Matthew Multerer – Co-Founder and CEO of Finespun Clothing

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. That goes for learning about new topics, finding new opportunities, connecting with new people, and so on. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

Matthew Multerer launched Finespun Clothing, a new men’s tailored clothing company, in the summer of 2016. Finespun is anchored by garments that feature the same quality you expect from high-end brands, but without the lofty price tag. By interrupting the traditional retail supply chain and applying direct-to-consumer principles, Finespun sells boutique-worthy items at reasonable prices exclusively at The result is attainable luxury.

Matt is new to the entrepreneurship world, having spent his entire career of nearly 15 years in finance and banking. After graduating from Indiana University with degrees in Accounting and Finance, Matt cut his teeth in New York City with Bear Stearns’ Investment Banking Group running financial models, preparing client presentations, and way-to-often working late into the night doing the bidding of senior bankers.

Next, he moved into the commercial banking world at JPMorgan Chase first in Indianapolis and then Louisville. Over a decade of advising clients on capital strategy, financing structures, and cash management gave Matt a wealth of insight into what makes companies tick.

In the spring of 2016 Matt decided to cut the corporate cord and jump full bore into building a business from scratch. He is now living a classic entrepreneur story: bootstrapped start-up launched from a basement (actually, upstairs bedroom) looking to carve a niche from an existing market full of big players with huge budgets and years of know-how. Daunting? Perhaps. But it is an industry that is being disrupted by upstart brands putting a stake thru the traditional retail model to create premium items for a fraction of the price. Matt and Finespun aren’t looking to change the world, per se, but rather help it smartly dress a little better.

Where did the idea for Finespun Clothing come from?

Though I started off in the corporate finance world, one of my career goals has always been to own a business. The specific Finespun idea was one that grew in my head over several years without me initially realizing. I’m a picky shopper, as my wife will gladly confirm. While most of my days were spent in the banker uniform (dark suit, plain shirt and tie), I liked to stand out with gingham shirts, pocket squares, “dub monk” shoes, etc, plus mix in beautiful sport coats. I have sampled just about all that is in the market today, from department stores to expensive boutiques. What I found was a huge gap in terms of price and quality between mass produced and true luxury, with less selection in between. I wanted better items, but I always cringed at the price jump. So I sought out e-commerce custom brands as a way to bridge that gap, to find higher quality that I could tailor to my closet, fit, and lifestyle. I didn’t mind if these items were missing a big name label.

The question that formed was thus: what if you could transfer the custom approach of creating tailored clothing to ready-to-wear? Pack a lot of punch into an item, but design professionally so as to eliminate unnecessary costs. I determined the ‘better’ I was looking for was possible, and my business partner and I set out to build our company around the idea that luxury shouldn’t cost a fortune.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I have rotating areas where I focus my efforts. I check and prepare orders first, then jump into photo editing, website tweaks, marketing planning, social media posts and content prep, and talking with my suppliers and partner. And then usually more photo editing. It’s a cliché, but you really do wear many hats when just a 2-person start-up, and you must constantly prioritize activities to advance the ball.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I’m a tester and consensus builder. After conducting research on an idea with my co-owner, we lean on a core group of friends and acquaintances to review the details and brainstorm alternatives. We obviously want to know if someone will wear an item, and if the story is meaningful and the messaging is clear. We try to polish the product as much as we can, but also take a small batch approach so we can stay nimble once pushing the idea or product out to the wider public.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

The direct-to-consumer model shift that emerged a few years back, trail blazed by innovative companies like Warby Parker, is really creating disruption in the clothing world. With modern advancements in manufacturing and access to quality materials from around the globe, it is possible for smaller players to shorten the supply chain and deliver real value. Not only has this brought about a lot of fantastic new brands, it has caused the entrenched big players to rethink strategy. The result is very positive for the consumer.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Making a to do list at the start of every week. I’m not a crazy-detailed, Franklin Covey kind of planner, but I will sort my goals for the week and do some mental prioritizing. Having my list nearby keeps me on track.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. That goes for learning about new topics, finding new opportunities, connecting with new people, and so on. If you don’t ask, the answer is always no.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on?

Carving a niche with a small brand is possible without a massive marketing budget. Inc 5000 has plenty of companies fitting that description, but most people haven’t heard of them.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Test and tinker. Talk to your customers and ask for real feedback, then tinker some more. Don’t be afraid to go down a path fearing it is wrong, as you may be pleasantly surprised.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

I’m still pretty early in my journey, and have thus far relied a lot on word of mouth. I decided early on that it is OK to start small and slow. Run ideas by your network, and ask them to help shout the message. With Finespun, that has included home trunk shows, pairing with other start-ups for events, social media shares, and cultivating email lists. Time will tell which strategies play best, therefore an open mind is crucial.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

At this point my experiences have been closer to frustrations than outright failures. One thing I learned quickly is that within the vast clothing world you have to find an “in” before really getting good information, and that first “in” is tough. I don’t come from the fashion industry, and it took me over 3 months just to build an initial supplier contact list. (And to this day, I still haven’t heard back from some of them.)

No matter your industry, seek out like-minded people. Connect with other entrepreneurs, trade stories, and don’t be shy to ask for help.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Do-it-yourself 3D printing shop or kiosk.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

This summer I stopped at a Half Priced Books store near my house and bought a stack of Agatha Christie books. When I read at the end of the day, I want something that can take my mind off work and these quick-read mysteries do the trick.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Adobe’s Lightroom and Photoshop. I do a lot of my own photography and all the editing. I’m always amazed at what the pros can do with these programs. Like I mentioned above, I like to test and tinker. I’m learning day-by-day, photo-by-photo.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

“The Checklist Manifesto” by Atul Gawande. Sometimes simple steps lead to the best complex decisions.

What is your favorite quote?

Live for the story!

Tell us about one friend or acquaintance of yours who we should interview on IdeaMensch? Who are they, how do we get a hold of them and what are they doing?

Adam Estes, founder of rapidly growing warehouse management software company SkuVault.