We had the good fortune of connecting with Tony & Jennifer Gomez and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Tony & Jennifer, every day, we hear about how much execution matters, but we think ideas matter as well. How did you come up with the idea for your business?
We operate our family business, Twins Pleating & Stitching, Inc, which in the fashion world is known as a novelty company. In its simplest form, the company adds details to garments that make them unique, such as pleats, folds, or speciality stitching. The idea for Plisar clothing brand came about after some analysis of the current garment landscape. The majority of clothing manufacturers produce garments, especially those with many novelty details, overseas; mainly because it is much more affordable to make clothing abroad due to international trade agreements, such as NAFTA—now the USMCA—and higher labor costs that come with producing domestically. Doing business overseas is cheap, but so is the quality of the majority of garments not to mention some questionable labor practices. We knew we could make quality garments that were novelty heavy for a fraction of the costs and sell them at wholesale prices directly to consumers via social media; thus, Plisar was born.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Plisar, pronounced “please are”—which is Spanish for “pleat” and a nod to our roots—was born out of the desire to provide quality products, made domestically by people in your community, for a fraction of the big-box retailer prices. Even when shopping for men’s clothing, we made it a point to support local or domestic-made products because we knew that when the money stayed in our community, it eventually trickled back down to all of us. However, we often struggled to find what we were looking for.
Here’s the issue: when you go to a clothing store and see something that is priced low, oftentimes it is because it has little to no detail or it is mass produced in a developing country for pennies on the dollar. If something is more expensive, that does not always mean it was made domestically or with quality in mind; it could simply mean the company has good marketing technique and brand presence. When something is expensive and uses quality garments, most manufactures will sell it to online retailers, department stores or boutiques at a wholesale price. To make a profit, those middlemen pass the costs to the consumer.
In the women’s sector, we saw more of the same and felt the fashion industry needed something that would not break your bank, be versatile and be made ethically with utmost quality.
Plisar is different because we can make a better product that goes from our designers, to our production team and directly to you; we cut out the middleman and pass along the savings to you and we can do all of this because we own our own specialty company in Los Angeles.
Plisar also is set apart because we up-size our clothing. Most brands—depending on the market—start their size small at around 25-28″ at the waist, but we start our size small at 30″. We do this because the average American woman wears a size 14-16 with a waist line of about 38″, which for most brands is a L-XL; but who are we to tell you what a standard size should be?! We decided to up-size in an effort to appeal to the modern fashionista that does not conform to yesterday’s standards. Additionally, most of our clothes are free flowing and versatile so you can adjust or pair them with whatever and wherever you want. That bold attitude makes us proud. But we are most proud about the fact that we were able to envision something and bring that idea to fruition.
Tony: “Growing up my father was the manager of a pleating company and I admired the fact that he came to this country and laboriously put food on our table. Along with my mother, who worked outside the house in the garment industry just to come home to care for four kids, my parents were the epitome of hard work. As a kid, I did not know exactly what my father did, but I remember being proud to say he was a manager and that he took on leadership roles at his workplace. In 1995, with a lot of sacrifice, my father started his own company after learning a trade that was foreign to him, but one that he was determined to master since he came to the U.S. in the 70’s. After receiving my bachelor’s degree I decided to join him to get work experience for an MBA program, but little did I know he was on the brink of bankruptcy and only had $5,000 to his name after more than a decade in business. To say that I felt the weight of the family business on my shoulders is an understatement, but surprisingly I didn’t panic. In my college years, I was able to take on leadership roles with organizations and in a way it gave me an opportunity to run a small corporation and get a feel for the real world. I knew I had the ability to gain people’s trust and could easily talk to anyone, so I put on my marketing hat and got to work. I saw the company grow from a 3-man operation with sales of $100-$300K a year, which mostly went to overhead costs, to its peak of 25+ employees with sales of $2 million per year. It all went by so fast, but looking back we put in so much work and so many hours to get where we are today.
The idea of Plisar was born in 2016 when our family business was going through a slump. After some analysis of the current garment landscape coupled with our feelings of having hit a plateau, we needed to pivot to feel motivated again. A year later, we found out we were going to be parents so we told ourselves, ‘this is it.’ This was life telling us now was the time to take action on the idea of starting a brand or forever just think about it.”
Jennifer: “I feel that part of our success was mainly because we could not afford to look back and just kept going. In essence, we were placed between a rock and a hard place and there was nowhere to go but up. Additionally, I think what made the family business successful was when Tony joined his father, my father-in-law, they each complimented one another; one was the ying and the other was the yang. My father-in-law knew operations and management and Tony knew numbers, marketing and quickly learned that he had a keen ability to manage customer relations and improve their experience. However, their similar personalities made for an interesting first few years, but they learned to put their differences aside and work as a team.
We launched in 2019 and started on a good foot, then in 2020 the pandemic really slowed things down. Currently, we are analyzing a possible brand refresh and revamp of our site as well as zeroing in on our specific customer market. We believe in the power of branding and marketing and will focus our efforts in those areas to exceed customer expectations. Also, we believe we have something special and we want to continue with the momentum to provide the utmost quality at affordable prices.
For all the entrepreneurs out there, do not undermine the amount of work it is going to take to market your specific product. Part of our strategy is to continue to identify areas of improvement. Soon, we will start working with a marketing firm to further expand and execute our strategic plan.”
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
LA is a special place even with its non-stop traffic and crowds of people. Besides, it is the only place where you can go anywhere in the world without leaving LA, especially when it comes to food.
This itinerary is based on a long-holiday weekend because there is so so much to do in the city that a normal weekend isn’t enough.
The wealth of great food spots around LA make it truly special, but there is a reason why the late chef and travel documentarian, Anthony Bourdain, called this Southern-California spot his favorite restaurant in LA: In-n-Out! We would start off our visit with a great-tasting burger, a Double Double animal style. Then we’d head to our absolute favorite not-so-touristy part of LA, the Long Beach Shoreline Village & Belmont Shores / Naples. We’d visit the Aquarium of the Pacific, which we like to call “mini Sea World.” We’d follow that stop with a bike ride to Belmont Shores /Naples and make our way back along the bay, Lions Lighthouse, and the Queen Mary. A perfect way to end an eventful day is dinner at Parkers’ Lighthouse where you can watch the sunset while enjoying the beautiful LA weather.
The next day, we’d take advantage of the miles of coastline and stick to the beach with a hike in San Pedro and make our way down to Sunken City to hang out and enjoy the view. After a quick morning walk, we’d head over to one of our favorite spots in LA, the San Pedro Fish Market and enjoy great seafood with cold beers. No trip to San Pedro is ever finished before going on a waterfront cruise to Terminal Island or to enjoy the views of Catalina Island.
No matter how much we try and tell folks that the Hollywood walk of fame is not all that it is cracked up to be, as good hosts and quasi-tour guides, we’d give in to the requests to see their favorite celebrity star. A trip to the Hollywood sign is a must for any tourist, but why not kill two birds with one stone and visit our favorite view of LA at the Griffith Observatory. Not only can you see the moon up close and personal with a giant telescope, but you get one of the best views of the city, and of course, the Hollywood sign itself.
By this point, we’d be hungry again. Luckily, LA has one of the most diverse gastronomy scenes, particularly when it comes to Mexican food, that is arguably the best in the country. The City of Angels is also home to the biggest Mexican population outside of Mexico and we have tons of truly exceptional options in LA. We’d cruise to the east side for lunch at Tacos El Flaco in East LA, which is one of the best taco stands. When it comes to authenticity, this is it! You come up to an auto shop with a taco trailer that is hitched to an SUV and order some of the best savory tacos you have ever had. They set up daily at 6 pm and we recommend the fish tacos without forgetting to ask for “cebollitas,” which are scallions.
For a little unwinding, why not indulge in some of our many breweries. Our favorite San Gabriel Valley hidden treasure is Progress Brewery, and our go-to brew is Sidewinder, a hoppy guava double IPA that will be sure to leave you wanting more. A trip to the South Bay’s best brewery, Monkish, is a must to try some of the best Belgian-style beers outside of Belgium. After some beers, we’ll have dinner at East LA’s Mariscos Cuatro Vientos, who are famous for their shrimp tacos—can you tell we are seafood lovers?!
LA is a city of champions and the best way to see it in action is by paying a visit to the most successful Major League Soccer franchise, the LA Galaxy. There is no better way to enjoy a family-friendly atmosphere than by tailgating before catching a game. But say you’re visiting LA during baseball or basketball season, then we can catch a game of the world champion Dodgers or Lakers. After the game, we’d head to our absolute favorite restaurant in LA, El 7 Mares—yes another seafood spot—but these guys specialize in Mexican style seafood. Our go-to is “Camarones Costa Azul”, that’s bacon-wrapped shrimp stuffed with mozzarella cheese and crab meat. Pair the delicacy with a tasty Michelada beer.
By this time, the guest would love LA so much, they’d make travel arrangements to stay an extra day. They would be sad if they left LA without visiting the happiest place on earth, so a full day of park hopping between Disneyland and California Adventures is a must followed by late-night dinner and drinks to toast a successful trip at Downtown Disney.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Tony: “For anyone thinking of dabbling into the entrepreneur life, sometimes you have to dive into the deep end or you can sit around the pool lounge wondering what could happen. I jumped in the deep end, but I wasn’t alone. I am a strong believer that if you work hard, good things come to you and for that I have to thank my family—Jennifer, Roberto, Melquia, Robert, Cynthia and Vanessa—for their unconditional love and support. While I didn’t have an easy journey, I recognize others had harder obstacles than I did. I often remind myself to appreciate what I have because it was earned with love and incredible sacrifices.
To my wife, Jennifer, and daughters, Penelope, Nara and Arya—who are the names behind some of the Plisar clothing styles—I thank them for keeping me grounded and supporting me through the launch and continuing to motivate me to keep going no matter how tough it got.
Also, I have to thank my twin brother, Robert, because going through life knowing that someone always has your back is truly a priceless experience. Sometimes I have ideas, but he has always been my voice of reason, so I know I can count on him for anything, including my entrepreneurship endeavors.
Last but not least, thank you to Lizeth Alba, the brand designer and our long-time friend. We did not have a big budget or major capital to start off and could not afford to hire multiple people in different roles. With Lizeth’s tremendous knowledge of the fashion world’s ins-and-outs and contacts, we were able to turn a dream into reality.”
Jennifer: “As first-generation Mexican American, our parents immigrated to the United States for a better life. We see it as our duty to continue their progress. We have to thank our parents for working hard their entire lives to provide something better for our siblings and us.
Thank you to my husband, Tony; parents, Arturo and Lola; and siblings, Adrian and Zaira, for always having my back and being incredibly supportive. As parents of three beautiful baby girls, this ride has been a true journey. Want to also thank my best friend Adrian for the shoutout.
Solimar Williams Vanessa Gomez Miguel Gutierrez Lizeth Alba