5 Minutes With… | Greg Selkoe & Leandrew Robinson
In our latest 5 Minutes With feature we caught up with CEO and Founder of web retail giant Karmaloop and Leandrew Robinson, the head honcho from Karmaloop’s flash sale website PLNDR. We caught up with Selkoe and Robinson to discuss recent projects by both websites, what they’ve accomplished thus far and the upcoming KarmaloopTV channel, all in a matter of 5 minutes.
SLAMXHYPE / Introduce yourselves. Who are you?
Greg Selkoe / Greg Selkoe, Founder of Karmaloop.
Leandrew Robinson / Leandrew Robinson aka the Original Plndrer.
SLAMXHYPE / What lead to the creation of PLNDR? I mean, no one likes to sell their products that low…
Greg / I saw all these flash sale sites coming up for other genres of clothing and we had these great brand relationships, and we wanted to offer something for our demo that used the new flash sale model so we started PLNDR.
Leandrew / So Karmaloop in general is all about giving millions of kids and young adults, and some old men too, access to some of the dopest lifestyle brands out there. PLNDR is the next step in that direction especially to the young high school student or baller on a budget who wants to cop Jeremy Scott Adidas, COMUNE, Obey, Nixon, Pendleton, etc. for next to nothing.
SLAMXHYPE / What do you think led to PLNDR growing 300% in members and sales in 2011?
Leandrew / Damn is that real?
Greg / The PLNDR team has done an amazing job picking the right stuff, giving awesome deals, and being super creative with how the site is marketed.
Leandrew / I think that on a foundational level it’s giving great brands to folks at irresistible prices and along with that: great marketing and all that other stuff that just fueled the fire that was already there from day one. Shout-out to the members, seriously, because from day one members invited their friends because of the amazing deals they were seeing; they couldn’t believe that we were offering such great deals on these brands. That combination made them invite people, and it went viral from day one.
SLAMXHYPE / How does the “verge culture” fit into PLNDR.com and where do you see the website going?
Greg / There are tons of cultural aspects to the site from the brand battles that we hold with up-and-coming brands around the world, to the parties PLNDR throws, to our mixtapes, lookbooks – everything.
Leandrew: The “verge culture” point blank is our members. Our members have always been the backbone of PLNDR. In so many ways they tell us what to sell, what prices to sell at, and when they want to get it. We try to diminish the space between PLNDR the website and the business and our members.
Where is PLNDR going? We want to be more of a reflection of who our members are. What you can see are things like the Show-Off Gallery, where members are going to be able to upload their style and that’s going to begin to dictate what the creatives and banners on PLNDR are going to look like; we’re going to actually use our members. They can upload designs that they’ve done, they can apply to be in a Brand Battle, where their little brand that they’ve been working on out of their dorm-room can actually be sold on PLNDR. We want to help you find what you really came to look for.
SLAMXHYPE / Can you talk about some specialty projects coming up with the website?
Greg: We have some dope stuff dropping soon. We just wrapped up a mixtape with DJ Jazzy Jeff and Mick Boogie, that we co-sponsored with one of our brands, Breezy Excursion.
Leandrew / Will Smith actually did the intro – so we’re pumped. And Breezy Excursion is one of our young big-hitter brands that came out the gate swinging – they’re from the Bay Area, which is where I’m from – obviously.
Greg / Definitely look out for more collabos. We just teamed up with Mel D. Cole, who does photography for The Roots…
Leandrew / He be doing P.Diddy’s White Party, running around with Questlove and Black Thought all the time….we wanted a raw exhibition of his art. So look out for more of that. You’re going to see us partner with a lot more artists and old-school brands, that we want to bring back.
Greg: We’re resurrecting some streatwear legends on PLNDR.
SLAMXHYPE / How do you carefully step over letting PLNDR excel with all the new traffic and keeping Karmaloop as your main website?
Leandrew / That’s not one of my problems, because you know Karmaloop’s our big brother, sister, auntie, uncle. Without Karmaloop, PLNDR literally wouldn’t exist.
Greg / Karmaloop isn’t my main website – PLNDR and Karmaloop are all part of the same family and do different things, so I feel like they all work together and there aren’t any issues of step-overs. We try to give all our projects love and hope they will be successful.
Leandrew / We’re one big family. Jay-Z has this quote from Feelin’ It on Reasonable Doubt that’s like “If every [brotha] in your clique is rich your clique is rugged / Nobody will fall ‘cause everyone would be each other’s crutches.” That’s what we’re all about.
SLAMXHYPE / Talk about the new Spool and Thread brand and the inspiration behind its pieces. It’s definitely very different from the streetwear brands you guys work with.
Greg / We wanted to design a line of amazing denim that our members would love and feel good in so we teamed up with some designers from our New York office and made it happen. Spool and Thread is one of our most successful private-label, in-house brands.
Leandrew / Our members wanted more and more denim and there wasn’t a lot of stock out there for us to buy so we worked with some talented designers and a production team and we made a beautiful line. The inspiration is really taking you back to the very, very first step of old school bespoke tailoring – get your spool, your little thread, get some raw denim and lets go to work. The line really speaks to the craftsmanship.
Greg / And we incorporated little nods to streetwear trends – the khaki bull denim trousers are seamed in Camo. It’s dope.
SLAMXHYPE / How did you choose the individuals for the lookbook?
Greg / We wanted to get some icons within verge culture that really represented the voice of Spool & Thread – and PLNDR as a whole.
Leandrew / The concept was denim for the people, so we wanted to give our members diverse icons. So we had local bloggers like Andy Ray from One Man’s Style here in Boston but, then we also had Jermaine Hall, the Editor-in-Chief of Vibe magazine, we had an Arts Editor from Complex, two cats from FashionIndie.com – and more.
SLAMXHYPE / Talk about the latest collaboration with photographer Mel D. Cole for PLNDR.
Greg / We did a capsule collection with Mel – combining everything we love: babes, Barney, and machine guns. But really, the collection is super raw and truly one of a kind.
Leandrew / We’ve been working on this collaboration for a year. He’s someone that I’ve always admired, and I felt like he was always able to catch things from a very unique perspective. That’s what we saw trend-wise that really works well on PLNDR; when a design really comes from a different angle or perspective – so I was really excited to work with him.
SLAMXHYPE / What led to choosing Mel D. Cole for this specialty project rather than anotherphotographer?
Leandrew / Mel D. Cole is that dude. And he’s a good example to our members, he’s self-taught and he’s out there doing something amazing. I felt like it was long overdue for us to honor him.
SLAMXHYPE / Karmaloop, KarmaloopTV, PLNDR, Spool and Thread, KarmaSwap, Bolyston Trading Co., etc. So what’s next?
Greg / World domination.
Leandrew / Dot, dot, dot.
SLAMXHYPE / What can we expect from KarmaloopTV?
Greg / We’re launching our premium YouTube channel in July, and are continuing to work with Pharrell and his YouTube channel. We’ll be directing a lot of music videos and will make them clickable so you can buy product from them.
SLAMXHYPE / How have things advanced since bringing Pharrell Williams on board as Creative Director?
Greg / Working with Pharrell is great, he’s obviously a creative genius and we continue to do amazing things in the online space. Internet TV is still in its early days so we learn as we go, but generally traffic and views have grown massively each month.