My name is Mike Patterson and I started a men’s athletic underwear company called Traü. The idea for Traü was born all the way back in 1987 when I played college football. We had an undergarment called U-Trow – they were insanely comfortable, functional and everyone crawled over each other for extra pairs. Since school I could never find anything as good…so I decided to make them myself, and make them even better with modern, eco-friendly materials like bamboo and soy. I was tired of all the polyester materials and ill fitting underwear…and I went through a lot of them. We didn’t see anyone making great fitting underwear for men from eco-friendly, sustainable materials so we set out to create them on our own.
We have a number of partners and strategic partners on the design, marketing and production fronts but all of those resources are third party partners. I’m very interested in the idea of a lean company model with very few direct employees, outsourcing most of the work to individuals and groups that are experts in their fields.
We don’t sell any other products right now as we want to really master one product but I’m personally interested in very comfortable, athleisure shorts, sweats and pants – everything Trau-ser oriented!
I started from scratch. And I had no experience in the garment and apparel industry. A friend of mine from back in the college football days had an old pair or U-Trow and I made an initial pattern from that pair. I tweaked the pattern 8-10 times, searched high and low for fabrics from fabric stores and local fabric providers and finally landed on the current Trau pattern and materials AND we’re always tweaking and trying new stuff.
After a ton of trial and error, I synchronistically met a couple at a cocktail party that were in garment manufacturing and they introduced me to materials providers and factories in the area and I was off to the races!
I launched on December 8th of 2018. I’m in web design, production and marketing so I designed my site myself with the help of Shopify templates and some overseas designers and developers and rolled out the website when the product was ready.
But come to think of it, I didn’t have the website ready at the start so I initially took orders from friends and family via email and then via my site: https://gettrau.com/.
I had a very strong “warm market” of people from college who knew about U-Trow and then the word spread from there through my friends and family network.
For Kickstarter, I did a bunch of pre-launch marketing via an agency, a group called Braag. We tested an advertising campaign first, and then ran pre-launch ads on Facebook and Instagram for 4-6 weeks before launch.
I likewise reached out to PR outlets and pushed hard with friends and family to share about my campaign.
Lots of emails to friends and family and the leads from the Kickstarter pre-launch leads.
As stated above, I did a bunch of Facebook and Instagram advertising. I don’t think I’d recommend that approach for everyone however. We didn’t see a great ROI on the ad spend and the placements were pretty expensive so I wouldn’t press too hard there.
There was a good amount of PR outreach but not a lot of interest, we were able to land a few articles that were good for exposure and content but didn’t really drive sales.
I would keep my goal low if I were to start over, really press with word of mouth and friends and family and not hire an agency to help out (I did hire an agency and in the end did not find a lot of value add from them).
Do cross promotions once your campaign is live, press hard on organic social content, experiment with FB and Insta ads and hire some of the smaller Kickstarter support groups like BackersInfo and BackerKit to help bolster your campaign.
Yes, see above:
We’re launching a Holiday limited run right now with plans for larger roll out of a three-pronged line in the spring around Valentine’s Day. You can find out more at: https://gettrau.com/.