Adam Blitzer | Crain's

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

Adam Blitzer

Background:  

Blue Claw Co. sells bags and leather accessories for men, all designed and made in the United States.

The Mistake:

We were showing at this pretty prestigious event called "The Devon Horse Show," which is on the main line in Philadelphia, and this lady fell in love with this all-leather bag that we have. Then, she opened the bag and saw our woven label with the crab on it, and said, "I could never conceivably purchase a bag with a crab on it, as a woman."

I told her the inspiration behind the bag was packing and going. During the summers, I would always go to my farm in Maryland and eat blue claw crabs. And she politely left the booth.

We got a few requests from women for our same exact bag without the label in it or without the logo stamped on it. Then, we had to have a heart-to-heart internally to discuss why. I thought Blue Claw sounded a bit sexier than Adam Blitzer. It turned out to not be the case at all.

If I had known that we could have potentially sold to women, I never would have named my company anything to do with crabs.

The Lesson:

We've optioned a few different brands, and we've acquired a few others. Before acquiring, we always have a discussion around naming and the contexts that could be used, as well as how that logo and name translate long-term. We have a sniff test. Can this go broad? What are the implications? And can this be a scalable brand in both gender and categories? There are great home goods companies that could end up being apparel lines.

If I had known that we could have potentially sold to women, I never would have named my company anything to do with crabs. I would have done a focus group on names prior to rolling out a full-blown brand. It has been and continues to be a barrier in selling to women. There is no fix to that.

What we have tried to do, in time, is move away from the crab logo. But, at the end of the day, our company is called Blue Claw Company, and crabs have never resonated well with women. Women buy the bags for men, but we have a lot of unisex bags that we don't see women carrying.

Follow Adam Blitzer on Twitter at @ABBlitzer