Jillian DiIorio | Crain's

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

Jillian DiIorio

Background:  

Founded in Philadelphia and now headquartered in Houston, REVISIT sells high-end products inspired by the United States' national parks system. The company donates 25 percent of its profits to charities supporting parks preservation.

The Mistake:

The biggest challenge has been managing the impact of our decision to make sure that all of our products are made here in the United States. I understand now that there’s a reason why a lot of people don’t do that. It’s not for the weak of heart, by any means. But we felt passionate about that from the very start.

Our Founders Collection was very much focused on the idea of artisans working here in the U.S., but as we’ve learned, from a cost perspective, it’s very hard to compete in a market where everyone else is producing overseas. That entire situation has been a much larger learning experience than we had expected.

What we’ve learned is that people just want a really great product that is functional.

The Lesson:

We had to make some design changes, and we changed some of our materials. We have very high expectations for our products, and we don’t want to do shortcuts on anything. We give enormous attention to every detail. Every piece is different and made with an enormous amount of care. But we’ve definitely learned how to simplify our designs to meet the challenge of production costs.

For example, instead of having two flaps on a bag — one decorative, one functional — we have listened to our customers and focused on functionality first. Each of our designs is focused on functionality first, and then, we try to tie in the bells and whistles from there.

What we’ve learned is that people just want a really great product that is functional. I’ve been in the fashion industry for the majority of my professional life, and I have come to learn that the cherry-on-top things aren’t always completely necessary. How you make those decisions is just about listening to your customer feedback. We’ve got a great community of people who are just as passionate about the parks as we are, and they can tell us things like, "You don’t need that second strap; you just need a bigger strap." 

Follow Jillian DiIorio on Twitter at @JillianDiIorio.

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