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[Photo: Reinhard Hunger for Fast Company]


Hustle Con 2014

  • Check out the legs on stage. Chubbies shorts cofounders Preston Rutherford, left, and Tom Montgomery are giving a talk called Brand Lovegasm.

    Turns out there's a big demand from men for short shorts. The four cofounders of Chubbies Shorts (and Stanford buddies) began selling wacky shorts in person, from their backpacks, off their bodies. Eventually, they turned their attention online and launched in 2011. (They still do keep backpacks stuffed with Chubbies, which they'll sell on the spot when walking around.)

    The company, which has a fanatical male following, has built up 860,000 fans on Facebook, 95,000 followers on Twitter, and 81,000 followers on Instagram. Users submit about 1,000 photos each week. But don't call them a fashion brand: "We don't consider ourself a fashion company. We're a beer brand that happens to sell shorts," joked cofounder Tom Montgomery.

    How did they get there? Here are their five takeaways:
    1. Create a great product
    2. Relentless focus on content
    3. Integrate your community
    4. Support your customers
    5. Be authentic
    Content extends beyond blog posts. The company puts in a lot of effort to give off a fun, chill vibe (very chillsitch) in its confirmation emails, Facbeook posts, and other moments. "Content doesn't have to be copy, video," Montgomery said. "It can be shareable experiences." He elaborated by talking about how the company sent out Big League Chew bubble gum with orders on a random day, and that got the community talking about Chubbies Shorts on social media. "Guys aren't often talking about that new fashion item they just purchased," he said. "They'd much rather talk about a funny video or a funny piece of content." (For those familiar with the brand, they know the company has its bases covered with funny videos.)

    The community is also helping shape Chubbies' content strategy. "Our customers are our best photographers. Our customers are our best content producers," Montgomery said. "We really like to highlight that."

    When it comes to customer support, Chubbies focuses on keeping everything in house, and the founders partake sometimes. Customer service moments also provides some shareable moments. In one instance, a customer wrote about his shorts being stolen at the gym. Not only did Chubbies replace them, but the company also booked him for self-defense classes.

    For Chubbies, authenticity means not trying to sell. "We don't ever sell. Selling feels bad," Montgomery said. "We give customers the opportunity to buy and the inspiration to buy. We use the content to provide that drive as opposed to creating an artificial experience."
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