Jimmy Fritz is the CEO of The Wedding Shoppe as well as the co-founder of wedding apparel accessory brands such as Kennedy Blue and Penny + Pine. Being interested in leveraging technology as a way to maximize sales, Jimmy takes pride in remaining at the forefront of innovative digital marketing strategies and product development processes.
Under Jimmy’s leadership, the Wedding Shoppe has become a nationally known wedding retailer. Quite impressively, even throughout the recent Great Recession, The Wedding Shoppe drove double-digit increases in both online and in-store sales.
Bobby: To this point, what is the greatest moment in your career? Can you take us to that moment? Kind of let us experience that with you?
Jimmy Fritz: I don’t have one defining moment. Probably a bunch of them. I was just working on my bio to do some podcasts and speaking events and stuff like that. As I looked back I was generally pretty impressed about when there’s been a trend, especially in technology, we as a company have been on the forefront.
Going back to 2004, 2005 when we were really piloting e-commerce, and digital marketing, and tracking, and selling omni-channel. At the time, those things were really not a thing in retail, especially right out of the .com bubble burst. Even creating private label products and our own stuff under Kennedy Blue. Even now, we are really starting to pilot the creation of our brand. Now, we are the brand. Generally, we have been good at staying on the cutting edge of retail.
Bobby: Why is that so important to you?
Jimmy Fritz: Well, today it’s a changing world. When Amazon is everyone’s competitor, you are required to be thinking of ways to standout. That’s how you remain successful.
Bobby: Can you explain the moment you were closest to giving? Giving up on the business? How did you bounce back from that?
Jimmy Fritz: There probably wasn’t just one low point, there are multiple low points all the time. What I will say, from 2006 to 2013 we pretty much experienced growth that entire time. It’s weird when you are growing and everything works, growing double digits, then hitting a wall and growth flattening.
All of a sudden less people started getting married, retail started struggling, we started declining in some areas. Then we had to start thinking about making cuts. That is something very, very challenging because it is something new. With that said, it was probably the best learning experience of my life. Now that I look back, I think if I had the discipline earlier in my career, I would’ve made a lot more money.
Bobby: Great. That kind of brings us to our next question, if you had the chance for one do-over in your early 20s, what would that be?
Jimmy Fritz: Yes, that kind of does tie in. When I was in my 20s, I was a nerd and knew tech stuff well. At the time, when nobody really knew that, I was able to leverage that. I used what I was comfortable with to grow businesses. I didn’t actually know how business works.
If I were to go back in my 20s, I wish I learned more about how to evaluate companies, how to buy companies, and understand how to make a company more valuable through recurring revenue streams, sustainable processes. And when you know how to make your business more valuable, everything becomes easier. I didn’t really learn that until my 30s and now I’m trying to implement that in my companies.
Bobby: This is a little off script, but how did you, as a tech guy, end up in the wedding industry?
Jimmy Fritz: Well, my parents started The Wedding Shoppe in the 1970s, so I grew up in the wedding space. It’s funny, weddings really aren’t my passion. I know a lot about the product, but I don’t wakeup thinking, “Wow, it’s really exciting designing wedding dresses.” The company already had some revenue, so I was able to leverage my passions in technology and digital marketing into the business. And it’s funny, it’s such an old-school industry. When I started to pitch going online, people would literally tell me, “Jimmy, that’s seriously the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Nobody will buy wedding online.” Ten years later, entire retailers in the wedding industry are moving to online only.
Bobby: That’s really cool. If you died tomorrow, what would be your single biggest regret?
Jimmy Fritz: If I died tomorrow, it’d probably be because I didn’t prioritize my health enough. So that’s what I’d regret, not making time for my health, eating right, etc. When you start getting busy, when I had multiple businesses, got married, and had kids, it’s easy to not spend any time on your health. You need to understand that your own healthy lifestyle should be as much of a priority as running business reports, and building business, and even family stuff. Because if I’m not healthy, it doesn’t help any of that other stuff either.
Bobby: What is one life hack that listeners can focus on over the next seven days to become more successful?
Jimmy Fritz: Yeah. This one is super easy for me because it’s something that drives me nuts all the time. People with an entrepreneurial spirit, read books, listen to audiobooks, go to conferences, and consume all of the information, but never take action on it. So the simplest thing is finding the source that you think is the best. I think going to mentors or other people who have done it before, is a really good place to get started. You literally have to go execute what the source tells you.
When I was in the worst of the worst, I would work all day, come home, see my kids for a couple hours, then work until two in the morning. I would get some sleep, wake up and do it all over again, and it sucks. But that’s what it takes if you want to build a successful business. You need the have the discipline to say, “This is what I am going to do until I get to my goals.”
Bobby: How do you find a mentor?
Jimmy Fritz: Real business mentors can happen naturally. This happens by chance many times, by accident. Also, I have joined some pure groups. It’s great, because you can get diverse opinions from experts in other industries.
Bobby: That sounds like a great idea to join a mentor group. Before we let you go, is there anywhere listeners can reach you?
Jimmy Fritz: Yes, email me at email@example.com. If anyone emails me, I always respond.
Bobby: Beautiful. Well, thank you so much for joining us today. We really appreciate it and will continue to follow your journey.
Some reminders from this podcast:
1. Just like Jimmy has experienced, you will likely find multiple low-points throughout your career. Be ready, and always try to make the best of them. Jimmy’s worst professional moments have been his greatest learning opportunities.
2. As Jimmy suggested, no matter how important other things are to you, personal, physical and mental health should become a priority in your life. The healthier you are, the better you are at everything else.
3. THIS WEEK: Find a life hack from your favorite business book, guru, or mentor and execute it over the next seven days. Take action.