With its pepper-brown and pastel houses flanked by shops, Riga’s long history as a trading center can’t always be seen in its Autumn-quiet bustle. But its commercial roots have made it a key economic and financial center of the Baltic states.
Next to its spirit of entrepreneurship is a sense of rebellion. The country’s support for Ukraine is spotlighted everywhere. From cafes and restaurants where donations can be dropped into cups and counters to the museum, Paula Stradiņa medicīnas vēstures muzejs, which features an anti-Putin poster plastered over the front of the building. Given that the museum is located opposite the Russian embassy, this act is made even more comedically daring.
CustomKit’s office fits in well in a space like this. The office acts not just as the headquarters for an ambitious and growing team but as a production facility. Their innovative approach to their business, powered by Brikl technology, is putting them on the map.
“White labeling Brikl has allowed us to expand and scale our operations,” Martins Vindedzis, CEO of CustomKit, comments as we walk around, watching employees carefully apply heat print and sublimation techniques to fabrics. There’s a hushed air that conveys the concentration and focus of the team as they work methodically, moving from table to printer or feeding the fabrics through their sewing machines.
We arrive at a laser machine that Martins invested in this year; a monster that cuts artwork out from digitized patterns fed straight into its system. “We had to use a pulley to swing this into the building through an open window,” Martins laughs. “It’s been an amazing opportunity to invest in cutting-edge tools like this as we scale. We’re slowly taking over the whole building with our team and technology.”
When we finally settle in to talk to Martins about his experience with Brikl, he gives us more context on how our next-generation technology has taken CustomKits to new heights.
What Inspired You to Set Up CustomKit?
I started my business In the early years of university about 12 years ago. I studied business management and started with t-shirt and sign printing workshops, which transferred to custom sportswear manufacturing for different teams.
At some point, we started to produce sportswear for other brands, and now our core business is private-label custom sportswear manufacturing.
What Challenges Did You Face Before Onboarding On The Brikl Platform?
As most of you can imagine, building a manufacturing business, starting from production technologies to process management, customer care, sales, and resource management, has many time- and resource-intensive challenges.
How Did We Help You Reconcile Them?
Actually, we started from the bottom in terms of the website. We had our old website for custom team wear, which wasn’t for purpose, and there was no information about private label manufacturing. Through Brikl, we had immediate access to tools and software infrastructure designed for sportswear manufacturers, which we won’t be able to develop on our own in terms of the investment, time, and resources it takes.
What Feature Do You Most Enjoy Using And Why?
I remember the first time I saw the 3D studio and the feature where you can transform your 2D patterns into 3D products; it was mind-blowing at the time; I thought, “Ooh, that’s what the future of the industry will look like!”
As private label manufacturers, we use the platform bit differently than regular sportswear brands would use it. We are hosting merchandise stores for our customers, and some of our private label customers have Brikl accounts, so we work as a fulfillment partner for those accounts. The main point is that we have scalable tools to grow our business that we can share with our customers.
We Pride Ourselves on Taking a Human Approach to Our Merchants. What is Your Ongoing Impression of The Brikl Team?
We had our first conversation with the Brikl team in 2019. At that time, one of Brikl’s founders, Maarten (Brikl’s CEO), took a flight to visit us in person. It was a very personal approach from the first day, no matter the size of our business.
As well as that Jason (Brikl’s CCO) helped develop our sales strategy from the first day we were onboarded. From that day, Brikl has grown from 15 to up to 100 employees, and I see that this personal approach has transferred from founders to employees.
You And Jason Have Worked Closely to Give Your Business a Different Strategic Direction. How Has Brikl Helped You Increase Sales?
I really appreciate how Jason sees our business. It is much more than just finding the right tool or technical solutions, but more than working together as business partners. And it really works that way because our success is Brikl’s success.
Actually, through Jason’s business connection, we were connected to our current business partners, and we have raised the investment for scaling our manufacturing capacity and adding new technologies.
Jason definitely took extra steps with us. As most of our sales are offsite, we are working hand in hand with the Brikl team to find a way to move sales to the platform and automate our business and order processing.
What Kind of Time Efficiencies are You Enjoying, And How has Brikl Helped Increase Your Well-Being Personally and Professionally?
For me personally, I guess having full-time IT support is the most amazing part of the service. I remember with the open-source platforms we had before; we needed to find someone who could update our website, change the information, etc. Now we can do most of the website changes and design updates on our own, and at the same time, we have really responsive support for tasks that we can not solve on our own. I know that our customers using Brikl enjoy the team store setup, and we are happy to see how it complements our on-demand manufacturing and dropshipping services.
How Does Brikl Align With Your Values as a Company?
I appreciate the honesty. We have gone through some challenges together, and since both companies are growing, it is part of the business. I am happy to see Brikl management’s passion for launching new tools and services. It definitely aligns with how I see our business development and the products we launch. We have the same sparkle in our eyes.
What Advice Would You Give to Others Looking to Use The Platform?
I would advise people to avoid thinking about how we can improve our today’s processes to what will be the future of our business, how it will be managed in two, five, or ten years.
Think about what steps you should take today to build a business of tomorrow, not the better version of yesterday, but really the business of the future. I strongly believe that Brikl is building into the direction of how tomorrow’s business will look like. We are with them to see it happening and happy to be a part of it.
We’d like to thank the CustomKit team for taking the time out of their incredibly busy schedule to talk to us, with special thanks to Martins. If you liked this interview, why not check out the others we have back in Brikl Blog HQ?