This Top 1% Shopify Store Landed a Deal with NBA
"Making a great, quality product and then treating your customers right are two critical ingredients for continued success."
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m Howie Busch, creator of the DudeRobe and Founder & Dude-in-Chief at Dude Apparel Brands. Which means I basically do everything, lol.
What is DudeRobe?
DudeRobe is a cooler bathrobe and loungewear designed for guys today. We redesigned the boring old men’s robe (that had barely changed in a hundred years) and updated and upgraded it for guys today, giving it more of a hoodie fit and style.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I’ve never been a "robe guy." And most of the guys I know, they’re not robe guys either. But every morning in the shower, I’d see my wife in her robe...and she always looked so damn comfy. As a non-robe guy, I started wondering why robes hadn’t changed much in the past several hundred years. Men’s robes in particular.
“What would I wear?” I wondered to myself for the next couple of weeks. Then I turned and saw a hoodie hanging on the hook next to my towel. “I’d wear a towel if it looked like a hoodie.” Cue music… cue lighting bolt. I got that adrenaline rush when you just know you’re onto something.
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
When I came up with the idea to combine a hoodie and towel, I literally jumped out of the shower, got dressed, bought 6 towels at Walmart and brought them to my tailor Josè and asked him if he could make a hoodie and lounge pants out of those towels.
A week later, I had a pretty awesome and absorbent hoodie and pants (because Jose is awesome) and it actually came out even better than I expected. But then I had to find a manufacturing partner, which proved a bit more challenging. But eventually I found the right partner and we were off to the races.
Describe the process of launching the business.
I launched a Kickstarter campaign, which was a lot of work to prepare for. We hit our funding goal in just 2 days and just one week after launching Shark Tank reached out to us.
Three months later I was in LA filming in front of the sharks and then we were lucky enough to air, just 7 months after we hit “launch” on the Kickstarter campaign. But since Kickstarter is just a pre-order…I had to go and get the goods made. And they arrived just one month before we aired.
The craziest part is that Shark Tank doesn’t tell you if you’re going to air until two weeks beforehand. And because we were a Kickstarter, we didn’t even have a website. SO we aired on Jan 14 at 9 pm…our website was ready on Jan 14 at 8 pm.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
I think the name of the product and the brand voice is critical for us to first attract the customers. But to retain them, we had to have a really great product. And that’s what we have. The product has changed a bit since we launched…thanks to feedback from customers who have helped to make us even better.
Making a great, quality product and then treating your customers right are two critical ingredients for continued success…and even though we like to have fun, we take those very seriously.
What's the reason customers pick DudeRobe over your competitors?
Our robe is just a cooler version of the boring old bathrobe. And it makes an incredible gift for that hard to shop for guy. So many reviews we see rave about how happy the gift recipient was.
We hear from robe-guys that they love the non-floppy sleeves, the hood, the attached belt, and the hood and hoodie fit and style…not to mention it’s more absorbent than regular robes. And we hear from non-robe guys that even though they thought they’d never wear a robe, they love their DudeRobe and wear it all the time.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Our growth over the past couple of years has been exciting. We were in the top 1% of growth on Shopify in 2020 and we doubled again in 2021. In terms of the future. I’m so excited. We recently signed a deal with NBALAB to make NBA robes and we’re finalizing a deal with the UFC as we speak.
We’re working on colleges and some other exciting new initiatives and I’m really excited about some of the new products we have in development. We reinvented the boring old bathrobe…and we’re working on some other products that need to be reinvigorated. Stay tuned!
Since starting the business, what's the number 1 thing you have learned?
I’ve learned so much throughout this whole journey, but if I had to narrow it down to one thing, I’d say that having a group of other entrepreneurs going through many of the same things you are…or often, things they’ve already gone through.
A little-known fact is that we have a private Facebook group of 600 entrepreneurs who have been on Shark Tank…and we help each other with so many things. What’s working, what’s not working, introductions, etc. I’ve been on Good Morning America multiple times thanks to a friend in that group, my fulfillment center comes through a referral from the group…and so much more.
If you don’t have that luxury, you can always find a group of like-minded entrepreneurs who can really help you avoid some major pitfalls and accelerate your growth.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
The most important platforms and tools we use (in no particular order) are Shopify for our website, Klaviyo for email capture and communication, Facebook, Instagram, Google, and TikTok for paid media, Google Analytics & Wicked Reports for tracking, and Stamped.io for customer reviews.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
For podcasts, I really like How I Built This with Guy Raz because I love hearing other founders and company stories. I recently started listening to Founder’s Journal hosted by Morning Brew’s co-founder Alex Lieberman.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Don’t wait for the perfect. Get your product or business as good as you can, but it will never be perfect. At a certain point, scary as it is, you have to get it out there.
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Frequently Asked Questions about DudeRobe
What kind of fabric is DudeRobe?
Outside Fabric is Cotton/Poly Jersey; Inside Fabric is Cotton Loop Terry.
How Long Does DudeRobe Take to Ship?
Depending on what time an order comes in, it leaves our fulfillment center the same day or the next day (on business days of course).
How Long Does DudeRobe Take to Deliver?
That depends on where you are in the country. If on the east coast, or Midwest, you will often get the product the next day or in 2-3 days at most since we ship from Central Pennsylvania. But for the west coast, it takes longer.
Where Is the DudeRobe Store Located?
We don’t have a physical storefront, but we are based in New York on Long Island…and we ship from Central Pennsylvania.
DudeRobe - Customer Reviews
DudeRobe has a rating of 5.0 out of 5.0 based on 640 customer reviews.
If you consider the word “luxury” as “comfortable,” then by all means, the Dude Robe is luxurious; but to me, there is nothing lavish about wearing your favorite sweatshirt with a towel-like lining instead of a frilly, uppity brand with absolutely no absorbency.
Do I even know where to find the matching belt to my fancy robe? No, I do not. It’s lost as a sock somewhere in the mysterious abyss between the dryer and the closet. The Dude Robe belt is permanently attached, which could be considered as much a consideration of others as it is a convenience.
Why you ask? Because the best day in a Dude Robe is a day without pants — and with a lot of TV sports and cold beer; so, with an attached belt, a dude can conveniently keep his personal business to himself. Win-win. You’re welcome.
Plus, there’s a hoodie. What red-blooded dude wouldn’t want a hoodie? Uh, rhetorical, but none. When there’s a hoodie option, you choose the hoodie. It’s clearly written in the man code.
My husband loves his new Dude Robe set. I surprised my hubby with his new Dude Robe set (robe, shorts and pants in navy blue) for Father’s Day. He absolutely LOVES it and has been wearing it all day. Huge success and definitely a Winner! He says it’s so comfy, warm and excellent quality.
Thank you for making such a unique and cool product for the love of my life, my hubby and father to our 2 precious children. Shipping was fast and not one single problem with the product. Highly recommended.
Cool Clothing. We really enjoyed ordering from Dude Robes. We ended up doing a second order as the product and speed of delivery were so good first time round. They are as good as they appear to be online. Well done. Andrew.
Greatest Loungewear ever!! Ok so, I heard about this brand and thought it might be nice for my husband and son. I ordered one grey and one blue, same size. My husband took them both!! To say he loves them would be an understatement. He wears them daily. I ordered another set for my son and one for my Dad too. We are a DudeRobe Family!!
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