When Beau Lawrence needed to feel confident about his decision to start his own line, Ace Rivington, he would reach in his pocket and feel a swatch of fabric. But this wasn’t just your average piece of cloth.
It was French terry cloth that was a blend of lofty cotton rope yarns and fine Tuscarora poly yarn. He found it when sourcing swatches for a sweater as vice president of Design and Merchandising for Neff Headwear.
“It felt like the afghans that my grandmother knitted for me when I was a baby. Just incredible. Soft and warming to the touch, breathable … open. I just wanted to live in the fabric,” said Lawrence.
The fabric came to him at just the right moment. Soon afterwards, he quit his job at Neff in October 2013. He drove home to his wife, who was six months pregnant, to the home they had purchased two months prior and told her that piece of cloth was their future. Whenever he needed to feel reassured that he was on the right path, he would reach down in his pocket and rub it.
It probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the very first item in his very own Ace Rivington collection was a homespun French terry cloth sweater. Lawrence started his Kickstarter campaign on December 23, 2013. Despite his deep denim background—he’s worked at both Guess and Union Bay—he wanted to start with a sweater to prove that he could succeed in a field people wouldn’t expect him to thrive in. It worked. The company sold more than 600 sweatshirts and raised almost $61,000 in just 34 days. Ace was funded at more than 200 percent of its financial goal.
And his company has been flying high ever since. Quite literally. Ace Rivington isn’t just the name of his company. Ace is a pilot character that Lawrence created.
“Rivington is a mash up of two things. The first half is a river runs through it. The second half is Remington guns. Ace is a pilot. He’s a fictional character that I made up. He grew up on a fly in fishing camp in Alaska. He was born on July 4, 1976,” he says.
And the story runs even deeper. Lawrence is working with a studio in Los Angeles to turn Ace’s story into a television series. He has 10 episodes sketched out and a 32-page pilot.
Marketing runs deep in this company and has played a key role in Ace Rivington’s growth.
“As a brand, our customer target is anyone who is inspired by the spirit of adventure. That’s really the most important thing about the customer target for me. Whether it’s someone who can afford to take a road trip across America or to explore the streets of Hong Kong. It’s not limited to any specific generation. It’s limited to a specific mindset,” Lawrence said.
“I didn’t want to be figure head of the brand I wanted to create a character who was 100 times more interesting than me, and someone that everyone could aspire to be. That my customer could aspire to be. Someone who the wives, girlfriends and partners of the consumer could fall in love with and want their guy to be,” he explained.
Despite his reluctance to be the figurehead, Lawrence isn’t afraid to speak straight to his customers. In several videos on his site, Lawrence reveals plenty: his company’s dedication to helping out victims of the Nepalese earthquake. He even lifts up his shirt to show viewers the waistband of his underwear, a specific pair that was for sale on the site.
“As I’ve grown with this business, in tying all of my experience as a customer into what I’m doing. I’ve never really had the opportunity to develop a relationship or really get the perspective of hardly any of the business owners I’ve ever bought products from,” he said. “You don’t get to hear them back. You don’t get to hear their bad jokes. You don’t get to connect with their emotion.”