1. What inspired you to start SAULT New England 12 years ago?
I saw the opportunity for a store that was a nod to classic New England but not so classic it wasn't able to be cool and evolve. I wanted a Men's store but not a hyper masculine that women would still like to shop at. I liked the concept of a mix of hard goods and clothing to tell a story based on clothing. I wanted to create that connection to the customer.
2. How has the fashion industry evolved since SAULT’s inception, and how has your brand adapted?
Back in 2011 the trend for mens was already about the skinny/ slim fit. It was very workwear and raw denim was hot. I mean .com was just becoming a major component to running a retail business. IG wasn't a thing, I mean Facebook was the only game. I feel like now with social media things are so different. Its more about knowing how and how much to post AND actually having a great store. It's a bit of a different game now.
3. What challenges did you face in the early years, and how did you overcome them?
Any anecdote or story that made you want to quit right there and then. I like to say that owning your own store is like riding a roller coaster. The ups and downs are extreme. I mean making this work for the past 12 years. I've had my fair share of challenges. Id say the biggest is finding a work life balance. I mean I've had to give up alot in life but the hard work does pay off and it's given me so much.
4. Can you share some stories of inspiration from the past 12 years?
We all get bogged down from time to time - What keeps you going? I'm a creative person at heart and worked on the merchandising side in my past corporate retail life. So the idea of pulling different items from different brands and creating a cohesive story is always satisfying. I joke that I put the giant puzzle together. It makes me feel good when I leave the store and look back at the work that I have done. The stores are my second home to me so making them look good and hearing customer feedback and having the sales is what keeps me going.
5. Tell us about the core values of SAULT - We understand you aren’t solving the world's problems but what does SAULT do other than make people look and feel their best?
We make sure that everyone feels welcomed to shop in our stores. The fact that that customer chose to walk into one of our shops and buy something means so much. We believe in being an asset to the neighborhoods we call home. It's so important to connect with our neighbors to cultivate a strong sense of community. I know what a small business means to the neighborhood and with a grouping of businesses can do for eachother. Also, We have worked with a local Boston High School to mentor students that are interested in pursuing fashion and retail as a carrier. Lastly We donate to our local Animal rescue shelters with our Give Back campaign as well as food shelters as we kick off the holidays season.
6. What has been the most popular item or brand in SAULT’s history?
Some pop into my head like our continued partnership with New England Shirt Co. We have worked together since day one. Bob the owner is great to work with and I like the idea that we can have items in our stores that are manufactured here in New England. I still have the first NESC woven still in my closet. Its a bit small for me now but its a little history that Ill hold onto. The other collection I'm very proud of are our graphic Ts. Its cool to see them out in the world. We get all of our graphics printed in Portsmouth NH. about two miles from our store. Again its nice to know the owner and see his small business grow. Our most popular graphics have been the Seagull and the EAST COAST graphics. I've actually seen a few Knockoffs of the East Coast around. I mean we are going on 7-8 years with that one image. Its just the life of design. Its all borrowed from someone at this point.
7. SAULT has some loyal followers and customers - How have you maintained customer loyalty and engagement over the years?
I like to think our stores are fun to shop and just be in. Its about the product, the team, the music, the presentation. Its all so important. SAULT is not about the hard sell. It's more about being helpful and allowing the customer to shop. We are here to give advice and help point people in the right direction. I think that keeps people loyal. Its being honest and not taking things so seriously with what we sell.
8. Share some insights into the creative process behind designing and curating your collections. I've always looked to the classic pieces to build on. I think would i wear this, would my customer buy this?
Is this an honest price, is the quality there, will this make sense in the shops? I mean it's a lot to think about. I over think it all. Haha.
9. What advice would you give Philip Saul from 12 years ago?
I guess the best advice would be that the hard work will pay off in the near future, to enjoy all the good moments and that the bad times are opportunities to learn from.
10. Where is SAULT headed? What does 12 years from now look like?
I would love to have a few more locations under our belt. We have been looking in Boston for a third location but it needs to make sense. We will continue growing our womens and Kids business but never losing sight of the core mens business that has kept us on top all these years.