Ash & Anvil Officially Launches with Shirts for Shorter Guys
After a successful crowdfunding campaign earlier this year and a stint in Venture for America’s (VFA) first-ever startup accelerator, Detroit-based Ash & Anvil officially launched its retail operation this month.
“Before, we were selling an idea,” Ash & Anvil co-founder Eric Huang said. “Our successful Indiegogo campaign proved that idea is valid.”
What Ash & Anvil offers is clothes for shorter guys, which the company defines as those 5’8” and under. Huang met his co-founder, Steven Mazur, through the VFA fellows program; both came to Detroit in 2013 to work at SocialProof, a startup in the Detroit Venture Partners portfolio, and both had been hard-pressed to find great clothes that fit them off the rack.
Their advisors at VFA suggested they start a company that fixes a problem. Mazur texted his girlfriend and asked what he complains about the most. “Shopping,” she replied. “I hate shopping with you because nothing ever fits.” A lightbulb went off after Huang and every other shorter guy he asked said they had the same problem.
Once Huang and Mazur realized they wanted to go into the clothing business together, they set about creating their inventory. Rather than trying to find existing lines that fit men with smaller proportions, the pair decided to design Ash & Anvil’s products from scratch, and they spent three months in Philadelphia last spring at VFA’s accelerator refining their ideas. By the end of the program, Huang said, they got additional grants that enabled them to pay for their initial inventory.
“It was the most shopping I’ve ever done,” Huang recalled of his time in Philly. “We’d find short guys and coerce them into trying on clothes. A lot of the brands we bought were not for shorter guys—the measurements needed to be tweaked, so we developed our own custom sizing.” The company’s first offering, an “everyday shirt,” now sells online in a variety of colors and prints for $69. Huang said the company intends to roll out more items in the near future—a refreshed line of everyday shirts, t-shirts, and knits are planned for the spring, followed by pants in the fall—and build a full-fledged brand.
Though Ash & Anvil doesn’t have a brick and mortar retail location yet, the company lives and operates out of a co-working space inside a house on Virginia Park. Mazur said the co-founders are living the “stereotypical ramen lifestyle” before the $55,000 they raised in crowdfunding and VFA grants runs out. Ash & Anvil plans to pursue a round of seed funding early next year.
“After we raise a seed round, we’ll hire people, get a proper office, and grow this thing right,” Mazur added.