Meet The Colorado Bro Who Quit His Corporate Job In NYC To Start Building A Hawaiian Shirt Empire

by 1 year ago

Back at the beginning of the summer, we told you about the Floral Friday revolution sweeping the nation this summer. Floral Hawaiian shirts are everywhere this summer, clearly one of the defining trends for Bros that you don’t have to be ashamed of. You look great, you feel comfortable, and they’re flattering-as-hell to your dad bod. What’s not to love?

One of the brands embracing the Floral Friday revolution is Kenny Flowers. Kenny is living the Bro dream — He left his soul-crushing 9-to-5 corporate in New York City to move to Bali and start building a Hawaiian shirt empire after figuring out how to print and manufacture super-soft party shirts.

Here’s how he did it. Go forth and pursue those entrepreneurial dreams of your own, Bros.

Kenny Flowers wants you to look fresh for #FloralFriday, so they’re offering BroBible readers a 10% discount on all orders. All you have to do is find your favorite shirt and insert the following code at checkout: BROBIBLE, BROBIBLE10, or FLORALFRIDAY.

SHOP: KENNY FLOWERS SHIRTS

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How did you start Kenny Flowers? Tell us a little bit about how it got started?

When I went off to college, my dad gave me an old hand-me-down Hawaiian and it became my go-to shirt for good times. That floral, faded pink beauty went everywhere with me and I loved how I felt wearing it. There were a lot of good times, though, and sure enough people started to call me out for wearing the same shirt all the time.

One night, on a Boston Harbor sunset booze cruise with some friends, a buddy goes, “You always wear the same Hawaiian shirt, why not get some new ones?” I told him how I’d have a party shirt for every occasion if I could, but that it was hard to find shirts that look great and are fun to wear. A couple beers later, everything clicked. I’d quit my corporate job in NYC, move to Bali, where my grandma was already living, and set out to make the freshest, best-quality tropical shirts that everyone could have a great time in.

Then, bada bing, bada boom, I was on a flight to Bali to remix the classic Hawaiian shirt and Kenny Flowers began to blossom.

How did you decide to make this your full-time hustle?

I was a consultant at the time and let’s be honest: I didn’t know a single thing about how to start a clothing company. If I was going to jump in and do this thing right, doing it as a side hustle was never an option.

How do you design the shirts?

My design process involves talking to as many people as possible, putting a huge priority in understanding what they look for in a KF shirt, and where and when they’d wear one. Some guys are gearing up for wild music festival weekends and want shirts louder than the music. Others are looking to bring some fiesta into the office with some fresh shirts on Floral Friday. And some are looking for more subtle and clean designs to wear out in the city or on weekends in the Hamptons. Envisioning where and how guys will rock the shirts helps me out a lot in the design process.

The perfect example of KF’s design thinking is The Carolina Bloom. I know firsthand the energy that comes from beating Duke in basketball or even winning the NCAA, so I knew that fans would need something that had more pop than a basic polo yet kept the fun classy enough. Before I knew it, the seed for The Carolina Bloom was planted and guys soon had a shirt they could rock with khakis on gameday and to the beach on the weekends.

With that said, everyone has their own style and it’s up to you find the right shirt for whatever you’re getting into. I have a friend who is usually more reserved but The Napple is his “let’s go nuts” shirt, whereas my more frat-star friends tend to look to ones like The Island Hopper or Mr. Bloombastic to boogie. I try to make sure there’s something for everyone, and for every occasion.

Your shirts are so incredibly soft. Quality is obviously incredibly important to you. How do you ensure such a top tier shirt?

It starts with me exploring the whole island of Bali to find the coolest, highest quality fabrics out there and to work on fun designs with young, talented artisans. The shirts themselves are made fresh in a beautiful workspace surrounded by Bali rice fields. I’m proud to say that the working conditions here are laid-back, with lots of time taken off to participate in village ceremonies and to spend time with their families. That vibe and overall chill is transferred into the shirts we rock. You can feel good knowing your Flowers were made with the best of energy, a tropical breeze, and a strong work/life balance by everyone involved.

What are some of the best testimonials you’ve received about the shirts so far?

It makes my day every time I receive a message from a customer about how much they love the shirts. The best testimonial to Kenny Flowers is one I get pretty often, and it’s “Dude – loved rocking the shirt, I got a ton of compliments and had a blast wearing it.”

I really have the early bloomers crushing it in the shirts out there to thank for the brand growing so much and there’s nothing better than hearing that guys are out there feeling great, having a blast in the shirts, and spreading the word about Kenny Flowers on the ground.

Fresh prints of Bali. #behindtheseams #templeofbloom

A post shared by Kenny Flowers (@kennyflowers_) on

Some other fun, memorable quotes I’ve gotten from customers are:

“The first time you throw on a Kenny Flowers is like the freedom of finally kicking a terrible habit, such as wearing too many v-necks.” – Nick, New York

“I wore a KF shirt on my second date with my girlfriend. Are we still together because of it? Probably.” – Andrew, Denver

“We started doing Hawaiian shirt Fridays in college. However, life has changed since then and KF shirts make it easy to get a similar feel of having fun while not looking like you’re still hanging on to your less fashionable days. It’s the adult way to have a good time.” – Eric, Chicago

“It was our anniversary and we were grabbing drinks at the Sydney Opera Bar. Seeing him in the shirt I got him reminded me that I always have been and always will be the better gift giver in the relationship.” – Kirstie, Atlanta

There are a lot of small brands in the clothing start-ups in the space. Who are some of your favorite players in the game?

I love brands that feel personal rather than faceless. When I’m buying from brands, I really want to feel like I’m joining something and that my business is going to the right type of people – people you’d want to hang out with and see do well.

The first brand that pops to mind that fits that is State and Liberty – a performance-fabric dress shirt brand started by a couple of great dudes in Ann Arbor. If I had to dress up for work, I’d wear them every day, and I’d have a few in rotation as they’re ideal for weddings and the more formal type of occasions.

What’s the next step in the evolution of the brand?

KF is a small brand right now but we’re growing faster and faster through word of mouth every day. The next step is all about reaching new audiences and getting them in on the fun. We’ve put a lot of work into setting up and starting the party. Now it’s time to invite more and more people to come and hang.

Can you tell us anything about your next collection?

I mentioned before that we try to make go-to shirts that are right for all kinds of different occasions, and I’ve gotten feedback that what we do is great for when it’s warm out but maybe not as much the winter months. With that, you can expect the Funky Fall collection to keep the fiesta going even as the weather cools off. We have some awesome shirts with a spicy, south-of-the-border vibe that’ll throw people off their flannel/Henley game.

Now that you’re in the game, what’s the best advice you’d give to an aspiring entrepreneur?

Think through the worst-case scenario of making the jump and make sure you’re 100% comfortable with what you’re risking if things don’t go right. Then, you know that if worse comes to worst, it will still have been a solid chapter of your life. Once you’ve done this, don’t think about it again. Get out there and make the best case happen!

For me, I knew that, worst-case scenario, I’d spend a few months living in Bali learning an invaluable amount about international business, production, fashion and culture and I’d have a lifetime supply of sweet, meaningful shirts for myself to wear if none of them sold. Luckily, they did. Now I can still rock a lifetime supply of leisure shirts, but I can also be a big part of helping you guys to as well.

Kenny Flowers wants you to look fresh for #FloralFriday, so they’re offering BroBible readers a 10% discount on all orders. All you have to do is find your favorite shirt and insert the following code at checkout: BROBIBLE, BROBIBLE10, or FLORALFRIDAY.

BUY YOUR FLORAL FRIDAY SHIRT NOW


TAGSbro entrepreneursclothesclothes for brosFashionfloral fridayhawaiian shirtsliving the dreamMen's fashionshirtsStyle

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