Stories and Strategies from Real Life: 12/4/15

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Some of the best learning happens when you read stories about real people and real companies. Read them for ideas, for lessons, and inspiration. This week’s stories and strategies from real life are about Brass, AtelierSavas, Vans Shoes, Kik, and Slack.

From Sara Castellanos: Boston isn’t a fashion hub, yet clothing startup Brass is growing swiftly

“Boston isn’t an epicenter for fashion, and that’s fine with the founders of Brass, a small e-commerce apparel startup with a big goal of offering women designer-quality apparel without the designer price tags.”

From Hannah Elliott: This Nashville Tailor Wants You to Never Buy Another Leather Jacket

“If a tailored suit is a modern gentleman’s armor, then the leather jacket is the urban warrior equivalent. Especially when made by Savannah Yarborough of AtelierSavas, who takes on a Savile Row-like commitment to make her product 100 percent bespoke.”

From Abram Brown: How Vans Shoes Became A Quiet Fashion Juggernaut

“Most shoes are instantly forgettable. There are exceptions–clean, pristine Stan Smiths, Bean’s duck boots. Likewise, Vans’ thick-soled skateboarding sneakers, which are, somewhat improbably, more relevant and prevalent now than at any other point in the company’s almost half-century of existence. Such longevity wasn’t always assured. ‘I like to joke that we’ve had a checkered past,’ says Vans President Kevin Bailey, a pair of the company’s kicks in his hands: iconic black-and-white checkerboard ones, recently reengineered for greater comfort at roughly half the weight. On his feet, a similar pair in rainbow checks.”

From Shane Dingman: The Canadian who wants to dethrone Facebook

“In a recent Comscore survey, Kik ranked among the top 20 stickiest apps in the U.S., alongside Netflix, Snapchat, Google Maps, Pinterest and Gmail. Translation: Kids flock to Kik and spend a lot of time there. That has helped Kik raise $120.5 million since 2009, $88 million of it in the past two years—huge sums for the Canadian tech scene (all currency in U.S. dollars). All that cash has catapulted Kik into ‘unicorn’ territory, the sobriquet for start-ups with a valuation north of $1 billion (a figure the intensely publicity-shy Livingston only reluctantly confirms).”

From Jeff Bercovici: Slack Is Our Company of the Year. Here’s Why Everybody’s Talking About It

“Stewart Butterfield has taken Slack from idea to software juggernaut in just over three years, entirely by word of mouth. What’s the secret to Slack’s phenomenal growth? It’s in the name.”

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