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Groomsmen, Say Goodbye to that Awkward-Fitting Rental Tux

Groomsmen, Say Goodbye to that Awkward-Fitting Rental TuxOn a recent sunny afternoon inSanta Monica,CA, Yun-Yi Goh and her husband, Kevin Yuen, are surveying a large stack of heavy boxes, one of several stacks that fill every inch of spare closest space in the apartment where they live and work.

“Of course, the black and gray ties are in the one at the bottom,” says Goh, pointing to the slightly misshapen box at the bottom of the pile that is clearly bearing the weight of its counterparts above. A plan is devised by Yuen to cut a window in the side of the box in order to extract said ties without disturbing the entire set-up of boxes both above and beside.

Goh is busy this day restocking inventory for her online business The Grunion Run Groomsmen Shop (http://www.TheGrunionRun.com). Launched in March 2012, The Grunion Run offers grooms and groomsmen a hip alternative to the traditional ill-fitting rental tuxedos commonly worn in weddings. Addressing the growing trend towards less formal, more casual weddings, The Grunion Run apparel and accessories have a modern vintage appeal that attracts couples looking for creative options through which to express their personal style. The line currently features neckties, bow ties, fitted shirts, vests, suspenders, hats, and socks in a range of colors and patterns.

Along with a desire to showcase a unique design point of view using quality materials, it is equally part of the company’s ethos that the products be affordable and accessible to a broad range of customers.

Groomsmen, Say Goodbye to that Awkward-Fitting Rental TuxThe concept for The Grunion Run began to take form in June 2011. After years of working on the couple’s other educational publishing and media businesses, Goh started to feel antsy for a new creative challenge. Thinking back to her own wedding in 2006 and how difficult it was to find well-priced, stylish pieces for the groomsmen that could also work well after the wedding, Goh looked around the market and was surprised to find that in the five years since, while wedding style and design had greatly evolved, very little had changed in the men’s apparel segment of the wedding industry. Unlike for brides and bridesmaids, there was no single outlet or source for men that focused on non-tuxedo wedding options.

So work began on The Grunion Run with Goh investing a small sum from her savings to produce a tightly edited line that would allow her to test the concept without risking too much. Bootstrapping a new venture is something familiar to Goh. She and Yuen built their existing two companies from scratch in 2005 and she knew that keeping costs low was going to require doing as much work as she could on her own.

Having no formal training in fashion design, Goh spent countless hours in retail stores poring over the construction and style of popular items. Combining elements that she felt would create trendy yet timeless pieces, the line endeavors to reflect the hipster street styles that are quickly becoming part of today’s wedding culture. The next step was to find reliable manufacturers who could execute and deliver. After a tireless process of vetting vendors initially found on websites like Alibaba and Global Sources, Goh chose a handful of manufacturers to carryout the vision at the price point and quality level she insisted upon.

With the clothes in manufacturing, attention turned to selling. Starting with an online store was the most obvious avenue to maintain low overheads, as was juggling closet space to allow warehousing and fulfillment to happen out of the apartment Goh shares with Yuen. With infrastructure costs under control, Goh also saved money by shooting all the photography for the website herself relying solely on her iPhone, Photoshop, and some helpful friends as models. And with so many easily customizable ecommerce web platforms available today, paying a large sum for a proprietary website was unnecessary; getting a web store up and running only cost $50/month.

Since the majority of the initial investment went towards inventory, marketing and advertising on a shoestring is now the biggest challenge for The Grunion Run. While Goh is already reinvesting cash flow back into the marketing side of the business, without additional financing to fund a more extensive advertising program, leveraging social media and other cost-effective marketing tools to build brand awareness become even more critical. As with any startup venture, time ultimately becomes the most valuable currency in the early stages; this rings even more true when considering how to build effective social media campaigns.

Groomsmen, Say Goodbye to that Awkward-Fitting Rental TuxOne way the company is getting its name out is by looking for opportunities to collaborate and partner with other industry vendors on events and promotions; piggybacking their marketing efforts has helped The Grunion Run earn some “free” PR. While not the most direct way to reach its target audience, the company has been able to create some buzz without taxing its wallet.

In less than 9 months, The Grunion Run has gone from concept stage to making its first sale, and has been growing steadily every since. While it is early yet in the trajectory of the business, The Grunion Run is uniquely positioned in the wedding apparel market and has quickly established a name for its great design and affordability.

Back in the apartment, Yuen, who now handles the daily operations and business side of the company, has deftly extracted the necessary ties for restocking without causing the whole set up of boxes to collapse. He looks at Goh with a smile and says, “All it took was a little ingenuity and everything is still standing.”

So far, with a little ingenuity and a lot of hard work, The Grunion Run Groomsmen Shop is not only still standing but will also soon be expanding.

You can find The Grunion Run Groomsmen Shop on the web at:

Shop — http://www.TheGrunionRun.com

Twitter — (@TheGrunionRun) http://twitter.com/thegrunionrun

Facebook — http://www.facebook.com/TheGrunionRun

Tumblr — grunionrun.tumblr.com

Pinterest — http://pinterest.com/thegrunionrun/

Watch The Grunion Run Look Book 2012 video:

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