Dan Cohen Of Neon Bandits Brings Fun To Socks

Dan Cohen Of Neon Bandits Brings Fun To Socks

Owner Stories: Dan Cohen, Co-Founder, Neon Bandits

We met Dan on LinkedIn and, after a short call, he immediately agree to tell the origin story of Neon Bandits, the business he launched with his sister Sammy a few years back. Neon Bandits, like so many companies, was created out of need and, as a side hustle for both Dan and Sammy, they’ve had the luxury of being able to listen to their customers, follow what’s working and allow success to be built up over time. And what they’ve built is quite impressive.

Our interview with Dan is below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Also, make sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series.

Interview with Dan Cohen, Co-Founder, Neon Bandits

10|20 Marketing: Hi, Dan! Thanks for agreeing to do this. So tell me a bit of your background and how it led to Neon Bandits’ launch.

Dan Cohen, Neon Bandits: First off, thanks for thinking of us for this project. We appreciate it!

Good question! How did we get started on Neon Bandits? Both myself and Sammy (my sister and co-founder of Neon Bandits) were athletes growing up. I played basketball and baseball while Sammy was a soccer player. Since we were so involved in sports growing up, we always asked our parents for the latest and greatest gear. 

As a basketball player, I loved sneakers and hated when my socks lost their elasticity and fell down my leg, so I always tried to have a handful of special basketball socks that I just kept for my games. 

My passion for sports and apparel grew as I got older, leading me to the sports apparel industry after college. In addition, Sammy found interest in retail and worked as a retail consultant after college. 

The first job that I had after grad school had me working for a growing sports apparel brand as a college marketing rep. For this job, I travelled around the country to different colleges. At the time, I had to wear khaki pants, dress socks and a nice shirt to meet with various representatives on campuses – totally not my look! Dressing like this made me feel very out of place. At these meetings and around campuses, I noticed many students were wearing high white or black tube socks with bright sneakers.

Meanwhile, I was wearing dingy dress socks that were not comfortable or functional. When I travelled, I had to bring ten pairs of socks for two days. My routine included a workout, shower, then wearing dress socks for a meeting. After the meeting, I’d take the dress socks off right away in favour of athletic socks. 

10|20 Marketing: So, where does your sister come into this story?

Dan Cohen, Neon Bandits: At the time, Sammy and I were both living at home. After a business trip to Texas, I came home, and Sammy asked me how my trip was. I told her it gave me a business idea. She replied, that’s funny; I have one too. So we agreed that we should start a sock brand!

We set out to create a versatile sock to be worn while working out, hanging out and everything in between. However, we didn’t want just to produce a sock; we wanted to create a premium sock. At the time, “athleisure” really wasn’t a thing/word, but we essentially set out to create an athleisure sock brand that was fun, vibrant and had a bit of an edge to it.

10|20 Marketing: So what came next? How did you come up with the name Neon Bandits?

Dan Cohen, Neon Bandits: Coming up with the name Neon Bandits was the easiest part of bringing our socks to market. We wanted to create a brand that was a bit edgy and stood out. The name Neon Bandits just came to me one day, and we ran with it. 

Next, we had to source a great sock manufacturer. Again, Sammy led our efforts in this area. And going back to us thinking about our sock brand, we didn’t want to create just any sock; we wanted to create a premium sock. And it was challenging to find a factory that could develop a sock with the quality we wanted. 

It took us about 18 months to find the right factory and develop the right sock blend and construction that matched our expectations. We were very fortunate that we landed a great factory that took a chance on us, given that we were a new company. 

After landing a sock manufacturer, we worked with a designer to bring our sock designs to life and sampled them with our factory. Over the next six months, we settled on our initial looks, built our website and prepped all of the not so glorious things about running a business (like legal and banking needs). 

We went live with our brand in June of 2015, and we haven’t looked back. 

10|20 Marketing: What advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to launch an online brand?

Dan Cohen, Neon Bandits: I think that I have two main pieces of advice for entrepreneurs looking to launch an online brand. First, don’t underestimate how difficult it is to drive traffic to your brand. After the initial “friends and family” buzz dies down, things get real. 

Building a social media presence is complex, and even if you have a large following, that does not translate to website traffic and sales. Think through how you will drive sustainable traffic to your website and the economics of doing so. 

For example, consider your product costs before devoting a budget to paid advertising. Why? Because you need to make sure that you are not losing money to acquire a customer. And if you are, you need to make sure that you have a business where you can upsell that customer again through email marketing). 

10|20 Marketing: And your second piece of advice?

Dan Cohen, Neon Bandits: Listen to your customers and adapt to what they are telling you. For example, with Neon Bandits, we started selling socks to gyms through a wholesale program. They told us that they loved our socks but wanted to make custom socks. 

At first, we were skeptical about it, but we eventually warmed to the idea. Now, 98% of our business is developing custom socks for different companies, from gyms to restaurants to breweries. 

If we stuck to our ways and not listened to our customers’ feedback, the business would have likely failed. Listening, learning and adapting are a massive part of running a business. 

10|20 Marketing: I have a follow-up question, Dan. How are you driving traffic to your website now?

Dan Cohen, Neon Bandits: When we first launched, we tried to do everything – social media, paid advertising, strategic partnerships, content marketing – and we quickly found that we could not be good at everything. We would be spending tons of time doing these activities and not see much return. As a result, we scaled back our efforts to focus only on activities we saw moving the needle. 

We know that we are in a unique position in that we don’t need the money that we generate from Neon Bandits to keep the lights on in the business, as this is our side hustle. As such, we have taken the “long-tail approach to drive traffic to our site. For example, we have written a few blog posts based on keyword research. Additionally, since we now have a robust wholesale network (based on our custom sock business), many customers find out about our socks after buying them from, say, a brewery or restaurant, like them and then come to our site to buy them from us.  

We wish that we had more time to devote to creating content for Instagram, but we don’t see a direct correlation between a great post and driving traffic to our site, so we have scaled that back a bit. Additionally, the math does not make sense for us to invest heavily in paid advertising (since our margins are smaller from a dollar perspective). We would need to change our pricing and packaging model if we did get into paid advertising, and we have thought about doing that to scale the business. So stay tuned! 

10|20 Marketing: That’s amazing, Dan! Any last words for our audience? We appreciate your time!

Dan Cohen, Neon Bandits: Thanks so much for reaching out to us and for thinking of us for this project. We appreciate your time and for allowing us to share our story!


This interview is part of our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to mark@10-twenty.com. And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.

Joel Goldenberg believes in the power of putting his customers first

Joel Goldenberg believes in the power of putting his customers first

Owner Stories: Joel Goldenberg, Business Owner, Premier Ostomy Centre, Montreal, Quebec

We’ve known Joel Goldenberg and his father Nat for about 20 years, getting to know them through our community sports programs and then as clients of 10|20 Marketing. In business since the 90s, Premier Ostomy Centre has become to the go-to for ostomy supplies in Quebec.

Our interview with Joel is below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Also, make sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. Also, remember to support local businesses in any way you can while these physical distancing restrictions are in place.

10|20 Marketing: Hi, Joel! Thank you for agreeing to participate in our spotlight series. Let’s get started by having you describe your business, Premier Ostomy Centre.

Joel Goldenberg: Premier Ostomy Centre is a family-run medical supply store.  As most of our customers have health issues, customer service is our number one priority. We make sure our clients’ needs are met in every way.  We sell all medical products, including, but not limited to, ostomy bags and supplies, catheters and accessories, mobility aids, bathroom equipment, compression stockings and more.  In addition to our brick and mortar store on Côte des Neiges, we also have a transactional website to help our clients.

10|20 Marketing: How long have you been in business? Can you discuss how your store started and evolved over the years?

Joel Goldenberg: My father started the business in the late 1990s. My Dad had a small pharmacy and started to have a significant demand for ostomy supplies. He decided to open a second business in the pharmacy as a medical supply store. I joined him about ten years after he opened with the idea of expanding the business. We started carrying other medical products, with catheters and supplies being our most important addition. I started visiting remote areas of the province to bring product expertise to underserved cities. We have since moved into our current location, which doubled our space and finishing an expansion. We have also diversified and are now distributors and importers for specialized products. However, our original goals and principals remain the same. We provide excellent customer service, have a very knowledgeable staff and provide fair and competitive pricing.

10|20 Marketing: What are some of the approaches you’ve taken to grow your customer base? Do you actively run marketing programs?

Joel Goldenberg: Our business relies a lot on referrals. Our best marketing is offering the best service we can. That’s how we get so many referrals from health professionals and current clients. We do other marketing as well. We advertise in local support group journals and nurse publications. We have an active presence on Facebook and are trying to be more active on other social media platforms. But I will always believe that offering good service and treating people with kindness and respect is the best marketing you can do.

10|20 Marketing: We agree, Joel! How has the business been since the pandemic hit? How have you been coping?

Joel Goldenberg: It has been interesting, to say the least, since the pandemic started. First, we had significant panic buying from our clients, so we were insanely busy. We also had so many calls for masks and other PPE that we couldn’t access. Then things quieted down as may of our clients had stocked up. Staffing has been an issue as our customer service team had to stop working. Most have young kids and needed to stay home with them. I finally have some staff back working from home, which poses many other challenges. We had to slightly reduce our opening hours, so I didn’t burn out the rest of the staff. For the most part, the supply chain has held up, and we have been getting our products as usual. I have even managed to find stock on most PPE items at fair and reasonable pricing.

10|20 Marketing: Final question, Joel. As a seasoned business owner of a retail location, what advice do you have for others in your shoes as they deal with this new normal?

Joel Goldenberg: That’s a good question. First off, I would say, don’t panic. Take your time before making any decisions and think them through. Another crucial thing is to take care of your staff. You need happy and productive employees, so you need to consider them when making any decisions. It is also essential to plan ahead. You need to try and figure out what’s going to be required over the next few months and try to be ready for anything. We have gone through many scenarios, and I continue to do so each day. There is nothing worse than being unprepared.

10|20 Marketing: Great advice, Joel! I appreciate your time and participation in our series!

Joel Goldenberg: My pleasure! Thanks for having me!


This interview is part of our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to mark@10-twenty.com. And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.

All Alexandre Rivard wants is for everyone to be well

All Alexandre Rivard wants is for everyone to be well

Local Business Owner Spotlight, Alexandre Rivard, OM Bien-Être | Wellness, Pointe-Claire, Quebec

We met Alexandre Rivard last summer at his quaint store OM Bien-Être | Wellness in the Pointe Claire Village. In the words of their website, the store “features over 200 different crystals, artisanal jewelry, eco-friendly products, smudging and aromatherapy accessories.” They also host community workshops. The success of OM Bien-Être|Wellness, both at their retail location and online, has prompted expansion to a location in Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue due to open once the physical distancing restrictions are lifted.

Our interview with Alexandre is below. And please make sure to read our Local Business Owner Spotlight series and support local businesses in any way you can while these restrictions are in place.

Interview with Alexandre Rivard of OM Bien-Être | Wellness

10|20 Marketing: Hi, Alex! Thank you so much for agreeing to be in our series. It’s greatly appreciated! Let’s jump in. So your field is unique and your store in the Pointe Claire Village is a gem! Can you explain how you got into the business and why you choose wellness as your livelihood?

Alexandre Rivard: Hi Mark, it is a pleasure for me to be a part of this series. First of all, as a kid and even in my young adult age, I was always picking up rocks from the ground. I was fascinated about their colour and texture. Later on, crystals came into my life and I was starting to get interested in their energetic healing properties and stories. I was starting on the path of healing and decided to launch a company that offers energetic bracelets. It was important, at that point, to bring wellness and spirituality into other people’s life as I was incorporating it in mine. Then, two years after that, my partner Jason and I opened a store called OM Bracelets and, nine months after that, we launched OM Bien-Être | Wellness. At OM, you can find over 200 different type of crystals, meditation and spiritual tools as well as eco-friendly and aromatherapy products.

10|20 Marketing: That’s so interesting, Alex! Can you tell us a little bit more about OM Bracelets? Where was the store? What were your challenges? Why did you decide to expand on the concept and build that into OM Bien-Etre | Wellness?

Alexandre Rivard: I was helping someone start their business in energetic jewelry and I decided to start my own brand as a hobby. The branding was different, at that time, from all the other ones we saw on the market. We included a properties tag with every bracelet, had a name for each one and the material used. Then, we opened the OM Bracelets store where we had our bracelets on a wall, crystals and spiritual tools in a 150 square foot space, hidden in the back of Lakeshore Road, in Pointe-Claire Village.

The main challenge, was to get people in, be talked about and have more sales. It picked up fast, we worked seven days a week to make it happen. Then a few months later, we started the develop the concept for the OM Bien-Être | Wellness store. We moved to Cartier Avenue to a bigger space. We wanted to have the biggest selection of crystals that a store can have, and more product categories. We needed more space, more products, more inventory and more visibility. The opportunity was there, so we jumped in! And now, Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue is coming to life!

10|20 Marketing: Amazing! What kind of timeline are we talking about here in terms of moving from the first store on Lakeshore to the location on Cartier? Also, how are you drawing people in?

We opened the small “test” shop in September 2018, then did the renovation on Cartier and opened June 1, 2019. At the beginning, we had a following of maybe 2000 people on Facebook, word of mouth helped a lot, and online marketing. We also have sandwich boards to catch attention. We run contests, marketing and promotions. We also offer a loyalty program for our recurring clients. Our presence online is growing as well, as we post at least once a day a day on Facebook and Instagram. We also have new clients every day. We receive new products every week. Now, we are working on our online shop, since we have more time because of COVID-19.

10|20 Marketing: Very interesting. Let’s talk about the impact that COVID-19 has had on your business, if you don’t mind. Do you feel that because you sell wellness, you’ll be in a better position than other retailers? How quickly do you think you’ll be operational online? Do you expect your online sales to be as good as your retail sales?

Alexandre Rivard: Yes, the COVID-19, what a big thing for 2020. We try not to feel depressed about that, but it stopped a lot of things on our side. For me, it teaches me that we are still alive and we can change some habits to get over that. I am pretty sure that things will be different after. For OM Bien-Être, Jason (my partner) and I, it showed us that people can shop online for our products if they can’t come to the store. It really gave us the opportunity to add products that are different then our OM Bracelets brand. Fun fact, we sold maybe 10% of bracelets and 90% products that are now online. We needed to really go for it! It brings us visibility, sales and it help us to survive! We are almost done online, maybe adding 100 new products. Now, comes the suppliers challenge, most of them don’t deliver to business at the moment, because they think we are closed.

Are we in a better position? Probably! We are still losing contracts with airports and point of sales, at the moment, for bracelet sales, which is a huge part of our revenue. We hope to sale 50% online of what we use to do in the past months. We still have to pay rent, the new store renovation, and all other expanses. I don’t expect doing as much sales then when the store is open because some people will buy more when they can touch, some others don’t feel safe or confident enough to buy online. Also, it is hard to sell more online then what you can sell in person. You take time, one on one, with a client to really understand the need.

10|20 Marketing: So what are some of the ideas you have to market your online store? So many companies have started online and moved to a physical location. You might have to go from physical to online and then physical again. How do you think you can maximize your exposure online and then re-generate interest in your stores once you’re able to re-open?

For the online store, we added our biggest sellers, and we’re slowly adding more products. We try to make it simple for people. We offer free shipping over 75$ before taxes and also promotions. We’ve also doubled the number of points that our clients get when they shop online now from the total they would get when they’re shopping at our retail location. At the moment, we are doing online only, but our goal is to re-open as fast as we can. People are missing coming to the store and we miss them too! The time away is also giving us an opportunity to renovate our Pointe-Claire location to showcase more products. I think, with the online store, we will build a new clientele that will not be willing to drive to the store in the future. But our regular clientele like to touch and feel the crystals. They also like to chat with us.

10|20 Marketing: This has been great Alex, thank you for agreeing to participate! Are there any last comments you’d like to make?

Alexandre Rivard: I would like, first of all, to thank you for your time and passion. This went so fast, I miss the questions already. : )


This interview is part of our Local Business Owner Spotlight series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to mark@10-twenty.com. And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.