Photography by Nile Johnson
Launching a business and keeping it afloat takes hard work, dedication, and often times, wearing multiple hats. Steve Trayner, the CEO of Barbarian Agency, knows this all too well. The full service fashion agency provides Public Relations, Wholesaling, and Consulting for a number of brands they represent like Stutterheim, Kai-aakmann, and two brands that will be at Capsule Market Square next weekend, Sailormade and Daniel Wellington. Today, Barbarian Agency has two bases in New York City and Los Angeles to better provide for their clients and continue to influence the fashion marketplace.
We caught up with Steve to get the lowdown on his company and for some advice for those looking to start their own business. Lets welcome Barbarian Agency into our group of Influential Showrooms...
Tell us about your showroom.
We qualify ourselves as an agency. The reason being that a showroom" in our mind is a term thats exhausted and sometimes comes with a preconceived definition; often a negative one. Barbarian is as much a consultancy as a sales engine and a distributor. At this point, weve curated our brands to include a myriad of categories that diversify our offerings: timepieces, raingear, footwear, collection and accessories. Our goal is keep our business resilient through an in-season business and a pre-booking pipeline. Through this, weve seen price point and aesthetics turn out to be key. People are selling things that represent quality but also have a convergence of price, trend and aesthetic. By taking a stake in each brand's success locally were not just a transactional hired gun but a long term developmental partner.
What sets Barbarian Agency apart from others?
Barbarians desire is to be vertical involved with each brand and also have a high sense of longevity at our core. In an industry with so much turnover in staff and brands, our aim is to disrupt that culture and curate an environment where our involvement with brands stretch beyond just sales and into communications, development, flagship involvement, editorial and online retail. Weve grown like a weed with this fresh vision and the mentality from our entire team that they are building something different than the remainder of the industry has struck a chord of significance with everyone. Its also made a difference in perception especially in such an archaic industry.
Why did you decide to take the leap and open your own business?
I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and post college where I studied music found that I had this strong desire to start something. I believed so strongly in the power of a compelling story paired with a product that I wanted to tell the story myself. I wanted to find beautiful brands earlier in their evolutionary process and then bring them to the regions they couldnt get into.
I am strong believer that you can bring commerce to the things you love. I love good stories.
As a young entrepreneur- what are some of the challenges youve had to face and how did you do it?
Where should I start? There are so many lessons Ive learned thus far.
That being said I think its the realization that in the end its a business and beyond the love of doing something you must know how to run the details and plan properly. In addition to that it comes down to people and making sure the relationships that are surrounding you are genuine and you actually care about them.
Ive found my greatest asset has been making expectations clear, and if say I am the best at what we do, then to be the best. If you claim your competency is X", then be the best at X" that you can be. Also redefine your economic denominator to be something that works and can be refined continually. Every season, and every quarter I am getting better at making the most intelligent predictions possible for products and then retaining my relationships to be worthwhile and long term. Just build something that matters in the end beyond the stuff you sell.