“What makes us special? When you receive it no more than 5 people have touched your product, from design to sale.” That is what John Lehman had to say when we spoke about his high end leather goods line R.B. of McD. We had been playing social media tag since we featured his preview at L. Bazaar Boutique in Silverlake last year and finally had the chance to get together. We talked about grass roots marketing and why it is important to build your brand around a core value.
Yes, RB of McD is made is a made in Los Angeles brand, but that is not the thing that is not done in protest, “The protest is in the design.” ,says Lehman. ” The artists, designers, and architects are shaping their world through the products they create.” It might seem unlikely that a guy running a luxury leather line is talking about shaping the future but it is true. John McDavid Lehman is a native Angeleno and has seen the neighborhoods change a bit and has seen tourists come and go.
Lehman comes from a marketing background at home and has a firm understanding of that side of the business. He also understands that it is the businesses that are shaping cities, and it is the products those businesses provide that are shaping our lives. “We design for real people, not the 1% The Los Angeles I know is [full of] tons of phenomenal working people.” Quality does come at a price, and though his items are not cheap, they are also not fluffed by need to fund major marketing over head, “I outsource very little, and commit to my customer to tell the same story time and again… The new way of marketing is social connection.” They keep the line lean with only seven silhouettes and they don’t waste resources on multiple samples. “I am pretty proud of the facet that once we get to sample, we are 100% confident that it is ‘RB’ ready.
John doesn’t spend a lot on marketing nor does he really need to. Most of his customers come from word of mouth, and they spend little time trying to “sell” their goods to the masses. ” If you are looking for us to dictate your style, RB of McD is not for you. Our brand demands a certain self-awareness.” It is not so much about tapping peoples pockets right? Not about just getting to know your market, but getting to know your community. At the same time RB of McD isn’t spending a ton of money on marketing, he can’t really afford to that requires a huge amount of capital and is a shot in the dark for return on investment. That capital usually comes with strings attached, heavy ones. “Investment changes your business.”, say John, who has self funded his line from his previous work in the corporate and freelance marketing world. He’s actually got all the creative capital in the world and that is really where the name comes from, Royal Bank of McDavid.
Looking towards the future we wanted to know what was next and how he planned to grow with his grass roots approach. They has plans to add some additional silhouettes and John admits, press (like this) does help get the word out about the work they are doing. “I wish I would have this discussion with every possible customer.” it is in this moment that John McDavid Lehman reveals himself. He has made his money as a marketer but he is really a story teller and his medium is this brand RB of McD.