A Standoff Over Storage Space Inspired Basic Outfitters, and WeWork Helped It Grow
12 desks WeWork 5th Avenue
The founders of the rapidly growing clothing company say that working among so many other business owners “fosters incredible networking”.
Not long after New Yorkers Laura and Michael Dweck returned from their honeymoon, they had a standoff over storage space. Michael was monopolizing five of the six drawers, mostly with clothes he wasn’t wearing. “His underwear drawer wouldn’t close,” Laura says. “It was filled with underwear, some he hadn’t put on since college. I told him that anything he hadn’t worn in the past three months had to go.” And with that, 90 percent of the drawer went into the recycle bin.
“I love to look good, but really hate shopping,” says Michael. “I told Laura, ‘I wish there was one place where I could pick some socks, pick some underwear, and click a button.’” Their “Create-a-Drawer” idea was enough to get them crunching the numbers. They didn’t want to leave their jobs — she as a swimwear designer, he a hospital administrator — until they were sure Basic Outfitters was viable. After working lots of nights and weekends, they decided it was time to devote themselves to the idea fulltime. “Oh my god, that was a scary moment,” says Laura. “It was sink or swim.”
Orders came in so fast for Create-a-Drawer — a convenient and affordable way to refresh all your basics, including T-shirts, socks, underwear, and joggers at once — that the WeWork 5th Ave members could hardly keep up. Then came an email from a Forbes editor announcing they had been selected for the magazine’s 30 Under 30 series. “Even though we were exhausted after a full day of packing orders in the warehouse,” says Laura. “When the email came from Forbes, we started skipping down the aisles.”
“The most personal thing you can wear, the thing you put directly on your body, is the thing people least like to shop for. Our aha moment was that we could make the process so much better, so much easier.”
But they needed somewhere to base their company, and they decided on WeWork 5th Ave. The location near New York’s Garment District proved to be perfect for a clothing company. And the couple says being among other entrepreneurs “fosters incredible networking.”
“WeWork has been a huge part of our growth, offering the flexibility to grow our office space as we grow our company,” says Laura. “And having the support of the WeWork staff has been invaluable.”
“One of our most successful marketing campaigns derived from a WeWork member partnership,” Michael adds.
Then came a call from a producer at Shark Tank. Would they consider pitching their company on the show? They jumped at the chance, and their appearance brought their company international exposure. And perhaps best of all, customers began asking them to expand their product line. “All couples have same complaint about a significant other’s drawer,” says Laura. “We started the company to help out men, but now the demand for a women’s drawer is off the charts.”