Kenny Haisfield (a.k.a. Kenny Flowers) knows about a good time– and good business. If you haven’t seen his amazing website or dreamy Instagram feed, do yourself a favor and search for Kenny Flowers. This modern resort wear brand started small and has grown into an international lifestyle brand. With a background in user experience and a passion for creating a quality product, Kenny has the right toolbox for a thriving e-commerce business. Check out how Kenny’s business has boomed- all out of a love for his dad’s Hawaii print shirt.
Kenny recalls how that same Hawaii print shirt was his go-to shirt for good times. He started his e-commerce journey with the dream to create a line that would be part of people’s best memories.
Hopping on a Plane to Bali
With a background in user experience, Kenny had the right mindset and know-how to create a memorable customer journey. He worked as a customer experience consultant, helping other brands to create experiences to improve customer journeys. When he thought about his passion project however, it was usually patterned after the shirt brought him good times. He quit his job at IBM to follow his calling, and hopped on a plane to Bali to follow his passion. He didn’t have any fashion or production experience- just a lot of excitement and awareness of the customer experience he wanted to create.
Kenny had a connection to Bali and though he didn’t have any experience in the fashion industry, he wanted to get his hands dirty and figure out how to modernize resort wear. Kenny stands by the fact that enjoying what he’s doing is a central attribute to his success. Bali is a very artistic community, so Kenny worked with local designers and sifted through vintage fabric shops to find amazing designs that never saw the light of day.
Kenny started his journey with a customer mindset, creating a product that he wished he could find himself. He focused on selecting unique designs and an embodiment of the island spirit. Kenny asserts that the fit, the design, and the quality of the fabric – all three have to be present for an excellent piece. He wasn’t just making shirts to sell- he was designing for the experience of his customers.
In 2015 when Kenny got started, Hawaiian shirts were more of a novelty and not as visible. Kenny recognizes that his shirts evoke personality and with social media outlets, personality is key to visibility. Kenny wanted to expand the typical view of a Hawaiian shirt beyond what it was in 2015 by finding different prints for different outings. He points out that resort wear looks different for different people, so he set out to create designs that would fit in at any celebration.
Kenny was focused on quality, not marketing. Kenny started by sending a handful of shirts out to family and friends back in the States. His family and friends did the marketing by spreading the word at parties and outings by just wearing the shirts out. Without a business plan, things moved forward day-by-day. Kenny cites not having a business plan as a pro at the time, because his focus was on making the best product he could and he had an added flexibility.
From Vision to Production: Finding a Factory Fit
To take his product to production, he met with multiple factories and really connected with a small boutique factory.
Kenny recommends to everyone to:
- Have a relationship with your factory and
- To see everything from their perspective.
He offered them insight into his forward-moving vision: that orders would continue to grow and the factory would grow with it. There are benefits to working with bigger factories, but Kenny has seen the benefits of growing with a smaller factory. Some of those benefits are more flexibility when things come up, like last minute orders when things sell out.
Kenny says to bring your factory, friends, and family into your dream. As a small business, be so appreciative of anyone who helps you. Anything from an Instagram like to staying open a few minutes to get your order out should be shown appreciation.
Standing Out: Shopify Site Presence
For his online E-commerce presence, Kenny started with Shopify from the beginning. He recognized that he didn’t have the resources to bring on a full development team. Instead, Kenny kept his design simple and focused on the images his brand conveyed best.
Keith and Kenny discuss how when it comes to customer expectations, there are certain times to “be” uniquely your brand, and there are certain times that general experience expectations matter. Users have an expectation for what their online shopping experience will be, so making it different can be perceived as a negative.
Keith points out the amazing imagery on Kenny’s site; Kenny Flowers is abundant with amazing images that tell the brand story and show the experience users will have wearing the brand. Pictures matter on e-commerce!
We can’t say enough about the difference that high quality imagery will make for your company. The goal isn’t to tell customers how to fit in with our brand; we want them to create their own experience and feel that energy through brand elements, from the product names to the imagery.
Taking good photography is an investment in your company.
What’s the one thing you wish you had known?
Kenny shares 3 things he wish he had known or implemented from the get-go:
- The first 2 years, Kenny had no idea what paid ads or press were. If you’re starting something that’s exciting, new and different, try to get yourself featured! There’s always a hey-day on new social media channels. Kenny Flowers has had a ton of success with sharing on social media.
- Remarketing matters – give people reminders that you’re out there in case that they’re ready to buy now or got distracted.
- Document your entrepreneurial journey of starting your business. “I wish I had more video- not high quality or anything- but just more video to have to throw-back to to remember where I was.”
Kenny recognizes the importance of education and how it empowers people to follow their dreams. Kenny started CEO4Teens, an education foundation, in 2007. The CEO4Teens organization has sent more than 150 students to college in Bali alone, and impacts students worldwide.
Learn more about Kenny’s brand and mission on the Kenny Flowers Website