Karmaloop CEO Greg Selkoe: Why Having Creative People Makes Successful Businesses
I’ve always been enamored by the work Mr. Greg Selkoe of Karmaloop has been able to produce over the years. I think its because I can relate to him on the level that we both have ADHD and suffered with it tremendously during our pre-college years. However, even with these “drawbacks”, Greg has still managed to create such a successful company.
Karmaloop started with humble beginnings at the basement of Greg’s parents home back in 2000. After years of hustling and working with creative tastemakers like Pharrell Williams, Karmaloop has made over $200 million in revenues as of last year and is now looking to IPO. The number of clothing brands that try to get on Karmaloop daily is a testament to the high standards that the company holds in the products they carry.
We recently had the pleasure to catching up with Greg in LA before his flight back to NYC. In this exclusive interview, we discuss topics including how having ADHD has helped him in his success and why having creative people is crucial in business.
On how having A.D.H.D has helped him in this business
People who have A.D.H.D. tend to be very creative and I think because of that and because of the fact I can juggle a lot to different things and especially since, you know, business is always a struggle. [WE] are very blessed that Karmaloop has constantly been successful in the top line. When you’re doing really well, sometimes you run out of money anyways because you got to buy more goods and you’re like running around and you have to talk to different people while you’re running the business and so I think it just for some reason it works for me and works for a lot of people actually.
On the need for creative people in business
…the whole business world is basically thriving off creativity now. It used to be that the titans of business were like cars and coal and steel and all that shit, now it’s like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, it’s people who make technology, people who do design, it’s, you know, Oprah for Christ sakes. Look at the empire she’s built and that’s just been through her creativity.
…it’s funny because people who do everything very like road or went to linear direction often times look down on creative people and I don’t think that they are organized enough or whatever but in reality it’s really the creative people that are going to drive the economy and are continuing to innovate.
On the most unorthodox marketing he’s heard or done
It’s funny. I was thinking about this the other day — I know someone did some campaign with printed marketing on urinal pucks, I don’t know who wants to have their brand pissed on but someone did it. I was thinking that that’s an orthodox maybe not in the best way but certainly raises eyebrows. I thought what Zappos did with a — I’m in airport all the time and they created advertising in the little binds where you put your shoes in saying “Hey, buy shoes with Zappos”, some funny shit. So I thought that was really good. I mean, I think the most unorthodox thing we did was a Freak-A-Thon which was like 24 hours of craziness and [it] wasn’t marketing in the traditional sense where we went to say “Hey, buy” but to show the world as Karmaloop were willing to do stuff that takes risks and do things that are different and I think for those who don’t know what it is, we just did a live stream of and event where we had people like BUN B and Travie McCoy and different celebrity guests on. And then we also gave away gift codes and we took calls, a lot of different stuff. We had a riffraff, a bunch of different people on it. Just basically like showcasing our crazy lifestyle and then — but at the same time, giving away gift codes, getting people to interact with the site talking about stuff we’re having. I thought that was pretty good.
On how fashion designers and brands can stand out in an already very competitive and congested market place
…You got to continually innovate, the life cycle of attention so much shorter with Twitter and Instagram is like boom, people are on to the next thing…
His advice to young entrepreneurs
Don’t worry about having a fancy office. Don’t worry about any of that shit. Worry about producing the good work and then you’ll get all that stuff later.