× Main Page Fashion Lifestyle Sport Home Travel Real Estate Business
Social Responsibility Environment Education Innovations Retail Design Photography
Brands Lists
× Main Page Fashion Lifestyle Sport Home Travel Real Estate Business
Social Responsibility Environment Education Innovations Retail Design Photography
Brands Lists

FASHION - INTERVIEW

Interview with Brian McAlister, Founder and CEO of King & Fifth Supply Co.

In 2009, King & Fifth Supply Co. was established by Brian McAlister. His passion for knitting inspired him to create stylish and well-fitting beanies. I talked to Brian McAlister about King & Fifth Supply Co. and his own design beanies.

Friday, December 21, 2018

Brian McAlister, Founder and CEO of King & Fifth Supply Co.

Brian McAlister, Founder and CEO of King & Fifth Supply Co.

FASHION - INTERVIEW

by Mehmet Kaplan

Facebook Share Twitter Tweet

Brian McAlister is an entrepreneur who discovered his entrepreneurial spirit at a very young age. Previously gained experience in the fashion world has shown him that quality products will always be liked by consumers. His passion for knitting was one of his distinguishing characteristics, which sometimes made him separate from others. He created his own brand by combining his knowledge of the fashion industry, his passion for knitting and his entrepreneurial spirit. Since 2009 he has been designing and producing headwear such as beanies, baseball hats, and skull caps. In order to learn more about his story, I talked with Brian McAlister, Founder and CEO of King & Fifth Supply Co.

Brian, before talking about King & Fifth, could you tell us about your background and fashion & design experiences?

Originally I had a background in finance before I took a full-time job as a Fit Model for a national retailer. I was finishing college and working at a local investment firm. Prior to graduation, my mom took me suit shopping. Having just learned my suiting measurements, I came across an ad in the OSU latern ( Ohio State University paper) for an open call for fit models. The rates were good, so I went. Before I knew it I was offered a full-time position with a salary. The job had a lot of down time and it was an opportunity for me to make a lot of cash and spend my free time perusing my dream of becoming an entrepreneur.

I first started in real estate. I save about 10k very quickly and purchased a home to flip. Having been very green the project turned out amazing aesthetically, but was not so much financially. I spent well over my budget and was not able to sell as it was 2007, and entering the housing crisis. It wasn't all bad though. That investment was more like tuition for educating myself in real estate investing. I continued the journey, partnered with my brother and my uncle with a new strategy, and went on to purchase 7 more homes in 2 years.

Growing any more was going to be hard to manage, so we decided to be happy with what we had accomplished, but would not buy any more. So I had to decide what was next.

King & Fifth Supply Co.

King & Fifth Supply Co.

How did your interest in fashion design has begun? What inspired you to design stylish and well-fitting beanies?

Again, one of my passions is being an entrepreneur. Having put real estate on pause, I was already looking for my next opportunity.

While working as a fit model, the downtime was sometimes hard to fill. One of my random hobbies was knitting, which I picked up on my own from reading a book. I had the idea of knitting hats from back in college when I acquired a hand knit beanie from my roommate. It was a great beanie and fit really good. I think one the challenges with most hats for guys, is finding a hat that fits great. Having had the idea of making my own hats for I while, I now had the time and was really just messing around, but my hats were really cool and fit really well.

Since I was at a fashion retailer, most of my coworkers would see me knitting on my downtime. Of course, it sparked their interest as it's not exactly common to see a young guy in his 20's freely knitting in public... haha. Anyway, most of my coworkers were friends, and I'd make them a hat.

King & Fifth Supply Co.

King & Fifth Supply Co.

How did your friends trigger your entrepreneurial spirit? How did you decide to establish King & Fifth Supply Co.?

Having found that people were interested in my hats, it was almost automatic for me to think about selling and creating a business with them. But more importantly, having had a job as a fit model, I was exposed to the fashion business. If it weren't for that, there is no way I would have been able to get this business off the ground.

King & Fifth Supply Co.

King & Fifth Supply Co.

Could you tell us about King & Fifth Supply Co. and your team?

K&F specialize in premium headwear with a focus on Fit, Style, and Quality. We sell mostly knit beanies while offering a nice tight collection of accessories. We are made up of myself and 3 other full-time employees which include our Customer Service & Logistics Manager, a Brand & Creative Director, and a Social Media Associate.

King & Fifth Supply Co.

King & Fifth Supply Co.

How many different styles of headwears do you have in your collections? What are their common features?

Our Top Sellers are our knit beanies. They come with dual logos so you can wear them both slouchy and folded. We also offer a collection of stylish baseball caps..... something that's a bit different to the traditional sports-related baseball caps. They come in stylish fabrics such as suede or herringbone and have a low crown, so they look more clean and sophisticated.

All of our headwear is minimalist as we strive to be advocates to your personal style, and not take it over.

King & Fifth Supply Co.

King & Fifth Supply Co.

What kind of materials do you prefer to use in production, branding, and packaging?

I'm always for different fabrics and yarns for our hats. To start the material has to feel soft and look good. I'm not a content snob though. Some of the best materials are man-made and I'm not ashamed to use them, especially if its what the customer wants. Sometimes it's the case where these fibers perform much better than a natural fiber.

Besides your headwears, what are your other designs?

We're currently selling a small collection of sunglasses that have started to pick up some traction. We usually use these as a promotional vehicle, such as buy two hats get free shades, or offer them at 1/2 off in an upsell situation. But we're currently looking into adding a premium collection that would come at an affordable price.

King & Fifth Supply Co.

King & Fifth Supply Co.

What features of King & Fifth makes it different from other brands on the market?

Our brand stands for 3 points of focus, while I've found that 2 of them, Fit and Quality, is what really sets us apart. Being in the fashion business I often comp shop leading retailers to look at their beanie collections. I'm often baffled at the lack of attention to their knitwear department. It's almost as if its an afterthought. I was just in a store this week and their yarn was rough and sewing seams were awful. With us, it's not the case, and I would say its the opposite. We obsess over making out beanies perfect.

If a guy buys a beanie, its safe to say its on his head all the time in the winter. It doesn't get cycled once a week like a tee or pair of socks, so its worn quite a bit more. So with this in mind, we make our with better materials and obsess over the fit.

King & Fifth Supply Co.

King & Fifth Supply Co.

Social media platform are a new showcase for designer brands. What do you think about the power of social media on buyers' decisions?

I think its a form of legitimacy... once people see that other people think its cool, they often adopt at a faster pace. But getting your social media following up is difficult and with algorithm changes, its hard than ever to maintain a decent engagement rate. Its definitely a must for any brand, but sometimes it can be a black hole. I would say to just make it one piece of your strategy as there are still many ways to build a brand and grow awareness.

How can our readers follow King & Fifth?

Follow us on Instagram: @kingandfifthco

How can our readers buy King & Fifth headwears?

www.kingandfifth.com

What is next for you?

Our goal is to continue to grow our knitwear

Thank you Brian.

For more information, please visit the website of King & Fifth Supply Co.