When you have the last name Rogers in Central Mississippi there are high odds you’re in business and innovative in whatever your field may be.
Sure enough, B.C. Rogers III, whose family business lineage follows a line of poultry, livestock, and construction is following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather with his own new venture, Wren & Ivy
After launching in February 2015, the brand has created a new niche in the outdoors market.
Founder and creator Rogers recently sat down for a brief Q&A with BAMSouth.com Publisher Jack Criss about Wren & Ivy: its origins, its offerings, where it will be in the future, and why it is all about family.
BAMSouth.com: Why the name “Wren & Ivy?”
Rogers: Wren is my three-year-old daughter and B.C. Rogers IV, “Ivy”, is my one-year-old son.
BAMSouth.com: What is the company all about? What do you do?
Rogers: The purpose of Wren & Ivy is to create classically-styled outdoor and travel gear that allows customers to enjoy their time outdoors while still meeting their modern needs. For example, I wanted a rugged field bag that would last a lifetime, but that also had a place for my iPhone or iPad. Our goal at Wren & Ivy is to combine style and functionality.
While the products are important, what you do with them is just as critical to us. My family uses our products in the field and when we travel. We’re making memories that we want to stay with our kids for years to come. “Leave a Legacy” has become our motto. We know how precious time with family and friends is; we want our customers to have confidence that their gear will help them make the most of these moments in their own lives.
BAMSouth.com: How did the idea of doing this come to you?
Rogers: Our family owns a retail store, Persnickety in Madison, and I saw a need in the market for what has become Wren & Ivy. I used my retail experience and my roles as both an avid outdoorsman and business traveler to create the products I was searching for. It was one of those “God Things”: so many things simply just came together at the right time.
BAMSouth.com: Did you engage in market research before launching Wren & Ivy?
Rogers: It was a perfect example of “I am my customer.” In a sense, I’d been doing market research for years without realizing where it would lead.
BAMSouth.com: How has the response to Wren & Ivy been so far?
Rogers: It’s been outstanding and humbling. Everyone who sees what we make has been very impressed. Sales are exceeding my expectations, which is very exciting considering we are building this business from the ground up. We’re so grateful to the customers who are giving us such positive and helpful feedback.
BAMSouth.com: How are your products made and sold?
Rogers: Everything we sell is made by hand, on a sewing machine and work bench, and I have personal relationships with our craftsmen. I spend time daily with our production team and work side by side with them to ensure we are building products that will function as designed and last a lifetime.
We sell online only. I’m open to the idea of retailers and a brick and mortar at some point in the future, but there are no current plans. Right now you can find us at www.wrenandivy.com
BAMSouth.com: How have you promoted Wren & Ivy?
Rogers: Through social media, word of mouth, trunk shows. These avenues have provided a lot of one-on-one interactions with our customers, which has been critical to our success. We are working on our fall marketing efforts now, and I’m excited about what our team is creating.
BAMSouth.com: What products are you most proud of?
Rogers: All of them! Everything we sell is multi-functional: our blind bag can be used as a camera bag for outdoor photographers, for example; you can even see the work of professional photographers who have used our gear on the Wren & Ivy Facebook page. I not only consulted with my friends who hunt but also with several of my friends who are professional photographers and asked what we needed to incorporate into our products; we took their suggestions and used them.
But, you know, the product I’m proudest of is the one that a customer takes to the field, where it counts, and lets us know how well it works – and holds up. That’s what we’re after. We don’t want to get in the way of the stories at the end of the day, but rather be a part of them. That’s the way we can leave a legacy: to be a part of the stories you tell your children and grandchildren around the fire.
BAMSouth.com: What’s your biggest seller so far?
Rogers: The Heirloom Ditty Bag. It’s very popular. One of the ways we are building this company is by building products for the waterfowl and upland game hunters. In a way this group represents our company base. I sincerely believe the Heirloom Ditty Bag is the finest designed piece for that market that I’ve ever seen and our customers agree.
Right now, our biggest clientele base is from the Southeast, but we are receiving orders from all over the country and the Heirloom Ditty Bag is our number one seller.
BAMSouth.com: What is your background?
I was born and raised in Morton, Mississippi, went to Ole Miss before transferring to Belmont University in Nashville where I earned a double major in Business and Music Business. I stayed in Nashville for several years before moving back home in 2005 to join my father in the oil and gas distributorship business they had at the time. That business sold, but it also had a retail arm called Hearth and Home. The family that bought the gas business didn’t want the retail aspect so we kept it; that, in turn, led to us buying Persnickety in 2006.
BAMSouth.com: And everything you’re involved in seems to include family. Why is that so important?
Rogers: That’s true. My father, Ben, my mother Randy and my wife, Kim, are all involved in our businesses. In fact, I met Kim when she started back working at Persnickety where she had once worked with the previous owners. My father hired her when we had owned the store about six months.
The Wren & Ivy logo encapsulates what we’re about, as a company and as a family: Wren, my daughter, is surrounded by her brother, Ivy, who is protecting her as she rests on the three leaves of Ivy which represent the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That summarizes what we’re about as a business. We do it together and with our values in the forefront of what we do. Kim and I want our kids right there in the booth at trade shows. It’s how we were raised and how we want our kids to grow up.
But it’s not just family, Jack, the focus groups on new products are made up of extended family and friends. The photography is either done by family or by David Adams, a friend and professional photographer. Our web and marketing work is done by Joe Garner and his team at The Garner Agency. Joe has been among my closest friends since we were seven years old. When you see a Wren & Ivy product and how we take it to market, you know it’s there because the entire team of our family and friends.
BAMSouth.com: Where do you see Wren & Ivy in a year?
Rogers: With our family’s involvement and the support structure we have in place with Persnickety, Wren & Ivy is well-positioned to grow. We need the growth to take place slowly, though, so that we are able to maintain the personal attention we give to each product and customer.”
A year from now I think we’ll be launching our second collection and further exploring a wholesale model.
BAMSouth.com: What’s your biggest challenge at Wren & Ivy?
Manufacturing, hands down. We think we’ve solved it, but still, finding the best manufacturer for our design and vision was the biggest challenge.