Typically on a Saturday at 10:30 a.m. I’d be lying in my bed, but this Saturday was an exception. I’ve never really gone thrifting and the time’s I’ve tried I’ve never really been a fan. The strange stale smell of the clothes never held a candle to the nice clean smell of a department store BUT on this day Dre Westfield of Halseyy Parkk made me a believer.
As I followed Dre and his partners around Brooklyn, we talked about the science of thrifting, what makes a good find and the effort you have to put in to create a strong brand.
Saturday School: Earlier you talked about how you used to be a big part promoter in college. Do you combine some of your old party promoting elements into how you market for Halseyy Parkk?
Dre Westfield: The internet has changed so much since then. These companies are more pay to play which doesn’t really speak to the consumer experience. Everybody is bidding to get positioned right now. We really want to apply those same tactics but it’s really hard to sometimes. Back then Facebook was learning about themselves just as much as we were. They didn’t know that they had such a money making platform.
SS: I feel like having some of those grass root tactics is good to have at the core. We create these huge ideas about how we can advertise a product that we kind of miss the point of why we’re doing it in the first place. In my opinion the best ideas are the simple ones.
DW: That’s why I’m super big on collaboration right now. It’s about helping each other grow together. You’re exchanging audiences and you’re exchanging ideas and you’re crafting in a different way. Like I bet from each interview you do you learn more and more.
SS: Definitely, I take tips from people and their business models. I say it all the time but everyone I interview serves as an inspiration to me in some way.
DW: Kind of back to your question about how we apply our old party promotion tactics to Halseyy Parkk, I think it’s just in our DNA. We don’t fake it, and people can tell if you’re authentic or not. If we’re going to do something we’re going to do something that we actually love doing.
SS: So when did you start Halseyy Parkk?
DW: A year and a half ago. It was initially just a blog where we covered music, fashion and sports.
SS: And where does the name come from?
DW: Well we live on Halsey [laughs] and Halsey is where I think I’ve learned the most about who I am as a person, more than any other point in my life. I developed hobbies and creativity. I spoke to people and came out of my shell a little bit. We wanted Halseyy Parkk to be a brand that incorporated so many different things that people would come to us for everything. This is a small portion of what we want this to be. It’s like we’re looking at the glass ceiling and we haven’t even scratched the surface yet.
SS: That’s awesome. So what made you want to start it?
DW: I just wanted to do dope stuff with dope people. I wanted to connect with cool people doing cool things.
SS: So you said phase 1 was the blog, how did you get into the thrifting side of things?
DW: I toyed around with putting a store on the blog. I just wanted to see if it would resonate with anyone. I have a friend that is a really dope fashion designer and I was like let me put your stuff on the website and see what it does. We put his stuff on there and my website numbers went crazy. Nobody was buying but they showed interest.
Then I went to a party with my homeboy and we met these two chicks. Me and one of the girls stayed in touch and she was like “you know what, I see things in you. I just want to keep in contact.” She later called me after looking at the blog and was like “I got an idea for you, my cousin is starting a clothing line and wants to sell jackets and we were wondering if we could do a release on your website.” So they sent the jackets and they were dope and when they met with us I realized the designer wa YaYa, Fetty Waps old girlfriend.
So after YaYa does an announcement of the clothing line on her Instagram, my website notifications were going off. In four days we had 15,000 people come to the website and over 300 email sign ups. Eventually we ended our relationship because she outgrew us but I’m totally grateful that she even got that kind of exposure for the website. So after that I was like we have to add a store to the site.
I had always had a love for old Starter jackets but they’re really hard to find. But my friend Tevin who moved up here from my hometown was really into second hand stores and he took me to Metropolis. And inside there were a bunch of old vintage Starter jackets and I was in love. So I just started buying a whole bunch of jackets. In my mind this was just going to be something that was mine, just something I was known for. So I started taking pictures in all of the different jackets that I got and then all of a sudden people were in my DMs trying to figure out where I got my jackets. One day someone said “Yo I really want this jacket but I can’t find it.” And I told them I would find it for them and they said they would give me $150. I went on eBay, found the jacket they wanted for $80 and sold it to them for $150. At that moment I was like this is the clothing element that Halseyy Parkk needs and that next Saturday I went to every thrift store I could find.
SS: I feel like everyone is thrifting and into vintage, how do you set yourself apart from all of those other places?
DW: The reason I knew I would be good at finding things is because my friend Mike is a OG thrifter. He’s been thrifting for years. Watching him do his thing inspired me to go out there and find cool stuff. I think what sets me apart when I go thrift is I look for stuff that I could see myself wearing or people I’m in contact wearing. As I grow clientele, I expand what I look for. I mean I have a website where people buy from me and don’t know me but I allow people to DM me as well and I build relationships from there. That ties into my old party hosting tactics from college. I used to make it a point to know everyone who walked into the building, because it was that important to me. So I make sure I know my consumer. Am I going to know everyone who buys from me? No. But I do know everyone who DMs me and everyone I meet face to face.
SS: I feel like that’s what is missing from e-commerce. Because you can get that at a brick and mortar store but when it’s e-commerce it’s hard to get that personality across.
DW: You have to! Because you’re nothing without your customer. That’s the great thing about it, I’m mixing doing something I love while still fulfilling my customer’s needs. I always tell the people I work with that our goal is not to interrupt anyone’s agenda but to advance their agenda. When you start interrupting people’s lives and you have no relevance to your consumer you’re just there. But when you’re advancing someone’s agenda or interests then you’re doing your job.
SS: So run me through your typical thrifting Saturday.
DW: We all talk, get dressed, chill, eat good food and then we start hitting up stores.
SS: On average how many stores do you hit?
DW: It depends on our agenda. If we’re looking for a particular item and we know we can find it in a particular place we go there. We have a very strict buying science. Thrift stores are very smart now. If you buy something and it costs $40 you better have research to tell me that, that jacket has the ability to sell way over $40. If I get 10 sweatshirts that I can sell for $30 each versus buying a jacket for $40 that I can sell for $120, I’m going to go with the sweatshirts.
SS: Do you use your own money?
DW: Yeah for sure.
SS: Do you make a profit?
SS: Wow you just really love doing it?
DW: Well we’re saving up for a very big project and we also have to acquire four times faster than we can sell. The less we have on the website the less in demand we are.
SS: That makes sense!
DW: I mean I don’t mind spending my own money on this.
SS: Yeah especially if it’s something you’re passionate about.
DW: If you see the end goal, invest in yourself! It’s so much better than going out to the club and spending hundreds on alcohol like I was doing before. I’d wake up with a hangover and nothing to show for it. But now I have something to show for it. I always say if Halseyy Parkk never takes off and it doesn’t turn into what I want it to be, at least we tried and at least we’ll have a whole bunch of dope stuff to wear [laughs].
SS: [laughs] Very very true! And what is your end goal for Halseyy Parkk?
DW: There is no end goal because we don’t know what all this could be. It’s way more than what it was when we started. We don’t set goals we call them deadlines. We feel like if we set a goal we’re limiting ourselves. We’re doing exactly what Amazon did. They took the glass ceiling off and said the sky is the limit and now they’re in every industry possible. As long as it’s something we enjoy doing, we’re open to doing it.
SS: I feel like there’s a lot of brands that are trying to touch on a little bit of everything and I like that because it feels like the creator is getting to do whatever they want to do. If you have a strong platform and following, after that you can just kind of do whatever you want. What advice would you give to someone trying to start their own e-commerce site?
DW: Do your research, understand the cost before you get into it and start a savings account. I just got a savings account for Halseyy and we’re a year and a half too late [laughs].
SS: This is the question I ask everyone, but what advice would you give to high school you?
DW: Get all A’s bro! [laughs] The thing about high school is I wouldn’t change a thing because it made me realize the things I needed to do. I would say you don’t know what you don’t know and be as curious as you can as early as possible. This is if my younger self would’ve listened [laughs].