The Profit Effect

When Trevor Jones' mother passed away from breast cancer, he lost more than just a parent -- he lost the key figure behind Flex Watches, his charity-based business. The stylish wristwatch company, which he'd co-founded with childhood friend Travis Lubinsky, was created with her as its charitable muse and carried a suitable mission: 10 distinct watch styles with 10 percent of proceeds donated to 10 charities.

But after her passing, Jones found it hard to continue telling his mother's story and largely abandoned the brand identity that had brought Flex success. Without that guiding light, Flex became unfocused and began to spiral into an unremarkable, me-too luxury watch brand. Sales soon drastically dropped. But a visit from The Profit's Marcus Lemonis was all it took to get this charitable company back to its roots and back in the black.

In 2016, when Marcus first arrived at Flex, he was puzzled by the absence of the colorful watches and charities that had initially attracted him to the business. It soon became clear to him that Trevor, unable to cope with his Mother's death, had steered Flex away from its successful branding model. He also isolated another major flaw in the business: Travis, with his eye fixed on cutting costs, often rushed out unfinished and cheaply made products.

To get Flex back on track, Marcus had to do more than just "rebuild the brand using social media, using packaging [and] product development." He also needed to help heal Trevor's emotional wounds. And that he did in a touching heart to heart that convinced the young founder to reignite his passion for charity and embrace his mother's legacy.

As a result, the '10 colors, 10 charities, 10% donation' model was reinstated. Marcus even overhauled the look of Flex's in-store displays, packaging and watch designs, putting the company back on the path to success.

Today, Flex is flourishing once again with a renewed focus, diverse designs and additional charities onboard. "We're excited to expand on not just our ten causes, but more causes and introduce the cause per month. And get more and more people involved and really make a difference in what we're doing," says Brad.

And, due in no small part to their performance under Marcus' watch, the tiny team of three has now been folded into a new company under his umbrella: ML Creative. The company, which functions as an e-commerce and digital marketing agency, works alongside a portfolio of Lemonis' brands like InkkasDiLascia, among others, to help with their campaigns.

"Marcus really recognized our skill sets and our ability to sell product online and create cohesive campaigns from the top of the funnel to the remarketing to the conversion," says Travis of the Flex team's new agency life.

Thanks to Marcus' talent for spotting creativity and passion for backing businesses with a cause, Flex continues to expand, giving the company ample time to carry out its charitable mission.

Vulnerability is not weakness

My journey as a small business owner started 11 years ago on winter break. My initial goal was to bring in $2,000 a month (printing T-shirts), so that I did not have to work over summer. The company grew through word of mouth, and eventually became my career. This experience gave me insight on how to create a product, run a business and market using the internet. After 5 years of printing T-shirts, I was excited to apply what I learned to Flex Watches and make a difference. 

We launched www.flexwatches.com and had some early success after appearing on MTV’s “Real World”. We went on to work with some amazing charities, a-list celebrities and even sold our products in national retail chains. Everything was going great, then we decided to change the direction to accommodate our retailers. We lost sight of who we are, and as a result tried to reinvent ourselves. 

Last year during winter break I felt lost, so I decided to reach out to Marcus Lemoins. I knew if we had the opportunity to work with Marcus it could change my life. After appearing on his TV Show I quickly learned my life lesson of 2016: Vulnerability is not weakness. By being honest with myself and the rest of the world, I was able to grow as a person and change the outcome of my life. I am so grateful to have this opportunity and share it with all of you. I could not be more excited for this year and want to thank everyone who continues to support me. Best of luck in 2017 and lets all do our part to make a difference!

6 Lessons From Marcus Lemonis

This past year I had the opportunity to go on The Profit with Marcus Lemonis. It was one of the best experiences of my life, so I decided to put together 6 lessons that I learned from Marcus. 

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1. Branding

It is very important to know your true brand identity. You must be able to choose fonts, logos, colors, patterns, a mission statement and a tagline that represent your brand. There should be a clear message from the verbiage to the ad copy. All of the brand partnerships should align with the brand vision and only amplify the story. If their is a social component, it should be highlighted and explained with a clear metric. 

2. Creating products

It is not about getting things done fast and cheap. In fact, when it comes to creating products it is all about slowing down and buying into the creative process. The core of every new product is the design and creation process. The look and feel of the product will determine how it is developed. It is very important to go through a development process before jumping into production.

3. Product packaging

Use the packaging to tell your story and showcase your product. I always took short cuts and tried to keep costs as low as possible. In reality, you should spend more on your packaging than you probably think. The perceived value of the packaging will make your customer want to purchase from you again and even gift your products to others. 

4. Merchandising

A great way to stand out and tell your story is by creating custom fixtures and displays. ON The Profit, Marcus taught me about the silent salesman. Meaning, your display should be able to sell the customer on your products without a store employee having to explain what it is. Another crucial aspect is working with you retail partners to create a full brand experience to match their stores “DNA”. You want your products to stand out, but fit naturally in their environment. 

5. Sales funnels

It is no secret that a big part of what I do is online marketing. I am always reading and researching new methods and techniques to sell products online. Even though I did know a fair amount, it is always evolving and important to adapt. I learned that using funnels makes it easier to drive targeted traffic and find custom audiences. I have become obsessed with building optimized sales funnels and identifying the right kind of traffic. 

6. Sales pitch

The most important thing I learned was creating a personal connection between your subject and your brand. Once their is an emotional connection it is much easier to have an open discussion about your product. You always want to lead with your story and be ready to demonstrate how you can execute what your pitching.