You said Bow ties, right? Interesting. Tell us your name, what you do, and about your business. Please tell us about some of your awesome products as well 🙂
Hi! My name is Miriam Zelinsky and I’m the founder and CEO of Lazyjack Press. I design cheeky but elegant men’s accessories like ties, bow ties, pocket squares, socks, etc.
Here are examples of what we do:
What’s your own background? Were you always great with this business. How did the idea strike you?
I am actually a lawyer. I graduated from law school and just couldn’t imagine working a zillion hours a day for someone else. I’m grateful for the education since it actually has been quite useful. My father was a successful real estate guy and was on the board of many companies.
Besides that, he started a really cool company, Musee Mecanique in San Francisco, which is the largest collection of antique coin operated machines in the world.
When he was a young child, he won a raffle and won five quarts of motor oil. He obviously didn’t need motor oil so he traded it for a penny slot machine. Once people he knew played it, he saved that money and bought a nickel machine etc.
I think that drive and determination is within me and I felt like I didn’t have to spend my life pouring over briefs if I didn’t want to.
What went into designing the initial product of LazyjackPress? Can you take us through the actual process?
I was at my five-year college reunion surrounded by my sorority sisters and fraternity friends…drinking out of red party cups, playing beer pong, having kegs and eggs for breakfast…you get the idea.
After recently finding the quality of one preppy brand’s ties had gone so far down hill, I felt there needed to be something in the middle between a novelty tie made in China and a fine designer tie like Hermès or Ferragamo, for example.
Inspired by my weekend of fun and reliving my college days, the red party cup design (done in a very tight repeat) was my first idea.
The best part about it (and about most of my designs) is the pattern is so subtle that you have to look pretty close to figure out what it is.
Even though the image is a red plastic cup, it has an elegance about it and is definitely a conversation starter once people figure out what’s on the tie. I got samples made at a mill in NYC and had a partner at that time. I went to drop off labels and got absolutely berated by the owner’s son because a woman in business was NOT part of their religion or their personal views.
I literally got continuously screamed at for what seemed like forever and the guy even followed me into the elevator yelling at me, telling me I will never amount to anything.
My final words to him were, “I’m taking my purchase order from Barneys elsewhere. Big mistake.” He just stood there dumbfounded. He had no idea about that purchase order yet.
The same agent of that mill represented a wonderful mill in Italy. The silk they used was 21 momme (the best silk in the business) so I think that little kerfuffle actually happened for a reason. Italy did an amazing job printing the red party cup tie on the incredible silk and the rest is history.
Talk us through the process of launching your business.
Once I had the initial designs in the works, I used Shopify for the backend.
They made it easy to make a presentable website, notified me of orders coming in, inventory, website analytics etc.
With my law degree, I was (and with the help of a best friend) able to handle all of the legal formation documents and intellectual property. After, launching social media like Facebook Pages, Twitter, and Instagram were essential just to tell people we existed.
How is your repeat customer rate like? Can you take us through how you attract and retain customers?
I’m so grateful when I see a repeat customer’s name pop up on Shopify or see a returning customer come to give me a hug at a pop up.
I’m selling a quality product so I’m not a fly by night person trying to con people into a sale. I know that when they open the tie box lined with the red party cups, (it’s all in the details), the tie or whatever other product is going to bring a smile to their face.
I love to engage with customers in person.
A neighbor at a pop up criticized me saying I spend too much time with some customers, but each customer is important and I appreciate each and every one. It’s fun getting to know them over the years and keeping up with each other on social media.
It’s a small business so without these people that appreciate what I’m doing, there would be no business.
If I’m not physically at a pop up, I keep up my social media. I don’t only post about my products. I post about what’s going on in my life. I know people have mixed feelings whether that’s the right way to go about it, but it is a lifestyle brand, after all.
Also, making customers feel as appreciated as I can is important to me…I try to write each one a thank you note. It’s a small gesture, but my mom always taught me to write thank you notes as a kid so the habit has stuck. 🙂
What is the current situation. How do you see yourself in the next 12 months?
I’m focusing more on trade shows this year.
As of last January, I joined a show room in Atlanta and that has been great! I think it’s important to expand my retailers all over the country so that more people can find out about us!
I’d like to continue the trade shows, and the holiday pop ups in NYC that have been amazing. I opened a store with another company in the Hamptons last year and that was not a good decision.
Besides trade shows, I’ve (finally) started with email marketing. I have no idea why I didn’t start earlier, but so far, I love it and have seen great results.
Does Miriam Zelinsky this as only financially uplifting? Or otherwise too? If yes, then how?
I see LazyjackPress as uplifting in every single possible aspect.
I was never shy by any means, but I’ve had to become so much more outgoing.
I was very uncomfortable with it at the beginning.
Someone would stop at my booth at a trade show and I’d just get so nervous, rehearsing my spiel about the brand over and over, something I obviously know by heart since it was my life.
In time, I became more confident and will talk to anyone, anywhere much to the chagrin of my husband who finds me talking to people everywhere we go, often resulting in exchanging information and hours of conversation J As corny as it sounds, I am so proud of myself when I walk into my booth at a trade show or my shop at a pop up market and I can see everything displayed in front of me – all of the ideas, colors, and witty designs.
And when someone walks in and has a good ‘ol belly laugh at the designs and goes to bring their friends back and the whole room is erupting in laughter, I know I’m involved in something pretty special.
Which are some resources, books, articles or podcasts that have been useful to you, and would share with your readers
I don’t read any articles or listen to podcasts though I know I should. My best resource so far has been a few girlfriends in my hometown who also own their own businesses.
It’s so nice to go out for dinner or get together over wine and just brainstorm ideas for each other or problem solve.
It’s a very supportive and inspiring session each time and I always come away from our get-togethers totally recharged and ready to take on everything!
Many a times, women feel that businesses are for only for men. What’s your take?
As I said above, I’ve personally been faced with this attitude that women aren’t fit to be in business and I couldn’t find it to be more untrue!
Women are capable of so much. All you really need is the confidence and the guts to pursue your dream (supportive family and friends is very helpful also).
From my own personal perspective, I just am doing the best I can on the best possible material available so I can look anyone in the eye and be able to be confident in the product and myself.
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