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Interview with Joshua Moore and Odini Gogo, Founders of Res Ipsa, about 'Journey of Kilim from Anatolia to New York'

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Joshua Moore and Odini Gogo, Founders of Res Ipsa

Joshua Moore and Odini Gogo, Founders of Res Ipsa - Photo credit Jason Hales @Hales_photo


by Mehmet Kaplan

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Many successful brands were born as a result of the work of their founders to meet their needs. Some of them formed differently as a result of inspirations that their founders experienced during their researches. Res Ipsa is a fashion brand that formed from an idea of two attorneys who went to Turkey for another project. When they fall in love with Kilim in Turkey, they decide to combine the Anatolian traditional texture with modern British design for American daily life.

I talked with Founders of RES IPSA, Joshua Moore and Odini Gogo, about the journey of Kilim pattern from the Anatolian land to the New York streets. You can find all the details of this beautiful adventure here.

Res Ipsa

Res Ipsa - Photo credit Jason Hales @Hales_photo

Josh & Odini, before we start talking about RES IPSA, could you tell us about your background and design experience?

We are both attorneys. Our education, training, and experience are in law. Our design experience is from an end-user, consumer's point of view. We know what we like and what we don't. We have very specific tastes so it helps us identify what product categories have room for improvement.

How did Josh and Odini meet? When did you decide to work together and establish RES IPSA? Please tell us the story of RES IPSA.

We met at a party in Atlanta. We had similar career trajectories in that we had both worked at large multi-state law firms, and as corporate counsel at Fortune 500 companies. We talked about how poorly most lawyers dress, especially for people who can afford to dress better. We decided to make neckties because we both had trouble finding the perfect width of a necktie. They were either too wide or too skinny. So we decided to make our own. On a sourcing trip to Turkey, we met a Turkish man who had gone to college in Atlanta. We bonded over that shared experience and learned that his family has small manufacturing facility specializing in kilim products. When we asked what they make, he told us they can make anything. We decided that we should capitalize on this moment of kismet, and commissioned prototypes of a men's loafer and weekender bag.

Res Ipsa

Res Ipsa - Photo credit Jason Hales @Hales_photo

Kilim rugs pattern is one of the main traditional parts of the Anatolian culture. When did you first see this pattern? Did you decide to use this texture when you first saw it?

We were familiar with kilim as a home accent, but did not appreciate the rich tradition and powerful symbolism of kilim iconography until traveling to Istanbul in 2013. Seeing kilim with fresh eyes enabled us to appreciate the hours upon hours of work that go into making each kilim by hand. It was not until we met a manufacturer that we focused on what we could design from kilim.

How did you combine this traditional pattern with modern life products? Which features of your design makes them unique and different from competitors?

When we decided to make products out of kilim we were conscious of the fact that we wanted to do it in a way that was organic and consistent with our personal styles. We are influenced by traditional British style, and by extension classic American prep (think: Brooks Brothers & Ralph Lauren). Most kilim products we saw lacked refinement. We wanted to design something more sartorial and refined. Call it Savile Row-meets-Grand Bazaar. We've inspired copycats, which is inevitable in the fashion industry. But we believe nobody can be you better than you. Everything else is a bootleg version of you.

Res Ipsa

Res Ipsa - Photo credit Jason Hales @Hales_photo

Which part of RES IPSA products reflects your design culture?

We design for people who modern traditionalists-serious products for people who don't take themselves too seriously. Our customers understand traditional menswear but without a hidebound adherence to rules. Clothing, footwear, and accessories should be a fun-a way for people to express themselves. Our design framework is that Odini & I both have to like it. If it's something that we both like, chances are other people will too.

Your products are handmade. How do you ensure the sustainability of quality?

We travel to our factory several times a year. We know the artisans who make our products and the way our products are made. Quality takes time, and we do not mass produce because we will not sell a product that we are not proud of. We are proud of the fact that we are able to upcycle these beautiful kilim rugs by giving them new life after they are no longer useful as rugs. And we try to use every part that we can to respect the beauty of raw materials. For example, we make patchwork kilim bags that allow us to use small-but-beautiful pieces of kilim that are too small to yield a pair of shoes.

Res Ipsa

Res Ipsa - Photo credit Jason Hales @Hales_photo

Should we wait for new designs and products? Do you have new sketches on the drawing table?

We restock our core products on a revolving basis. If you see something you like, it's one-of-a-kind so it's not likely to be around if you wait. We are constantly designing new products, which keeps things exciting for customers and for us. We're working on a messenger bag, and we just launched laptop bags.

Please tell us about your team members. What type of experiences they have? What are their roles?

We have a small core team. Odini & I are the co-founders and creative directors. We have a director of sales who focus on our wholesale accounts and represents us at trade shows. We have a brand manager responsible for the customer-facing side of the business, like customer service inquiries, our newsletter, original content in the journal section of our website, and our new flagship store in Nantucket. Our other two employees are recent college graduates that we recruited from other jobs they were working in Nantucket when we first met them. We also have a warehouse manager.

Res Ipsa

Res Ipsa - Photo credit Jason Hales @Hales_photo

Which advertising methods do you prefer for marketing your products?

Word of mouth remains the most effective way to market our products. We want every person who encounters our products to come away impressed by the quality and value proposition. People trust people within their circle, so we want Social media is a great marketing tool for small brands who are not at the buy-an-ad-during-the-Super-Bowl level.

Social media is a trendsetter for the fashion industry. What do you think about the power of social media? How do you use social media for RES IPSA? Which one do you prefer the most?

Instagram is by far the most effective social media platform for us (@resipsausa). We have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr but IG is what moves the needle. Social media is a powerful tool for new brands because the barrier to entry is low. We can generate high-quality content that we can post for free instead of expensive (and less effective) print advertising. Social media helps us tell our story directly instead of through an intermediary. Travel is a core value of our brand, so we use our Instagram account as a mood board that highlights our travel experiences as well as sharing products that we think our customers will appreciate.

Res Ipsa

Res Ipsa - Photo credit Jason Hales @Hales_photo

How can our readers buy RES IPSA designs? Do you have international retailers or international delivery service?

We have several sales channels. Our online store (www.resipsausa.com) ships internationally. We also have stockists in France, Japan, and China.

What are the next steps for RES IPSA?

We just opened a flagship store in Nantucket. A brick-and-mortar location is a great compliment to our online presence because it creates a space for customers to experience our products in person. People say retail is dead but we disagree. Bad retail is dying, but experiential retail is going to replace it.

Thank you Joshua and Odini.

For more information, please visit website of Res Ipsa

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