Mizzen + Main’s Kevin Lavelle’s Take on Customer Relations Translates to Brand Loyalty

Mizzen + Main is a men’s clothing brand headed by Kevin Lavelle.  This Dallas-based startup offers American made shirts made with the comfortable and flexible fabric found in many types of athletic wear in styles such as dress shirts, pants, and polo shirts.  Nothing about Mizzen + Main is typical, from the fact they are made here in the United States to the belief of Lavelle that the company will not, and never should, offer discounts for its products.

Then there is Lavelle’s statement that “Most of the time, the customer is right.”  In an April 27th company blog post, Lavelle addresses the issue of the anti-fragile business, and his very legitimate belief that bad customers are not good for business.  Lavelle’s definition of anti-fragility comes from Nassim Nicholas Taleb, “Anti-fragility is beyond resilience or robustness.  The resilient resists shocks and stays the same; the anti-fragile gets better.”

The fact that the customer is not always right is a big deal to Lavelle; a few weeks ago about ten customers took advantage of a glitch in the system.  Typically when ordering from Mizzen + Main there is package pricing when purchasing three or six shirts, with the price getting cheaper the more a customer buys.  These customers that took advantage of the glitch were remarkable, with one putting in 12 orders to get 12 shirts for free and to Lavelle, this hurts the business.

Airlines are typically forced to deal with this situation, when there are exposed glitches in the system customers buy tickets much cheaper and the airlines typically absorb the loss instead of suffering the bad publicity.  Lavelle decided to cancel every single one of those orders, and made the decision to weather the social media outrage by these few customers who were caught essentially stealing from Mizzen + Main.

Lavelle has carefully built his company to offer a high-quality product made in the United States, supporting American stories.  He values his customers, and his customers value the unique product his company provides to them.  For a company that admits it will never offer discounts, it is unsurprising that Lavelle would not allow customers to take advantage of a glitch in the system and then give people the free stuff they tried to steal from his company because of negative press.  In a business environment where customers are more and more demanding, Lavelle putting Mizzen + Main first is remarkable, and as his following grows, so does his reach.

Harmony Tapper