How Lo & Sons built a profitable DTC brand with no venture funding

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Lo & Sons launched as a direct-to-consumer brand in 2010. That's practically prehistoric as far as the recent crop of DTC companies is concerned.

"We were kind of an accidental DTC company," co-founder of the brand, which makes high-end handbags, Derek Lo said on the Modern Retail Podcast. "We started before the term even existed."

The idea to start a family business came from Derek Lo's mother, Helen Lo, who despite her frequent travels couldn't find a bag that was easy on her back. She started a blog about light-weight bags -- Derek's brother Jan helped set it up on Tumblr -- before convincing her sons to quit their jobs and give their own company a shot.

The company became profitable in 2013, according to Lo, and it did so while eschewing the typical playbook of so many DTC brands that came after -- outside investment, millennial-focused subway ads and the inevitable expansion into brick-and-mortar stores.

The company's independence has helped Lo & Sons survive, in Lo's estimation. "We want to be a brand like Patagonia that's going to be around for decades, that's making a positive impact on the world," Lo said.

Lo talked about the company's origins, marketing strategy and product innovations -- like a separate compartment for shoes.

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