Conor Paulsen: GentlemenCare Co-founder/CEO
What product started GentlemenCare? What’s the story?
GentlemenCare started in the Spring of 2015 in an attempt to market fine goods that would help revive the lost gentleman. We researched providing “loud” dress socks, but ran into outsourcing quality issues. We then explored crafting a premium “sock belt,” but decided that creating the market for this product would be to difficult. Instead of calling it quits, we met a local leather craftsman named Kevin who believed wholeheartedly in our mission to revive the lost gentleman and began crafting and testing additional leather products, such as belts, shaving kits, and messenger bags. After a short time we realized that this would be our competitive niche in the market. Kevin, Lee, and I decided to raise our initial capital through Kickstarter. We were fortunate to finish our crowd funding campaign at 131% of our initial 30-day goal.
Having a high quality American product was important, what else inspired the creation of GentlemenCare?
Our mission at GentlemenCare is to revive the “true” gentleman. A true gentleman is the type of person that takes extra care to do the little things right, like, holding the door open for a stranger, using manners (i.e. please or thank you), and cares for others. We make the same extra effort to provide our customers with an exceptional product reviving the level of quality in leather products that cannot be found in present day. We don’t believe in taking shortcuts like the majority of our competitors, instead, we focus on the attention to detail making sure that we craft all of our products at the highest level of quality that passes our final control test.
At the end of the day our core mission is to revive the traits that we believe modern gentleman are forgetting (general manners like, “thank you” or “please”, or simply holding the door open for a stranger). We believe that the modern day definition of gentleman tends to be too focused on appearance, when instead we should encourage a lifestyle of helping others while maintaining a gents confidence.
Are all the products made in house?
Yes, all GentlemenCare products are crafted in-house at the GentlemenCare leather shop in Solon, IA.
*All GC products come with the “GentlemenCare Promise”- All of our products are hand crafted, fully custom/one of a kind, and guaranteed for life.
Who is the Gentlemen Care customer?
The GentlemenCare customer is anyone that appreciates premium quality, hand crafted goods, leather, fashion-forward trends, American made products, and strives to challenge the status quo.
What are your goals for the company?
At GentlemenCare, our core goal is to grow a business that we’re proud to call our own. Because if you can’t stand behind your own name, why bother. One day we would like to be the first name people think when they hear- “quality”, “custom”, and “premium leather”. We strive to provide not only the highest quality leather products, but to provide a one-of-a-kind customization experience that customers will remember!
Another team goal is to have GC featured in many of the top magazines, blogs, sites, and news that relate to premium fashion. We would like people around the world to one day reference our customer service, quality, and overall customer experience as the best in retail.
Do you see brick and mortar or wholesaling in the future?
Yes, I believe that a brick and mortar store front is likely within the next 3-5 years. Our current plan is to open a storefront in Kansas City, Minneapolis, or Chicago with the intent to create the perfect show room for a one-of-a-kind customization experience. The store would be designed with the customer’s understanding in mind, providing a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Imagine- walking into a premium leather store that’s purposefully designed to provide a “dream like” experience. A similar business model to the world’s top suit tailors but focused on customizing the highest quality leather goods. Example: A customer enters and walks to room #1 aka the “Hardware room”. This is where the customer would choose their desired hardware for their product. This room could look similar to a Rolex dealership that’s brightly lit, crystal clear glass, and Sinatra’s soothing voice playing throughout each room.
Wholesaling: Yes, if the opportunity is mutually beneficial. Our current focus is to provide the highest quality leather goods and to maintain this level of quality, it’s important to insure that each customer receives a similar experience. As GentlemenCare continues to scale, it’s critical for our team to continue building and maintaining our products exclusivity as a brand. For the right price, wholesale opportunities are definitely an interest of ours and a possible end goal down the road.
Lastly, what sets you apart from your competitors?
GentlemenCare is different than competitors in a handful of ways, one of which is that we don’t focus on creating products at the cheapest prices in attempt to improve margins. Instead, GC’s sole focus is crafting the highest quality products that are backed with our lifetime guarantee. Offering the highest quality leather products isn’t fast or easy, and this why competition struggles to compete. It starts with our collective values at GC- all of our products are handcrafted from start to finish inside our leather shop in Solon, IA to insure the highest level of quality control.
Each customer at GentlemenCare can expect a quick call from our team if a new reservation has been made. We believe in building a lasting relationship with each of customers before discussing products. The products enter the production cycle after being designed. Before the first cut is made, we lay the entire hyde flat and check for the perfect balance in grain to insure the highest quality and consistency. The hydes are sourced from one of two renown American tanneries, either in Pennsylvania or Chicago, IL. After each cut, we then edge, wax, and burnish the edges by hand to strengthen the leathers prolonged quality.
(*products are exclusively made using the world’s highest quality full grain leather. All GC leather is sourced from two of the world’s top tanneries that are both located in the United States.)
Visit the website to preview all the products or schedule a consultation today!