We talked to Alberto Gil of Hockerty on how they design custom clothes and here is what he said about it.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Alberto Gil: Fortunately, we are doing good. The worst part is that we miss a lot being close to our family and friends. We live far from our homeland, and as we can’t travel there as often as we used to do, it’s been months since the last time we saw them. Fortunately, Switzerland is a great country to live in, because we have good access to nature so we can still enjoy that.
Tell us about you, your career, how you joined Hockerty.
Alberto Gil: I am a 37-year-old Engineer, and I have worked since 2003 in website development and online marketing strategies. After some years of successful online stores developed for third companies, my colleagues and I founded our own in 2008. We started it as a side project but soon showed impressive traction, so, during the following years, my other partners and I left our positions to join Hockerty full time.
How does Hockerty innovate?
Alberto Gil: Hockerty sells made to measure garments online. So we had to be innovative from the very beginning. Back in 2008, we had to develop new ways to allow customers to design their own garments, decide about the fabric they wanted, and insert their own measurements. That wasn’t an easy thing to do. Over the years, innovation has been core to our business. We have developed a system that uses mathematical algorithms to check if the measurements customers give us make sense to improve customer experience and reduce returns. We have developed computer vision systems that check on the production side that your garment has been tailored according to the measurements. We have developed a chatbot that allows us to offer service to our customers 24/7 in 6 languages.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Alberto Gil: Formalwear and wedding wear are an important part of our business. So you can imagine how this pandemic could have impacted us. Fortunately, we don’t own physical stores, and we just have a website. In the end, and opposed as we would have expected, our sales were not that impacted, but we even managed to acquire more new customers than the previous year.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Alberto Gil: Definitely. It was a difficult year in those terms. We had production delays in the first quarter, we had layoffs when all this turned into a pandemic in the second quarter, and we had to adapt to new ways to work and keep the company efficient. There were many lessons learned. The most important, though, is that internal communication is key. More important than ever.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety, how do you project yourself and your company in the future?
Alberto Gil: We must be positive. We need to have a plan and have to work hard, and pursue our goals. We need to have motivated teams full of committed professionals that are really good at what they do. Fortunately for us, our company is bootstrapped, has no physical stores, and is economically sustainable, so we are in a good position to get stronger out of this global situation.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Alberto Gil: We have competitors all around the planet. The most important ones are Suitsupply and Indochino. They are doing a great job. But we play this game in different ways, though. We plan to stay loyal to our philosophy, walking our way step by step: improving our processes, giving better service, releasing better and new products, and working hard with innovation in mind.
Your final thoughts?
Alberto Gil: All the best for all readers in these uncertain times.