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The Homage turns back the clock with shout-outs to eclectic moments and personalities in sports, music, and popular culture. From Billie Jean King to Larry Bird, our clothing tells stories of triumph, individualism and hustle, preserving the old school and creating new legacies.
One such Columbus-based brand, Express, invested $10 million to buy a minority stake in Homage in August. The partnership with the Fortune 1000 retailer will fund Homage’s expansion. Capital and access to resources has always been a challenge,” says Vesler. “With the Express investment, we have some runway and opportunities now that we didn’t have previously,” Vessler adds. The Express partnership is already “adding gasoline to the fire” of Homage’s organic success. The investment signals Express’s willingness to innovate and will be a model for other brands, he believes. Investing in a smaller brand shows a lot of forward thinking on the part of the Express board and leadership team,” Vesler says. Big growth can be scary if it’s not managed correctly,” says Vesler. He managed to grow his company during the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression; he hasn’t laid off a soul. How has Homage continued to grow through market challenges that have leveled other retailers? “One of the benefits of being small is you’re immune to those kinds of things. I think as we grow they will be more of a factor. Vesler and his executive team are turning their focus to preempting the declining revenues that have hit retailers hard in the age of Amazon. I think as the nature of brick-and-mortar changes, we need to pay attention to the store of the future,” says Vesler. Over the next five years, he anticipates a singular organizational challenge:“How does Homage find a place in front of the consumer? Homage may have the outward appearance of a startup venture, but the culture Vesler has established through leadership is more down-to-earth SME than trendy startup.