Stuart & Lau was conceived between the connection from New York to Hong Kong by Matthew Stuart and Jimmy Lau. As frequent business travelers, the two founders were familiar with a frenetic pace and increasingly aware of the need for a carry-all briefcase with equal parts function and style.
“We founded the company on the principle of timeless designs with functional, innovative solutions and technical, performance-driven fabrics and materials,” says Matthew Stuart. “We were looking for bags offering those qualities, but the marketplace was lacking.”
At the time, the market was dominated by leather bags or canvas styles, most constructed with heavy materials. The founders started with a single briefcase that was light, weatherproof and offered many features not typical of bags already available.
With the success of their first briefcase, the company jumped into the DTC industry and the product line expanded to include additional briefcases, bags, backpacks and accessories.
To help build awareness for their product, Stuart & Lau originally brought on a New York-based full-service marketing agency that was charging 10% of their ad spend in fees. They quickly grew disillusioned by lack of performance.
“We found our agency was too rigid in their approach. In our case, they were utilizing ‘best practices,’ which were approaches and strategies from two or three years ago,” Matthew says. “Our experience is that often agencies have a way of doing things, and they stick to it. We were unknowingly using strategies that were not up-to-date.”