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Business Idea: Vineyard Vines

Source: http://www.capecodonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070618/LIFE/706180301
Article by AMY DuFAULT
It’s one of those stories you want to believe but think can’t possibly be true.

Two good-looking, successful brothers, Ian and Shep Murray, are fending well for themselves in corporate Manhattan. But they know another life is out there if only they trust in their ideas. The trick is to walk away from all they know to get to their utopia. It’s only a necktie and a credit card away to the good life.

Vine facts
Vineyard Vines started with four tie designs. The company has introduced about 500 since then.

Many employees of Vineyard Vines wear flip-flops to work.Employees take part in highly competitive games on the office shuffleboard table. Co-founder Ian Murray is the former drummer of new England indie band In the Attic and is now the lead singer and guitarist for the Ian Murray Band. Shep and Ian’s story was featured in “Chicken Soup for the Entrepreneur’s Soul.”
Their flip-flopped feet were made for walking, and that’s just what they did. They quit their New York public-relations gigs and put into production a small batch of ties, featuring fish and boats in vibrant colors.

During the Fourth of July weekend in 1998, the brothers covered Martha’s Vineyard by Jeep and boat, selling their 800 ties.

“We were confident the ties would sell, but we had no idea we’d be where we are today,” says Ian, the younger of the two brothers. “It’s been amazing to see how our business has grown, and the future possibilities are endless.”

Nine years later, on goes the story of Vineyard Vines, a continually evolving lifestyle clothing brand. Formed by the children of travel writers who summered yearly on the Vineyard, it’s on Inc. magazine’s list of the 500 fastest-growing businesses in the U.S. Vineyard Vines’ collections of ties, shorts, tennis shirts, belts and flip-flops for men, women and children are worn by those who seek an idyllic oasis, finding happiness in boating, fishing and living in colorful style.

“We created the lifestyle. The original idea was to take ‘The Good Life’ to work with us, then not to have to go into the city every day. We soon realized that if we sold enough in a day we could pay rent, then it was enough we could buy a boat,” Shep said at a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony at Puritan Cape Cod in Hyannis, the host of the largest Vineyard Vines in-store lifestyle shop in the Northeast. The company has concept shops on the Vineyard and Nantucket and in Mashpee and Greenwich, Conn.

The brothers say they have an innate sense of their market. It’s not limited to the wealthy boater sipping martinis astern with his wife or the college kids home for summer break looking for regional body armor. The brand had legs off the Vineyard, they say, and is a comfort to anyone, regardless of age or occupation, who wants to have fun exploring color and kitschy logos.

This year the Murrays sent out two “road teams,” one heading from Florida to Texas and another covering the brothers’ old college stomping grounds in the Northeast, to see what has changed since they were in school. The teams arrived on campuses in pink-and-blue trucks with lots of schwag to go around to help promote Vineyard Vines’ new college collection.

The brothers say many of their ideas come from the folks buying their products.

“We listen to customers when they say, ‘You ought to do this!’ and that’s what we make, that thing that people like and take with them from their island experience,” says Shep.

“Customers helped design this brand, and the amount of brand loyalty is incredible,” says Ian. “So it becomes not just a shirt but a way of life, a mini-vacation for them.”

Recent customer ideas for tie patterns were “Fish and Chips,” featuring clown fish and poker chips, and “Blender,” with blenders and cocktail glasses.

One question looms heavy after talking with them; reading all the press they’ve gotten, from the “Today” show to People magazine; and realizing all the work that’s involved in keeping a brand alive, especially one that you’d assume was regional.

Do they ever feel that they’ve rejoined the corporate life, considering how successful the brand has become?

“We have always said success will find you if you have fun and do what you love,” says Shep. “We’ve made it a priority to have fun, regardless of how busy we are.

“It’s definitely more difficult to get away now than it was in the beginning, but we really do live the good life. We’re out there fishing, sailing, spending time with our family, doing all the things we love.”

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February 10, 2011 - Posted by | Business, Entertainment, Entrepreneur, Million dollars Idea, Millionaire, Television, Uncategorized, Youtube

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