Announcing Thermal Brands, a Brand Management Agency Designed to Help Lifestyle and Luxury Brands with Creative, Product, Brand Equity, & Community

Matthew I. Growney
7 min readJul 14, 2020

Some would say that now is not the best time to launch a new business, a time when so many people and things are being greatly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Everyone, and rightly so, is focused on their own situations and how they will make it through to an eventual recovery. “When can I see my friends and family? Will my kids go back to school? Is it safe to fly? And what the hell is wrong with Florida?”.

After processing much of my own concerns and anxiety, I decided that this period would be a challenging but amazing time to reinvent my business because it actually comes at a time when every rule in business is being rewritten or is being “reset”. The playing field in almost every industry is rather even (unless you are killing it like Amazon or Peloton).

So today, my business has a new name, a new partner (Mike Malouf), and several new clients (Art of Board, Beautiful Struggles, Burkindy). Thermal Brands is a brand management agency that focuses on providing consumer brands with a creative and management services. We assist brands in planning for the future while solving for deficiencies in the present. With such economic uncertainty, we’re aware that more brands are now critically in-need of partners with proven resources and operational expertise to help weather the current storm.

Thermal Brands proudly serves large global brands and young specialty brands striving to grow their brand equity. These companies reside in either the Lifestyle or Luxury category and differentiated by their product offering, brand values, and consumer experience. Our goal is to provide each of them with new concepts, strategies, access, and efficiencies while being mindful of their finances and marketplace dynamics.

HEAT

How do we work. What I discovered over the past few years is that large consumer brands need steady injections of new creative influence, fresh art direction, stimulating activation concepts, and unexpectedly positive partnerships. We started calling this “heat” and we deliver it by residing in multiple pockets of creatives (those within the art, food, beverage, music, sports, entrepreneurship, wellness, entertainment, fashion, innovation communities) and delicately walking them through a global brand’s formalized partnership process.

We preserve the safeguards of a corporate process, but act as a protective advocate for young designers and artists. Global brands integrate us into various aspects of their organization and smaller brands trust us to filter opportunities of value. The matchmaking and subsequent execution is powerful.

Over the past few years, we have provided “heat” for brands like PUMA, Roc Nation, Michelob, Swarovski, and Motorola at places like Paris Fashion Week, New York Fashion Week, Art Basel and Miami Art Week, NBA Draft, Formula 1, ComplexCon, KidzCon, in retail installations, at countless product launches, and other culturally relevant moments.

LIFT

Simultaneously, I discovered that young brands were eager to find ways to grow their visibility without spending money on traditional advertising or 360 marketing. I started showing young brands the importance of preserving cash flow, tighter range plans, the importance of brand equity, and attaining efficiencies in distribution.

I learned that many brands within the luxury apparel or beauty spaces could become overnight successes because they had a tremendous online following built through active social media. However, most of these same brands would see their rise and fall unpredictably because they could never figure out production sizes or accurately calculate demand. Many of these young brands had no supply chain process, no secondary source, no QA process, no means to sell the product beyond affiliates, no access to additional financing, and almost 100% of them were focused on only the design element and celebrity clientele.

As a result of these dynamics, I started hearing from dozens of young brands asking if I could help them navigate these unpredictable variables or help build a more consistent operating model. Simplify their operation so that it could perform predictably and consistently.

All businesses operate best if they perform predictably. Investors or lenders are more likely to invest knowing that there is a high likelihood that the business will continue to perform a certain way. Wholesalers equally feel comfortable knowing that a brand is going to be around the next season and that it will continue to grow in brand value to their collective economic benefit. BTW, large brand agencies don’t ever share this type of education with their clients.

Dedicated to assisting young brands with building an operationally efficient and predictable business model, I started thinking of our agency as providing “lift” for young brands. Ways we help deploy “lift” are by providing guidance on what a young brand’s product portfolio should look like (e.g. number of SKUs, what price points, margins, inventory), who to distribute with and when, how much cash flow is required to run the business through seasonality, how to properly monetize marketing dollars for product sales, how to evaluate financing scenarios, and eventually who to collaborate with for attaining a larger audience.

We try to help each brand understand how the business will perform based on an array of current market conditions and variables. We share our experience in outcomes with our young brand owners so that they feel informed each time an issue or an opportunity arises. We also have a large network of producers, developers, designers, artists, media, investors, and wholesalers that we plug and play as a way to outsource resources cost effectively.

Ultimately, we have provided our young brands with an assortment of commercial opportunities in the global apparel, footwear, accessories, home goods, hospitality, beauty, and entertainment (music and eSports) industries. We have also provided our network of young designers and artists opportunities to create for retail and charitable exhibitions and installations. These collective efforts have culminated in dozens of licensing, distribution, and creative consulting agreements for our clients. In addition, we have saved our brands countless costs associated with overspending on marketing, product development, and inventory acquisition.

HEAT + LIFT

Regardless of the immediate effects of Covid-19, the consumer market that is influenced by art, music, and sport remains stronger than ever. Consumer brands are shifting from not only targeting millennials, but equally approaching Generation Z consumers with their marketing activities. These consumer brands see the importance of speaking to a customer that prioritizes the influence of art, music, and sport within their buying behavior. People are shopping for the new product trends at art shows, music festivals, and through global sports. Gone are the days of retailers setting trends.

Today, Thermal Brands spends an enormous amount of time studying and straddling the intersection of consumer buying trends and the ever-changing culture of art, music, and sport. We are constantly looking at facilitating partnerships of “unexpected delight” between non-adjacent industries, (ex. a sportswear company + a mobile technology company, or an alcohol beverage company + a fitness company, or a fashion materials company + an upscale restaurant brand), because we see potential in bringing together two brands that can jointly deliver an unexpectedly positive offering to the consumer.

WE ARE NOT…

One thing you will notice is that Thermal Brands is not a design house. We do not design products or graphics or take ownership of design with any brand. We rely on our client’s native ability to create a compelling design story or consumer experience. We can direct creative and provide input on process, supply chain, and cost, but just don’t ask us to come create the portfolio.

Thermal Brands is not a showroom. While we create a client’s distribution strategy, we make direct introductions for our brands to retailers and wholesalers. We do not store collections for the purpose of introducing them to the wholesale market. Instead, Thermal Brands works with preeminent showrooms like Tomorrow Ltd in London to provide our clients with access to the showroom’s respective expertise and proven experience in areas like retail placement, seasonal buying, and order fulfillment.

LOVE & SUPPORT

I am also very aware of the battle we are facing in working to eradicate racial and gender inequality. The fashion industry as a whole continues to struggle with various forms of discrimination and providing everyone with equal opportunities to be heard or to create. I have been proud of our ability to identify and share creative and commercial opportunities with underrepresented designers and artists since my initial consulting launch in 2016 (as Rudyard Partners). It is already extremely difficult to start a new lifestyle or luxury brand and even more so if you are not supported with opportunities that only white male creatives have been exclusively afforded. Today, over seventy percent of our brands are owned and/or run by women or people of color. We are proud to work with them, learn from them, and to play a part in helping them grow their personal brand story and influence on the global marketplace.

We are excited to move into the global recovery phase and celebrate with our communities again. Of course, we want to throw an amazing party when it is safe to do so. I am proud to start this new chapter with Thermal Brands and provide ‘heat’ and ‘lift’ to new impactful and talented brands to come.

Thermal

Adj: Of, relating to, using, producing, or caused by [heat].

N: A rising current of warm air, [lift].

P.S. We are always looking to meet new designers and artists that we can include on projects of different scopes, so if you are interested in sharing your talents and vision with us, please DM us at @thermalbrands.

-Matthew I. Growney

Co-Founder & Creative Director

www.thermalbrands.com

@thermalbrands

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