Southern Styled for High Yield
Brent Howell crossed the collegiate style with hunter verve to breed an online retail enterprise that’s one of the fastest growing businesses in Alabama.
Brent Howell models The Hadley Shirt, his button-down line.
Brent Howell has always loved clothes. For him, a perfect-fitting polo style shirt was the height of comfort and style. Throughout his life, while going to college and starting his career, he held on to his love of the perfect shirt — stylish and comfortable and the epitome of Southern classic style.
Southern Point Co. was born when he made the decision to create that perfect shirt himself.
“I always wanted to start something I believed in,” Howell says.
Howell graduated from the University of Alabama in real estate finance and started his career in Birmingham. One day, while walking in the woods with his dog, he took a picture of his German Shorthaired Pointer, Greyton. He decided the photo of man’s best friend would make the perfect logo for his new line of man’s favorite t-shirts and polos.
From there, Southern Point Co. was born and steadily grew to include more products.
“When I saw that picture of Greyton everything just clicked, and I knew it had to be the logo,” Howell says.
Howell acknowledges Greyton’s key role in the company through the logo and in the naming — his popular line of polos goes by the name Greyton Polo. But the button-downs, called The Hadley Shirt, are just a name we liked, Howell says.
Southern Point Co. was named 694th out of 5,000 of the fastest growing companies in America by Inc. magazine and named number 6 in Alabama.
Even though Southern Point Co. has enjoyed success, the company hasn’t been without challenges. When Howell established the company in August 2009, the economy was bad. Howell discovered that staying both trendy and classic at the same time was difficult. He had to make the decision to quit real estate. But Howell found that people would pay for high quality goods, regardless of the economy. And his quest for the perfect shirt led to a popular polo.
“Everyone who said I shouldn’t do it is taking it back now,” Howell laughs.
The company started in Howell’s home in Birmingham and moved to Enterprise four years ago. Southern Point Co. quickly outgrew two warehouses and is now in a 25,000-square-foot warehouse. Three employees work in the warehouse and three travel and make sales. While the target market is the Southeastern United States, merchandise is sold outside those states through online sales.
“E-commerce is great for us,” Howell says. “We ship nationally. Hitting new markets helps spread the word. Every season we get bigger and bigger.”
With products now in more than 450 retailers in 25 states, plus online sales, the goal is to continue to grow and keep up consistency and quality, plus adding new lines. Howell never wants to grow so fast that he has to sacrifice quality for quantity.
In addition to the t-shirts and polos, Southern Point Co. now carries hats, button downs, vests, shorts, tank tops, coolers, loungewear, trunks, jackets, one-quarter zips and accessories.
Greyton as a puppy will make his debut on the logo for an upcoming youth and infant line, Lil’ Southern Point Co.
Southern Point Co. clothes are made in Peru and made of high quality pima cotton. “It’s extremely comfortable and washes well,” Howell says.
So far, Howell has spent no money on advertising. He markets through social media only with more than 12,000 followers on Facebook, nearly 9,000 on Twitter and more than 12,000 on Instagram, many of whom are quick to leave positive reviews of the products.
Next year, he’s planning to do a major advertising campaign to increase both sales and retailers.
“We are hoping to at least double what we do now,” Howell says. “I’ve been very fortunate.”
The biggest reward for Howell is repeat customers and receiving emails and messages from satisfied customers.
Laura Stakelum and Tim Skipper are freelance contributors to Business Alabama. Both are based in Dothan.