In late 2008, while sitting on a couch in a basement, my bulldog The Duke looked at me and said, "Hey slacker, I'm a star & you need to put my face on stuff to sell to people"
I responded "ok" and just like that, Duke & Winston was born.
With zero plan or experience, we figured out how to make 100 "Duke Tees" and sold to friends & at local Philadelphia street festivals. People loved them & sold out within a week or so. We quickly thought "That's it, we are the next Ralph Lauren" so I quit my job, sold my car on craigslist for startup cash and spent the next 5 years 100% NOT becoming the next Ralph Lauren!!!
Over the following 5 difficult years of living out of basements, sharing cup o' noodles with Duke, working 20 hour work days setting up at dozens of trunk shows up & down the East coast, we slowly expanded our product line with a random mix of products inspired by Duke, dogs, growing up in the UK, Philadelphia & New England and started to gain a small but steady loyal following. (mostly due to Duke's selling abilities)
By 2014, we'd opened two retail stores, completed over 300 trunk shows, bought an official Duke Mobile, sold to dozens of wholesale accounts and actually developed into a "kinda casual, kinda preppy, fun brand for people & dogs"..all as a largely one man & bulldog operation.
It took a ton of effort, but we were able to do all this by building grassroots style, making up for our lack of fashion experience by catering every aspect of the brand around the fun, dog loving nature of our growing customers.
In 2016 we closed our high overhead retail stores & for the first time in 8 years took some time off to regroup & plan a more sustainable relaunch.
Duke passed away in late 2018 after 12 long years & while it's tough to relaunch without the brains behind the brand, Duke & Winston will continue to be a memorial to the bond between Duke and I. Duke's presence will be sorely missed but my goal is to use the relaunch and the brand to celebrate, highlight & entertain the countless dog lovers out there who share the same bond with their best friends.