But not by making them cost copious amounts of money. I needed to get people to start collecting pins.”

That's why he offers baseline products -- basic, introductory products -- to help get someone started. Then there’s the limited edition products -- products that won’t come back around or perhaps come back in a different form.

Don't be afraid to collaborate.

Collaboration is so key," Roschwal said. "You have to with everyone, [like] with other brands. But a brand could be anything. It could be a phone charger company. It could be a book cover company. It could be a wrapping paper company. It could be anything. Collaboration is key because it’s all about facilitating growth."

Outside the obvious mutual financial benefits, collaboration exposes you to new audiences and markets. It also helps with “keeping things fresh” said Roschwal. “Somebody could be relevant today, and you could want to make a pin out of them tomorrow.”

Related: 6 Ways To Triple Your Income In The Next 6 Months

Don't be all passion.

But it’s not all creativity. “I’m a business person and a creative person," Roschwal said, "and I don’t know which one I am first. I think that one of the biggest problems you see with young brands -- is they’re so set on being creative.”

Roschwal's advice for full-on creatives? Get QuickBooks properly configured once any cash starts to come in. He's able to get simplified, real-time reports on the financial health of his business every day.

If you’re not willing to commit to learning basic finance, don’t get into the fashion business. Just design fashion for your own personal enjoyment, and don’t sell anything. But as soon as you decide to go into the fashion business, it’s imperative you learn the business side as well.

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