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“I went from selling to my town to selling nationwide in one week”
RanD Pitts, a small-town New Jersey resident, created Evolve, which is a successful men’s fashion boutique. Evolve purchased their online shop after COVID-19. Their products are now sold out all over the country, they offer curbside pickup to locals, and their sales are increasing by 30% each week.
Starting your own fashion business
“We wanted SoHo to Somerville.”
Pitts was a suburban resident of Evolve Clothing Gallery, and we spoke with him. He wore a bold button-down and white shirt on a cold May day 2020. We would not expect anything less.
Twenty-five year ago, Pitt’s Somerville shopfront was quite different. They sold music and pagers back then. In 2010, technology had rendered their product categories obsolete. Pitts laughs, saying, “We knew that we had to change.”
Pitts returned to his first passion in 2010, styling. He graduated from the Parsons School of Design and already had the skills, drive, and education to enter the industry. This was the catalyst for Evolve’s first evolutionary step, fashion.
There were some concerns about opening a boutique of fashion in small-town New Jersey. The suburb’s population is just 12,000. Pitts says that there were many people who didn’t understand what we were doing, and brought these trends to the town. But that’s precisely why we moved to Somerville. To fulfill that need.” “We wanted SoHo to Somerville.”
Designers were skeptical as well. Evolve had to show that it was a trustworthy boutique in order to be accepted by brand representatives. Pitts says that at first we were constantly told ‘no’. “It is impossible to find the one brand that will open doors for you.
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Pitts’ passion helped him persevere through all the “no”s. Akshay Chanillo (one of his stylists) says Pitts’ response to rejection taught him how to bounce back. He said that he never wanted to destroy any relationships. Chanillo states that it is important to keep strong relationships because you never know what might happen. “And it has often worked out in our favor, and that’s a lot.
Evolve was able to gain more recognition by establishing their social networks, attending trade shows, and strengthening relationships with the fashion industry. They grew faster as they grew. Pitts states, “As we climbed higher, the ladder got easier and easier.”
Their success was evident in 2017. Evolve was finally invited to showrooms by designers, who flew them in with no expenses. Pitts recalls the time Reigning Champ invited Evolve to an art installation that showcased their Spring/Summer collections. Pitts says, “We were blown over.” Pitts says that they were like two children, saying “Here we go, it’s the big wide world!” It was possible!
Living in brick-and mortar
“Evolve is the best thing in my life.” My dream has come true.”
Evolve, a fashionable men’s fashion house, has the right interior. Pitts arranges his clothes racks in an elegant manner. The store is decorated with neon signs and accent walls, as well as fashion-forward quotes.
“Because our store is located in Somerville, people walk in thinking we are just a regular clothes shop. Pitts states that Evolve is so much more than this. Their core customer base understands what makes Evolve so special. “We have become a destination where people come from all over the globe to visit us.”
Pitts and his professional team of stylists are dedicated to their clients. Pitts says, “We want our guys to look the best they can.” Evolve is committed to their clients’ trust. Evolve will partner with stylists to help clients curate their wardrobes once they trust them.
Evolve’s diligence and dedication helps them spot trends before they hit the runways. Pitts is proud of the fact that Evolve caught the jogger pants early, but he is less proud about finding the large white tee. Trends come and go, but that’s okay. Evolve’s team travels around the globe to keep up with all trends. “We see everything years ahead of the market before it hits the markets.”
Evolve is trusted by many brands today. Evolve has changed the game. Pitts is now refusing to work with brands that don’t align with his vision. Evolve’s exclusivity allows them to define their style and find the right fashion labels by maintaining that level of exclusivity. Pitts states that Evolve’s goal is to be unique and offer clients exclusive wardrobes.
Towards an Online Store
“I went from selling in my locality to selling all over the country in a week. It’s a completely new business.
Pitts’ store continued to grow until March 2020. Evolve’s New Jersey storefront was closed when COVID-19 went out of business. RanD was devastated. RanD was devastated. Pitts claims that no place in our business plan said, “You must shut down because of a pandemic.”
The Evolve team reacted after a brief moment of panic. Evolve’s second evolution is from brick-and mortar to online sales. Pitts originally set up a Wix website in order to establish an online presence. He created an online store, explored Wix’s eCommerce tools and set up custom product galleries. Evolve also directed their social media and email marketing.
Pitts was used to brick-and-mortar so he was delighted by the online opportunities. Evolve is able to stay productive thanks to its online store. He says that instead of having one store in a town, we now have multiple stores in every state.
“Our website is now everything for us.”
Pitts optimized his website using Wix SEO Wiz so that customers can now buy from all over the country. One sneaker style was even sold exclusively through search. Evolve was the only store in the U.S. to carry the shoe.
In California, they were found by customers within five minutes and purchased every pair.
Evolve used Wix eCommerce’s advanced features to upgrade their store. Pitts says, “We really expanded.” “We are expanding in ways that we have never been able before,” Pitts says.
Evolve’s sales are increasing by 30% week-over-week, according to the results. Evolve’s order notifications can sometimes pop up so quickly on his Wix Owner App that it interrupts Pitts family dinners. Pitts smiled and said, “We don’t seem to mind.” But not these days.”
Create a store feel
“What we do makes us special. That’s what we are trying to do online.
Pitts curates Evolve’s energy with the same care as his collections. He ensures that Evolve retains its unique brand by showcasing all brands they have. He says, “We want that vibe where people walk into and feel what we do.” He strives to bring out all the senses. For example, customers can walk in and smell the fragrances for men. Pitts is most proud of his music. He says music has been a part of Evolve’s puzzle to create the mood. He is a former DJ and gets excited when people ask him about the music.
Pitts kept his store’s ambience online by using social media, product photos, and online shop design. He says, “It transcends from our shop onto our website.”
Pitts is missing one of his favorite aspects about brick-and mortar. Pitts misses the interaction with customers. “Seeing how their day went, understanding their needs, and introducing a brand to them,” Pitts said. Pitts solved this problem by adding live chat to their website. Although it isn’t the same as being in person, Evolve can now offer personalized service to each customer.
“The road to the next step is always open to you.”
Pitts has discovered the power of eCommerce and there is no turning back. He now has two locations, one in Somerville and one online. He predicts that things will be even better after the shutdown is over. “Our clients will return, and our online business will continue to thrive as it is now. The future is bright.”
Pitts will continue to develop his online store until that day comes. He’ll be making improvements in his brick-and mortar location, and posting on social media to get his customers excited. Pitts acknowledges that he cannot predict what the future will bring. He adapts by learning from his industry. “We’ll always change because fashion changes,” he states. We didn’t stop after this hit. Thanks to our website, we never stopped moving. We are always on the lookout for the next great, best thing.