MODERN FELLOWS | Ledbury Co-Founder Paul Trible Thinks the World Could Use a Little More Love Right Now.
Discover how Ledbury is getting through the COVID-19 crisis by producing face masks, relying on loyal customers for support, and sending messages of love.
I have long been fond of Ledbury. Co-founders Paul Trible and Paul Watson combine southern flair and British tailoring to produce elevated professional wear, business casual attire and weekend-wear that is subtly unique.
Ledbury is one of my favorite menswear brands. I love that they offer a spectacular option for colorful men’s dress shirts, and also think they’re among the best places to buy neckties. The brand also makes a great alternative to Brooks Brothers.
In addition to their flagship store in Richmond, Ledbury also maintains a shop in Cady’s Ally in Washington, DC’s Georgetown neighborhood, which is clustered with Indochino’s Georgetown showroom, and Bonobos’ DC guide shop.
This article is based on an interview with Ledbury Co-Founder Paul Trible.
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Impact of COVID-19 on Ledbury
Paul described the impact of COVID-19 on Ledbury.
He told me that, “it has been a challenging time, as it has been for most businesses.”
Ledbury’s stores have been closed for nearly three months, and e-commerce sales dropped significantly in March.
“But we were supported by an amazing group of longtime customers during the height of the pandemic,” Paul observed.
Paul and his team have had a laser-like focus on making customers happy, creating a network of deeply loyal customers and super-fans. Their customer-centric approach helped during the downturn.
“Happily, the e-commerce business made a come back in late April and May,” Paul added. “I think people were looking for a bit of retail therapy while at home and a distraction from the news of the day. We are certainly hopeful that this trend continues.”
Ledbury’s supply chain was also impacted by the pandemic.
“A large portion of our fabric comes from Northern Italy which was hit incredibly hard,” he noted. “We are so pleased to see our friends at these mills and factories getting past the peak and now beginning to reopen their doors.”
How Ledbury has responded to the COVID-19 crisis
Ledbury’s most significant pivot from a product perspective was moving into face masks.
In March, Ledbury began making masks for a local health system, then expanded to produce masks for individuals, businesses, schools and non-profits.
“We have now produced hundreds of thousands of masks and feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to help provide a critical need, while keeping our employees busy and our factory open,” said Paul.
Discover more about Ledbury’s efforts and a complete guide on where to buy washable face masks for adults and kids.
In May, Ledbury released a “Love Is Why We Wear Them” campaign to promote safety and send some love to all of those working to keep our community healthy.
“I think it is a great example of the kind of positive message we need. The world could use a bit more love right now,” he added.https://www.youtube.com/embed/9aVsNRpzv3c?version=3&rel=1&fs=1&autohide=2&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&wmode=transparent
Brighter days to come and better times ahead
Personally, I really appreciate that tone Paul and his co-founder have struck through the video and throughout the crisis. There is a sincerity and sense of community evident in what they say and do.
The founders sent out a really thoughtful letter to their community in March, which said in part:
We realize that your wardrobe might not be a top priority, but we hope that our outreach will come as a welcome distraction, and new summer product will be a reminder that brighter days are to come.
We are a small business — one that is blessed by an incredible community of supporters that have been with us for the past ten years. Our thoughts are with you and your families. Stay safe out there. We are here if you need us, and we all look forward to better times ahead.
That email was a very welcome message among a steady stream of bad news. I’ve admired the way that Ledbury has been able to strike the right tone throughout the past couple of months through its messaging and Youtube videos.
Helping communities in Virginia
“Our philosophy is to try to help those right in front of us in our community,” said Paul.
In March and April, Ledbury donated over 20,000 meals to the local school system in Richmond for students on meal assistance.
More than 50% of the students in Richmond rely on schools for food, and with schools closed, that was in jeopardy. “Frankly, that is unacceptable,” he added.
Paul also called out the work of the Virginia 30 Day Fund which is supplying $3,000 forgivable grants for businesses in need.
“We have a lot of friends whose businesses have been helped by this program and others like it,” he said.
Supporting independent businesses like Ledbury
Paul knows that it’s been hard to justify purchase outside of critical necessities over the last few months. “There have been just more important things to focus on,” he realizes.
“But, if you really love a brand, its product and mission, and have the means to support them, please do,” he added.
I’ve heard that sentiment echoed among the founders and CEOs that I’ve had a chance to get to know over the past few months including Nomad Lane’s Vanessa Jeswani, shoe startup Wolf and Shepherd’s Justin Schneider, blanket and outdoor gear company Rumpl CEO Wylie Robinson, and professional performance wear-maker Ministry of Supply’s Aman Advani, whose company pivoted to producing 3D-printed washable face masks.
Paul told me that he saw customers in March who bought gift certificates, not because they needed shirts, but because they cared for Ledbury’s team and their survival.
“We are incredibly humbled by those purchases,” Paul said.
“The support of customers in this challenging time will have a bigger impact on a business than you can imagine.”