Do things properly
We're specialists doing nothing but Five Units and Plain Units trousers. In a world full of opportunities, this dedication is often met with wonder in our industry. So, we asked our Norwegian co-owner, Frode Strømman, how focus enriches people and business from his perspective—and why it can be tricky.
Entering the fashion industry at the age of 17 years, one of Frode's first memories is the pie chart. Back then, it was all about larger assortments and more product categories to create economic growth. This pushed him to take a stand—should he go for the highest numbers or with what he sensed people and the shops needed?
Living in a small Norwegian village by the sea made that choice easy; in Lillesand, you see if people aren't wearing the clothes you sold to them—but you still have to look them in the eye. The important stand he decided to take has since turned into a life philosophy for Frode:
"Do things properly, and great joy and fulfilment will follow".
The tricky part
Though nobody can be good at everything, focusing on what you're good at is challenging to many people. In Frode's experience, there's a simple explanation: people spread their efforts across a large area, believing the more they offer, the better they'll do.
This misunderstanding can be costly: when your business appears unfocused, things get complicated, and customers get confused. Instead, ask yourself what your core business is. Focus on what you're good at, get better and better at it and aim to own your category—just like Our Units do as trouser specialists, he underlines.
"Nobody can be good at everything".
Believe in your thing
It takes courage to be a specialist with one product type among many brands with multiple. But even as a specialist, you can't rest on your laurels—you must keep refining your focus. We went from 160 pieces in four collections, adding up to 640 options a year, to fewer and smaller collections and a wider range of base products.
This change is also rooted in the green transition, respect for available resources, and a longing for more simplicity. As a specialist, that's a lovely thing to pass on to your customers, Frode points out.
Interestingly, this ongoing refinement of our focus has improved our sales and relationships at Our Units. We constantly get better at creating trousers that get sold and are worn, Frode explains. The last part is essential. We only succeed when our retailers provide people with trousers they love and wear frequently:
"We work to fulfil a need, not to create one".
People are buying for the better
The world doesn't need more clothes—but at the same time, we need clothes in our lives. So, in Frode's opinion, producing more trousers comes with responsibility. We must create trousers that match people's life—not a momentary trend. Until recently, fashion dictated what was hot or not each season, and people had to adapt. Now, he senses an awakening among people:
More people are looking for clothes they can use for longer or exchange if they get tired of them. A common acceptance of all the different bodies and their needs is on the rise. To Our Units, it means a broader range of fits. To people, it means learning to recognise long-lasting quality. Most people are so used to things breaking after a while that they think it's normal. Sustainability is not just about recycled cotton but all about quality.
Crazy times call for closer partnerships
We all, including our retailers, have endured a challenging period during Covid-19, Frode points out. This leads to increased focus and dedication for many people. At Our Units, we're changing how we do business in our industry. We want close partnerships with the people we work with based on care for each other, mutual understanding, openness, and a willingness to reach out for help when needed. It's about shared beliefs in life and dedication—and when asked what to pass on to his children, Frode is clear:
"No matter what you do, the bigger your dedication and focus are, the greater joy and fulfilment you will experience."