Michael Rockwell, the founder of M-Rock camera bags out of Miami, Fla., is quick to chat about what provided the spark for launching the company back in early 1995.
“I started the company over 15 years ago,” he begins. “ I had purchased a Pentax camera that came with a free bag and I took it on a ski trip and it was bouncing round all over the place and dragging me down and basically driving me insane. It sounds a little corny butt that’s really how I got into the business.”
In a crowded market, from the outset, Rockwell focused on a few important factors as he entered the market. Factors that are still the driving force behind M-Rock today.
“My business philosophy going in was to make absolute top quality bags that would be the Mercedes of camera bags but also be super functional,” he explains. “I’m happy to say it kind of snowballed from there.”
The other important ingredient to success for Rockwell, “Is about listening to my customers. Their feedback goes into each line we produce.”
As a one-man show, Rockwell has become a good listener as that aforementioned feedback, “helps me keep the product fresh and exciting. Retailers are looking for high quality, high margin products. They are looking to differentiate themselves from all the stuff that’s available online. I think my bags provide exactly that.”
Every new business looks to fill a hole they see in the market and Rockwell wanted to do that with M-Rock. “There’s just a lot of generic looking product out there in this space that has a sameness to it. We go for more value more features and more functions,” he added. “Consumers discover how much thought and detail go into our stuff when they look at it and then they discover how much function goes in when they actually use the bags.”
Rockwell’s journey actually provides a nice parallel to the dealers he sells to – a David battling Goliaths …and finding a way to win. As a result, he’s got a good line as to what the specialty dealers need to do to make it in today’s tough business climate.
“Specialty retailers really need to remember they are specialty retailers, because when you walk into a Best Buy or Target you just walk up to a shelf to look at what’s there and if you’re lucky there’s somebody around to answer questions,” he advised. “But most of the time there’s not. Specialty retail should be all about having the latest and most unique products and taking the time to demonstrate everything those products do to the customers.”
Hands on demonstrations are at the heart of every accessory sale and bags are no different, he adds. “Whenever you have the opportunity to take a product off the shelf and go over what it’s all about – show it’s unique features and why it works for what they are looking to do, it builds customer loyalty. Make them understand these are products they can’t get elsewhere,” Rockwell concluded.
This exact strategy has certainly worked wonders at M-Rock.